Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all
the waters of Israel?
&c.] Abana is, in the marginal reading, called Amana, and so the Targum; perhaps from the Mount Amana, from whence it sprung, a mountain in Syria F7, mentioned with Lebanon, ( Song of Solomon 4:8 ) . This river is thought to be the Chrysorrhoas of Pliny F8, and other writers; there are no traces of its name, or of the following, to be met with now; the only river by Damascus is called Barrady, which supplies Damascus and its gardens, and makes them so fruitful and pleasant as they be; it pours down from the mountains, as Mr. Maundrell
F9 describes it, and is divided into three streams, of which the middlemost and biggest runs directly to Damascus, through a large field, called the field of Damascus; and the other two are drawn round, the one to the right hand, and the other to the left, on the borders of the gardens. Pharpar is thought F11 to be the river Orontes, which runs close to the walls of Antioch, and courses through its large and spacious plain, being numbered among the rivers of Syria; it takes its rise from Lebanon, and, sliding through the said plain, falls into the Syrian sea. Benjamin of Tudela F12 speaks of these rivers under their Scripture names; Abana or Amana as he says, passes through the city and supplies the houses of great men with water through wooden pipes; and Pharpar is without the city and runs among the gardens and orchards, and waters them. Farfar is also the name of a river in Italy F13:
may I not wash in them, and be clean?
as well as in Jordan; or rather, since they are better waters, and so not have been at this trouble and expense to come hither; or have I not washed in them every day? I have, and am I clean? I am not; which is the sense the several Jewish writers give F14:
so he turned, and went away in a rage;
in a great passion, swearing and cursing perhaps, ordering his chariot driver to turn and be gone at once.
F7 Tacit. Annal. l. 2. c. 83.
F8 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18.
F9 Journey from Aleppo, p. 122, 123.
F11 Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 7, 8. Hiller. Onomast. Sacr. p. 908.
F12 Itinerar. p. 55.
F13 Servius in Virgil. Aeneid. l. 7. p. 1243.
F14 Ben Gersom in loc. & R. Joseph Kimchi, & R. Jonah in Ben Melech in. loc.