What is…

also known as: Hama, Hamah, Hamath the great, Hemath and Hamath-zobah

Hebrew: חֲמָת —transliteration: Chamath —transliteration: fortress

This is the capital of one of the kingdoms of Upper Syria of the same name, on the Orontes river, in the valley of Lebanon, at the northern boundary of Israel (Numbers 13:21; 34:8), at the foot of Mount Hermon (Joshua 13:5) towards Damascus (Zechariah 9:2; Jeremiah 49:23).

Its people are called Hamathites and are descendants of patriarch Canaan, son of Ham (Genesis 10:18; 1 Chronicles 1:16). Thus, they are also Hamites.

The city is called “Hamath the great” in Amos 6:2, and “Hamath-zobah” in 2 Chronicles 8:3.

Hamath, now Hama, 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.

The king of Hamath, Tou or Toi, made an alliance with King 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 Yahu-bihdi, whose name, compounded with that of an abbrevation 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 false god Ashima (2 Kings 17:30 — Canaanite goddess of fate).

Kingdom of Hamath

The Kingdom of Hamath included 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 Israel, led from the west between the north end of Lebanon and the Nusairiyeh mountains.


Modern Hama, Syria — satellite view

Hama (Hamah) is beautifully situated on the Orontes river, 32 miles north of Emesa, and 36 south of the ruins of Assamea.

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Article Version: June 15, 2024