The Euphrates River in Bible Prophecy
Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry
by: Darrell G. Young
As America wages its war for liberty’s survival against the evil, sadistic, and devious forces of terrorism, (and its state sponsors) it has inevitably come to a dramatic geo-political fork in the road, by the river Euphrates, in the modern State of Iraq.
The names Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, Hillah, Najaf, Karbala, the Sunni Triangle, and many others are becoming commonly heard names as we are continually being fed daily broadcast news accounts about the conflict in Iraq. Many prophecy writers have long speculated about the rebuilding of ancient Babylon, and as America moved into the Euphrates River Valley to eliminate Saddam Hussein, it fueled even more speculation about the rise of Babylon. Whatever the future holds for Iraq, it should be noted that it is no mere coincidence that the climactic events of the Last Days would cycle their way back to the region where the civilization of the world began.
The Euphrates and The Cradle of Civilization
The Euphrates River Valley is widely regarded as the cradle of civilization. Here in this river valley stood the earliest city-states constructed by mankind. (4000BC) The Tigris-Euphrates drainage basin loops around the Middle East forming a crescent shaped green-space that has become known as the Fertile Crescent. Ironically, this crescent likely encircles the ancient land of Eden. Its present desert topographical status belies an emphatic note of symbolism that mankind has been banished from his earthly paradise. A place that was once heavenly is now desolate. In this vicinity also, was the place where the earth’s earliest inhabitants lived, and where much of the early pre-flood record of Genesis most surely occurred. Mesopotamia is the name most usually associated with the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley that runs down through the modern state of Iraq. The word “Mesopotamia” is the Greek derivative word that literally means, “the land between the great rivers.”
The land that is between the rivers specifically identifies the land between the modern Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. These two rivers are identified as two of the four rivers that flowed out from the ante-diluvian garden. The exact location of these two rivers has undoubtedly been altered since the Garden era, but their names linger on in history, still attached to the post-flood rivers in the same vicinity as their original sources. The writer of the Genesis flood account seems to use names that were clearly understood by all the earth’s inhabitants as being associated with the geography of the pre-flood Eden region. One glance at the known place-names in this list strikes us at once with an important factor. They appear to be names used in later history, definitely being postdiluvian names, not antediluvian names, as evidenced by the Biblical record itself. They are names, which came into use only after the flood. The importance of this can scarcely be over-emphasized. "Assyria," (Hebrew, "Asshur") is a name which the Hebrews understood to be derived from Asshur, a son of Shem (or grandson of Noah) born after the flood. (Genesis 10:22) Therefore, in the Hebrew concept the name simply did not exist before the flood. The same is true of other names. "Havilah" is a postdiluvial name, (Genesis l0:29) and so is "Ethiopia." (Cush) (Genesis l0:6) This proves conclusively that the Genesis writer was using names in current use and recognized geographically at the time he was writing in his day after the flood. In short, he quite expected his readers to be able to identify the locality by his description.
Now as to the general whereabouts of Eden, Ezekiel used the name of Eden as belonging to an actual locality or region existing in his day. It should be noted that Ezekiel’s reference of the term Eden was still being used only about 1700 years after the flood. When listing the countries that traded with the city of Tyre, Ezekiel names "Eden" as being one of them. Ezekiel seems to have referred to western and southern Babylonia, as the land of Eden. In chapter 27:23, Ezekiel enumerated the places that had traded with Tyre, he begins at Haran, then mentions Canneh (a corruption of Calneh of Genesis 10:10 identified by the Talmud with Nippur), Eden, and the traffickers of Sheba. He places Eden in the series exactly where western and southern Babylonia lies. This may be a clue from Scripture itself as to where Eden was located. As archaeologists have dug into the ruins of the cities of Babylonia they have unearthed thousands of clay tablets in the cuneiform script. Great libraries have been unearthed and from these writings have come a tremendous wealth of knowledge. We know that a very brilliant race, the Sumerians, lived there in earliest times. A part of Babylonia was called Sumer after their name, and this word "Sumer" when taken over into the Hebrew, and then transliterated into English appears as, "Shinar."
The Sumerians appear to be related to the Chinese, Mongolians, and Basques by their language. Before 3,000BC the Sumerians called the Euphrates by the name, "Puranum" meaning, "great water;" and sometimes they called it "Pura," that is, "water." The Semitic people, including the Hebrews, called it "Purat." The Persians altered the "p" to "ph" or "f", and added an initial vowel, making it, "Ufratu." To the Greeks this became,
"Euphrates" and the Greek name has been retained as the commonly held name for the river. The Arabs today however, still call it "Furat." For over 5,000 years this important river has kept actually to one name, varying only in pronunciation from language to language. So, somewhere along the Euphrates River, between its source and mouth, or the upper reaches of the Pison and Gihon to the south probably lay the ancient Land of Eden.
