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Bible Dictionary

SYRIA

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SYRIA

(Heb. «’Aram», Gr. «Syria»).
Asian country. Its limits have varied according to different historical circumstances. At the time of the OT Syria included most of the regions that in ancient times bore the name of Aram and Canaan.

The name Syria is sometimes given as a synonym for the ancient term Aram, which is inaccurate, because Syria has a broader meaning. Short for the term Assyria, the term Syria became common after the conquests of Alexander the Great.

Herodotus confuses Assyria with Syria, while for the Hebrews, Syria seemed to begin at the northern limit of Palestine, reaching in the north to the foothills of the Taurus, in the west to the Mediterranean, and to the east probably to the Khabur, a tributary of the Euphrates. , It distinguished:

(a) The Syria of Damascus (2 Sam. 8:5-6).

(b) The Syria of Soba.

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(c) That of Beth-rehob (2 Sam. 10:6-8).

(d) Aram-naharaim, or “Mesopotamia” (Gen. 24:10).

Syrians from beyond the Euphrates are mentioned (2 Sam. 10:16-19). The authors gr. They used the term Syria even more extensively than the Hebrews used the term Aram.

In the LXX and the NT a distinction is made between Syria and Phenicia on the one hand, and Samaria, Judea and Idumea on the other. In a restricted sense, which is the one used in this article, the territory of Syria measured about 500 km from north to south, and ranged between 80 and 240 km in width.

The country is mountainous in general. To the west, two mountain ranges, close together, run parallel to the coast from the region of Tire to Antioch.

They are Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, which join near Antioch to the Amanus chain, which in turn connects with the Taurus Mountains. With the Damascus region, the most fertile area of Syria is the 360 km long valley located between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, Celesyria (or concave Syria).

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The mountainous area in the north is also fertile, but the soil in the plains around Aleppo is poor. To the east, the Syrian Desert forms a plateau that is difficult to cross and has not been exhaustively explored by man.

Its most notable oasis is Palmira. The main waterways are the Orontes, the Litani, the Barada, which passes through Damascus, the Koweik, through Aleppo, and the Sakhur, a tributary of the Euphrates.

History.
The first occupants of the country seem to have been of Hamite origin (Gen. 10:6, 15-18); While they were still largely nomadic, Semites from the southeast flocked there. At that time, the only city mentioned in the Bible is Damascus (Gen. 14:15; 15:2); The name of Hamath appears next (Num. 13:21; 34:8).

However, recent archaeological excavations shed much light on this period of Syrian history, establishing the existence of a commercial and political empire centered on Ebla, and already flourishing centuries before Abraham (see MARDIKH [TELL]).

Based on these discoveries, it has been possible to document the existence, even then, of Byblos, Ashdod, Jafa, Aco, Sidon, Beirut, Alalakh and Homs, among others.

Israel first came into conflict with the Syrians in the time of David, who defeated Hadadezer, king of Zobah, the Syrians of Damascus (2 Sam. 8:3-13), those of Beth-rehob (2 S. 10:6), as well as those who came from beyond the Euphrates (2 Sam. 10:16-19).

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Solomon maintained this dominion over Israel until the Euphrates (1 Kings 4:21; cf. Gen. 15:18), with the exception of Damascus, an independent state ruled by Rezon (1 Kings 11:23-25).

After the separation of Israel and Judah, the kings of Syria established in Damascus (Ben-hadad, Hazael, Ben-hadad II, Rezin) frequently warred against the rulers of the northern kingdom (Ahab, Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, Joash , Jeroboam II).

In the time of Ahaz, king of Judah, the Syrian king Rezin captured Elat and attacked Jerusalem, allied with Pekah, king of Israel. Ahaz called Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, to his aid; He attacked Damascus, taking it, killing Rezin, and taking its inhabitants into captivity (2 Kings 16:5-9).

Syria was since then annexed to the Assyrian empire; It later passed into the hands of the Babylonians, and then the Persians. In the year 333 B.C. He submitted without a fight to Alexander.

