List of Syrian monarchs

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The region of Syria

The title King of Syria appeared in the second century BC in referring to the Seleucid kings who ruled the entirety of the region of Syria. It was also used to refer to Aramean kings in the Greek translations of the Old Testament; mainly indicating the kings of Aram-Damascus. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the region came under the rule of France, United Kingdom and prince Faisal of Hejaz who was proclaimed King of Syria on 8 March 1920. Faisal's reign lasted a few months before he was overthrown by France and the title fell out of use.


Main articles: Syria (region) and Name of Syria

The term "Syria" was first applied by Herodotus in the 5th century BC to indicate a region generally extending between Anatolia and Egypt.[1][2] With the advent of the Hellenistic period, Greeks and their Seleucid dynasty used the term "Syria" to designate the region between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates.[3] The usage of the name in referring to the region during the Iron Age (ended 586 BC) is a modern practice.[1][4]

Seleucid kings[edit]

The Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great defeated the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the Battle of Panium (200 BC); he annexed the Syrian lands controlled by Egypt and united them with his Syrian lands, thus gaining control of the entirety of Syria.[5] Starting from the 2nd century BC, ancient writers, such as Polybius and Posidonius, began referring to the Seleucid ruler as the king of Syria.[6][7] The evidence for this title's usage by the kings is provided by the inscription of a certain Antigonus son of Menophilus, who described himself as the "admiral of Alexander, king of Syria" (Alexander refers either to Alexander I Balas or Alexander II Zabinas).[7]

Portrait Name Reign Notes
Antiochos III coin.jpg Antiochus III the Great 222–187 BC
SeleucusIV - coin - face.JPG Seleucus IV Philopator 187–175 BC
Antiochos IV Epiphanes face.png Antiochus IV Epiphanes 175–163 BC
Antiochus V Eupator, coin, front side.jpg Antiochus V Eupator 163–161 BC
Demetrius I.png Demetrius I Soter 161–150 BC
Alexander I Syria-Antiochia face.jpg Alexander I Balas 150–145 BC
DemetriusII, coin, face.jpg Demetrius II Nicator 145–139 BC First reign.
AntiochusVI, coin, face.jpg Antiochus VI Dionysus 145–142 BC
Tryphon coin.jpg Diodotus Tryphon 142-138 BC Regent of Antiochus VI who declared himself king after the former's death.
Antiochus VII coin (Mary Harrsch).jpg Antiochus VII Sidetes 138–129 BC
DemetriusII, coin, face.jpg Demetrius II Nicator 129–126 BC Second reign.
Aleksander II Zabinas face.png Alexander II Zabinas 129–123 BC Counter-king opposing Demetrius II.
Cleopatra Thea face.png Cleopatra Thea 126-121 BC Widow of Alexander I Balas, Demetrius II and Antiochus VII.
Seleucus V Philometor 126-125 BC
Antiochus VIII face.png Antiochus VIII Grypus 125–96 BC
Antiochus IX face.png Antiochus IX Cyzicenus 114–96 BC
Seleucus VI Epiphanes.png Seleucus VI Epiphanes 96–95 BC
Antioco X Eusebes Filopator, tetradracma, face.jpg Antiochus X Eusebes 95–92 BC
DemetriusIII.png Demetrius III Eucaerus 95–87 BC
Antiochus XI Epiphanes 95–92 BC
Philippus Philadelphus.jpg Philip I Philadelphus 95–83 BC Rule ended with the invasion of Tigranes the Great of Armenia who controlled Syria until 69 BC.
Antiochos XII.jpg Antiochus XII Dionysus 87–84 BC
Seleucus VII Kybiosaktes 83–69 BC In opposition to the Armenian king Tigranes the Great
Antiochus XIII.jpg Antiochus XIII Asiaticus 69–64 BC
Philip II Philoromaeus 65–64 BC

Biblical usage for Aramean kings[edit]

In the first translation of the Old Testament into Greek written during the third century BC (called the Septuagint),[8] Aram and Arameans were often translated as Syria and the Syrians;[9][10] hence the king was referred to as the king of Syria,[11] or the king of the Syrians,[12] and this was carried on by many English translations.[9] Aram in the Hebrew Old Testament and Syria in the translation indicated the kingdom of Aram-Damascus most of the times.[9][13] Occasionally, other Aramean regions were also referred to as Syria;[13][14] an example is the character known as "the Syrian of Paddan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian" where Syria does not designate Aram-Damascus but rather Paddan Aram in Mesopotamia.[15][16]