The Pison and Gihon Rivers (the Hiddekel River is the same as the Tigris River) were the other rivers that formed out of the great water source that emanated from the Garden, and they are carefully described as going from Eden to water the lands of Havilah and Ethiopia. It is worth noting that only one main river flowed throughout the Garden of Eden area itself.
One theory about Eden suggests that where the Eden River began its downhill trek to the lower land-masses down stream of the garden area, it became divided into four divergent river systems. Therefore, the Garden of Eden must have occupied the highest elevation for hundreds of miles around. This theory suggests that the 4 rivers went froth out of the garden toward the four-corners of the earth. Still another theory suggests that the four river-heads converged somewhere in Eden before entering the Garden, and if that were true the Garden would have been at a lower elevation. Whatever the geological fact, the Euphrates River Valley reveals that it has undergone extreme drainage fanning and sedimentation shifting.
The entire Mesopotamian region lies in a trench in front of the Zagros Mountains, (running along the Iraq-Iran border) partly occupied by the sea and gradually being infilled by sediments brought down by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The situation at different times in the past has been determined by the balance of these three dynamic processes: rising sea-levels in the post-glacial period, reaching a maximum around 4000 BC. The accumulation of Tigris-Euphrates sediment and the infilling of the upper part of the gulf; and the pinch effect created by the progradation of the Karun-Karkeh delta, gradually restricted the outlet to the Gulf for the Tigris-Euphrates waters and creating the present zone of lakes and marshes. The present dry wadis were formed long ago in the past by water-action. Some of this action is doubtless by annual streams and the sudden gushes from the exreme1y rare thunder storms which today occur, but there is evidence of a one time greater water abundance in the Arabian Desert than is the case now. Geologists indicate the appearance that a great, broad, long belt on the earth's surface, embracing both the Sahara and the Arabian Deserts, has dried up since early times. The whole region has undergone a period of drying up, of decreasing water supply. That being so, it is certainly not unreasonable to suppose that some of the main, now dry wads or river beds, in Northern Arabia at least, once held in them perennial sparkling streams and little rivers of life-g1ving water in earlier times. As we mentioned before, these river-beds drain away toward the Euphrates River. That one of these bore the name Pison is altogether reasonable.
While the exact location of the Garden of Eden cannot be absolutely ascertained, it is quite likely that it was either just west or south of the post-flood “land between the rivers” area, or very near to the Euphrates Valley. Many theologians speculate that the Garden of Eden was actually a special vicinity within a broader region known as Eden, hence the term the “garden of Eden.”
Although many geologists maintain that the earth’s land surface remained in tact after the flood, it seems logical that the topography of the earth must surely have been drastically altered after the world-wide flood of Noah, leaving sediment deposits and erosion effects around the world. Some geologists believe that the desert sands of Arabia and North Africa were deposited by the flood. Although there were mountains in Adam’s day, the earth’s crust exhibits that the breaking of the fountains of the deep must have caused the mountains to break upwards, for sea-beds to enlarge, and for coastlines to emerge, thereby rendering a landmark tracking of the Garden of Eden and its ancient river system virtually impossible. It is a certainty that the world’s climate and eco-systems were affected by the post-deluvian continental shifts. And this is obviously in keeping with God’s design to prevent mankind from ever reentering the Garden.
It is ironic that much of the Middle East today is composed almost entirely of desert, since the Garden of Eden was such a well-watered and productive paradise on earth. That very topographic condition speaks to the curse of sin that has plagued not only mankind but also the entirety of creation since the fall of man in the Garden. (Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now)
If the Garden of Eden was situated upon an elevated plateau crest, then the source of the water that watered Eden came from a gigantic fountain-spring-basin beneath the garden. This would have been the only source for all the water that formed the river that watered the garden, for there was no rainfall. (Genesis 2:5-6 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.)
Genesis chapter four describes the epic tale of Cain. (who slew his brother Abel) For the sin of slaying Abel, the Lord sent Cain away from Eden toward the east, in the land of Nod. Eastward of Eden in the pre-flood era would likely have placed Cain somewhere in the post-flood Euphrates River Valley region. Here, Cain built the city of Enoch, which he named after his son.
