The city of Damascus is the capital of modern Syria, and was the main Aramean city from the 10-8th centuries BCE. The Aramean kingdom was alternately the rival and ally of Israel, until the Assyrians incorporated it into their empire in 732BCE.
Damascus is still a major center for trade in the region
Damascus was situated on the Abana river (today called Barada), protected by mountains to the west, and desert to the east. The river valley is fertile and lush. The major trade route from Mesopotamia to Egypt ran along this river which flowed all year round.
The Bible recounts (2 Sam 8) how David defeated the Arameans near Zorbah (another major Aramean city of that time) and how Solomon retained control over the region till Rezon a survivor of David's battle captured Damascus (1 Kgs 11:23-25) and began the strong Aramean kingdom based there. According to the biblical accounts Damascus was the dominant state in the region for much of the 9th and 8th centuries. Bir-hadad I (Ben-hadad in the Bible) subdued Israel in alliance with Judah (1 Kgs 15:16-22), and Damascus lead the coalition that fought the Assyrians at the battle of Qarqar (853BCE). The modern city of Damascus
Hazael, took control of Damascus around 842BCE (2 Kgs 8:7–15). Despite invasions by Shalmaneser III in 841 and 838, Hazael was able to control most of southern Syria and Palestine (including parts of Israel - 2 Kgs 10:32–33).
At the end of the 9th and beginning of the 8th centuries Aramean' power declined and Jeroboam II may even have made Damascus his vassal (2 Kgs 14:25-28).
In 720 Hamath and Damascus with other Aramean cities that had not yet been annexed, rebelled against Assyria. The powerful Assyrian king, Sargon II, defeated this coalition at Qarqar, Hamath was annexed, and no more is heard of an independent Damascus.
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.