Chief city of Syria. It is very beautifully located, and is believed by some to be the oldest city in the world. It still has a street called "Straight" (Acts 9: 11). A river, which is thought to be either the Abanah or the Pharpar of the Bible, flows through the plain of Damascus and makes it very fertile and beautiful (Gen. 15:2; II Sam. 8:6; II Kings 5:12).
Meta. Syria represents the intellectual sense domain, and the river Abanah represents a current of intellectual thoughts and reasonings about life. Damascus (meaning sack of blood) signifies a state of consciousness that is founded upon a material concept of life in the body; this concept has been sustained by the race from time immemorial. (It is not known when Damascus was first built, but the time was before Abraham. Abraham's steward, Eliezer, was of Damascus.) The truth is that this material concept of the body began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; it had its inception in the desire for sensation, and it brought about their expulsion from Eden.
Damascus, too, stands for body sensation, which is held by the race to be the oldest and the most beautiful and pleasurable of all experiences (by the people of the East, Damascus is called the paradise of the world). But the desire for and seeking after sensation have brought man into sensuality and lust; they have caused the body of man and the life in his organism to manifest very materially, and in the end lust burns up the cells and the tissues of the organism and destroys the body.
In Acts 9:2, Damascus (activity, alertness, in respect to trade or possessions), to which place Paul was going to persecute the Christians when he had the vision whereby he was converted, refers to the capacity of the intellect to engender strife and warring thoughts and conditions. The intellect of itself is selfish; when it is unsoftened by love and uninspired by spiritual Truth, it always stirs up strife because its reasonings are hard, sharp, and contentious; they are bigoted and are unmixed with Christian mercy and broadness of vision.