It should be noted that "the presence of the Lord" was in Eden. (Genesis 3:8) Here, in the infancy of the human race the Lord's presence is connected with a place, much like it would later become connected to the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Many theologians think the place of the presence of the Lord, was the entry to the Garden, where the Cherubim stood with a flaming sword. It is generally assumed that to this sacred spot the people brought their sacrifices, as we read of the offerings of Cain and Abel. At this place God spoke directly to the worshippers and the worshippers spoke to Him. It was from this place that Cain was driven and cut off for life, and was at least part of the reason that compelled Cain to complain that his punishment for killing Abel was too harsh. (Genesis 4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.)
Cain dwelt thereafter in the Land of Nod. Nod was "on the east of Eden," an expression which seems to mean “adjoining” it on the eastern side. Therefore, it was not far away from Eden. Here in due time Cain's son Enoch was born. As Adam's family increased in Eden, and Cain lived in fear that "everyone" there sought his life for slaying Abel, he hit upon an idea. He enclosed and "fortified" his residence, for self-protection. This is the primary meaning of the word, "city" in Hebrew. It did not at first denote size, but rather referred to an enclosed fortified or walled place. Cain may merely have erected a wooden palisade about a few huts, but his city was new, and it was novel, and it deserved a name. So, he named it after his son, "Enoch." The Biblical record reads: "And he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch." (Genesis 4:17)
Now obviously the city which Cain built and named after his son Enoch, must have been destroyed by the Flood so that the physical entity itself probably disappeared, though it was subsequently re-founded. It is quite likely that although the original city was lost for a season, the name and the special significance were never lost sight of, for in time the name Enoch ceased to be a name at all and became merely a word meaning City. The word Unuch, or Ereck soon became synonymous with the city of Cain. In later cuneiform writings, this city was known as Ereck. Even though the first city was destroyed by the flood it seems logical that the re-bui1ders could have re-built it either exactly or very close to the original pre-flood site.
Thus the Land of Eden apparently would be somewhere west of the land of the ancient Euphrates River course, as the land of Nod became marked by the sites of cities which sprang up along its course, Eridu, Isin, Kisurra, Shuruppak and Unuk or Enoch. Possibly all these sites would be classed as being in the Land of Nod, but the boundary between Eden and Nod is not researchable. It is interesting to note that the cuneiform story of the Flood makes the city Shurappak to be the home of Utnapishtim, the Babylonian name for Noah.
The Euphrates River in History
The Euphrates River is the largest, the longest, and by far the most important of the rivers of southwestern Asia. Aside from the Nile River of Egypt, it is the most important river system in the entire Middle East. It rises from two chief sources in the Armenian Mountains of Turkey, and flows southeastwardly into the Persian Gulf. The entire course of the river is 1780 miles in length, (2890km) and of this distance more than two-thirds (1200 miles) is navigable by boat. The width of the river is greatest at the distance of about 700 miles from its mouth. There the Euphrates averages 400 yards in width. (1/4 mile) The annual inundation of the Euphrates River Valley is caused by the melting of the mountain snows in the Armenian highlands which usually occurs in the month of May. The great hydraulic works ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar had for their chief object to control this natural inundation. The Euphrates is linked with some of the most important events in ancient history. The ruins of many ancient cities are located along the river in Iraq. Among them are Babylon, Eridu, Kish, Larsa, Nippur, Sippar, and Ur. The ancient city of Ur, situated near the mouth of the Euphrates (southern Iraq) was the birthplace of Abraham.
On the banks of the Euphrates, about 300 miles upstream from the Persian Gulf stood the wondrous city of ancient Babylon. Babylon, with its Ishtar Gate and great massive fortress wall enclosure and the Hanging Gardens was the centerpiece of the great Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar. Also on the Euphrates River nearby, the army of Egypt’s Pharoah Necho was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar near Carchemesh; Persian King Cyrus the Younger and Crassus perished after crossing it; and Alexander the Great of Greece crossed it to establish his Hellinistic empire. The Roman Generals Trajan and Severus descended down the Euphrates from Syria into Iraq to enforce Rome’s eastern borders.
