Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Understanding what Syria means in various Bible references

In all likely hood no use of "Syria" in the King James Bible is exactly synonymous with Modern Syria.

Every time you see Syria in The Old Testament, the Hebrew said Aram, one of the sons of Shem.  Now very early on Aram settled further north, maybe in modern Turkey.  But they had traveled to the Damascus area well before the time of Saul.

The kingdom of Aram was centered around Damascus, but it did not include all or even most of modern Syria.  It's size varied at different times of course.  But it certainly never controlled anything on the other side of the Euphrates River.  And also never anything north of Lebanon.  Pretty much anything between Damascus and modern Syria's borders with Leabanon and Israel and western Jordan had been Aramean territory at times.  And they also sometimes controlled parts of north western Jordan, and possibly extended into the Golan Heights.

Our word Syria comes from Greek usage that was adopted by the Romans.  In origin it derives from Assyria, which is what they called Asshur.  The Assurian Empire at times controlled pretty much all of modern Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Israel, and also parts of Turkey.  The original intent of the word might have been Mesopotamia + Syria = Assyria.

The name became synonymous with the Seleucid Empire to an extent.  At it's greatest extent Seleucus controlled all of what Assyria had and even more of Turkey (almost all of it really) and Iran and into Afghanistan and Pakistan and the very edge of India.

But once Parthia broke off as well as the Hasmonean revolt it shrunk a great deal, many parts of Turkey became independent as did Petra/Nabatea.  For awhile it looked a lot like modern Syria and Iraq plus chunks of Turkey.   In about 150 BC it lost Mesopotamia to Parthia.

Damascus was also independent of the Seleucids for awhile.  Also, Antioch the Seleucid capital is not part of modern Syria but in Turkey.

The Septuagint is likely the origin of thinking of Syria and Aram as synonymous.  I think the Septuagint translators made a bit of a mistake there.

The Roman Province of Syria also never matched modern Syria exactly, it's capital was also Antioch.  It never had anything on the other side of the Euphrates, and also most of the time did not Include Damascus (sometimes Damascus was independent, sometimes it was under Herodian control, Aretas had it when Paul was there).  To an extent it was the base of what the Seleucid Kingdom had declined down to when it fell to Pompey.

After Hadrian put down the Bar-Kochba Revolt he made Judea which he renamed Palestina part of Syria.  Later that again broke off into a separate province.

This is why Daniel 11 never uses Syria as a synonym for the King of The North like it does Egypt for The South.  And why we should be iffy about assuming any possible eschatological application for 36-45 must equal modern Syria or Damascus.  Or of reading references to Syria and Damascus in other prophecies as being about the same as the King of The North.  There is however good reason to see a possible correlation between The Assyrian and the King of The North.

If The Antichrist is the Willful King of Daniel 11:36-45 he is NOT the King of The North.

I.S.I.S. has been observed as starting to look kind of like both ancient Assyria and the Seleucid Empire.  But in order for that to fully work it'll have to take some parts of Turkey.  And that seems highly unlikely.

Since the Captial was often the most important identifying city of a Kingdom in ancient times, it's easy to see why the King of Antioch would be the King of The North from Israel's perspective even though other Hellenistic Kingdoms were further North.  It's directly due North of Israel.

Today Antioch is in Turkey, but it's not Turkey's capital.  So an argument that the King of The North now refers to Turkey would be a complicated one to make.  It's ties to Seleucus are as valid as Syria and Iraq's.  But in Daniel 11:40 the King of The South is taking the lead, Turkey is not likely to let Egypt take the lead in any alliance.

Modern Syria is broken up between at least 4 camps right now.  The Assad government which may not control much outside the immediate vicinity of Damascus does kinda look like Aram right now.  I.S.I.S., The Kurds who don't want anything besides their homeland, and other resistance groups who hate Assad and Isis equally.

The largest city in modern Syria is Aleppo rather then Damascus.  The news confuses me so I honestly have no idea if Aleppo is under I.S.I.S. control or not, but I think it's currently not, but it is definitely an objective of ISIS to take it..  It's near the Turkish border where Antioch is.

Aleppo is possibly around where Aram was at some point before they traveled south and settled in the Damascus area.  Seleucus named the city Beroea, which derived from Boreas, the North Wind in Greek Mythology, which is interesting.

The Hebrew word translated North in Daniel 11 is Zaphon, which is also the name Ugarit texts give Jebel Aqra on the modern Syria-Turkey border south of Antioch.And apparently Seleucus I made the decision to found Antioch where and how he did after praying to Zeus on that very mountain.  So he was truly the King of Zaphon.

Some Old Testament locations that equate to around where Aleppo and Antioch are would be Laish (conquered by Dan in Judges, not to be confused with Leshem, the Dan of the Golan Heights) and Hammath.

Basically the areas where the Denyen of the Egyptian Sea Peoples records and Danuna of the Amarna letters lived.  As well as Yamhad.  Ugarit is also near there.

No comments:

Post a Comment