|Hamath - |
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.