Near the Persian Gulf delta area, the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers join to form the Shatt-el-‘Arab seaway. The word Euphrates is the Greek modification of the Hebrew word, Perath. It is most frequently denoted in the Bible by the term "the great river." The word Perath, means to break forth, and the mere name of this river epitomizes the mission of Abraham’s call to leave the lower Euphrates River valley, and go to the land of Canaan and to establish a new nation. Israel was called “forth” by God to become the river of “living waters” for the whole world.
v The Euphrates River actually formed the northern boundary (in Syria) of the territories promised by God to Israel. The Bible declares that the fathers of Israel had lived on "the other side of the Jordan River" (Josh. 1:15); and dwelt beside the great river Euphrates, where they served other gods. But God took Abraham "from the other side of the River" and brought him to the land of Canaan, on the western side of the Jordan River. Later, King David attempted to expand the boundaries of his kingdom all the way back to the Euphrates River. (II Samuel 8:3)
v The Euphrates River has forever become symbolic of the propensity of mankind to serve other gods instead of Jehovah. In fact, the Bible asserts in the prophecy of The Revelation that innumerable demonic entities, four fallen angels, unclean spirits, and spirits of devils have been bound up in the great Euphrates River, in effect forming a demarcation line between the Children of God and the gods of the world. From this region, Jehovah constrained upon Abraham to leave Ur, a city of the pagan Chaldees, and embark upon a journey toward the city not made with hands. (Hebrews 11:10) These demons have been constrained at the Euphrates, and held in check for their release during the Great Tribulation era, when they will be loosed to fulfill God’s judgment upon the nations of a Christ rejecting world that are under the dominion of the Great Red Dragon and his Antichrist.
v In effect the Euphrates River has served as a type of “iron curtain or Berlin Wall” in the supernatural struggle between Christianity and the gods of other religions.
A Modern View of the Euphrates River
The Euphrates River in Prophecy
The Euphrates River has a lot of significance in Bible Prophecy. Not only is it mentioned in Genesis as being one of the four rivers that proceeded out of the Garden of Eden, but it is also identified in the Abrahamic Covenant as the northeastern boundary of the Promised Land. (Genesis 15:18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates) In I Chronicles chapter 18, the writer conveys that King David conquered Damascus and extended the Israeli kingdom all the way to the Euphrates River. But this extensive border was short-lived, and Israel gradually lost its northern expanse. Thus, Israel has never realized its promised kingdom. In fact, later, the Disciples inquired of Jesus after his resurrection, and witnessing many infallible proofs that he was the long awaited King of Israel, if he would then restore the kingdom unto Israel. But the Lord answered by saying: (Acts 1:6-7 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.)
Thus the Kingdom of Israel, replete with its borders and the blessings of God is appointed for the day when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to destroy the gods of this world and all those who follow after them. That grand climactic appointment with destiny has ramifications for the angels and demons that are bound in the great river Euphrates.
Revelation chapter nine depicts the Euphrates River as being the location where four great fallen angels are bound. The Revelation account conveys that these angels will be loosed during the Great Tribulation, and cause the death of 1/3 of the earth’s Tribulation era population. Some eschatologists believe that the 200,000,000 horsemen are actually a demonic legion of evil spirits with four great overlords directing them. Still other prophecy scholars view this horde as the size of the invading armies of the Kings of the East who will launch an invasion upon Israel when the Euphrates is supernaturally dried to permit a vacuum for easy access into the western portion of the Middle East region. Many scholars have concluded that the “drying up of the waters of the Euphrates” is a literal drought-like event that permits the invading armies to advance against Israel.
* However FOJ takes the position that this “drying of the Euphrates” is connected to the release of the demonic hordes bound in the river, for they act as evil spirits that go forth to the kings of the whole world to gather the armies to Armageddon.
Revelation 9:14-16 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. (200,000,000)
The prophecy of Revelation 16:12-16 reveals that the demonic spirits locked away in the Euphrates River also will play a role in world events that will culminate in Armageddon. These angels remain bound in the Euphrates, restrained from carrying out their ancient subversive desires that were part of the Luciferic Rebellion. The ancient rebellion of Satan and 1/3 of the host (angels) of Heaven resulted in their being cast out of Heaven to the earth sometime after the week of the creation. Undoubtedly they came immediately to the Eden-Euphrates garden region to entice mankind into that great cosmic war. Satan’s initial war strategy included an attempt to corrupt all of mankind, first by corrupting the seed-line of mankind through the fall of Adam, and secondly by infiltrating the human race (nephilim) by utilizing the woman to mix with the seed of man. These ancient agents that left their natural abode, and co-mingled with human women were consigned into Tartarus, in chains of darkness.
