the Greek name (“hollow Syria”) for the Biqa῾ Valley in southern Syria, between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges north of Palestine (i.e., in modern Lebanon)—in the Hellenistic era, considered the southern province of coastal and inland Syria. Under the Ptolemies and Seleucids, all of Phoenicia, and even Palestine, could be designated Coele-Syria. Some modern historical geographies have used the term Coele-Syria to distinguish Palestine east of the Jordan River (i.e., Transjordan). This usage derives from Josephus (Antiq. 14.ix.5), based on the fact that Herod ruled this territory under the Romans, calling it Coele-Syria in contrast to Judea (Judah), Samaria, and Galilee west of the Jordan River. In the New Testament period, Coele-Syria designated part of the tetrarchy of Philip in northern Transjordan (Josephus, Antiq. 12.xiii.3).
William G. Dever