one of the most ancient and most important of the cities of Syria. It is situated 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem, in a plain of vast size and of extreme fertility, which lies east of the great chain of Anti-Libanus, on the edge of the desert. This fertile plain, which is nearly circular and about 30 miles in diameter, is due to the river Barada, which is probably the “Abana” of Scripture. Two other streams, the Wady Helbon upon the north and the Awaj, which flows direct from Hermon upon the south, increase the fertility of the Damascene plain, and contend for the honor of representing the “Pharpar” of Scripture. According to Josephus, Damascus was founded by Uz, grandson of Shem. It is first mentioned in Scripture in connection with Abraham (Genesis 14:15), whose steward was a native of the place (Genesis 15:2). At one time David became complete master of the whole territory, which he garrisoned with Israelites (2 Samuel 8:5-6). It was in league with Baasha, king of Israel against Asa (1 Kings 15:18-19; 2 Chronicles 16:2-3), and afterwards in league with Asa against Baasha (1 Kings 15:20). Under Ahaz it was taken by Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 16:7-9), the kingdom of Damascus brought to an end, and the city itself destroyed, the inhabitants being carried captive into Assyria (2 Kings 16:9, comp. Isaiah 7:8 and Amos 1:5). Afterwards it passed successively under the dominion of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, and Saracens, and was at last captured by the Turks in 1516 A.D. Here the apostle Paul was converted and preached the gospel (Acts 9:1-25). Damascus has always been a great center for trade. Its present population is from 100,000 to 150,000. It has a delightful climate. Certain localities are shown as the site of those scriptural events which specially interest us in its history. Queen’s Street, which runs straight through the city from east to west, may be the street called Straight (Acts 9:11). The house of Judas and that of Ananias are shown, but little confidence can be placed in any of these traditions.
Smith's Bible Names Dictionary (1866)