The Euphrates, which begins at the place where the Karasu and Murat join in northeastern Turkey, is the longest one in Southwest Asia. The distance from the source of the Murat to where it joins with the Tigris (near Basra, Iraq) is 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles).
The Euphrates provided the water that led to the first flowering of civilization in Sumer dating from about the 4th millennium B.C. Many important ancient cities were located on or near it including Nippur, Shuruppak, Uruk, Eridu, and Ur (where Abraham was born). For several centuries, it was the eastern limit of effective Egyptian and Roman empire control.
The region around the river is Mesopotamia. This area, where the invention of writing and the wheel occurred, is the cradle of civilization. Mesopotamia eventually became the heartland of the Babylonian and Assyrian world empires. In modern times, the use of dams on the river generates power for the entire area.
The river’s first mention is in the Bible book of Genesis: "The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. . . Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon . . . The fourth . . . is the EUPHRATES." (Genesis 2:8, 10-11, 14, NKJV throughout)
The river is also mentioned in regard to the covenant God made with Abram (Abraham). This covenant, which promised an inheritance in the land of Canaan, was made after Abraham had left his home in Ur of the Chaldees.
"On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'To your descendants I have given this land . . . the River EUPHRATES - the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.'" (Genesis 15:18-21)
The Euphrates plays a pivotal role in end time Bible prophecy. Sometime during the Great Tribulation, when the Beast and False Prophet rule the world, the release of four angels from their watery prison occurs.
"Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the . . . Euphrates.' So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind." (Revelation 9:13-15)
It will also be the initial division between the kingdoms of the North and the South when the nations of the world begin to align in preparation for the battle of Armageddon. Just before Jesus returns to earth a SECOND time, God will cause it to dry up so that the armies of the world can gather (along with the beast and false prophet) to FIGHT Jesus coming directly from heaven.
"Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the . . . Euphrates, and its water was dried up . . . For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." (Revelation 16:12, 14)