Northern neighbor to Israel, descendants of Esau


Syria, in the context of the Book of Mormon, is referenced only in the quoted texts from the book of Isaiah, which are included within the Book of Mormon narrative. The term is used to identify the region and political entity that played a role in Near Eastern geopolitics and had interactions with the kingdom of Judah. As recounted, during the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, Rezin, king of Syria, aligned with Pekah, king of Israel, against Judah but was unable to capture Jerusalem (2 Nephi 17:1). The heart of the Judahite royal house was unsettled upon hearing that Syria had allied with Ephraim (the northern kingdom of Israel), exemplifying the political tensions of the time (2 Nephi 17:2). This alliance was part of a broader contest for regional power, with the two kings plotting to unsettle the house of David and set a vassal upon the throne (2 Nephi 17:5). Isaiah’s prophecy discloses that Damascus is the capital of Syria with Rezin as its king, and he prophesies about the eventual demise of Ephraim within sixty-five years, implying a shift or end to the political structure that involved Syria (2 Nephi 17:8).

These references to Syria in the Book of Mormon serve mainly to provide context and to preserve the historical and cultural backdrop against which the prophecies of Isaiah were pronounced. They also underscore the challenges faced by the kingdom of Judah during a period of upheaval and conflict in the ancient Near East, reflecting themes that would resonate with the intended Nephite audience regarding divine protection, the importance of faithfulness to God, and the temporary nature of earthly power.


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