[b-hebrew] Channels, Rivers, & Heads

tladatsi at charter.net tladatsi at charter.net
Fri May 13 01:14:56 EDT 2005

Just a note on geography.

Rivers will sometime divide into separate channels, ox-
bows, and sloughs.  Sand-bars and islands can divide rivers 
over short distances.  Rivers can channalize in a delta.  
However in all of these cases, it is the same river.  The 
ancients and the moderns understand this point.  Several 
rivers join to form the Nile.  No one, ancient or modern, 
has every said the Nile branches out to form seven separate 

This is not a hair-splitting semantism.  A river is not 
just a channel with water flowing through it.  The Tigris, 
Euphrates, and the Nile all occupy not just different 
river-beds but entirely separate valleys with different 
tributaries and drainages.  They geographically and 
hydrologically distinct systems.  

Ancient peoples understood this distinction, if with less 
precision and detail than we do today.

The point about *heads* is interesting.  Persumably the 
Hebrew term *head* of a river corresponds with the English 
word *mouth* of a river.  This does not change anything as 
the single river in Eden is still the headwaters of four 
rivers with different *heads/mouths*.  The *tails* of these 
rivers still lead the ancient and modern reader to eastern 

Jack Tladatsi

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