As the the above map shows, the Euphrates river begins at the place where the Karasu and Murat join in northeastern Turkey. It is the longest watercourse 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 waterway 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 Euphrates river is known as 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 river heads. The name of the first is Pishon . . . The fourth . . . is the Euphrates" (Genesis 2:8, 10 - 11, 14).
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. God promised to give him the land from the Nile River to the Euphrates, which was populated at the time by peoples such as the Kenites, Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites and others (Genesis 15).
Fulfilling Biblical prophecy
This area around the river will play a pivotal role in end time Bible prophecy. Sometime during the Great Tribulation, when the Beast and False Prophet rule the world, four demonic spirits that have been "bound" or held at the waterway will be freed in order to unleash a wave of death upon all mankind (Revelation 9:13 - 15).
Just before Jesus returns to earth a second time, the kingdoms of the North and the South will begin making their preparations for the battle of Armageddon. God will then cause the Euphrates river to dry up so that the armies of the world can gather together (along with the beast and false prophet) to fight Jesus coming directly from heaven (Revelation 16:12, 14). This will be the last world war mankind will have to fight.