Israel, the Syrian City-States and the Assyrian Empire

Among the immediate neighbors of the Hebrew kingdom(s) the Syrian state based round Damascus (Aram) was particularly important. Israel claimed that the ancestors came from this cultural region (cf. Dt 26:5) and already by the time of the united monarchy the Aramean state was one of Israel's few rivals for regional supremacy (cf. 1 Kgs 11:23–25).

After the two Hebrew kingdoms separated Syria was a possible partner for one or other in conflict between them (1 Kgs 15:18ff.; 1 Kgs 20; 2 Kgs 6:24ff.; 8:7–15). Syria, Israel and Judah together with the other Aramean cities and the Philistine cities were also from time to time allies against the rise of Assyrian power.

For example Israel under Ahab, Damascus and Hamath (the other major Syrian state at that time) all fielded significant contingents against the Assyrian imperial forces at the battle of Qarqar (853bce).

When Jehu took power in Israel and paid tribute to Assyria, Hazael of Syria attacked Israel (cf. Am 1:3f.; 2 Kgs 10:32–33).

However, Jeroboam II seems to have succeeded in gaining ascendancy over Syria (2 Kgs 14:28).


This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.