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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Carchemish

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(Hebrews Karkemish', כִּרְכְּמַישׁ , prob.

fort of Chemosh; Sept. Χαρμείς v. r. Καρχαμής in Jeremiah, but omits in Chronicles and Isaiah, Χαρκαμύς in 1 Esdras 1:5), mentioned in Isaiah 10:9 among other places in Syria which had been subdued by an Assyrian king, probably Tiglath-pileser. That Carchemish was a stronghold on the Euphrates appears from the title of a prophecy of Jeremiah against Egypt (Jeremiah 46:2): "Against the army of Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt, which lay on the river Euphrates, at Carchemish, and which Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, overthrew, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah," i.e. B.C. 606. According to 2 Chronicles 35:20, Necho had advanced with his ally Josiah, the father of Jehoiakim, against the Babylonians, on the Euphrates, to take Carchemish, B.C. 609. These two circumstances the position of Carchemish on the Euphrates, and its being a frontier town, render it probable (see Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, p. 199) that the Hebrew name points to a city which the Greeks called Κιρκήσιον, the Latins Cercusium, and the Arabs Kerkesiyeh (Schultens, Index. Geogr. s.v.; Ritter, Erdk. 11:695); for this too lay on the western bank of the Euphrates, where it is joined by the Chaboras (comp. Bochart, Phaleg, 4:21; Cellarii Notit. 2:715 sq.; Michaelis, Supplem. p. 1352 sq.). It was a large city, and surrounded by strong walls, which, in the time of the Romans, were occasionally renewed, as this was the remotest outpost of their empire, toward the Euphrates, in the direction of Persia (Ammian. Marcell. 23:5; Zozim. 3:12; Procop. Bell. Pers. 2:5; comp. Procop. Aed f. 1:6; Ptolemy 5:18, 6). Carchemish is named in the cuneiform inscriptions (q.v.), which show it to have been, from about B.C. 1100 to B.C. 850, a chief city of the Hittites, who were masters of the whole of Syria from the borders of Damascus to the Euphrates at Bir, or Bireh-jik; it is also mentioned on the Egyptian hieroglyphical sculptures (Layard, ut sup. p. 305, 538). At the point where the Khabur (the ancient Chebar) joins the Euphrates, there are large mounds on both banks of the former river, marking the sites of old cities, or perhaps of different sections of one great city. The mound on the right bank is crowned with a modern Arab village, called Abu Serai, or "Father of Palaces" (Chesney, Euph. Exp. 1:118). It stands on a narrow wedge- shaped plain, in the fork of the two rivers. This corresponds exactly to Procopius's description of Circeslum, who says that its fortifications had the form of a triangle at the junction of the Chabur and Euphrates (Bell. Pers. 2:5). This seems to be the true site of Carchemish. It was visited by Benjamin of Tudela in the twelfth century, who found in it two hundred Jews (Early Travels in Pal. p. 93). According to others, however (following the Syriac and Arabic versions), it lay very much higher up the Euphrates, occupying nearly the site of the later Mabug, or Hierapolis. Dr. Hinks maintains, from his reading of the Assyrian inscriptions, that the true site of Carchemish is at or near Bir, on the opposite bank of the Euphrates, and about 200 miles higher up than it is generally thought to be (Jour. Sac. Lit. July, 1854, p. 408). Still less probable is the supposition that it is the Cadytis of Herodotus (see Heinii Dissertt. Sacr. Amst. 1726, p. 23). (See CALNEH).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Carchemish'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/c/carchemish.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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