(Shiʹhor) [from Egyptian, meaning “Pond of Horus”].
Evidently the easternmost branch of the Nile River in the Delta region. Shihor, in its four occurrences in the Hebrew text, is always associated with Egypt. (Jos 13:3, “branch of the Nile”; 1Ch 13:5, “river”; Isa 23:3; Jer 2:18) While some commentators would equate it with “the torrent valley of Egypt” (Nu 34:5), usually identified with the Wadi el-ʽArish, SW of Gaza, Jeremiah 2:18 and Isaiah 23:3 appear to link it more closely with Egypt and the Nile than was the case with this latter torrent valley, or wadi. Particularly the Isaiah text with its reference to “the seed of Shihor” would seem to apply to a regularly flowing stream (na·harʹ) rather than to a seasonal one (naʹchal). For these reasons the Shihor, at least in these two texts, is more often identified with the easternmost arm of the Nile (after it divides into several branches upon reaching the Delta region). This position might allow for its being referred to as “in front of [that is, on the E of or to the E of] Egypt,” as at Joshua 13:3.
This latter text, however, forms part of the description of the land that was yet to be conquered by the Israelites after the initial campaigns under Joshua, extending as far N as “the entering in of Hamath.” (Jos 13:1-6) Those arguing for an identification with the Wadi el-ʽArish point out that elsewhere the boundaries of Israel’s inheritance are given as from “the torrent valley of Egypt” up to “the entering in of Hamath.” (Nu 34:2, 5, 7, 8) At Joshua 13:3, some translations (RS, NW), however, consider the reference to the Shihor (“branch of the Nile,” NW) to be part of a parenthetical expression giving a historical note as to how far to the SW the land of the Canaanites at one time had extended. On this basis, instead of describing the territory to be conquered, the text could simply be showing that the Canaanites once resided as far as the easternmost border of Egypt proper.
Similarly, a correspondency is noted between the reference to David’s congregating the people of Israel from Shihor (“the river of Egypt,” NW) to Hamath (when endeavoring to bring the ark of the covenant up to Jerusalem) and the congregating of the people in Solomon’s day from “the entering in of Hamath down to the torrent valley of Egypt.” (1Ch 13:5; 1Ki 8:65) The explanation for this may be that in the latter case (Solomon’s time) the account gives the practical boundaries of Israelite residence. The region between the Wadi el-ʽArish and the eastern arm of the Nile is basically desert territory and scrubland, so this wadi, or torrent valley, fittingly marked the limit of territory suitable for Israelite inhabitation, whereas in the former case (David’s) the description may be that of the entire region of Israelite activity, the region effectively dominated by David, which indeed ran to the border of Egypt.
Even prior to David, King Saul had pursued the Amalekites as far as Shur, “which is in front of Egypt” (1Sa 15:7), and the dominion Solomon received through David is stated to have reached to “the boundary of Egypt.” (1Ki 4:21) So, even though the territory actually distributed to the Israelite tribes did not extend beyond “the torrent valley of Egypt,” this would not appear to argue against the identification of the Shihor with a “branch of the Nile” at Joshua 13:3 and “the river of Egypt” at 1 Chronicles 13:5.
The word “Shihor” does not occur at Genesis 15:18, where Jehovah promised Abraham the land from “the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.” So, here also, there is a question as to whether “the river [form of na·harʹ] of Egypt” refers to some part of the Nile or to “the torrent valley [naʹchal] of Egypt” (the Wadi el-ʽArish). The answer would depend upon whether Jehovah here described the actual area distributed as a tribal inheritance or referred to the whole region dominated by the Israelite kingdom at its greatest extent. If the former, then this text would likely apply to the Wadi el-ʽArish; if the latter, then to the Shihor.—See EGYPT, TORRENT VALLEY OF.