Zo'ba (Heb. Tsoba', צוֹבָא, 2Sa 10:6,8) or Zo'bah (Heb. Tsobah', צוֹבָה [briefly צֹבָה 2Sa 23:36], station; Sept. Σώβα v.r. Σωβάλ, etc.; Vulg. usually Soba), the name of a portion of Aram or Syria, which formed a separate kingdom in the time of the Jewish monarchs Saul, David, and Solomon. It is difficult to fix its exact position and limits; but there seem to be grounds for regarding it as lying chiefly eastward of Coele-Syria, and extending thence northeast and east towards, if not even to the Euphrates (see 1Ch 18:3-9; 1Ch 19:6). It would thus have included the eastern flank of the mountain chain, which shuts in Coele-Syria on that side, the high land about Aleppo, and the more northern portion of the Syrian Desert. The Syriac interpreters take Zobah to be Nisibis, in Mesopotamia, and they have been followed by Michaelis (De Syria Soboea, in the Conmment. Soc. Götting. p. 57 sq.). Others would identify it with the classic Chalcis. It was so closely connected with Hamath that that great city was sometimes distinguished as Hamath-zobah (2Ch 8:3). Among the cities of Zobah were also a place called Tibhath or Betah (2Sa 8:8; 1Ch 18:8), which is, perhaps, Taibeh, between Palmyra and Aleppo; and another called Berothai, which has been supposed to be Beirut, but with little probability, for the kingdom of Hamath must have intervened between Zobah and the coast. SEE BEROTHAH. Zobah was a wide, arid plain intersected by several ranges of bare, white mountains, but having also a few fertile valleys. The inhabitants were probably semi-nomads, and chiefly shepherds. Like the modern Bedawin of that region, they were rich in horses (Ritter, Pal. und Syr. 4:1700; Porter, Handbook for Pal. p. 614). SEE SYRIA.

We first hear of Zobah in the tine of Saul, when we find it mentioned as a separate country, governed apparently by a number of kings who own no common head or chief (1Sa 14:47). Saul engaged in war with these kings and "vexed them," as he did his other neighbors. Some forty years later than this we find Zobah under a single ruler, Hadadezer, son of Rehob, who seems to have been a powerful sovereign. He had wars with Toi, king of Hamath (2Sa 8:10), while he lived 'in close relations of amity with the kings of Damascus, Beth-rehob, Ish-tob, etc., and held various petty Syrian princes as vassals under his yoke (10,19). He had even considerable influence in Mesopotamia, beyond the Euphrates, and was able on one occasion to obtain an important auxiliary force from that quarter (ver. 16; comp. title to Psalm 9). David, having resolved to take full possession of the tract of territory originally promised to the posterity of Abraham (2Sa 8:3; comp. Ge 15:18), attacked Hadadezer in the early part of his reign, defeated his army, and took from him a thousand chariots, seven hundred (seven thousand, 1Ch 18:4) horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen. Hadadezer's allies, the Syrians of Damascus, having marched to his assistance, David defeated them in a great battle, in which they lost twenty-two thousand men. The wealth of, Zobah is very apparent in the narrative of this campaign. Several of the officers of Hadadezer's army carried "shields of gold" (2Sa 8:7), by which we are probably to understand iron or wooden frames overlaid with plates of the precious metal. The cities, moreover, which David took, Betlah (Tibhath) and Berothai, yielded him "exceeding much brass" (vier.8). It is not clear whether the Syrians of Zobali surfeited and became tributary on this occasion, or whether, although defeated, they were able to maintain their independence. At any rate a few years later they were again in arms against David. This time the Jewish king acted on the defensive. The war was provoked by the Ammonites, who hired the services of the Syrians of Zobah among others to help them against the people of Israel, and obtained in this way auxiliaries to the amount of thirty-three thousand, men. The allies were defeated in a great battle by Joab, who engaged the Syrians in person with the flower of his troops (10, 9). Hadadezer, upon this, made a last effort. He sent across the Euphrates into Mesopotamia and "drew forth the Syrians that were beyond the river" (1Ch 19:16), who had hitherto taken no part in the war. With these allies and' his own troops, he once more renewed the struggle with the Israelites, who were now commanded by David himself, the crisis being such as seemed to demand the presence of the king. A battle was fought near Helam — a place the situation of which is uncertain — where the Syrians of Zobah and their new allies were defeated with great slaughter, losing between forty thousand and fifty thousand men. After this we hear of no more hostilities. The petty princes hitherto' tributary to Hadadezer transferred their allegiance to the king of Israel, and it is probable that he himself became a vassal to David. Zobah, however, though subdued, continued to cause trouble to the Jewish kings. A man of Zobah, one of the subjects of Hadadezer-Rezon, son of Eliadah having escaped from the battle of Helam and "gathered a band" (i.e. a body of irregular marauders), marched southward, and contrived to make himself "master of Damascus, where he reigned (apparently) for some fifty years, proving a fierce adversary to Israel all through the reign of Solomon (1Ki 11:23-25). Solomon also was (it would seem) engaged in a war with Zobah itself. The Hamath-zobah against which he "went up" (2Ch 8:3) was probably a town in that country which resisted his authority, and which he accordingly attacked and subdued. This is the last that we hear of Zobah in Scripture. The name, however, is found at a later date in the inscriptions of Assyria, where the kingdom of Zobah seems to intervene between Hamath and Damascus, falling thus into the regular line of march of the Assyrian armies. Several Assyrian monarchs relate that they took tribute from Zobah, while others speak of having traversed it on their way to or from Palestine.

Bible concordance for ZOBA.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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