🔼The name Euphrates: Summary
- Good Parat, Good Fruitful One
- From (1) ευ (eu), good or noble, and (2) the name Parat, from the verb פרה (para), to be fruitful.
🔼The name Euphrates in the Bible
The Euphrates is the single most dominant river of the Bible, even more dominant than the Nile or the Jordan. In the Old Testament this river is called Parat, and as such it is mentioned as early as Genesis 2, where it is one of the four rivers of Eden (the others being Pishon, Gihon, and Haddakel).
The Euphrates even plays a roll in the events surrounding the last days. Four angels that are said to be bound at the Euphrates are to be released under the sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:14). The angel associated with the sixth bowl targets the Euphrates so that it dries up (Revelation 16:12).
All this demonstrates that the literary character of the Euphrates goes far beyond that of its physical fluvial namesake. For a lengthy look at the actual meaning of the story of the four rivers of Eden, see our article on the name Tigris.
🔼Etymology of the name Euphrates
The Greek name Euphrates consists of two elements. The first part is the adverb ευ, meaning good, well, noble:
The familiar adverb ευ (eu) means good or noble. It occurs mostly in compounds.
The second part of the name Euphrates is a transliteration of the Hebrew name for this river: פרת, Parat. The latter name derives from the Hebrew verb פרה (para), meaning to be fruitful:
The verb פרר (parar) means to split, divide and usually make more, expand or multiply. This root belongs to an extended family that also contains פרץ (paras), to break (through), פרש (paras and parash), to spread out or declare, פרס (paras), to break in two or divide, and פאר (pa'ar) means to branch out or to glorify.
The Bible is not concerned with political goings on and only with the evolution of the wisdom tradition, and thus with the rise of information technology (from cave paintings to blockchain). That said: our word "science" comes from the Greek verb σξιζω (schizo), which means to split, divide and make more.
Verb פרה (para) means to bear fruit or be fruitful. Noun פרי (peri) means fruit in its broadest sense. Noun פר (par) means young bull and פרה (para) means young heifer. Note that the first letter א (aleph) is believed to denote an ox-head, while its name derives from the verb אלף (alpeh), to learn or to produce thousands. The second letter, ב (beth) is also the word for house (or temple or stable). The familiar word "alphabet," therefore literally means "stable of bulls" or "house of divisions" or "temple of fruitful learning".
Noun פרא (para') is a word for wild donkey. The young bovines were probably known as fruits-of-the-herd, but donkeys in the Bible mostly symbolize lone wanderings and humility.
Noun פור (pur) means lot (hence the feast called Purim). Noun פורה (pura) denotes a winepress and פרור (parur) a cooking pot.
The name Euphrates means Good Parat or Good Bountiful One. For a meaning of the name Euphrates, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads That Which Makes Fruitful, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Fruitfulness.