Syria

Syria (Sihr´ee-uh)

An indeterminate regional term applied to the eastern Mediterranean shore. In ancient history the term “Syria” usually refers to the area surrounding Damascus, the Aram of the OT, which varied in size according to the strength of the rulers. Israelite-Syrian relations were often antagonistic, but at times the two combined for mutual defense, as when King Ahab of Israel joined with Ben-hadad of Damascus and other rulers to resist the Assyrian Shalmaneser III at Qarqar in 853 BCE. Normally Syria dominated Israel, but David apparently conquered and garrisoned Damascus (2Sam 8:3-6), and Ahab gained commercial rights there (1Kgs 20:34). Jeroboam II of Israel (786–746 BCE) is said to have conquered Damascus (2Kgs 14:28) and restored the empire of David and Solomon. Later (753–733 BCE) King Pekah of Israel sought the help of Rezin of Syria against King Ahaz of Judah, but he achieved nothing (Isa 7:1-17). Ahaz appealed for help to Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria, who conquered and ravaged Damascus in 732, making it part of his empire. Throughout the NT period Syria was under Roman control, forming part of a much larger province of that name. Jesus never visited Syria, but after Pentecost, Christianity spread rapidly into the region, and according to Acts, Paul’s conversion occurred as he traveled to Damascus to arrest the Christians there (Acts 9:1-25).

2Sam 8:3-6

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1Kgs 20:34

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2Kgs 14:28

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Isa 7:1-17

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Acts 9:1-25

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