ZOBAH, ZOBA (zō'ba, Heb. tsôvâh). A region in central Syria, sometimes under one king (2Sam.8.3); but in its first occurrence (1Sam.14.47) we read that Saul of Israel fought against the kings of Zobah, which may indicate more than one kingdom or possibly successive kings. The kings of Zobah were persistent enemies of Israel, not only fighting against Saul, but also against David (2Sam.8.1-2Sam.8.18) and Solomon. Solomon captured Hamath Zobah (2Chr.8.3), and we hear no more of this kingdom. The servants of Hadadezer in the days of David had shields of gold (2Sam.8.3-2Sam.8.12) and a large army, all of which David captured. Later the Ammonites, in warring against David, hired mercenary troops from Zobah, and these too were badly defeated (2Sam.10.1-2Sam.10.19). It lay between Hamath and Damascus. It is called Zoba in Hebrew and KJV.

ZOBA, ZOBAH zō’ bə (צוֹבָ֗א, or צֹ֫ובָ֥ה an element in אֲרַ֣ם צוֹבָ֗א, LXX Σουβα, prob. Akkad. ṩubiti) an Aramaean (q.v.) kingdom which flourished during the early Heb. monarchy. Its exact location is not known, but in 2 Samuel 8:8 reference is made to Berothai in the kingdom of Zobah from which David obtained copper. This may be the later Bereitan in the Biqa’ region between the Lebanon ranges, and identical with Berothah of Ezekiel 47:16 at the ideal northern frontier of Israel between Damascus and Hamath. The towns Tibhath (Tebah) and Chun (Cun) referred to in 1 Chronicles 18:8 are known in Egyp. texts.

In Solomon’s time, Rezon, a fugitive from the king of Zobah, established himself in Damascus and became a source of trouble to Solomon (1 Kings 11:23).


M. F. Unger, Israel and the Aramaeans of Damascus (1959), 130f., 211.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The name is derived by Halevy from zehobhah as referring to its supplies of "bright yellow" brass; but this word might be more appropriately used to contrast its cornfields with white Lebanon. Zobah was an Aramean kingdom of which we have the first notice in Saul’s wars (1Sa 14:47).

(1) David’s First War.

When David sought to extend his boundary to the Euphrates, he came into contact with its king Hadadezer, and a great battle was fought in which David took many prisoners. Damascus, however, came to the rescue and fresh resistance was made, but a complete rout followed and great spoil fell to the victor, as well as access to the rich copper mines of Tebah and Berothai. Toi, king of Hamath, who had suffered in war with Hadadezer, now sent his son on an embassy with greetings and gifts to David (2Sa 8:3-12; 1Ch 18:3-12). See Ps 60, title.

(2) David’s Second War.

During David’s Ammonite war, the enemy was strengthened by alliance with Zobah, Maacah and Beth-rehob, and Israel was attacked from both North and South at the same time. The northern confederation was defeated by Joab, but Hadadezer again gathered an army, including levies from beyond the Euphrates. These, under Shobach the captain of the host, were met by David in person at Helam, and a great slaughter ensued, Shobach himself being among the slain (2Sa 10:6-19, the King James Version "Zoba"; 1Ch 19:3-19). Rezon, son of Eliada, now broke away from Hadadezer and, getting possession of Damascus, set up a kingdom hostile to Israel (1Ki 11:23-25). Solomon seems (2Ch 8:3) to have invaded and subdued Hamath-zobah, but the text, especially Septuagint, is obscure.

(3) Geographical Position.

We can now consider the vexed question of the situation and extent of Aram-zobah. (See Syria, 4, (10).) In addition to the Old Testament references we have the Assyrian name lists. In these Subiti is placed between Kui and Zemar, and, where it is otherwise referred to, a position is implied between Hamath and Damascus. It would thus lie along the eastern slopes of Anti-Lebanon extending thence to the desert, and in the north it may have at times included Emesa (modern Homs) around which Noldeke would locate it. Damascus was probably a tributary state till seized by Rezon. Winckler would identify it with another Cubiti, a place in the Hauran mentioned by Assurbanipal on the Hassam Cylinder vii, lines 110-12. This latter may be the native place of Igal, one of David’s "thirty" (2Sa 23:36), who is named among eastern Israelites.

The kingdom of Zobah in addition to its mineral wealth must have been rich in vineyards and fruitful fields, and its conquest must have added greatly to the wealth and power of Israel’s king.