In 1 Kings 19:15 God sends Elijah to Damascus. With all the turmoil in that city today, I was curious about its history and relationship to the scriptures. Damascus is mentioned over 60 times in the Bible according to one resource I read.
Damascus is believed to be the oldest city on the globe. At 4000 years old it easily eclipses other old cities, very few cities in Europe have formally existed for more than 1,000 years, and in North America very few cities have existed for even more than just 200 years. Josephus says it was founded by Uz, the son of Aram. Whether or not that is, Damascus was a noted city in the time of Abram (Abraham), whose steward Eliezer was a native of the city. Before the birth of Ishmael and Isaac, Eliezer was to be Abraham’s heir. Damascus was held by King David for a short time and when the kingdom divided into Israel in the north and Judah in the south, Syria joined forces with the northern kingdom to fight the southern kingdom.
The city has been held by numerous conquerors, first by Assyria (ravaged the city and carried off many at the same time they ravaged and carried off Israel), then Babylonians, Persians, Seleucidse, Romans, and Turks. The city is perhaps best known in the New Testament for Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus and even today has a street called “Straight” as mentioned in Acts that runs a mile through the City.
Damascus is today the capital of Syria. Its favorable climate, along with its ancient gardens and olive groves, make it one of the most beautiful cities in all of western Asia. Damascus is located about 135 miles / 220 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem.
Today this beautiful city and Syria are engaged in a Civil War that has been denounced for its human rights violations around the globe.