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Dictionaries :: River

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Easton's Bible Dictionary


(1.) Heb. 'aphik, properly the channel or ravine that holds water (2Sa 22:16), translated "brook," "river," "stream," but not necessarily a perennial stream (Eze 6:3; 31:12; 32:6; 34:13).

(2.) Heb. nahal, in winter a "torrent," in summer a "wady" or valley (Gen 32:23; Deu 2:24; 3:16; Isa 30:28; Lam 2:18; Eze 47:9).

These winter torrents sometimes come down with great suddenness and with desolating force. A distinguished traveller thus describes his experience in this matter:, "I was encamped in Wady Feiran, near the base of Jebel Serbal, when a tremendous thunderstorm burst upon us. After little more than an hour's rain, the water rose so rapidly in the previously dry wady that I had to run for my life, and with great difficulty succeeded in saving my tent and goods; my boots, which I had not time to pick up, were washed away. In less than two hours a dry desert wady upwards of 300 yards broad was turned into a foaming torrent from 8 to 10 feet deep, roaring and tearing down and bearing everything upon it, tangled masses of tamarisks, hundreds of beautiful palmtrees, scores of sheep and goats, camels and donkeys, and even men, women, and children, for a whole encampment of Arabs was washed away a few miles above me. The storm commenced at five in the evening; at half-past nine the waters were rapidly subsiding, and it was evident that the flood had spent its force." (Mat 7:27; Luk 6:49.)

(3.) Nahar, a "river" continuous and full, a perennial stream, as the Jordan, the Euphrates (Gen 2:10; 15:18; Deu 1:7; Psa 66:6; Eze 10:15).

(4.) Tel'alah, a conduit, or water-course (1Ki 18:32; 2Ki 18:17; 20:20; Job 38:25; Eze 31:4).

(5.) Peleg, properly "waters divided", i.e., streams divided, throughout the land (Psa 1:3); "the rivers [i.e., 'divisions'] of waters" (Job 20:17; 29:6; Pro 5:16).

(6.) Ye'or, i.e., "great river", probably from an Egyptian word (Aur), commonly applied to the Nile (Gen 41:1-3), but also to other rivers (Job 28:10; Isa 33:21).

(7.) Yubhal, "a river" (Jer 17:8), a full flowing stream.

(8.) 'Ubhal, "a river" (Dan 8:2).

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia



(1) The usual word is nahar (Aramaic nehar (Ezr 4:10, etc.)), used of the rivers of Eden (Ge 2:10-14), often of the Euphrates (Ge 15:18, etc.), of Abana and Pharpar (2Ki 5:12), the river of Gozan (2Ki 17:6), the river Chebar (Eze 1:1), the rivers (canals?) of Babylon (Ps 137:1), the rivers of Ethiopia (Isa 18:1; Ze 3:10). Compare nahr, the common Arabic word for "river."

(2) ye'or, according to BDB from Egyptian iotr, ‘io'r, "watercourse," often of the Nile (Ex 1:22, etc.). In Isa 19:6, for ye'ore matsor, the King James Version "brooks of defense," the Revised Version (British and American) has "streams of Egypt." In Isa 19:7,8, for ye'or, the King James Version "brooks," and Zec 10:11, the King James Version "river," the Revised Version (British and American) has "Nile." In Job 28:10, the King James Version "He cutteth out rivers among the rocks," the Revised Version (British and American) has "channels," the Revised Version margin "passages."

