Small Map of the Fertile
Crescent in Ancient Times
Cradle of Civilization
The Fertile Crescent was a long strip of land
curving around like an arc or bowl, where the soil was very rich and
fertile and there was plenty of water. The Fertile Crescent extended
from the Persian Gulf up and around the Tigris Euphrates rivers and
westward to the Mediterranean Sea and down into Egypt and the Nile
River. The crescent shape was like the moon when it was half-full,
and it was indeed the "cradle of civilization." The Fertile Crescent
contains an incredible amount of history that took place there in
very ancient times, because this is where the earliest civilizations
began, and where they migrated throughout the world.
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
The two primary rivers in the Fertile Crescent
extending down into the Persian Gulf are the Tigris and the
Euphrates Rivers, and these two rivers have been known to man since
the beginning of history. The two rivers began far in the north in
the high mountains where there were massive amounts of snow, and
when the snow melted it flowed down the mountains into streams. The
"Tigris" means arrow and it runs a straight course to the Persian
Gulf like a shooting arrow. The "Euphrates" means "to make fruitful"
and this river was very winding, which caused the waters of the
river to extend more into the territory providing rich fertile soil.
As the waters flowed down rapidly from the mountains, the rivers
would gather soil and deposit it on the flat plains which created
excellent farmland, and the richest land in the earliest of times.
This was where civilization thrived in the most ancient times, the
areas of Mesopotamia and Sumer, and Ur of the Chaldees were Abraham
was called by God to leave his homeland and to go to a foreign land
that he had never seen. It would be in this new land on the other
side of the rivers, the land of Canaan, that would become the
promised land and the place where God would raise an innumerable
number of descendants known as the Hebrews. One of Abraham's
descendents would arise out of this land as the Savior of the world.
The Land Between the Rivers
Mesopotamia. The land in the Fertile
Crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was called
Mesopotamia which means "between the rivers." It is interesting that
the Garden of Eden mentioned in the Bible was located at a place
where 4 rivers all came together, and one of these rivers is
referred to as the Euphrates River (Genesis 2). One of the other
rivers is referred to as Hiddekel, which flowed from the land of
Assyria and most Bible scholars believe that this was the ancient
name of the Tigris River. The other two rivers have never been
discovered, and no one can know for certain where they were located.
The land of Mesopotamia was located in the area of modern Iraq.
Sumer. The earliest known inhabitants of
Mesopotamia were the Sumerians, whom the Bible refers to as the
people of the "land of Shinar" (Genesis 10:10). Sargon I, who was
from one of the Sumerian cities, united the people of Babylonia
under his rule about 2300 B.C. Many Bible scholars believe that
Sargon I might have been the same person as Nimrod mentioned in
Babylon. There is evidence that man has
lived in this area of Mesopotamia since the beginning of
civilization. The first records indicate that Babylon was
established as a city around the 23rd century BC. Before this it was
a provincial capital ruled by the kings of the city of Ur. After
this came the migration of the Amorites.
The Old Testament contains many references to
Babylonia. Gen 10:10 mentions four Babylonian cities, Babel
(Babylon), Erech (Uruk), Accad (Agade) and Calneh. These, along with
Assyria, were ruled by Nimrod.
Mesopotamia in Smith's Bible Dictionary (Read
Mesopotamia - (between the rivers),
the entire country between the two rivers, the Tigris and the
Euphrates. This is a tract nearly 700 miles long and from 20 to 250
miles broad, extending in a southeasterly direction from Telek to
Kurnah. The Arabian geographers term it "the Island," a name which
is almost literally correct, since a few miles only intervene
between the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates at Telek. But the
region which bears the name of Mesopotamia, par excellence, both in
Scripture and in the classical writers, is the northwestern portion
of this tract, or the country between the great bend of the
Euphrates, lat. 35 degrees to 37 degrees 30', and the upper Tigris.
We first hear of Mesopotamia in
Scripture as the country where Nahor and his family settled after
quitting Ur of the Chaldees. Ge 24:10 Here lived Bethuel and Laban;
and hither Abraham sent his servants to fetch Isaac a wife. Ibid.
ver. 38. Hither too, a century later, came Jacob on the same errand;
and hence he returned with his two wives after an absence of
twenty-one years. After this we have no mention of Mesopotamia till
the close of the wanderings int he wilderness. De 23:4 About half a
century later we find, for the first and last time, Mesopotamia the
seat of a powerful monarchy. Jud 3:1 ... Finally, the children of
Ammon, having provoked a war with David, "sent a thousand talents of
silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and
out of Syria-maachah, and out of Zobah." 1Ch 19:6 According to the
Assyrian inscriptions Mesopotamia was inhabited in the early times
of the empire, B.C. 1200-1100, by a vast number of petty tribes,
each under its own prince, and all quite independent of one another.
The Assyrian monarchs contended with
these chiefs at great advantage, and by the time of Jehu, B.C. 880,
had fully established their dominion over them. On the destruction
of the Assyrian empire, Mesopotamia seems to have been divided
between the Medes and the Babylonians. The conquests of Cyrus
brought it wholly under the Persian yoke; and thus it continued to
the time of Alexander. Since 1516 it has formed a part of the
Turkish empire. It is full of ruins and mounds of ancient cities,
some of which are now throwing much light on the Scripture.
Map of Ancient Mesopotamia
Map of Ancient Mesopotamia in 2000 BC (3rd Dynasty of
Genesis 10:6-11 "The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put,
and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and
Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. Cush begot
Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty
hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod the
mighty hunter before the LORD." And the beginning of his kingdom was
Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
(More to come)
Bible History A
growing database of images and sketches of the ancient world.
Maps A growing
database of maps for study and teaching.
Sketches of ancient cities & monuments from archaeology.
Holman Bible Atlas: A Complete Guide to the Expansive Geography
of Biblical History by Brisco. 304 Pages, 2014
The Story of the Bible
© Bible History Online (/)