Damascus (in photograph below) was founded more than 4,000 years ago, making it one of the world's oldest cities (in contrast, very few cities in Europe have formally existed for more than 1,000 years, and in North America very few cities have existed for more than just 200 years). Damascus is today the capital of Syria. Its favorable climate, along with its ancient gardens and olive groves, make it one of the most beautiful cities in all of western Asia. Damascus is located about 135 miles / 220 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem.
A Damascus Fact File
The Syrian city has a long association with Bible Places and Bible History:
- Damascus is listed among the conquests of the Egyptian king Thothmes III, about 1500 B.C. (see The Ancient Egyptians and Egyptian Pharaohs), and in the Amarna tablets, about 1400 B.C.
- Damascus is first directly mentioned in The Bible way back in Genesis 14:15 when Abraham defeated the combined forces of a number kings under Kedorlaomer. Before Abraham had children (i.e. Isaac and Ishmael), Eliezer of Damascus, Abraham's chief servant, was to have been his heir (Genesis 15:2).
- King David held Damascus for some time, with a large garrison there (2 Samuel 8:5-6).
- During the time of King Solomon (see Solomon's Kingdom), the rebel-leader Rezon and his forces in Damascus were very hostile to the united kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 11:23-25), and after the division of the kingdom, they fought with the northern kingdom of Israel against the southern kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 15:37). See Kings Of Israel and Judah and Jews At War With Israel.
- Damascus was captured and destroyed by the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser. The inhabitants were carried captive into Assyria, just like the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 16:7-9). This fall was a fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 17:1, Amos 1:4-5, Jeremiah 49:24)
- Damascus then experienced a long era of foreign rulers - Assyrians (see Ancient Empires - Assyria), Babylonians (see Ancient Empires - Babylon), Persians (see Ancient Empires - Persia), Greeks (see Ancient Empires - Greece, and after Alexander the Great, The Ptolemies and The Seleucids) and Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome). It remained under Roman control through the New Testament period (see also Daniel's Statue).
- The city is perhaps best known in the New Testament for Saul's conversion On The Road To Damascus (Acts 9:1-25) after the martyrdom of Stephen. That event created one of the most prominent Christians in all history - Paul.
Fact Finder: What was the name of the disciple in Damascus who took Saul/Paul in after he was struck down by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus?