|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Fortress, the capital of one of the kingdoms of Upper Syria of the same name, on the Orontes, in the valley of Lebanon, at the northern boundary of Palestine (Numbers 13:21; 34:8), at the foot of Hermon (Joshua 13:5) towards Damascus (Zechariah 9:2; Jeremiah 49:23). It is called "Hamath the great" in Amos 6:2, and "Hamath-zobah" in 2 Chronicles 8:3.
Hamath, now Hamah, had an Aramaean population, but Hittite monuments discovered there show that it must have been at one time occupied by the Hittites. It was among the conquests of the Pharaoh Thothmes III. Its king, Tou or Toi, made alliance with David (2 Samuel 8:10), and in B.C. 740 Azariah formed a league with it against Assyria. It was, however, conquered by the Assyrians, and its nineteen districts placed under Assyrian governors. In B.C. 720 it revolted under a certain Yahu-bihdi, whose name, compounded with that of the God of Israel (Yahu), perhaps shows that he was of Jewish origin. But the revolt was suppressed, and the people of Hamath were transported to Samaria (2 Kings 17:24, 30), where they continued to worship their god Ashima. Hamah is beautifully situated on the Orontes, 32 miles north of Emesa, and 36 south of the ruins of Assamea.
The kingdom of Hamath comprehended the great plain lying on both banks of the Orontes from the fountain near Riblah to Assamea on the north, and from Lebanon on the west to the desert on the east. The "entrance of Hamath" (Numbers 34:8), which was the north boundary of Palestine, led from the west between the north end of Lebanon and the Nusairiyeh mountains.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ha'-math (chamath; Hemath, Haimath; Swete also has Hemath): The word signifies a defense or citadel, and such designation was very suitable for this chief royal city of the Hittites, situated between their northern and southern capitals, Carchemish and Kadesh, on a gigantic mound beside the Orontes. In Amos 6:2 it is named Great Hamath, but not necessarily to distinguish it from other places of the same name.
1. Early History:
The Hamathite is mentioned in Genesis 10:18 among the sons of Canaan, but in historic times the population, as the personal names testify, seems to have been for the most part Semitic. The ideal boundary of Israel reached the territory, but not the city of Hamath (Numbers 34:8 Joshua 13:5 Ezekiel 47:13-21). David entered into friendly relations with Toi, its king (2 Samuel 8:9), and Solomon erected store cities in the land of Hamath (2 Chronicles 8:4). In the days of Ahab we meet with it on the cuneiform inscriptions, under the name mat hamatti, and its king Irhuleni was a party to the alliance of the Hittites with Ben-hadad of Damascus and Ahab of Israel against Shalmaneser II; but this was broken up by the battle of Qarqar in 854 B.C., and Hamath became subject to Assyria. Jeroboam II attacked, partially destroyed, and held it for a short time (2 Kings 14:28 Amos 6:2). In 730 B.C., its king Eniilu paid tribute to Tiglath-pileser, but he divided its lands among his generals, and transported 1,223 of its inhabitants to Sura on the Tigris. In 720, Sargon "rooted out the land of Hamath and dyed the skin of Ilubi'idi (or Jau-bi'idi) its king, like wool" and colonized the country with 4,300 Assyrians, among whom was Deioces the Mede. A few years later Sennacherib also claims to have taken it (2 Kings 18:34; 2 Kings 19:13). In Isaiah 11:11, mention is made of Israelites in captivity at Hamath, and Hamathites were among the colonists settled in Samaria (2 Kings 17:24) by Esarhaddon in 675 B.C. Their special object of worship was Ashima, which, notwithstanding various conjectures, has not been identified.
2. Later History:
The Hamathite country is mentioned in 1 Maccabees 12:25 in connection with the movements of Demetrius and Jonathan. The Seleucids renamed it Epiphaneia (Josephus, Ant, I, vi, 2), and by this name it was known to the Greeks and the Romans, even appearing as Paphunya in Midrash Ber Rab chapter 37. Locally, however, the ancient name never disappeared, and since the Moslem conquest it has been known as Hama. Saladin's family ruled it for a century and a half, but after the death of Abul-fida in 1331 it sank into decay.
