(γέφυρα, 2 Macc. 12:13) does not occur in the canonical Scriptures unless indirectly in the proper name Geshur (q.v.), a district in Bashan north-east of the Sea of Galilee. Not far from this region still exists the most noted artificial stone bridge in Palestine. It is mentioned by B. de la Brocquibre A.D. 1432, and a portion of one by Arculf, A.D. 700 (Early Trav. in Pal. p. 8, 300; Burckhardt, Syria, p. 315; Robinson, Researches, 3:361). It crosses the Upper Jordan about two miles below the lake Huleh. The river here flows rapidly through a narrow bed; and here from the most remote ages has lain the high-road to Damascus from all parts of Palestine, which renders it likely that a bridge existed at this place in very ancient times, although of course not the one which is now standing. The bridge is called "Jacob's Bridge" (Jissr Yakoub), from a tradition that it marks the spot where the patriarch Jacob crossed the river on his return from Padan- Aram. But it is also sometimes called Jissr Beni Yakoub, "the Bridge of Jacob's Sons," which may suggest that the name is rather derived from some Arab tribe called the Beni Yakoub. It is still oftener termed, however, Jisr Benat Yakoub, "Bridge of Jacob's Daughters." The bridge is a very solid structure, well built, with a high curve in the middle like all the Syrian bridges, and is composed of three arches in the usual style of these fabrics. Close by it on the east is a khan much frequented by travellers, built upon the remains of a fortress .which was erected by the Crusaders to command the passage of the Jordan. A few soldiers are now stationed here to collect a toll upon all the laden beasts which cross the bridge.
Permanent bridges over water do not appear to have been used by the Israelites in their earlier times, but we have frequent mention made of fords, and of their military importance (Ge 32:22; Jos 2:7; Jg 3:28; Jg 7:24; Jg 12:5; Isa 16:2). West of the Jordan there are few rivers of importance (Amm. Marc. 14:8; Reland, p. 284); and perhaps the policy of the Jews may have discouraged intercourse with neighboring tribes, for it seems unlikely that the skill of Solomon's architects was unable to construct a bridge. Though the arch (q.v.) was known and used in Egypt as early as the 15th century B.C. (Wilkinson, ii, 302 sq.; Birch, i, 14), the Romans were the first constructors of arched bridges. They made bridges over the Jordan and other rivers of Syria, of which remains still exist (Stanley, Palest. p. 296; Irby and Mangles, p. 90, 91, 92, 142, 143). There are traces of ancient bridges across the Jordan above and below the Lake of Gennesareth, and also over the Arnon and other rivers which enter the Jordan from the east; and some of the winter torrents which traverse the westernmost plain (the plain of the coast) are crossed by bridges, also the Litany, the Owely, etc. But the oldest of these appears to be of Roman origin, and some of more recent date (see Thomson, Land and Book, i, 62, 122, 253). The Chaldee paraphrase renders "gates," in Na 2:6, " bridges," where, however, dikes or weirs are to be understood, which, being burst by inundation, destroyed the walls of Nineveh (Diod. ii, 27). Judas Maccabaeus is said to have intended to make a bridge in order to besiege the town of Casphor or Caspis, situate near a lake (2 Macc. 12:13). Josephus (Anlt. v, 1, 3), speaking of the Jordan at the time of the passage of the Israelites, says it had never been bridged before (οὐκ ἔζευκτο πρότερον), as if in his own time bridges had been made over it, which under the 'Romans was the case. In Isa 37:25, קוּר, dig for water, is rendered by the Sept. "to bridge," γέφυραν τίθημι. The bridge (γέφυρα) connecting the Temple with the upper city of which Josephus speaks (War, 6:6, 2; Ant. 15:11, 5) seems to have been an arched viaduct (Robinson, i, 425; also new ed. 3:224). SEE JERUSALEM. Herodotus (i, 186) describes a bridge consisting of stone piers, with planks laid across, built by Nitocris B.C. circ. 600, connecting the two portions of Babylon (see Jeremiah li, 31, 32; 1, 38), and Diodorus speaks of an arched tunnel under the Euphrates (ii, 9). Bridges of boats are described also by Herodotus (iv, 88; 7:36; comp. Esch. Pers. 69, γινόδεσμος σχεδία) and by Xenophon (Anab. ii, 4,12). A bridge over the Zab, made of wicker-work connecting stone piers, is described by Layard (i, 192), a mode of construction used also in South America.