Willows, Brook of

Willows, Brook Of (נִחִל הָעֲרֶבַים, Ndchal ha-Arabim; Sept. ἡ φάραγξ ῎Αραβας; Vulg. torrens salicum), a wady mentioned by Isaiah (15:7) in his dirge over Moab. Over this name Jerome takes a singular flight in his Commentary on Isaiah 15:7, connecting it with the Orebim (A.V. "ravens ") who fed Elijah during his seclusion. The prophet's language implies that this brook was one of the boundaries of the country — probably, as Gesenius (Jesaia. 1:532) observes, the southern one. It is possibly identical with a wady mentioned by Amos (6:14) as the then recognized southern limit of the northern kingdom (Furst, Handwb.; Ewald, Propheten). This latter appears in the A.V. as "the river of the wilderness" (נִ8 הָעֲרָבָה, Nachal ha- Arabah; Sept. ὁ χείμαῥῤος τῶν δυσμῶν; Vulg. torrens deserti). Widely as they differ in the A.V., it will be observed that the names are all but identical in the original, the only difference being that it is plural in Isaiah and singular in Amos. In the latter it is ha-Arabah. the same name which is elsewhere almost exclusively used either for the valley of the Jordan, the ghor of modern Arabs, or for its continuation, the great Arabah, extending to the gulf of Akabah. If the two are regarded as identical, and the latter as the accurate form of the name, then it is probable that the Wady el-Ahsy is intended, which breaks down through the southern part of the mountains of Moab into the so-called Ghor es-Safieh, at the lower end of the lake, and appears to form a natural barrier between the districts of Kerak and Jebal (Burckhardt, Syria, August 7). This is not improbably also the brook Zered (nachal-Zered) of the earlier history. The Targum Pseudojonathan translates the name Zered by "osiers," or "baskets." Should, however, the Nachal ha-Arabimn be rendered "the Willow- torrent" — which has the support of Gesenius (Jesaia) and Pusey (Comm. on Amos, 6:14) — then it is worthy of remark that the name Wady Sufsaf, "Willow Wady," is still attached to a part of the main branch of the ravine which descends from Kerak to the north end of the peninsula of the Dead Sea (Irby, May 9). Burckhardt (Syria, page 644) mentions a fountain called Ain Safsaf, "the Willow Fountain" (Catafago, Arabic Dictionary, page 1051).

The Reverend Mr. Wilton, in his work on The Negeb, or South Country of Scripture, endeavors to identify the Nachal ha-Arabah of Amos with the Wady el-Jeib, which forms the main drain by which the waters of the present Wady Arabah (the great tract between Jebel Sherah and the mountains of et-Tih) are discharged into the Ghor es-Safieh at the southern end of the Dead Sea. This is certainly ingenious, but cannot be accepted as more than a mere conjecture, without a single consideration in its favor beyond the magnitude of the Wady el-Jeib, and the consequent probability that it would be mentioned by the prophet.

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