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hamath Summary and Overview

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hamath in Easton's Bible Dictionary

fortress, the capital of one of the kingdoms of Upper Syria of the same name, on the Orontes, in the valley of Lebanon, at the northern boundary of Israel (Num. 13:21; 34:8), at the foot of Hermon (Josh. 13:5) towards Damascus (Zech. 9:2; Jer. 49:23). It is called "Hamath the great" in Amos 6:2, and "Hamath-zobah" in 2 Chr. 8:3. Hamath, now Hamah, had an Aramaean population, but Hittite monuments discovered there show that it must have been at one time occupied by the Hittites. It was among the conquests of the Pharaoh Thothmes III. Its king, Tou or Toi, made alliance with David (2 Sam. 8:10), and in B.C. 740 Azariah formed a league with it against Assyria. It was, however, conquered by the Assyrians, and its nineteen districts placed under Assyrian governors. In B.C. 720 it revolted under a certain Yahu-bihdi, whose name, compounded with that of the God of Israel (Yahu), perhaps shows that he was of Jewish origin. But the revolt was suppressed, and the people of Hamath were transported to Samaria (2 Kings 17:24, 30), where they continued to worship their god Ashima. Hamah is beautifully situated on the Orontes, 32 miles north of Emesa, and 36 south of the ruins of Assamea. The kingdom of Hamath comprehended the great plain lying on both banks of the Orontes from the fountain near Riblah to Assamea on the north, and from Lebanon on the west to the desert on the east. The "entrance of Hamath" (Num. 34:8), which was the north boundary of Israel, led from the west between the north end of Lebanon and the Nusairiyeh mountains.

hamath in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(fortress), the principal city of upper Syria, was situated in the valley of the Orontes, which it commanded from the low screen of hills which forms the water-shed between the source of the Orontes and Antioch. The Hamathites were a Hamitic race, and are included among the descendants of Canaan. #Ge 10:18| Nothing appears of the power of Hamath until the time of David. #2Sa 8:9| Hamath seems clearly to have been included in the dominions of Solomon. #1Ki 4:21-24| The "store-cities" which Solomon "built in Hamath," #2Ch 8:4| were perhaps staples for trade. In the Assyrian inscriptions of the time of Ahab (B.C. 900) Hamath appears as a separate power, in alliance with the Syrians of Damascus, the Hittites and the Phoenicians. About three-quarters of a century later Jeroboam the Second "recovered Hamath." #2Ki 14:28| Soon afterwards the Assyrians took it, #2Ki 18:34; 19:13| etc., and from this time it ceased to be a place of much importance. Antiochus Epiphanes changed its name to Epiphaneia. The natives, however, called it Hamath even in St. Jerome's time, and its present name, Hamah, is but slightly altered from the ancient form.

hamath in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

HA'MATH (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.

hamath in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

The chief city of upper Syria, in the valley of the Orontes, commanding the whole valley, from the low hills which form the watershed between the Orontes and the Liturgy, to the defile of Daphne below Antioch; this was "the kingdom of Hamath." An Hamitie race (Genesis 10:18). Akin to their neighbours the Hittites. "The entering in of Hamath," indicates that it (the long valley between Lebanon and Antilebanon) was the point of entrance into the land of Israel for any invading army, as the Assyrians and Babylonians, from the N. The southern approach to Hamath from Coelosyria between Libanus and Antilibanus formed the northern limit to Israel's inheritance (Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5). It was an independent kingdom under Tou or Toi in David's time; Toi sent presents to David who had destroyed the power of Hadarezer, Toi's enemy (2 Samuel 8:9-11). Tributary to Solomon who built "store cities" in it (2 Chronicles 8:4) as staples for the trade which passed along the Orontes valley. Mentioned as an ally of the Syrians of Damascus in the Assyrian inscriptions of Ahab's time. Jeroboam II "recovered Hamath" (2 Kings 14:25); but it was subjugated soon by Assyria (2 Kings 18:34; Amos 6:2; Amos 6:14), Who calls it "Hamath the great." Solomon's feast congregated all Israel "from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt" (1 Kings 8:65). The same point from which Solomon's kingdom began was the point from which, according to Amos' prophecy, began the triumph of Israel's foes for Israel's sin. From Antiochus Epiphanes it afterward got the name Epiphaneia. It has resumed its old name little changed, Hamah; remarkable for its great waterwheels for raising water from the Orontes for the gardens and houses. The alah or "high land" of Syria abounds in ruins of villages, 365 according to the Arabs. Hamath stones have been found, four blocks of basalt inscribed with hieroglyphics, first noticed by Burckhardt in 1810; the characters in cameo raised from two to four lines, not incised, as other Syrian inscriptions. The names of Thothroes III and Amenophis I are read by some scholars in them. Burton thinks these inscriptions form a connecting link between picture writing and alphabetic writing. Probably they were Hittite in origin.