EUPHRATES (Heb. Perat; Babylonian, Purattu):
The main river of nearer Asia, often mentioned in the Bible (the fourth river of paradise, Gen. ii. 14), and frequently designated as "ha-nahar" (the river). It is formed by the union of two branches, the Kur (the western Euphrates), which rises north of Erzerum, and the Murad (the eastern Euphrates), which issues from Lake Wan. It flows, with many turns and over various falls, through the Taurus range; unites—though this was not the case in antiquity—with the Tigris; andfinally empties below Bassora into the Persian Gulf. Its main tributaries are the Balikh and the Khabur (see Habor).
For the surrounding country the Euphrates is of the highest importance, inasmuch as its inundations make the soil very rich. Moreover, in ancient times it served as the highroad of commerce and was navigable by large vessels as far as Babylonia (Herodotus, i. 194); while farther north it was navigable by boats and rafts.
The Euphrates is referred to as a boundary of the land of the Israelites (Gen. xv. 18; Dent. i. 7, xi. 24; Josh. i. 4; Ps. lxxii. 8; comp. I Chron. v. 9). In the Prophets the river is the symbol of the great Assyrian world-empire (Isa. vii. 20, viii. 7; Jer. ii. 18). The decisive battle between the Egyptian king Necho and Nebuchadnezzar took place on the Euphrates (II Kings xxiii. 29).
On the other hand, it is doubtful whether in Jer. xiii. 4-7 the River Euphrates is meant, especially in view of the fact that there is reference to a rocky shore. According to Marti (in "Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästinavereins," iii. 11) and others, the correct reading in Jeremiah is "Farata," and the river in question is the Wadi Fara, northeast of Anathoth.