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ELEU´THERUS (Ἐλεύθερος), a river of Syria, in the country of Hamath (Ἀμαθῖτις χώρα), according to the author of the book of Maccabees (1 Macc. 12.25--30), a little to the south of which Jonathan met and defeated the army of Demetrius. Josephus says, that M. Antonius gave to Cleopatra all the cities between Eleutherus and Egypt except Tyre and Sidon (Ant. 15.4.1, B.J. 1.18.5), a notice sufficient of itself to disprove its identity with the modern Kâsimîyeh, a little to the north of Tyre, and considerably south of Sidon,--a theory not more ancient than the Chronicles of the Crusades. (See the references in Robinson, Bib. Res. vol. iii. p. 410, note 2,) The classical geographers all place it considerably north of this river. Thus, Ptolemy makes it the northern boundary of Phoenicia, and places Orthosia (Tortosa) and Simyra (Sumra) south of it (5.15). Strabo also mentions it in connection with Orthosia, and nearly opposite to the rocky island Aradus (xvi, pp. 1071, 1072). Pliny places it between Orthosia and Simyra (5.20). Maundrell was the first to indicate the Nahr-el-Kebîr ( “the great river” ), north of Tripoli, as the modern representative of the Eleutherus (Travels, pp. 24,25); and he is followed by Pococke (vol. ii. p. 204, &c.), and Burckhardt (Syria, p. 161), and other later travellers. Maundrell found Nahr-el-Kebîr to be six miles north of Tripoli, and the northernmost and most considerable of three streams that water the very fruitful plain of Junia. He noticed also to the north of this, only a quarter of an hour south of Tortosa, “a river, or rather a channel of a river, for it was now almost dry; though questionless here must have been anciently no inconsiderable stream; as we might infer both from the largeness of the channel, and the fragments of a stone-bridge formerly laid over it” (p. 19). This is about half an hour north of the point on the coast. opposite to which Ruad, the ancient Aradus, is situated, and therefore accords with Strabo better than Nahr-el-Kebîr, which is too far south; as Maundrell also himself intimates (p. 25).


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