Nile River
Meaning of Bible Names

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Nile River
Bible Meaning: Term not recorded

The Nile River, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, is the longest waterway in the world at 4,132 miles (6,650 kilometers). The next longest rivers on earth are the Amazon in South America (4,000 miles or 6,437 kilometers) and the Yangtze (3,915 miles or 6,301 kilometers).

Nile River Delta in Egypt Map

In comparison, United States' well-known Mississippi River is 2,340 miles (3,766 kilometers) long. The Nile stretches for such an amazing distance that it drains parts of ten modern nations!

Where is it?

The King James translation does not mention the Nile by name. Other Bibles, however, such as Revised Version (Isaiah 19:7 - 8, etc.), the NIV (Isaiah 23:3), the HCSB (Isaiah 23:3), the HBFV (Exodus 17:5) and others do. Due to its popularity and importance, the Nile is sometimes simply referred to as "the river" (Genesis 41:1, Exodus 1:22, 4:9, 7:17, 8:3, 17:5).

Interestingly, the phrase "the great river" is not Biblically used for the Nile. In five of its six occurrences, the phrase references the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18, Deuteronomy 1:7, Joshua 1:4, Revelation 9:14, 16:12) while its remaining mention is in relation to the river Hiddekel (another name for the Tigris, Daniel 10:4).

Map of southern Egypt showing part of Nile River

It is possible that the phrase "river of Egypt" (Genesis 15:18), used by God to delineate the southern boundary of Abraham's land inheritance, might be a reference to the Nile.

Scriptures that (likely) discuss the famous river, other than the verses listed below, are Genesis 41:17 - 18, Exodus 2:3 - 5, Isaiah 7:18, 23:3, 10, Jeremiah 46:7 - 8, Amos 8:8, 9:5, Nahum 3:8 and Zechariah 10:11.

Biblical importance

The Nile made Egypt's growth, wealth and ascension as a regional power possible. Its existence, in an area that receives little rainfall, gave the country the ability to feed a much larger population than it could otherwise support.

The river was revered in Egyptian culture, with several of its gods (Hapi, Osiris, etc.) linked to it. Its link to pagan worship is why God had his first two plagues involve the Nile (Exodus 7:14 - 25, 8:1 - 15).

Pharaoh thought of himself as a god on earth and believed he created the Nile (Ezekiel 29:3, 9). God, however, challenged his arrogance and promised to punish Egypt by making the country a barren wilderness and scattering its people to other nations (Ezekiel 29:2 - 16).

Important verses

Genesis 15:18
In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.

Genesis 41:1 - 3
And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river (Nile). And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favored kine and fatfleshed: and they fed in a meadow.

And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favored and leanfleshed: and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

Exodus 1:22
And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

Exodus 4:9
And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river (Nile), and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

Exodus 7:15, 17
Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning: lo, he goeth out unto the water: and thou shalt stand by the river's brink against he come: and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.

Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.

Exodus 8:3
And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs:

Exodus 17:5
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel: and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

Isaiah 11:15
And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea: and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.

Isaiah 19:4 - 5
And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord: and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts. And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.


Ezekiel 29:2 - 3
Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt:

Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river (Nile) is mine own, and I have made it for myself.

But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales . . .

Further Bible study:

Meaning of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
Scripture quotes are taken from
the King James translation.
The definition of each listing
is derived from a variety of sources.

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