The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
Map of The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (in Ancient Times)
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers During the Time of
Genesis in the Bible.
The Tigris. The Tigris River was known by the Hebrews as
"Hiddekel" and is one of the two large rivers of
Mesopotamia, which the Bible says, flowed from the Garden
of Eden (Gen 2:14). It is formed by the confluence of two
rivers that flow from the mountains of Armenia. In
ancient times the courses of the Tigris and Euphrates
were separate. Their confluence before they flow into the
Persian Gulf is very recent. The Tigris has a greater
volume of water than the Euphrates and flows faster,
making upstream navigating impossible. The powerful and
prosperous cities of Nineveh, Calah and Ashur flourished
along its shores.
The Euphrates. The Euphrates River is one of the largest
rivers of western Asia, about 1700 miles long. In the
Bible it is referred to by several names such as the
"great river" or just "the river" and is among the four
rivers, which flowed from the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:14).
It formed the northeastern limit of the Promised Land
(Gen 15:18). The river, which receives its waters from
the mountains of Armenia, flows through a deep and narrow
gorge, but as it descends toward Babylon, the Euphrates
and the Tigris take different routes, which form the
great broad plain of Mesopotamia. The Euphrates has a
very strong current and therefore is navigable only in
its lower parts. Along its shores flourished some of the
important cities of Mesopotamia. The greatest was
Between the Rivers. The word Mesopotamia means the land
"between the rivers" which were the Tigris and Euphrates.
Although the courses have changed dramatically since
ancient times we know the area was nearly 700 - 1000
miles long and nearly 300 miles across. The rivers were
so large that the land was considered an "island" that
was between them. But the heart of ancient Mesopotamia
was in the northwest where the Euphrates made a huge bend
at the northern portion of the Tigris as shown in the map
above. The Bible records Mesopotamia as the city of
Nahor, Abrahams brother (Genesis 24:10).