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Reference: Hamath


A celebrated city of Syria. Hamath, like Jerusalem and Damascus, is one of the few places in Syria and Palestine which have retained a certain degree of importance from the very earliest ages to the present time. The name occurs in Ge 10:18, as the seat of a Canaanitish tribe; and it is often mentioned as the northern limits of Canaan in its widest extent, Nu 13:21; Jos 13:5; Jg 3:3. In David's time, Toi king of Hamath was his ally, 2Sa 8:9-10.

Burckhardt describes Hamath as "situated on both sides of the Orontes; a part of it is built on the declivity of a hill, and a part in the plain. The town is of considerable extent, and must contain at least 30,000 inhabitants. There are four bridges over the Orontes in the town. The river supplies the upper town with water by means of buckets fixed to high wheels, which empty themselves into stone canals, supported by lofty arches on a level with the upper part of the town. There are about a dozen of the wheels; the largest of them is at least seventy feet in diameter. The principal trade of Hamath is with the Arabs, who buy here their tent furniture and clothes. The government of Hamath comprises about one hundred and twenty inhabited villages, and seventy or eighty which have been abandoned. The western part of its territory is the granary of the northern Syria, though the harvest never yields more than ten for one, chiefly in consequence of the immense numbers of mice, which sometimes wholly destroy the crops." "The entering in of Hamath" is the northern part of the valley which leads up to it from Palestine, between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, Nu 13:21; 1Ki 1:53.

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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 Palestine (Nu 13:21; 34:8), at the foot of Hermon (JOS 13:5) towards Damascus (Zec 9:2; Jer 49:23). It is called "Hamath the great" in Amos 6:2, and "Hamath-zobah" in 2Ch 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 (2Sa 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 (2Ki 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" (Nu 34:8), which was the north boundary of Palestine, led from the west between the north end of Lebanon and the Nusairiyeh mountains.

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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 (Ge 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 (Nu 13:21; 34:8; Jos 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 (2Sa 8:9-11). Tributary to Solomon who built "store cities" in it (2Ch 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" (2Ki 14:25); but it was subjugated soon by Assyria (2Ki 18:34; Am 6:2,14), Who calls it "Hamath the great." Solomon's feast congregated all Israel "from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt" (1Ki 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.

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A city on the Orontes, the capital of the kingdom of Hamath, to the territory of which the border of Israel extended in the reign of Solomon (1Ki 8:65), who is related to have built store-cities there (2Ch 8:4). Jeroboam ii., the son of Joash, restored the kingdom to this northern limit (2Ki 14:25,28), and it was regarded as the legitimate border of the land of Israel (Nu 34:8; Jos 13:5), and was employed as a geographical term (Nu 13:21, cf. Jg 3:3). The Hamathite is mentioned last of the sons of Canaan in the table of nations (Ge 10:18; 1Ch 1:16). During the time of David, Toi was king of Hamath (2Sa 8:9); the greatness of the city is referred to by the prophet Amos (Am 6:2), and it is classed by Zechariah with Damascus, Tyre and Zidon (Zec 9:1 f.). The city was conquered by Tiglath-pileser iii. and Sargon, and part of its inhabitants were deported and the land was largely colonized by Assyrians; its capture and subjugation are referred to in the prophetic literature (Isa 10:9; Jer 49:23; cf. also 2Ki 18:34; Isa 36:19; 2Ki 19:13). Hamath is mentioned as one of the places to which Israelites were exiled (Isa 11:11), and it was also one of the places whose inhabitants were deported to colonize Israelite territory on the capture of Samaria (2Ki 17:24,30). See Ashima.

L. W. King.

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Hamath' Hemath.

District and a noted city in the north of Syria. We read of the HAMATHITE as early as Ge 10:18. The district lay north of the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon, but perhaps extended southward, as the northern border of Israel is spoken of as 'the entering in of Hamath.' 1Ki 8:65. Toi, king of Hamath, sent to congratulate David on his victory over Hadadezer. It was more than a hundred miles farther north than Dan, but it became tributary to Solomon and he built store cities there. 2Ch 8:4. On the death of Solomon it appears to have gained its independence, for it was recovered by Jeroboam II. 2 Kings 14:28. It afterwards fell into the hands of the Assyrians. Jer 52:9,27.

Antiochus Epiphanes changed its name to Epiphaneia, which name appears on some maps. It is now called Hamah. The river Orontes runs through the city. It is so far removed from the path of ordinary travellers (35 12' N, 36 38' E) that it retains its ancient customs and pride, along with its poverty and fanaticism. The district is mentioned in the future division of the land. Eze 47:16-17,20; 48:1; Am 6:14; Zec 9:2. In Am 6:2 it is called HAMATH THE GREAT.

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(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.

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HAMATH, a city of Syria, capital of a province of the same name, lying upon the Orontes, Jos 13:5; Jg 3:3; 2Ki 14:25; 2Ch 7:8. The king of Hamath cultivated a good understanding with David, 2Sa 8:9. This city was taken by the kings of Judah, and afterward retaken by the Syrians, and recovered from them by Jeroboam the Second, 2Ki 14:28.

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