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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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A famous river of Asia, which has its source in the mountains of America, runs along the frontiers of Cappadocia, Syria, Arabia Deserta, Chaldea, and Mesopotamia, and falls into the Persian Gulf. According to the recent researches of Chesney, it receives the Tigris at a place called Shat-el-Arab. Five miles below the junction of these two mighty rivers, the Shat-el-Arab receives from the northeast the Kerkhah, which has a course of upwards of five hundred miles. Sixty-two miles below the mouth of the Kerkhah, another large river, the Kuran, comes in from the east. At present it enters the Shat-el-Arab forty miles above its mouth; but formerly it flowed channel, east of the main stream. According to that view which places the Garden of Eden near the junction of the Tigris with the Euphrates, these might be regarded as the four rivers of Paradise. We might well suppose that the Kuran, in very ancient times, as now, entered the Shat-el-Arab; and perhaps still farther from its mouth. Scripture often calls the Euphrates simply "the river," Exodus 23:31 Isaiah 7:20 8:7 Jeremiah 2:18; or "the great river," and assigns it for the eastern boundary of that land which God promised to the Hebrews, Deuteronomy 1:7 Joshua 1:4 . It overflows in summer like the Nile, when the snow on the mountains of Armenia, the nearest springs of both are but a few miles apart.

The Euphrates is a river of consequence in Scripture geography, being the utmost limit, east, of the territory of the Israelites. It was indeed only occasionally that the dominion of the Hebrews extended so far; but it would appear that even Egypt, under Pharaoh Necho, made conquests to the western bank of the Euphrates. The river is about eighteen hundred miles long. Its general direction is southeast; but in a part of its course it runs westerly, and approaches the Mediterranean near Cilicia. It is accompanied in its general course by the Tigris. There are many towns on its banks, which are in general rather level than mountainous. The river does not appear to be of very great breadth, varying, however, from sixty to six hundred yards. Its current, after reaching the plains of Mesopotamia, is somewhat sluggish, and in this part of its course many canals, etc., were dug, to prevent injury and secure benefit from the yearly overflows. At Seleucia, and Hilleh the ancient Babylon, it approaches near the Tigris, and some of its waters are drawn off by canals to the latter river. Again, however, they diverge, and only unite in the same channel about one hundred and twenty miles from the Persian Gulf. It is not well adapted for navigation, yet light vessels go up about one thousand miles, and the modern steam-boat which now ascends from the ocean, meets the same kind of goat-skin floats on which produce was rafted down the river thousands of years ago.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Euphrates'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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