), a town of considerable importance on the right bank of the Euphrates, in lat. 35° 15′ N.
It is mentioned very early in ancient history, and is almost certainly the same as the Tiphsah, of the Old Testament (1 Kings,
4.24; in the LXX. written Θάψα
), which is mentioned as the eastern boundary of the kingdom of Solomon.
There is some difference among ancient writers as to the province in which it should be included. Thus, Pliny (5.24. s. 21
) and Stephanus B. (s. v.) place it in Syria; Ptolemy (5.19.3
) in Arabia Deserta.
The reason of this is, that it was a frontier town, and might therefore be claimed as belonging to one or more provinces. At Thapsacus was the most important passage of the Euphrates in the northern portion of that river's course.
As such, we read it was used by Cyrus the younger, whose army forded it, the water reaching up to their breasts, there being probably at that time no bridge. (Xen. Anab. 1.4. 11
) Some years later Dareius crossed it to meet Alexander in Cilicia, and recrossed it in haste after his defeat at Issus. (Arrian, ii, 13.) Alexander, pursuing Dareius, crossed the river also at the same spot, as the historian especially notices, on two bridges (probably of boats), which were joined together (3.7). Strabo, who makes frequent mention of Thapsacus, considers it, on the authority of Eratosthenes, as distant from Babylon about 4800 stadia, and from Commagene 2000 (ii. pp. 77, 78, 81, xvi. p. 746); and states that it was situated just at that spot where Mesopotamia is the widest (l.c.
There is no doubt that it derived its name from a Semitic verb, meaning to pass over (Winer, Bibl. Wörterb. s. v.
): hence another passage-place of the same name, which is mentioned in 2 Kings,
15.16, but which is really in Palestine, has been often confounded with Tiphsah on the Euphrates. Pliny states that the name was changed by the Macedonian Greeks to Amphipolis (5.24. s. 21), and Stephanus calls the Amphipolis of Seleucus Tourmeda. No trace of any of these names is now found in the country (Ritter, x. p. 1114), nor any ruins that can certainly be identified with its site.
It was, however, probably near the present Deir.