EMESA (now Homs), city in Syria. It was ruled by a dynasty which enjoyed friendly political relations in the first century C.E. with Agrippa I (Jos., Ant., 18:135; 19:338) and with Agrippa II (ibid., 20:139). The marriages contracted between members of the two royal families were apparently dictated by political expedience. It is likely, although evidence is lacking, that at this period Jews were living in Emesa. Azizus king of Emesa consented to be circumcised in order to marry Drusilla the sister of Agrippa II, and it may be that he was not the only proselyte in his kingdom at this time. There is reference to other proselytes in Emesa at a later period, in about the third century (TJ, Yev. 11:2, 11d, et. al.). Several Palestinian amoraim visited Emesa: Ḥiyya b. Abba received money for orphans and widows from the local Jews (TJ, Meg. 3:1, 74a). R. Yose was asked there about the laws concerning a levirate marriage and proselytes (TJ, Yev. 11:2, 11d), and R. Haggai about those concerning the tithe from fields rented to non-Jews (TJ, Dem. 6:1, 25b; TJ, Av. Zar. 1:9, 40b). Still in existence at the time of the Arab conquest (635–40), members of the community assisted the conquerors. With the fall of the *Umayyad caliphate and the Byzantine invasions of the region, the town was impoverished and the Jews abandoned it. *Benjamin of Tudela, the 12th century traveler, found about 20 families there. After a short period of prosperity during the 13th century, there is no further information on Jews in the town.
Neubauer, Géogr, 299–300; Domaszewski, in: ARW, 11 (1908), 223–42; R. Dussaud, Topographie historique de la Syrie … (1927), index; Al-Balādhurī, Futūh al-Buldān (Cairo, 1932), 143; M.N. Adler, The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (1907), 31. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Ḥimṣ," in: EIS2, 3, 397–402 (incl. bibl.)
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.