Map of the Roman Empire - Damascus

Damascus
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Ancient Damascus (Modern name is esh-Sham) Damascus was the capital of the kingdom of Syria (Aram). It was strategically located at an important junction of major trade routes to the east. The Bible associates Damascus with Abraham, Genesis 14:15; 15:2. Damascus also had many conflicts with Israel, 1 Kings 11:24; 20:1ff.; 22:1ff.; 2 Kings chapters 6ff.; 16:5ff.; Isaiah 7:1ff. Dam,ascus was also at one point an ally of Israel, 1 Kings 15:16ff.; It was conquered by the Assyrians in 732 BC, 2 Kings 16:9; It was a commercial city, Ezekiel 27:18. In New Testament times Damascus had many Jewish inhabitants, Acts 9:2ff., and Christianity was being spread there, Acts 9:10, 19. Although in the Roman Empire Damascus was in the province of Syria, it belonged to Decapolis, and an officer of Aretas king of the Nabataeans also had authority there, 2 Cor. 11:32.

Gen. 14:15 -And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which [is] on the left hand of Damascus.

Gen. 15:2 - And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house [is] this Eliezer of Damascus?

1 Kgs. 11:24 - And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them [of Zobah]: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus.

1 Kgs. 20:1ff - And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and [there were] thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.

2 Kgs. chs.:6ff -

2 Kgs. 16:.5ff - Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome [him].

Isa. 7:1ff - And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, [that] Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

1 Kgs. 15:16ff. - And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

2 Kgs. 16:9 - And his servant Zimri, captain of half [his] chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of [his] house in Tirzah.

Ezek. 27:18 - Damascus [was] thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.

Acts 9:2ff -And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Acts 9:10 - And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I [am here], Lord.

Acts 9:19 - And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

2 Cor. 11:32 - In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

1 Kgs. 11:24 - And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them [of Zobah]: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus.

Damascus (Δαμασκός; in Hebrew, Dammesek; in Arabic, Dimeshk-es-Sham). One of the principal cities of Syria, in what was called Coelé-Syria, a few miles to the east of Antilibanus, where the chain begins to turn off to the southeast, under the name of Carmel. It is beautifully situated in an extensive and pleasant plain, and watered by a river called by the Greeks Bardiné or Chrysorrhoas, “the golden stream,” now Barada. The Biblical name of this stream was Abana. Damascus is supposed to have been founded by Uz, the eldest son of Aram (Gen. x. 23). However this may be, it existed in the time of Abraham, and may be reckoned one of the most ancient cities of Syria. It was conquered by David (2 Sam. viii. 6), but freed itself from the Jewish yoke in the time of Solomon (1 Kings, xi. 23 foll.), and became the seat of a new principality, which often harassed the kingdoms of both Judah and Israel. It afterwards fell, in succession, under the power of the Assyrians and the Persians, and came from the latter into the hands of the Seleucidae. Damascus, however, did not flourish much under the Greek dynasty, as it had while held by the Persians. The Seleucidae neglected the place, and bestowed all their favour on the new cities erected by them in the northern parts of Syria; and here, no doubt, lies the reason why the later Greek and Roman writers say so little of the city itself, though they are all loud in their praises of the adjacent country. Damascus was seized by the Romans in the war of Pompey with Tigranes, B.C. 65, but still continued, as under the Greek dynasty, a comparatively unimportant place until the time of Diocletian. This emperor, feeling the necessity of a strongly fortified city in this quarter, as a dépôt for munitions of war and a military post against the frequent inroads of the Saracens, selected Damascus for the purpose. Everything was done, accordingly, to strengthen the place; extensive magazines were also established, and likewise numerous workshops for the preparation of weapons of war. It is not unlikely that the high reputation to which Damascus afterwards attained for its manufacture of sword-blades and other works in steel, may have had its first foundations laid by this arrangement on the part of Diocletian. The city continued from this time to be a flourishing place. In the seventh century it fell into the hands of the Saracens, and was for some time after this the seat of the califs. Its prosperity, too, remained unimpaired, since the route of the principal caravans to Mecca lay through it. It was sacked by Tamerlane, and finally became subject to the Turks. - Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers.

