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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Syria


Zobah (Syria)

FeatureAncient Syria was much larger than its modern counterpart, being bordered by the Taurus Mountains in the north, the Upper Euphrates to the north-east, and the Syrian Desert to the south-east (see feature link). The name is Greek, which they used to describe various Assyrian peoples.

The ancient city of Zobah was located in Syria.

The ruins of Alalakh in Syria

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Ancient Israel and Its Neighbours: Interaction and Counteraction. Collected Essays Vol 1, Nadav Na'aman, from The Cambridge Ancient History, edited by I E S Edwards, from Hittite Diplomatic Texts, Gary Beckman (Second Ed, Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1999), from The Kingdom of the Hittites, Trevor Bryce (1998), from The Hittites, O R Gurney (1991), from The Hittites, J G Macqueen (1996), and from External Links: A Brief History of Hattusha/Boğazköy (Archive.today), and Anatolian Conference abstracts, Emory University, and Expedition to Zincirli (University of Chicago).)

c.1200 - 900s BC

The entire Near East is hit by drought and the loss of surviving crops. Food supplies dwindle and the number of raids by habiru and other groups of peoples who have banded together greatly increases until, by about 1200 BC, this flood has turned into a tidal wave.

Habu relief at Medinet
Attacks by the Sea Peoples gathered momentum during the last decade of the thirteenth century BC, quickly reaching a peak which lasted about forty years

With political chaos engulfing Anatolia, Syria, and the Levant coast, and Assyria weakening, there is nothing to stop Aramaean tribes from migrating southwards and eastwards. Over the course of the twelfth to ninth centuries BC they mount attacks which destroy cities such as Qatna, and Qattara, and take control in many established cities, including Alep (Lukhuti), Aram-Nahara'im, Ebla, Hamath, Pattin, and Yadiya.

They also found (or re-found) cities of their own, including, Aram-Bet-Rehob, Aram Damascus, Aram-Ma'akah, Aram-Sovah, Bit-Adini, Bit Agusi, Bit-Bahiani, Bit-Gabari, Geshur, Adma (a minor city until refounded by the Greeks as Osroene), and Zobah, many of which become significant minor states.

fl c.1000? BC


King of Zobah.

fl c.970? BC


Son. King of Zobah. City fell to David and the Israelites.

c.970? BC

The Old Testament recounts that 'when David destroyed Zobah's army, Rezon gathered a band of men around him and became their leader; they went to Aram Damascus (Damas) where they settled and took control'. This Rezon is a young officer of Zobah, the son of Eliada, who escapes the city's fall and establishes himself in Damas, where he 'founds' Aram Damascus - in other words he takes control of it with his band of men - and severely threatens Israel and its northern successor, Samaria. The changes mean that Damas also replaces the eclipsed Zobah as the main centre of Aramaean power in the Levant.

Possible location of Zobah, northern Beqaa
One possible location for the city of Zobah - although not the only one - is the northern Beqaa Valley based on the city's dealings with its neighbours

c.930s BC

Solomon's elaborate building operations and lavish personal existence have already led to forced labour, high taxes, and increasing unrest amongst the populace. In the later years of his reign, his enemies increase, 'divinely raised up to chasten him'. One of these is Rezon, the son of Eliada, a former officer of Zobah who has assumed control of Aram Damascus.

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