Upon the death of the latter, Syria found itself for the first time heading a great kingdom. Among Alexander’s generals who divided up the empire in 321 BC, Seleucus Nicator received Mesopotamia and Syria.

From a commercial and military point of view, Syria was the most important province of the new State, whose capital was Babylon. It soon became evident that Western Asia should have its own government, more in accordance with the Hellenic mentality than the political system of the Easterners.

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Around 300 BC, Seleucus Nicator I built Antioch, which he made his capital (cf. 1 Mac. 3:37). His reign was brilliant; But after him, the adversaries of the Seleucid reign gradually cut into their territories.

At the end of the 2nd century BC, this entire kingdom was limited to Syria proper. The Roman conquest, in the year 64 BC, transformed this State into a province of Syria, which was administered by a Roman governor residing in Antioch.

The name Syria was then only applied to this province, which encompassed the region west of the Euphrates, the Taurus Mountains, and to the borders of Egypt. From the time of Augustus, Syria was ruled by a legate appointed by the emperor.

In 70 AD, the Romans separated Syria from Judea, which became a distinct province, administered by an imperial legate.

Shortly before, in the year 47 AD, the penetration of the Gospel into Syria began, at first through those who had been dispersed by the persecution that occurred after the death of Stephen (Acts 11:19-24), and later through the efforts of the apostle Paul (Gal. 1:21).

Antioch, the capital of Syria, soon became the seat of a bishopric, which soon became recognized as one of the patriarchs of the Church of the East.

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Bible Dictionary

BETHEL

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BETHEL

is the name of a Canaanite city in the ancient region of Samaria, located in the center of the land of Canaan, northwest of Ai on the road to Shechem, 30 kilometers south of Shiloh and about 16 kilometers north of Jerusalem.

Bethel is the second most mentioned city in the Bible. Some identify it with the Palestinian village of Beitin and others with the Israeli settlement of Beit El.

Bethel was the place where Abraham built his altar when he first arrived in Canaan (Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3). And at Bethel Jacob saw a vision of a ladder whose top touched heaven and the angels ascended and descended (Genesis 28:10-19).

For this reason Jacob was afraid, and said, “How terrible is this place! It is nothing other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven »and he called Bethel the place that was known as «Light» (Genesis 35-15).

Bethel was also a sanctuary in the days of the prophet Samuel, who judged the people there (1 Samuel 7:16; 1 Samuel 10:3). And it was the place where Deborah, the nurse of Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, was buried.

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Bethel was the birthplace of Hiel, who sought to rebuild the city of Jericho (1 Kings 16:34).

When Bethel did not yet belong to the people of Israel, Joshua had to battle against the king of Bethel and other kings and defeated them (Joshua 12-16).

When the people of Israel had taken possession of the promised land, in the division by tribes it was assigned to the Tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18-22), but in later times it belonged to the Tribe of Judah (2 Chronicles 13:19).

It was one of the places where the Ark of the Covenant remained, a symbol of the presence of God.

In Bethel the prophet Samuel judged the people.

Then the prophet Elisha went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some boys came out of the city and mocked him, and said to him: “Go up, bald man; Come up, bald! When he looked back and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the forest and tore to pieces forty-two boys” (2 Kings 2:23).

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After the division of the kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam I, king of Israel, had a golden calf raised at Bethel (1 Kings 21:29) which was destroyed by Josiah, king of Judah, many years later (2 Kings 23:15). .

Bethel was also a place where some of the Babylonian exiles who returned to Israel in 537 BC gathered. (Ezra 2:28).

The prophet Hosea, a century before Jeremiah, refers to Bethel by another name: “Bet-Aven” (Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5-8), which means ‘House of Iniquity’, ‘House of Nothingness’, ‘House of Vanity’, ‘House of Nullity’, that is, of idols.

In Amos 7: 12-13 the priest Amaziah tells the prophet Amos that he flee to Judah and no longer prophesy in Bethel because it is the king’s sanctuary, and the head of the kingdom.

