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Rivers Of The Bible

A river is generally defined as a large stream of water that flows into the sea. The natural purpose of rivers is to drain a portion of land surface area of surplus water, by itself, or by merging with other rivers, and through tributaries variously known as creeks, streams, brooks etc. that flow into the river (i.e. tributaries contribute water to rivers). The greatest rivers from the perspective of The Bible are the 4,160 mile Nile River (the Nile is the longest river in the world) that flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the Nile Delta, the 100 mile Jordan River that flows into the Salt Sea, and the 1,780 mile Euphrates and the 1,150 mile Tigris Rivers that flow through Mesopotamia into the sea at the Persian Gulf. Mesopotamia is from the Greek mesos, meaning middle, and potamos, meaning river i.e. "between the rivers" (the Potomac River of Washington DC is named from the same Greek word for river, potamos).

The greatest rivers of America are the 4,000 mile Amazon River (the longest river in South America and the second-longest river in the world) in Brazil, the 2,635 mile Mackenzie River (the longest river in North America) in Canada, and the 2,340 mile Mississippi River (the longest river in the USA) in the USA. Among the many other great rivers of the world are the 3,964 mile Yangtze River in China, the 2,600 mile Mekong River in southeast Asia, the 2,310 mile Murray-Darling River in Australia and the 1,776 mile Danube River in Europe.

Rivers Of The Bible

The Nile River The first mention of rivers in the Scriptures related to the location of the Garden of Eden:

"A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates." (Genesis 2:10-14 RSV)

Moses got his name from his experience with the Nile River:

"And when she could hide him no longer she took for him a basket made of bulrushes, and daubed it with bitumen and pitch; and she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds at the river's brink. And his sister [i.e. Miriam] stood at a distance, to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, and her maidens walked beside the river; she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to fetch it. When she opened it she saw the child; and lo, the babe was crying. She took pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children. ... And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, "Because I drew him out of the water." (Exodus 2:3-6,10 RSV)

Some of the Ten Plagues at the time of the Exodus involved the Nile River:

"Moses and Aaron did as The Lord commanded; in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, he lifted up the rod and struck the water that was in the Nile, and all the water that was in the Nile turned to blood. And the fish in the Nile died; and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt." (Exodus 7:20-21 RSV)

The Israelites got some of their food from rivers, but not everything from the river was acceptable, as instructed by The Lord (see Clean and Unclean):

"These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is an abomination to you." (Leviticus 11:9-10 RSV)

John The Baptist baptized (see also The Origin of Baptism) some people, including Jesus Christ (see Baptism), in the Jordan River, but not everyone; when many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to him to be baptized, he turned them away, until such time that they truly repented and stopped being Hypocrites:

"Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance" (Matthew 3:5-8 RSV)

Jesus Christ used a river as an analogy for the Holy Spirit:

"On the last day of the Feast, the great day [i.e. The Eighth Day], Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now this He said about the Spirit, which those who believed in Him were to receive" (John 7:37-39 RSV)

Fact Finder: What river of the future is going to change the Dead Sea?
See Living Waters

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