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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Bozrah

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(Heb. Botsrah', בָּצְרָה, apparently meaning enclosure; Sept. Βοσόῤῥα in Genesis and Chronicles, elsewhere Βόσορ, but omits in Jeremiah 49:13, ὀχυρώματα in Jeremiah 49:22, τείχεα in Amos, θλῖψις in Mic.), the name apparently of more than one place east of Jordan. Others, however, contend that we should regard them as the same city; for, in consequence of the continual wars, incursions, and conquests which were common among the small kingdoms of that region, the possession of particular cities often passed into different hands (Kitto, Pict. Bible, note on Jeremiah 49:13).

1. In Edom, the city of Jobab, the son of Zerah, one of the early kings of that nation (Genesis 36:33; 1 Chronicles 1:44). This is doubtless the place mentioned in later times by Isaiah (Isaiah 34:6; Isaiah 63:1, in connection with Edom), and by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:13; Jeremiah 49:22), Amos (Amos 1:12), and Micah (Micah 2:12, "sheep of Bozrah," comp. Isaiah 34:6; the word is here rendered by the Vulgate " fold," " the sheep of the fold;" so Gesenius and Furst). It was known to Eusebius and Jerome, who speak of it in the Onomasticon (Βοσώρ, Bosor) as a city of Esau, in the mountains of Idumsea, in connection with Isaiah 63:1, and in contradistinction to Bostra in Peraea. There is no reason to doubt that the modern representative of Bozrah is el-Busseirah, which was first visited by Burckhardt (Syria, p. 407), and lies on the mountain district to the south-east of the Dead Sea, about half way between it and Petra (see also Raumer, Palast. p. 243; Ritter, Erdk. 15:127; 14:993, 101 sq.; Schwarz, Palest. p. 209). Irby and Mangles mention it under the name of Ipseyra and Bsaida (ch. viii). The "goats" which Isaiah connects with the place were found in large numbers in this neighborhood by Burckhardt (Syria, p. 405). It is described by Dr. Robinson (Researches, ii, 570) as lying about six miles south of Tophel, and "now a village of about fifty houses, situated on a hill, on the top of which is a small castle."

2. In his catalogue of the cities of the land of Moab, Jeremiah (Jeremiah 48:24) mentions a Bozrah as in "the plain country" (Jeremiah 48:21, אֶרֶוֹ הִמַּישֹׁרּ ), i.e. apparently the high level downs on the east of the Dead Sea and of the lower Jordan, the Belka of the modern Arabs, where lay Heshbon, Nebo, Kirjathaim, Diblathaim, and the other towns named in this passage. Yet Bozrah has been sought at Bostra, the Roman city in Bashan, .full sixty miles from Heshbon (Porter's Damascus, ii, 163, etc.), since the name stands by itself in this passage of Jeremiah, not being mentioned in any of the other lists of the cities of Moab, e.g. Numbers 32; Joshua 13; Isaiah 16; Ezekiel 25; and the catalogue of Jeremiah is expressly said to include cities both " far and near" (Jeremiah 48; Jeremiah 24). (See KERIOTH). Some weight also is due to the consideration of the improbability that a town at a later date so important and in so excellent a situation should be entirely omitted from the Scripture. Still, in a country where the very kings were "sheep-masters" (2 Kings 3:4), a name signifying a sheepfold may have been of common occurrence. This Bozrah is also mentioned in the Talmud (see Schwarz. Palest. p. 223), and is apparently the BOSORA (See BOSORA) (q.v.) of 1 Macc. v, 26-28 (comp. Βοσοῤῥά, Josephus, Ant. 12:8, 3). Reland incorrectly identifies it (Palcest. p. 655) with the Beeshterah of Joshua 21:27 (comp. Jour. Sac. Lit. Jan. 1852, p. 864). (See MISHOR).

The present Busrah is situated in an oasis of the Syro-Arabian desert, about 60 miles south of Damascus, and 40 east of the Jordan, in the southern part of the Hauran, of which it has formed the chief city since the days of Abulfeda. In the time of the Romans it was an important place, and was called by them Bostra (Gr. or τὰ Βόστρα ). Cicero mentions it as having an independent chieftain (ad Q. F. ii, 12). The city was beautified by Trajan, who made it the capital of the Roman province of Arabia, as is commemorated on its coins of a local era thence arising, and dating from A.D. 102 (Chronicles Pasch. p. 253, ed. Paris; p. 472, ed. Bonn; Eckhel, Doctr. Num. 3:500). Under Alexander Severus it was made a "colony" (Damascins, ap. Phot. Cod. p. 272). The Emper or Philip, who was a native of this city, conferred upon it the title of "' metropolis," it being at that time a large, populous, and well-fortified city (Amtm. Marc. 14:8). It lay 24 Roman miles north-east of Adraa (Edrei), and four days' journey south of Damascus (Eusebius, Onomast. s.v.; Hierocl. Notit.). Ptolemy (v, 17, 7; 8:20, 21) mentions it among the cities of Arabia Petrsea, with the surname of Legio (Λεγίων ), in allusion to the " Legio III Cyrenaica," whose head-quarters were fixed here by Trajan; it is also one of that geographer's points of astronomical observation. Ecclesiastically, it was a place of considerable importance, being the seat first of a bishopric and afterward of an archbishopric, ruling over twenty dioceses (Ac'a Concil. Nic., Ephes., Chalcedon, etc.), and forming apparently the centre of Nestorian influence (Assemani's Biblioth. Orient. III, ii, 595, 730). (See BOSTRA).

The site still contains extensive vestiges of its ancient importance, consisting of temples, theatres, and palaces, which have been described by Burckhardt (Syria, p. 326 sq.). It lies in the open plain, being the last inhabited place in the south-east extremity of the Hauran, and is now, including its ruins, the largest town in that district. It is of an oval shape, its greatest length being from east to west; its circumference is three quarters of an hour. Many parts of its ancient wall, especially on the west side, still remain, showing that it was constructed with stones of a moderate size strongly cemented together. The principal buildings in Bozrah were on the east side, and in a direction from thence toward the middle of the town. The south and south-east quarters are covered with ruins of private dwellings, the walls of many of which are still standing, but most of the roofs have fallen in. On the west side are numerous springs of fresh water. The castle of Bozrah is a most important post to protect the harvests of the Hauran against the hungry Bedouins, but it is much neglected by the pashas of Damascus. Of the vineyards for which Bozrah was celebrated, not a vestige remains. There is scarcely a tree in the neighborhood of the town; and the twelve or fifteen families who now inhabit it cultivate nothing but wheat, barley, horsebeans, and a little dhoura. (See HAURAN).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bozrah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/b/bozrah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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