TIGRIS (Hebrew, ; Aramaic and Talmudic, ; the modern Dijlah):
One of the four streams mentioned in Gen. ii. 14 as watering the Garden of Eden, and described, from the standpoint of Palestine, as flowing "in front of Assyria" (R. V.). The Tigris has its source in several springs in Mount Ararat, not far from the head-waters of the Euphrates. Near one of these springs the figures of Sardanapalus and Tiglath-pileser III. are found carved in the rock. After flowing a short distance the river receives the waters of several mountain brooks from the east; and at Diarbekr it is already a fairly large stream. South of Mosul it is navigable for rafts, and at Bagdad it carries boats, while at Korna it unites with the Euphrates to form the Shaṭṭ al-'Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf. Its chief period of rise occurs, opposite Mosul, at the time of the melting of the snow (Ecclus. [Sirach] xxiv. 25), when it devastates the surrounding country. Hence, even in antiquity it was necessary to dig transverse canals in various places to carry off the superfluous water, which is whitish in color and is famed for its potability among those who live in the vicinity and who are accustomed to it. The river contains great numbers of fish. The Tigris is referred to in only one other place in the Bible, namely, Dan. x. 4, where in the English version the name is transliterated simply "Hiddekel."
The Targum and the Talmud term it the Diglat, the earlier form of the name. In answer to the question why this river was called also Hiddekel, R. Ashi replied that it was on account of its sharpness and swiftness, the word being etymologized as a compound of ("sharp," "swift") and ("light," "quick"; Ber. 59a). Neubauer proposed to separate the name into or and ("the swiftly running Diklah"). In the Talmud the water of the river is considered to be both quickening for the mind and healthful for the body on account of its lightness (ib.). It was also held to be one of the oldest rivers; and when a Jew saw its waters from the bridge Bostane he was enjoined to recite the blessing "Blessed be He who hath made the work of Creation (ib.; Yeb. 121a).
From Bagdad to Apameia the river formed the boundary of Babylon (Ḳid. 71b).
- McClintock and Strong, Cyc. iv. 232, x. 403;
- Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. xv. 662;
- Nöldeke, in Schenkel, Bibellexicon, v. 536 et seq.;
- Friedrich Delitzsch, Wo Lag das Paradies? Index, Leipsic, 1881;
- Neubauer, G. T. pp. 334-337, Paris, 1868;
- S. Löwisohn, Meḥḳere Ereẓ pp. 136-137, Vienna, 1819.