BOZRAH. (1) A capital of Edom (Gen. xxxvi. 33; Amos i. 12; Is. xxxiv. 6, lxiii. 1), doubtfully identified with el-Buseireh, S.E. of the Dead Sea, in the broken country N. of Petra; the ruins here are comparatively unimportant. It is the centre of a pastoral district, and its inhabitants, who number between 100 and 200, are all shepherds. (2) A city in the Mishor or plain country of Moab, denounced by Jeremiah (xlviii. 24). It has been identified (also questionably) with a very extensive collection of ruins of various ages, now called Bosra (the Roman Bostra), situated in the Hauran, about 80 m. south of Damascus. The area within the walls is about 1 m. in length, and nearly 1 m. in breadth, while extensive suburbs lie to the east, north and west. The principal buildings which can still be distinguished are a temple, an aqueduct, a large theatre (enclosed by a castle of much more recent workmanship), several baths, a triumphal and other arches, three mosques, and what are known as the church and convent of the monk Boheira. In A.D. 106 the city was beautified and perhaps restored from ruin by Trajan, who made it the capital of the new province of Arabia. In the reign of Alexander Severus it was made a colony, and in 244, a native of the place, Philippus, ascended the imperial throne. By the time of Constantine the Great it seems to have been Christianized, and not long after it was the seat of an extensive bishopric. It was one of the first cities of Syria to be subjected to the Mahommedans, and it successfully resisted all the attempts of the Crusaders to wrest it from their hands. As late as the 14th century it was a populous city, after which it gradually fell into decay. It is now inhabited by thirty or forty families only. Another suggested identification is with Kusur el-Besheir, equidistant (2 m.) from Dibon and Aroer. This is perhaps the same as the Bezer mentioned in Deuteronomy and Joshua as a levitical city and a city of refuge.
In 1 Macc. v. 26 there is mention of Bosor and of Bosora. The latter is probably to be identified with Bosra, the former perhaps with the present Busr el-Hariri in the south-east corner of the Leja.
(R. A. S. M.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)