What is Hamath?
(fortress, citadel), one of the most important cities of Syria, and one of the oldest in the world. It was founded by a son of Canaan, Gen 10:18; Num 34:8, and was situated in the valley of the Orontes, between its source and the site of the city of Antioch. It thus commanded the route to the Euphrates from Phoenicia, and may be called the "key" of northern Palestine. It was 165 miles in a straight line north of Jerusalem, and was the capital of a kingdom or province of which little is known. It was visited by the spies, Num 13:21, and it is frequently noticed as the northern boundary of Palestine. Num 34:8; Josh 13:5. Its king, Toi, blessed David for his victory over Zobah, 2 Sam 8:9-12; Solomon extended his kingdom to Hamath, 1 Kgs 8:6; 2 Chr 8:4, and built store-cities in that region; afterward the city and country became independent, but were again subdued by Jeroboam II., 2 Kgs 14:25, 2 Kgs 14:28. It was taken by the Assyrians, 2 Kgs 18:34; Isa 10:9; Amos calls it "Hamath the great," and speaks of its desolation. Am 6:2. Later History-The name of Hamath was changed by Antiochus Epiphanes to Epiphania, though the old name does not appear to have been lost, since it was known as Hamath in the time of Jerome. The place was taken by the Moslems, a.d. 639; by the Franks, a.d. 1108; by the Turks, a.d. 1115; was destroyed by an earthquake in which 15,000 persons perished, a.d. 1157; and taken by Saladin, a.d. 1178. Its modern name is Hamah, and it is now a place of 30,000 inhabitants. Porter regards it as a town where life has been at a standstill for 30 centuries. It, how Inscription discovered at Hamath. (From a report of the Am, Palestine Exploration Society.) ever, has large bazaars, baths, mosques, and hydraulic works, and carries on an active trade with Aleppo and other towns of Asia and Africa. The Persian water-wheels, which creak and groan as they raise the water for the supply of the city, are great curiosities. The Hamath inscriptions, which have in late years excited the attention of scholars, were first seen by Burckhardt, but attracted little notice until 1870. The stones are four in number, and are inscribed in hieroglyphics of a very ancient character; they have not yet been satisfactorilv deciphered.