The prophet Jeremiah states that “the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel” (Jeremiah 48:13), because of their idolatry and, specifically, the worship of the golden calf.

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Bible Dictionary

PUTEOLI

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PUTEOLI

(lat.: “small fountains”).
Two days after arriving in Rhegium, the ship carrying Paul arrived at Puteoli, which was then an important maritime city.

The apostle found Christians there, and enjoyed their hospitality (Acts 28:13).

It was located on the northern coast of the Gulf of Naples, near the site of present-day Pouzzoles.

The entire surrounding region is volcanic, and the Solfatare crater rises behind the city.

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Bible Dictionary

PUT (Nation)

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PUT

Name of a nation related to the Egyptians and neighbors of their country (Gen. 10:6).

Put is mentioned with Egypt and other African countries, especially Libya (Nah. 3:9) and Lud (Ez. 27:10; Is. 66:19 in the LXX. Put appears between Cush and Lud in Jer. 46:9; Ez. 30:5).

In the LXX he is translated as Libyans in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Josephus also identifies it with Libya (Ant. 1:6, 2), but in Nah. 3.9 is distinguished from the Libyans.

Current opinion is divided between Somalia, Eastern Arabia and Southern Arabia (Perfume Coast).

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Bible Dictionary

PURPLE

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PURPLE

A coloring substance that is extracted from various species of mollusks. The ancient Tyrians used two types of them: the “Murex trunculus”, from which the bluish purple was extracted, and the “Murex brandaris”, which gave the red.

The ink of its coloring matter varies in color depending on the region in which it is fished.

Piles of murex shells, artificially opened, have been discovered in Minet el-Beida, port of ancient Ugarit (Ras Shamra), which gives evidence of the great antiquity of the use of this purple dye (see UGARIT).

Due to its high price, only the rich and magistrates wore purple (Est. 8:15, cf. the exaltation of Mordecai, v. 2, Pr. 31:22; Dan. 5:7; 1 Mac. 10 :20, 62, 64; 2 Mac. 4:38; cf. v 31; Luke 16:19; Rev. 17:4).

The rulers adorned themselves in purple, even those of Midian (Judg. 8:26). Jesus was mocked with a purple robe (Mark 15:17).

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Great use had been made of purple-dyed fabrics for the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:4; 26:1, 31, 36) and for the high priest’s vestments (Ex. 28:5, 6, 15, 33; 39: 29). The Jews gave symbolic value to purple (Wars 5:5, 4).

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Bible Dictionary

PURIM

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PURIM

(Heb., plural of “luck”).
Haman cast lots to determine a day of good omen for the destruction of the Jews.

As Haman’s designs were undone, the liberation of the Jews was marked by an annual festival (Est. 3:7; 9:24-32) on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar.

This festival is not mentioned by name in the NT, although there are exegetes who assume that it is the one referred to in Jn. 5:1.

This festival continues to be celebrated within Judaism: the book of Esther is read, and curses are pronounced on Haman and his wife, blessings are pronounced on Mordecai and the eunuch Harbonah (Est. 1:10; 7: 9).

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Bible Dictionary

PURIFICATION, PURITY

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PURIFICATION, PURITY

In the Mosaic Law four ways to purify oneself from contamination were indicated:

(a) Purification of contamination contracted by touching a dead person (Num. 19; cf. Num. 5:2, 3),

(b) Purification from impurity due to bodily emissions (Lev. 15; cf. Num. 5:2, 3).

(c) Purification of the woman in labor (Lev. 12:1-8; Luke 2:21-24).

(d) Purification of the leper (Lev. 14).

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To this, the scribes and Pharisees added many other purifications, such as washing hands before eating, washing vessels and dishes, showing great zeal in these things, while inside they were full of extortion and iniquity (Mark 7: 2-8).

In Christianity the necessary purification extends:

to the heart (Acts 15:9; James 4:8),
to the soul (1 Pet. 1:22), and
to the conscience through the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:14).

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