3. Modern Condition:
The position of Hama in a fruitful plain to the East of the Nusairiyeh Mountains, on the most frequented highway between Mesopotamia and Egypt, and on the new railway, gives it again, as in ancient times, a singular significance, and it is once more rising in importance. The modern town is built in four quarters around the ancient citadel-mound, and it has a population of at least 80,000. It is now noted for its gigantic irrigating wheels. Here, too, the Hittite inscriptions were first found and designated Hamathite.
4. Entering in of Hamath:
In connection with the northern boundary of Israel, "the entering in of Hamath" is frequently mentioned (Numbers 13:21 1 Kings 8:65, etc., the American Standard Revised Version "entrance"). It has been sought in the Orontes valley, between Antioch and Seleucia, and also at Wady Nahr el-Barid, leading down from Homs to the Mediterranean to the North of Tripoli. But from the point of view of Palestine, it must mean some part of the great valley of Coele-Syria (Biqa'a). It seems that instead of translating, we should read here a place-name-"Libo of Hamath"-and the presence of the ancient site of Libo (modern Leboue) 14 miles North-Northeast of Baalbek, at the head-waters of the Orontes, commanding the strategical point where the plain broadens out to the North and to the South, confirms us in this conjecture.
W. M. Christie
Hamath (36 Occurrences)
Numbers 13:21 So they went up, and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, to the entrance of Hamath. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 34:8 from Mount Hor you shall mark out to the entrance of Hamath; and the goings out of the border shall be at Zedad; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 13:5 and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal Gad under Mount Hermon to the entrance of Hamath; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 3:3 namely, the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Samuel 8:9 When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had struck all the army of Hadadezer, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 8:65 So Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before Yahweh our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 14:25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the sea of the Arabah, according to the word of Yahweh, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath Hepher. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 14:28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, for Israel, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 17:24 The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and lived in the cities of it. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 17:30 The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 18:34 Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 19:13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah?"'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 23:33 Pharaoh Necoh put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of one hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 25:21 The king of Babylon struck them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away captive out of his land. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Chronicles 13:5 So David assembled all Israel together, from the Shihor the brook of Egypt even to the entrance of Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. (WEB JPS ASV BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Chronicles 18:3 David struck Hadadezer king of Zobah to Hamath, as he went to establish his dominion by the river Euphrates. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Chronicles 18:9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had struck all the army of Hadadezer king of Zobah, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Chronicles 7:8 So Solomon held the feast at that time seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Chronicles 8:3 Solomon went to Hamath Zobah, and prevailed against it. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Chronicles 8:4 He built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the storage cities, which he built in Hamath. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 10:9 Isn't Calno like Carchemish? Isn't Hamath like Arpad? Isn't Samaria like Damascus?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 11:11 It will happen in that day that the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 36:19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 37:13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah?'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 39:5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; and he gave judgment on him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 49:23 Of Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad; for they have heard evil news, they are melted away: there is sorrow on the sea; it can't be quiet. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 52:9 Then they took the king, and carried him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; and he gave judgment on him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 52:27 The king of Babylon struck them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away captive out of his land. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 47:15 And this is to be the limit of the land: on the north side, from the Great Sea, in the direction of Hethlon, as far as the way into Hamath; (BBE RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 47:16 Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazer Hatticon, which is by the border of Hauran. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 47:17 The border from the sea, shall be Hazar Enon at the border of Damascus; and on the north northward is the border of Hamath. This is the north side. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 47:20 The west side shall be the great sea, from the south border as far as over against the entrance of Hamath. This is the west side. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 48:1 Now these are the names of the tribes: From the north end, beside the way of Hethlon to the entrance of Hamath, Hazar Enan at the border of Damascus, northward beside Hamath, (and they shall have their sides east and west), Dan, one portion. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 6:2 Go to Calneh, and see; and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. are they better than these kingdoms? or is their border greater than your border? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 6:14 For, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, house of Israel," says Yahweh, the God of Armies; "and they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of the Arabah." (WEB JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Zechariah 9:2 and Hamath, also, which borders on it; Tyre and Sidon, because they are very wise. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)