According to W. Edward Glenny, the rendering of Aram by Syria might be explained by an anti-Syrian bias, since at the time of the translation, Syria belonged to the Seleucids; the Jews' main enemy. Aram-Damascus was the Jews' enemy during its Iron Age prime in the 9th century BC.[17]

Aramean kings referred to as "kings of Syria"[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Notes
Rezon the Syrian 10th century BC Equated by 19th century scholars with another Biblical figure: Hezion.[18] Known only from the Old Testament.[19]
Ben-Hadad I Known only from the Old Testament.[20]
Ben-Hadad II Equated by many Biblical scholars with Adad-Idri who was mentioned in Assyrian sources.[20]
King Hazael dark.jpeg Hazael c. 842–800 BC [21]
Ben-Hadad III The only king mentioned by the name "Ben-Hadad" both in the Old Testament and extra biblical sources.[20]
Rezin 750s-733 BC Known in Assyrian inscription as Raqyan.[22]

Kingdom of Syria[edit]

Royal standard of the king of Syria

Following the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I, Faysal bin Hussein of the House of Hashim was proclaimed King of the Kingdom of Syria on 8 March 1920 in Damascus, following the Arab revolt against the Ottomans of 1916–1918.

His accession was not recognized by France or the United Kingdom who became the new imperial powers in the region, and on 23 July 1920, the French moved 9,000 troops towards Damascus, resulting in the Battle of Maysalun. Faisal was expelled from Syria on 25 July and went into exile in the United Kingdom. On 10 August, the Treaty of Sèvres divided the region into League of Nations mandates governed by France and the United Kingdom.

Portrait Name Reign Notes
King Faisal I of Syria in July 1920.jpg Faisal 8 March 1920 –
24 July 1920

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Trevor Bryce (2009). The Routledge Handbook of the Peoples and Places of Ancient Western Asia: From the Early Bronze Age to the Fall of the Persian Empire. p. 680. 
  2. ^ Herodotus; George Rawlinson (1862). History of Herodotus, Volume 1. p. 126. 
  3. ^ Daniel Pipes (1992). Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition. p. 13. 
  4. ^ Margreet L. Steiner; Ann E. Killebrew (2014). The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE. p. 94. 
  5. ^ Paul J. Kosmin (2014). The Land of the Elephant Kings. p. 122. 
  6. ^ Nigel Wilson (2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. p. 652. 
  7. ^ a b Paul J. Kosmin (2014). The Land of the Elephant Kings. p. 112. 
  8. ^ Paul V.M. Flesher; Bruce D. Chilton (2011). The Targums: A Critical Introduction. p. 339. 
  9. ^ a b c Bruce M. Metzger; Michael David Coogan (1993). The Oxford Companion to the Bible. p. 44. 
  10. ^ James Strong; John McClintock (1867). Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 1. p. 353. 
  11. ^ Adam Clarke (1851). The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments: the Text Printed from the Most Correct Copies of the Present Authorized Translation, Including the Marginal Readings and Parallel Texts: Genesis to Esther. p. 843. 
  12. ^ Gerard Gertoux (2015). Kings David and Solomon: Chronological, Historical and Archaeological Evidence. p. 103. 
  13. ^ a b Thomas Nelson (2014). NIV, The Chronological Study Bible. p. 622. 
  14. ^ Paul V.M. Flesher; Bruce D. Chilton (2011). The Targums: A Critical Introduction. p. 339. 
  15. ^ Thomas Nelson (2013). KJV Study Bible: Second Edition. p. 52. 
  16. ^ Brian Schultz (2009). Conquering the World: The War Scroll (1QM) Reconsidered. p. 191. 
  17. ^ Edward Glenny (2009). Finding Meaning in the Text: Translation Technique and Theology in the Septuagint of Amos. p. 152. 
  18. ^ Ronald F. Youngblood (2014). Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary: New and Enhanced Edition. p. 1099. 
  19. ^ Trevor Bryce (2012). The World of The Neo-Hittite Kingdoms: A Political and Military History. p. 178. 
  20. ^ a b c Richard D. Nelson (2014). Historical Roots of the Old Testament (1200–63 BCE). p. 109. 
  21. ^ David Noel Freedman; Allen C. Myers (31 December 2000). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Amsterdam University Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-90-5356-503-2. 
  22. ^ Jeffrey Kah-Jin Kuan (2016). Neo-Assyrian Historical Inscriptions and Syria-Palestine: Israelite/Judean-Tyrian-Damascene Political and Commercial Relations in the Ninth-Eighth Centuries BCE. p. 125.