Easton's Bible Dictionary
(LXX., "Orech"), length, or Moon-town, One of the cities
of Nimrod's kingdom in the plain of Shinar ( Genesis 10:10 ); the Orchoe of the
Greeks and Romans. It was probably the city of the Archevites, who were transplanted
to Samaria by Asnapper ( Ezra 4:9 ). It lay on the left bank of the Euphrates,
about 120 miles south-east of Babylon, and is now represented by the mounds and
ruins of Warka. It appears to have been the necropolis of the Assyrian kings,
as the whole region is strewed with bricks and the remains of coffins. "Standing
on the summit of the principal edifice, called the Buwarizza, a tower 200 feet
square in the centre of the ruins, the beholder is struck with astonishment at
the enormous accumulation of mounds and ancient relics at his feet. An irregular
circle, nearly 6 miles in circumference, is defined by the traces of an earthen
rampart, in some places 40 feet high."
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
length; health; physic
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(length), One of the cities of Nimrods kingdom in the
land of Shinar, ( Genesis 10:10 ) doubtless the same as Orchoe, 82 miles south
and 43 east of Babylon, the modern designations of the site --Warka, Irka and
Irak --bearing a considerable affinity to the original name.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
e'-rek, er'-ek ('erekh; Orech):
1. Etymology of the Name:
The second of the cities founded by Nimrod, the others being Babel, Accad and
Calneh (Genesis 10:10). The derivation of the name is well known, Erech being
the Semitic-Babylonian Uruk, from the Sumerian Unug, a word meaning "seat," probably
in the sense of "residential city." The character with which it is written enters
into the composition of the Babylonian names of Larsa and Ur of the Chaldees.
2. Position and Nature of the Ruins:
Its identification with Warka, on the left bank of the Euphrates, half-way between
Hillah (Babylon) and Korna, is beyond a doubt. It is thought that the Euphrates
must have flowed nearer to the city in ancient times, as the Gilgames legend relates
that that hero and his companion Enkidu washed their hands in the stream after
having killed the divine bull sent by the goddess Ishtar to destroy them. The
shape of the ruin is irregular, the course of the walls of the Northeast having
been seemingly determined by that of the Nile canal (Shatt-en-Nil), which flowed
on that side. The extreme length of the site from North to South is over 3,000
yds., and its width about 2,800 yds. This space is very full of remains of buildings;
and the foundations of the walls, with their various windings, gateways and defenses,
are traceable even now.
3. Its Patron-Deities and Their Temples:
Two great deities, Ishtar and Nanaa, were worshipped in this city, the
temple of the former being E-anna, "the house of heaven" (or "of Anu," in which
case it is probable that the god of the heavens, Anu, was also one of the patrons
of the city). The shrine dedicated to Ishtar is apparently now represented by
the ruin known as Buwariyya or "reed-mats," and so called on account of the layers
of matting at intervals of 4 or 5 ft. This is the great temple-tower (ziq-qurat)
of the place, called E-gipar-imina, "the house of 7 enclosures." The remains are
situated in a large courtyard measuring 350 ft. by 270 ft. As in the case of other
Babylonian erections, the corners are directed toward the cardinal points, and
its height is about 100 ft. above the desert-plain.
As Erech is mentioned with Babylon, Niffer (Calneh) and Eridu, as one of the cities
created by Merodach (Nimrod), it is clear that it was classed with the oldest
foundations in Babylonia. It was the city of Gilgames, the half-mythical king
of the earliest period, who seems to have restored the walls and temples. Its
earliest known ruler of historical times was Ensag-kus-anna, about 4,000 BC.
4. History of the City's Temples, etc.:
The celebrated shrine of Ishtar was already in existence in the time of Lugal-zaggi-si,
who came somewhat later. King Dungi (2600 BC) restored E-anna and built its great
wall. This was in the time of the great Ur Dynasty, but later the city seems to
have come under the dominion of the kings of Isin, Libit-Ishtar having apparently
restored the sanctuary of Ishtar on E- gipara. Another great ruler of the early
period was Sin-gasid, king of Erech, who was a patron of E-anna; and when he restored
this shrine, he endowed it with grain, wool, oil and 1 shekel of gold. There seems
also to have been a shrine to Nergal, god of war, which was restored by King Sin-gamil.
About 2280 BC Kudur-Nanchunde, the Elamite king, plundered the city, and carried
off the statue of the goddess Nanaa, which was only restored to its place by Assur-bani-apli,
the Assyrian king, about 635 BC. Samsu-iluna seems to have surpassed his father
Hammurabi (Amraphel) in the restoration of the city's temples, and other rulers
who did not forget Erech were Nebuchadrezzar and Nabonidus.
5. Literature Referring to Erech:
Many tablets have been found on the site, and give promise of interesting discoveries
still to come. Having been the capital of the hero-king Gilgames, who saw the
wonders of the wide world, spoke with the Babylonian Noah face to face, and almost
attained immortality as a living man, it was always a place of romance. Poetical
compositions concerning it exist, one of the most interesting being a lamentation
possibly written after the invasion of Kudur-Nanchundi, when famine was rife in
the city, blood flowed like water in E-ulbar, the house of Istar's oracle, and
the enemy heaped up fire in all the goddess' lands as one heaps up embers.
6. The City's Numerous Names:
The consideration in which the city was held is made plain by the geographical
lists, from which it would seem that it had no less than 11 names, among them
being Illab or Illag, Tir-anna, "the heavenly grove"; Ub-imina, "the 7 regions";
Uru- gipara-imina, "the city of the 7 enclosures"; and Uruk-supuri, "Erech of
the folds" (the name which it always bears in the Gilgames legend), given to it
either on account of its being a center where pastoral tribes gathered, or because
of the flocks kept for sacrifice to its deities.
7. Tablets and Tombs of Late Date:
Besides the inscriptions of the kings already mentioned, tablets of the reigns
of Nabopolassar, Nebuchadrezzar, Nabonidus, Cyrus, Darius and some of the Seleucids
have been found on the site. In the ruins of the town and the country around,
numerous glazed earthenware (slipper-shaped) coffins and other receptacles, used
for and in connection with the burial of the dead, occur. These are mostly of
the Parthian period, but they imply that the place was regarded as a necropolis,
possibly owing to the sanctity attached to the site.
Schrader, KAT; Loftus, Chaldoea and Susiana, 162; Fried. Delitzsch, Wo lag das
Paradies? 221; Zehnpfund, Babylonien in seinen wichtigsten Ruinenstatten, 48.
T. G. Pinches
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, city, define, erech, irak, irka, nimrod, warka