One of the four rivers branching off from the river issuing out of Eden. (Gen. 2:10-14) The Hiddekel was known in the Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) language as the Idiqlat and in Old Persian as the Tigra, from which latter form comes the Greek name for the Tigris River. In modern Arabic it is known as the Dijlah. It is called by some the “twin river” of the Euphrates and, together with this river, it waters the plains of Mesopotamia. It was on the banks of the Tigris (Hiddekel) River that Daniel received the vision concerning the power struggle to be waged by the “king of the north” and the “king of the south.”—Dan. 10:4, 5; 11:5, 6.
The Tigris has its sources in central Armenia (the eastern part of modern Turkey). Of the Tigris’ headstreams, the western is the more distant, rising on the southern slopes of the Anti-Taurus mountains about fifteen miles (24 kilometers) SE of the city of Elazig and just a few miles from the source of the Euphrates River. It is thus evident that these two rivers could easily have had a single source before the global Flood produced topographical changes in the earth’s surface. For the first 150 miles (241 kilometers) the western source flows E-SE and is joined by two shorter eastern sources. Then, at a point S of the western end of Lake Van, the river takes a more southerly course. It passes through a deep gorge before finally emerging from the mountains onto the upper part of the Mesopotamian plain. From there to its junction with the Euphrates River, the Tigris is fed from the E by four tributary streams: the Great and Little Zab, the Adheim, and the Diyala Rivers.
It is generally believed that, anciently, the Tigris and Euphrates had separate entrances into the sea, but that over the centuries the accumulation of silt has filled in the head of the gulf so that now the rivers unite. After their junction they form the wide stream called the Shatt-al-Arab, which flows some 100 miles (161 kilometers) before emptying into the Persian Gulf.
The full length of the Tigris covers some 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers). It is a wide stream, at some points having a width of 400 yards (366 meters), but is generally shallow, and above Baghdad is navigable only by boats of shallow draught. Rafts, made additionally buoyant by inflated sheep or goats’ skins, are used in the river’s upper courses. A much swifter river than the Euphrates, the Tigris is only about two-thirds the length of its “twin” and of lesser importance commercially.
After entering the Mesopotamian plain the Tigris passes by the sites of many ancient cities. Opposite modern Mosul the ruins of ancient Nineveh lie on the river’s E bank. On the same side, farther S, is the site of Calah-Nimrud, and below it, on the W bank, is found ancient Asshur. A short distance below Baghdad, on the W bank, are the ruins of Seleucia, ancient capital of the Seleucid Dynasty of rulers; and on the opposite side of the river stood Ctesiphon, suggested by some to be the “Casiphia” mentioned at Ezra 8:17-20.