Syria; Syrian

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

The Hebrew Aram
So indefinitely bounded at different times as to have been associated with Assyria (whence its name) and Babylon. More definitely the country to the north of Canaan, extending from the Tigris to the Mediterranean, and northward to the Taurus ranges. Damascus was the capital, and center of wealth, learning, and power. Joshua subdued its petty kings (Josh. 11:2-18); David reduced it to submission (2 Sam. 8; 10). During Solomon’s reign it became independent (1 Kings 11:23-25). The earliest recorded settlers in Syria were Hittites and other Hamitic races. The Shemitic element entered it from the southeast under Abraham and Chedorlaomer. After Syria became independent it was a persistent enemy of the Jews (1 Kings 15:18-20; 20; 22; 2 Kings 6:8-33; 7; 9:14-15; 10:32-33; 13:3,14-25). The attempt of the Syrian king to ally Israel with him for the overthrow of Judah led Ahaz to call in the help of Assyria, and Syria was soon merged into the great Assyrian empire. It was conquered by Alexander the Great, B. C. 333, and finally fell to the lot of Seleucus Nicator, who made it the central province of his empire, with the capital at Antioch. The Syriac language was closely allied to the Hebrew.

Concise Bible Dictionary:

In scripture this name mostly signifies the district lying north and north-east of Palestine, the inhabitants of which were Syrians. If from Dan to Beersheba be taken as the boundaries of Palestine, it leaves for Syria a district quite as large on its north, besides extending also to the Euphrates on the east. For the sub-divisions of Syria mentioned in scripture see ARAM.
There are but few references to the Syrians in the early part of scripture. In connection with Rebekah the wife of Isaac, Laban (grandson of Nahor, Abraham’s brother) “the Syrian” is introduced (Gen. 25:20; Gen. 28:5; Gen. 31:20,24); and an Israelite, in presenting his basket of first-fruits, was instructed to confess before the Lord, “A Syrian ready to perish was my father,” followed by a rehearsal of what God had done for the descendants of Jacob, and how He had brought them into the promised land (Deut. 26:5). The only reference to the name in the New Testament is in Luke 4:27, where it is stated that there were many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha, but none were cured but Naaman the Syrian.
Damascus was the capital of the part of Syria which was often in conflict with Israel. It was conquered in David’s reign and was subject to Solomon; but after the division of the kingdom it revolted and was again hostile to Israel. It became merged into the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. After that it passed to the Persians, and then submitted to Alexander the Great. On his death it came under the power of Seleucus Nicator, who built Antioch and made it his capital. For many years his successors contended with the Ptolemies for the possession of Palestine. See ANTIOCHUS. In B.C. 63 Syria was conquered by Pompey, and Palestine became subject to Rome. After the decline of Rome, Syria and Palestine had many different masters, and eventually fell into the hands of the Turks, who are still their owners.
The only governor of Syria mentioned in the New Testament is Cyreniu (Luke 2:2). Palestine was divided into sub-provinces after the death of Herod. The Lord in His journeys visited some of the borders of Syria, and His fame went throughout all Syria (Matt. 4:24). After Antioch had become a sort of central station from whence the gospel went out to the Gentiles, Paul traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches (Acts 15:23,41).
It will be seen that the physical features of Western Syria and Palestine are very similar—their natural contour indeed being the same.

Jackson’s Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names:


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