Damascus, Dearborn, Rome, Vienna?

[ by Charles Cameron — first in a series of three posts about celestial & terrestrial geographies ]



Joel Rosenberg, again. This time it’s Damascus he’s on about, and he’s been discussing it with “a prominent Member of Congress”:

… the official asked, “What are your thoughts on Isaiah 17?” For much of the next hour, therefore, we discussed the coming judgment of Damascus according to Bible prophecy, and how this scenario could possibly unfold in the coming years in relation to other Bible prophecies and current geopolitical trends in the Middle East.

Should we file that under Foreign Policy background, Syria?

Rosenberg clearly thinks Damascus is Damascus — and it’s easy to see why, it’s almost a tautology, one might think:

These prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth. It has been attacked, besieged, and conquered. But Damascus has never been completely destroyed and left uninhabited. Yet that is exactly what the Bible says will happen. The context of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 are a series of End Times prophecies dealing with God’s judgments on Israel’s neighbors and enemies leading up to — and through — the Tribulation.

How exactly will Damascus be destroyed? When will exactly it be destroyed? What will that look like, and what will be the implications for the rest of Syria, for Israel and for the region? The honest answer is that the Bible does not say. I’m currently writing a novel entitled, The Damascus Countdown, that envisions how these prophecies could come to pass.


But wait — the idea that Damascus (the word) means Damascus (the place) may not be so obvious at all. Consider the possibility that the names of peoples and places are, well, somtimes a bit mixed up.

Read this, for instance, from Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Byzantium: Their ears were uncircumcised, in Harper’s, May 2102:

The Byzantines called themselves Greeks (because they were) and also Romans (because they had been). To the Muslims, who had been the Arabs (who had coveted Constantinople even before they were Muslims) but were later the Turks, the Byzantines were usually the Romans (Rum) and sometimes, though these Romans spoke Greek, the Latins (which to the Byzantines meant the barbarians of Western Europe), and sometimes the Children of the Yellow One, who was Esau. The Arabs called the Byzantine emperor (who signed his letters in purple ink EMPEROR AND AUTOCRAT OF THE ROMANS) the Dog of the Byzantines, and by the fifteenth century the sultan of the Ottoman Turks (whom the Muslims farther east called Romans and whom the Byzantines called Trojans) called himself sultan i-Rum in expectation that he soon would be and in recognition that he already, for most purposes, was.

You can see why GEN Boykin might think Dearborn is Damascus:

Dearborn, in fact, I’ve been there a couple of times recently, and if you walk down the streets, you would think you were in Beirut or Damascus.

Just kidding — Boykin sees a cultural similarity between them, that’s all.


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