HAMATH (ha'math), (Heb. kham-awth', fortress), one of the smaller kingdoms of Syria, having Zobah on the east and Rehob on the south. This last kingdom, lying within the greater Mount Hermon, is expressly said to have been taken pos session of by the Israelites, and, like Dan, or Laish, which is represented to have been in the valley of Bethrehob (Judg. xviii :28), is used to denote the northern boundary of the Holy Land (Num. xiii: 21). The approach to it from the south is by an opening or mountain pass, called 'the entrance of Hamath,' and 'the entering in of Ifamath,' which, being the passage from the northern extremity of the land of Israel into Syria, is sometimes used to describe the boundary of the former in this direc tion, as 'from the entering in of Hamath to the river of Egypt ' (t Kings viii:65).
The kingdom of Hamath,ur,at least. the south ern or central portions of it, appear to have nearly corresponded with what was afterward de nominated Ccele-Syria ; but northward it stretched as far as the city IIamath on the Orontes, which seems to have been the capital of the whole coun try. This city was called Epiphania by the Greeks, under which name it was known to Josephus (Antic,. 1:6, 2; comp. Michaelis Sfiicil. ii:52) and Jerome (Qua's: in Gen. x:18; Comment. in Ezek. xlvii :15, 16) ; but it has now resumed its more ancient denomination, which indeed was probably never lost among the native population. Toi was king of Hamath at the time when David con quered the Syrians of Zobah, and it appears that he had reason to rejoice in the humiliation of a dangerous neighbor, as he sent his own son Joram to congratulate the victor (2 Sam. viii :9, to). In the time of I lezekiah the town, along with its ter ritory, was conquered by the Assyrians (2 Kings xvii :24, xviii :34, xix :13 ; Is. x :9, xi t ), and
afterward by the Chaldtrans (Jer. xxxix :2,. 5). Abulfeda, the Arabian geographer, who was prince of Hamath in the fourteenth century, correctly states (Tab. Syria', p. to8) that this city is men tioned in the books of the Israelites. Hamath still a picturesque town, of considerable circum ference and with wide and convenient streets. The western part of this district forms the granary of Northern Syria, though the harvest never yields more than a tenfold return, chiefly on account of the immense numbers of mice, which sometimes completely destroy the crops.
In 18i2,when Burckhardt visited Hantath, he saw the 'Hamath stones' (so-called Hittite inscriptions in relief on black close-gramed basalt) , and the enormous water wheels, used for bringing the waters of the Orontes to the houses and gardens situated on the hill above the river. He does not, however. mention the catacombs, said to have ex isted high up on the right bank.
The Hamad) stones were afterward rediscov ered by Sir Richard Burton and Tyrwhitt Drake, and of which squeezes were shown in London in 1872. The town, which is divided into four quar ters, Hadher, el-Aleyat, and el-Medine (the quarter of the Christians), contained at Burckhardt's visit about 4,446 houses and nearly moo° male inhabitants.
Literature. Pococke, Travels, ii:2o9; Burek hardt, Travels in. Syria, p. 249; Richter, :Vail fahrten, p. 231; comp. Rosenmiiller's Bib. Geog raphy, ti :243-246; Irby and Mangles, Travels. p. 244 ; Stanley, Sinai and Pal.. pp. 406. 4o7; and Thomson, The Land and Book, vol. ii, p. 279.