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Damascus DAMASCUS
DAMASCUS (Δαμασκός: Eth. Δαμασκηνός: the territory ἡ Δαμασκηνή), the capital city of Syria, both in ancient and modern times, though its preeminence was disputed during the classical period by Antioch. It is an exceedingly ancient city, being mentioned first in the history of Abraham's pursuit of the defeated kings (Gen. 14.15); and his steward Eliezer was a native of Damascus (15.2). Josephus ascribes its foundation to Uz, a grandson of Shem (Ant. 1.6.3). During the period of the Hebrew monarchy it was the “head” or capital of Syria (Isaiah, 7.8), and the Syrian king is called the king of Damascus (2 Chron. 24.23). But during the struggles between these neighbouring kingdoms it occasionally fell into the hands of the Israelites. Thus “David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David” (2 Sam. 8.6; 1 Chron. 18.6), after he had defeated Hadarezer, king of Zobah, to whom the “Syrians of Damascus” had allied themselves. The fact that Tadmor in the wilderness [PALMYRA] was built by Solomon (2 Chron. 8.4), which further gives countenance to the very ancient and consistent tradition of his connection with Baalbek [HELIOPOLIS], proves that David's son and successor retained possession of southern Syria; but Damascus was during this time subject to Rezon, a vassal of Hadarezer. (1 Kings, 11.23--25.) Subsequently to the division of the Hebrew kingdom, cir. B.C. 900, we find “a Hebrew quarter” in Damascus ceded by treaty to Ahab by Benhadad (1 Kings, 20.34), and the city was at length recovered to Israel by Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of Israel (cir. B.C. 822). (2 Kings, 14.28.) The alliance of Syria with Israel against Judah led Ahaz to call in the aid of Tiglathpileser, king of Assyria, who, in consequence, “went up against Damascus and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir” (cir. B.C. 740), according to the prophecy of Amos, delivered about fifty years before the event. (2 Kings, 16.9; Amos, 1.5.) From this time it followed the fortunes of the Assyrian empire, but does not appear at [1.749] any time to have had much importance in a military view. Besides which, its political and commercial importance after the time of Alexander the Great was eclipsed by Antioch and other cities founded by the Seleucidae; which may further account for the scanty notices of it that occur in classical authors. Strabo describes it as πόλις ἀξιόλογος, σχεδόν τι καὶ ἐπιφανεστάτη τῶν ταύτνͅ κατὰ τὰ Περσικά (xvi. p. 756). Pliny says that according to some it was reckoned as one of the cities of the Dccapolis (5.18). He only further mentions it for its alabaster (36.18). It is, however, strange that so renowned a city, the subject of such extravagant eulogy in the poems and romances of the Orientals, should be almost unnoticed in the classical poets; the “ventosa Damascus” of Lucan--certainly not a well-chosen epithet--being the sum of their tribute to this most remarkable and beautiful city (3.215).

In the annals of the church it is noted for the conversion and first preaching of the apostle St. Paul, which synchronised with the occupation of the city by the ethnarch of Aretas, the king apparently of Arabia or Petra. (2 Cor. 11.32.) As the event is not chronicled by any historian, the circumstances under which this petty king had come into possession of so important a place are very doubtful; but it is certain that it was subject to the Roman rule until the reign of Heraclius, when it was taken by the Saracens in the 13th year of the Hejira (A.D. 634), from which time, as if to compensate for its temporary eclipse, it has been the delight and glory of the East, and celebrated by the Arabian poets as the terrestrial Paradise.

Damascus, now called Es-Sham, is situated at the distance of two days' journey, or about 60 miles from the coast of the Mediterranean, not far from the eastern base of the range of Antilibanus, and at the western extremity of the great desert of El-Hauran (Auranitis), which extends westward to the Euphrates, and southward to the Arabian peninsula. It presents the peculiar phenomenon of a city in the midst of gardens, watered by numerous streams. It is surrounded by a wall, which is however in a state of ruinous decay, and scarcely defines the limits between the city and its suburbs. In 1843, the population of Damascus was stated at 111,552, of which number about 12,000 were Christians, and 5000 Jews. It is governed by a pasha, whose rule extends from the Euphrates to the Jordan, and from the vicinity of Aleppo to the confines of Arabia.

The “Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus,” are of Scripture celebrity (2 Kings, 5.12), and both Strabo and Pliny mention the Chrysorroa, to which the latter ascribes the fertility of the soil ( “Damascum ex epoto riguis amne Chrysoroa fertilem” ); and Strabo remarks that “its waters are almost entirely consumed in irrigation, for that it waters a large extent of deep soil” (ll. cc.). There are, in fact, as the writer ascertained, two copious sources in the eastern roots of Antilibanus, the Barada and the Phege. Of these, the Barada is far the most copious, and being divided into numerous rivulets on emerging from the mountains above the city, waters its innumerable gardens. The water, however, is not good for drinking, and the inhabitants of the villages along its course in the Wady Barada are subject to goitre. Even the poor of Damascus do not ordinarily drink this water. This is probably the Abana of Scripture. The Pharpar is represented by the Phege, a smaller stream of delicious water, whose source was explored by Pocock. It emerges from the mountain range through the same valley as the Barada, and is conducted by aqueducts and pipes to all parts of the city for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants with drinking water. The scanty surplus of the two streams forms a small lake below the city, called Bahr-el-Merj.  - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, William Smith, LLD, Ed.

 

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