The Hebrew Meaning of the Rivers of the Garden of Eden (Part II)

Yesterday we discussed the Hebrew meaning of the first two rivers found in the Garden of Eden – ‘Pishon’ and ‘Gihon.’ Today we will talk about the other two rivers called ‘Tigris’ and ‘Euphrates’:

“The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2:14)

In the original Hebrew, as well as in Modern Hebrew, these two rivers have a completely different names.
The ‘Tigris’ is known in Hebrew as ‘Chidekel’ {חידקל} and ‘Euphrates’ is ‘P’rat.’ {פרת}

Why is there such a big gap between the original Hebrew and the English translation?


Well, the English translation received the Latin names of the two rivers (‘Tigris’ and ‘Eufrates’ in Latin) from the ‘Vulgate’ – the old Latin translation of the Bible – which borrowed the Ancient Greek names of the two rivers: Εὐφράτης (‘Euphrates’) and Τίγρις (‘Tigris’).

The Ancient Greek received those names from the Old Persian (‘Tigrā’ and ‘Ufrātu’) which borrowed the Old Akkadian and Assyrian names ‘Purattu’ (‘Euphrates’) and ‘Idiglat’ (‘Tigris’).

The sound ‘t’ is often replaced with the sound ‘d’ and ‘th’ with the sound ‘s’ and that is how the ‘European’ languages – (such as English) received the names ‘Tigris and ‘Euphrates.’ Being Semitic languages – like Hebrew – the Old Akkadian and Assyrian names are already sound much closer to Hebrew.  ‘Purattu’ is closer to the Hebrew ‘P’rat’ and so is ‘Idiglat’ to the Hebrew ‘Chidekel.’

According to an old Jewish tradition, the Hebrew name ‘P’rat’ comes from the Hebrew verb ‘Pore’ {פורה} which means ‘to be fruitful’ in English (and notice the resemblances to the Hebrew sound of this word) and refers to the large size of the river.

The name ‘Chidekel’ comes from, according to this Jewish tradition, a combination of TWO Hebrew words: ‘Chad’ {חד} (which is ‘clear’ in English) and ‘Dak’ {דק} (which is ‘thin’ in English) and refers to the clear and narrow-like shape of the water.