- In biblical history the term applies to the region round Damascus, north of Israel, with the Mediterranean Sea on the west, known in the OT as Aram. David conquered it (2 Sam. 8:5 f.) but when Israel and Judah split the terrirory became independent and repeatedly harassed Israel; on one occasion, however, Syria and Israel united in order to coerce Judah (Isa. 7). Assyria sacked Damascus in 732 BCE. Syria then ceased to be of importance until the time of the Greek (and later the Roman) empires. Its leading city, Antioch, on the River Orontes, became the capital of the Seleucid Empire against which the Maccabeans [[➝ Maccabees, books of]] revolted in 165 BCE. The Romans made Syria into a province, and Christianity soon spread to Antioch (Acts 11:19–26). Here members of the Church were first called Christians, and here Peter and Paul had a painful confrontation (Gal. 2:11). Early in the 2nd cent. its bishop was Ignatius.
Dictionary of the Bible.
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