(3) There are nearly 100 references to nachal. In about half of these the King James Version has "brook" and in about half "river." the Revised Version (British and American) has more often "brook" or "valley." But the Revised Version (British and American) has river in "whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers" (Le 11:9); "the river Jabbok" (De 2:37; Jos 12:2); the stream issuing from the temple (Eze 47:5-12). the Revised Version (British and American) has "brook of Egypt," i.e. el-‘Arish (Nu 34:5; Jos 15:47; 1Ki 8:65; 2Ki 24:7; 2Ch 7:8; Am 6:14, "of the Arabah"); "brook (the King James Version "river") of Kanah" (Jos 16:8); "valley (the King James Version "river") of the Arnon" (De 2:24). English Versions of the Bible has "valley": of Gerar (Ge 26:17), of Zered (Nu 21:12), but "brook Zered" (De 2:13), of Eschol (Nu 32:9), of Sorek (Jud 16:4), of Shittim (Joe 3:18). English Versions of the Bible has "brook": Besor (1Sa 30:10), Kidron (2Sa 15:23), Gaash, (2Sa 23:30), Cherith (1Ki 17:3); also the feminine nachalah, "brook (the King James Version "river") of Egypt" (Eze 47:19; 48:28). The torrent-valley (wady) is often meant.

(4) pelegh, with feminine pelaggah, the King James Version "river," is in the Revised Version (British and American) translated "stream," except English Versions of the Bible "river of God" (Ps 65:9); "streams of water" (Ps 1:3; Pr 5:16; Isa 32:2; La 3:48); "streams of honey" (Job 20:17); "streams of oil" (Job 29:6).

(5) ‘aphiq, the King James Version "river," except English Versions of the Bible "water brooks" (Ps 42:1), is in the Revised Version (British and American) "watercourses" (Eze 6:3; 31:12; 32:6; 34:13; 35:8; 36:4,6), "water-brooks" (So 5:12; Joe 1:20).

(6) yubhal, English Versions of the Bible "river" (Jer 17:8). ‘ubhal, and ‘ubhal, English Versions of the Bible "river" (Da 8:2,3,6).

(7) potamos: of the Jordan (Mr 1:5); Euphrates (Re 9:14); "rivers of living water" (Joh 7:38); "river of water of life" (Re 22:1). So always in Greek for "river" in the Revised Version (British and American) Apocrypha (1 Esdras 4:23, etc.).

Written by Alfred Ely Day




Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
1 Strong's Number: g4215 Greek: potamos



(a) "a stream," Luk 6:48, 49;

(b) "a flood or floods," Mat 7:25,27;

(c) "a river," natural, Mat 3:6, RV; Mar 1:5; Act 16:13; 2Cr 11:26, RV (AV, "waters"); Rev 8:10; 9:14; 16:4, 12; symbolical, Rev 12:15 (1st part), RV, "river" (AV, "flood"); so Rev 12:16; 22:1, 2 (cp. Gen 2:10; Ezek. 47); figuratively, Jhn 7:38, "the effects of the operation of the Holy Spirit in and through the believer."

Note: For potamophoretos in Rev 12:15, see FLOOD, B.

Smith's Bible Dictionary


In the sense in which we employ the word viz. for a perennial stream of considerable size, a river is a much rarer object in the East than in the West. With the exception of the Jordan and the Litany, the streams of the holy land are either entirely dried up in the summer months converted into hot lanes of glaring stones, or else reduced to very small streamlets, deeply sunk in a narrow bed, and concealed from view by a dense growth of shrubs. The perennial river is called nahar by the Hebrews. With the definite article," the river," it signifies invariably the Euphrates (Genesis 31:21; Exodus 23:31; Numbers 24:6; 2 Samuel 10:16 etc.). It is never applied to the fleeting fugitive torrents of Palestine. The term for these is nachal, for which our translators have used promiscuously, and sometimes almost alternately, "valley" "brook" and "river." No one of these words expresses the thing intended; but the term "brook" is peculiarly unhappy. Many of the wadys of Palestine are deep, abrupt chasms or rents in the solid rock of‐the hills, and have a savage, gloomy aspect, far removed from that of an English brook. Unfortunately our language does not contain any single word which has both the meanings of the Hebrew nachal and its Arabic equivalent wady which can be used at once for a dry valley and for the stream which occasionally flows through it.


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