The primeval Euphrates that emerged from the Garden of Eden probably drew its flowing waters (life) from the vast underground reservoir that welled up to the surface by the design of God, and from there flowed out to water and preserve the garden in a pristine and non-entrophy condition. Afterwards, with the fall of man, earth’s pristine geography also fell under the curse and the paradise that was the Euphrates Valley gradually began to become a mere image of their former glory. It is easy to perceive that the former glory of the presence of the Lord evaporated from the Euphrates region, and the emergence of the deceptive powers of Satan and his demons took greater and greater hold. As the Cainitic civilization developed on the Euphrates, it tended more and more towards decadence. Later, after the flood judgment, the Nimrodic civilization followed the same pattern, submitting to the same spirits of devils and before long the Babel system was installed and the worship of the hosts of heaven atop a mighty tower that offered a gateway into paradise was prevalent the word over. The tower of Babel stood as the ultimate blasphemous affront to the one true God that placed Adam and Eve in the original paradise of the Garden of Eden.
So, it seems highly logical that God almighty would confine the fallen angels and the infamous evil "sons of god” that cohabited with the daughters of man in the same place as where the human rebellion took place, and to exact judgement on the whole at an appointed time.
Revelation 16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Revelation 16:13-16 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
The Euphrates River & the North Country
Today, the world has divided itself into four spheres of influence, as measured from Jerusalem; (Jerusalem may have been the creation spot, as God placed man in the Garden of Eden, which was eastward of the creation locale) 1.) Russia (Magog) to the north, 2.) China to the east, 3.) the Islamic Middle East and Africa to the south, and 4.) Europe to the West. America is a sphere of influence unto itself, being primarily a part of the West, but resented by all four because of its support for Israel. This is the precise lineup of nations predicted by Scripture for a horrible end-times war that will engulf the whole earth in the Armageddon scenario. The Scripture assigns a role to each of these four; Gog-Magog, the Kings of the East, the Kings of the South and the revived Roman Empire of Antichrist, who will likely control the Western Empire.
I cannot help but sense that the Euphrates River Valley is becoming America’s own Middle East crossroads. The Prophet Jeremiah depicted the scenario of the Euphrates River region becoming a geo-political quagmire that would explode into the era known in prophecy as the Day of the Lord. Ironically, today, America is placing all its eggs in the Iraq basket.
Jeremiah 46:10 For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, (wrath) that he may avenge him of his adversaries: (enemies of the God of Israel) and the sword (Islam?) shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord God of hosts hath a sacrifice (see Revelation 14:16-20) in the north country by the river Euphrates.
President Bush’s vision for freedom and liberty is a wonderful concept, but according to the Biblical Signs of the Times, his experiment in the Middle East in an attempt to thwart the seeds of terrorism by transplanting democracy, especially while coercing Israel to accept a 2-state solution to the Palestinian question is a formula for infringing upon the curse of God. America’s venture into Iraq will require America to take a fork in the road very soon! That fork is to extend the war on terror into either Syria or Iran!
Syria and Iran are both already preparing for war with the US. Syrian President Assad is looking to Russia for sophisticated weaponry to counter the US moves in the region. In my humble opinion, Bible prophecy indicates that the US or perhaps Israel will take the left turn from the Iraqi-Euphrates strategy. Presently, the strategy in the war on terror has enabled the US to completely encircle Iran, (Persia in Ezekiel 38) and to dissect the direct geographical link between Teheran and Damascus. Damascus is the control center for the terrorist operations in the West Bank and Gaza. (For the false covenant-peace of the AC to emerge, and for Israel to be enticed into its fateful destiny, Damascus will have to be dealt with)
The Damascus scenario of Isaiah 17 may quickly be coming upon us. The reason that I feel that the “left hook” from Iraq, will occur is because the prophet Ezekiel reveals that Iran will be spared a confrontation with the great Western power until the time for the great Northern Magog-led coalition against Israel. Russia is way too smart to insert itself against the power of the US at this present time, and will likely wait for the war on terror, and for the Rapture event to take a toll on the American structure.
These two dynamics will render the US as nothing more than a bit player in end-time events and likely lead to the political amalgamation of the US into the rising empire of the EU. Eventually, Russia will come down upon Israel after the emergence and revelation of the Antichrist, at a time when Israel has already entered into a “false peace-safety covenant” with the new Man of peace (Antichrist) that rises to the apex (Super President) of the Roman-EU sphere of power.
Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 46:10) concerning the sacrifice that is building in the north country (Syria) by the river Euphrates has connections to the Day of the Lord, (tribulation) and the time of vengeance when the Lord will settle the ages old controversy (Jeremiah 25:31) that he has with the nations of this world that hate his people Israel.
Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry