(Cheʹbar) [from Babylonian, meaning “Great (Canal)”].
A “river” in “the land of the Chaldeans” near which Jews of the community of Tel-abib were exiled. (Eze 1:1-3; 3:15) When speaking of “the river Chebar,” Ezekiel used the Hebrew term na·harʹ (rendered “river”) apparently in its widest sense to include the numerous Babylonian canals that once intersected the fertile area between the lower courses of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. This usage would be consistent with the corresponding Babylonian word that also describes either a river or a canal. The precise location of the Chebar is unknown.
However, most Biblical geographers connect the “river Chebar” with the Shatt en-Nil, which has been identified with the naru Kabaru (or “Grand Canal”) mentioned in cuneiform contract tablets found at the city of Nippur, about 85 km (50 mi) SE of Babylon. The Shatt en-Nil branches off the Euphrates above Babylon and runs in a SE direction, passing near Nippur, to rejoin the Euphrates S of Ur, about 240 km (150 mi) below Babylon.
In 613 B.C.E., Tel-abib, near the river Chebar, was the site of the prophet Ezekiel’s first recorded vision, the stunning effects of which lasted seven days, and of his being commissioned as “a watchman . . . to the house of Israel.” (Eze 1:1–3:21) Similar visions on later occasions reminded the prophet of his experience at Chebar.—Eze 10:15, 20, 22; 43:3.