Nile River
Dictionary 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 waterway 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).

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 River 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, it 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 Hiddekel (another name for the Tigris, Daniel 10:4).

Nile River Delta in Egypt Map
Nile Delta in Ancient Egypt

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 Nile, 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.

Map of southern Egypt showing part of Nile River
Upper Nile River

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 waterway (Exodus 7:14 - 25, 8:1 - 15). Pharaoh thought of himself as a god on earth and believed he created the Nile River (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 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 . . .

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 8:3
And the river (Nile) 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.


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.

Additional Studies

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Series Notes
References are based on the
King James Bible translation (KJV).