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CARCHEMISH:

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City of northern Syria, on the Euphrates. Its importance seems to have been based on its situation at the end of the most direct route from the mouth of the Orontes to the Euphrates and to Harran. This position explains why it was the scene of the battle about 605 B.C. ("by the river Euphrates in Carchemish") between the Egyptian army of Necho II. and the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. xlvi. 2), in which, according to II Chron. xxxv. 20 (= I Esd. i. 25), the Egyptians were the attacking party. In Isa. x. 9 Carchemish is included among various powerful kingdoms overthrown by Assyria.

Its History.

The city is mentioned as early as (about) 1480 B.C., when it was stormed by Pharaoh Thutmosis III., and later, in the time of Rameses II., as an independent kingdom allied to the Hittites. The Egyptians write "Karakamisha," or frequently "Ḳaraḳamisha." The Assyrians speak of "Gargamish" (earlier "Kargamish") as the principal city of northern Syria, "the Ḥatte-land." It is mentioned as situated "on the right bank of the Euphrates, north of the modern river Sajur." Its territory was ravaged by Tiglath-pileser I. about 1100 B.C. King Sangara paid tribute to Asurnazirpal (877) and to Shalmaneser (854). The last king Pisiri(s) paid tribute to Tiglathpileser II. (740), but revolted against Sargon in 717, which led to the loss of the independence of Carchemish (Isa. x. 9). The inhabitants were deported and the city was populated with Assyrian colonists, becoming the seat of an Assyrian governor.

The commercial importance of Carchemish is shown in the weight "maneh of Carchemish" in use at Nineveh. In Greek times it seems to have had the name "Europus"; the modern form of this name probably being "Jerabis" or "Jirbas" ("Jerablus," "Jerabolus," given by some English travelers, may be due to a confusion with the neighboring Hierapolis, south of Carchemish). The considerable ruins were first identified with Carchemish by G. Smith on his last journey (1876); formerly Circesium was often mistaken for that city. In I Esd. i. 23 the name is rendered "Carchamis"; in II Chron. xxxv. 20, A. V., "Charchemish."

Bibliography:
  • Delitzsch, Wo Lag das Paradies? pp. 265 et seq.;
  • Winckler, Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens, pp. 189 et seq.;
  • W. M. Müller, Asien und Europa, p. 263;
  • Hoffmann, Auszüge aus Akten Persischer Märtyrer, pp. 161 et seq.
E. C. W. M. M.
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