There are few geographical sites in the Bible more prominent than the Euphrates River. The Euphrates River is first mentioned in the second chapter of Genesis and played a significant role in world history and will figure prominently in the future.
The Euphrates River extends over 1,700 miles from the headwaters in the mountains of present day Turkey and flows south and east through Syria, Iraq, and empties into the Persian Gulf.
The Euphrates River marks the eastern boundary of Israel’s Promised Land.
“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours…from the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea (Mediterranean)…” Deuteronomy 11:24
It is unclear just where Israel’s eastern boundary will intersect the river; however, that intersection point will determine how much of present day Jordan, Syria, and Iraq will become Israel’s possession.
Located just east of the River was the ancient and infamous city of Babylon. It is difficult to separate ancient Babylon from the Euphrates River. The name ‘Babylon’ in the Bible became synonymous with a place or system that was and still is void of God’s word or will. Numerous times in the Bible God warns His people to flee from Babylon.
It began when Abraham was told to leave his native home near the Euphrates River, travel westward, and settle in Canaan bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
The Euphrates River became a dividing line separating the ‘gods’ in the Fertile Crescent and the God of Abraham.
“And Joshua said to all the people, Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham… dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob…’” Joshua 24:2-4a
Biblical history tells of a time when Israel’s King Solomon reigned over all nations from Egypt to the River Euphrates with great wisdom.
“For he (Solomon) had dominion over…all the kings on this side of the River…And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding…thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East…and men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” I Kings 4:24-34
But Solomon compromised God’s word and subsequently Israel was divided into north and south in 931 BC. Israel’s northern tribes were overtaken by Assyria in 722 BC and southern Judah fell to Babylon in 586 BC.
The Bible reveals, however, that Israel’s tribes will be reunited and her capital Jerusalem will be restored permanently in the future.
“Therefore your gates shall be open continually…that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles,…for the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish and those nations shall be utterly ruined.” Isaiah 60:11-12
Those nations east of present Israel, primarily the Arab nations, and those nations east of the Euphrates River will begrudge Israel because of her favor with God. That animosity is very evident today and such animosity will increase as the time approaches for Israel to take possession of all the land promised her. Those nations east of the River will march on the Promised Land.
“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and the water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared…to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty…to the place called…Armageddon.” Revelation 16:12-16
The ‘kings from the East’ can be likened to the ‘wise men from the East’ that came to worship the Child Jesus.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem… wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” Matthew 2:1-2
The term ‘wise men’ is translated from the Greek ‘magoi’ meaning priests and wise men among the Medes, Persians, and Babylonians.