Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
[many Ab'ana] (Heb. Abanah', אֲבָנָה; Sept. ‘Αβανά; Vulg. Abana; or rather, as in the margin, AMANAH (See AMANAH) [q.v.]; Heb. Amanah',אֲמָנָה [comp. Isaiah 23:16], since the latter means perennial; Gesenius, Thesaur. Heb. p. 116), a stream mentioned by Naaman as being one of the rivers of Damascus; another being the Pharpar (2 Kings 5:12). The main stream by which Damascus is now irrigated is called Barada, the Chrysorrhoas, or "golden stream" of the ancient geographers (Strabo, p. 755), which, as soon as it issues from a cleft of the Anti-Lebanon mountains, is immediately divided into three smaller courses. The central or principal stream runs straight toward the city, and there supplies the different public cisterns, baths, and fountains; the other branches diverge to the right and left along the rising ground on either hand, and, having furnished the means of extensive irrigation, fall again into the main channel, after diffusing their fertilizing influences, and are at length lost in a marsh or lake, which is known as the Bahr el-Merj, or Lake of the Meadow. Dr. Richardson (Travels, 2:499) states that the "water of the Barada, like the water of the Jordan, is of a white, sulfurous hue, and an unpleasant taste." Some contend that the Barada is the Abana and are only at a loss for the Pharpar; others find both in the two subsidiary streams, and neglect the Barada; while still others seek the Abana in the small river Fijih, which Dr. Richardson describes as rising near a village of the same name in a pleasant valley fifteen or twenty miles to the north-west of Damascus. It issues from the limestone rock, in a deep, rapid stream, about thirty feet wide. It is pure and cold as iced water; and, after coursing down a stony and rugged channel for above a hundred yards, falls into the Barada, which comes from another valley, and at the point of junction is only half as wide as the Fijih. The Abana or Amana has been identified by some (especially Gesenius, Neb. Lex.) with the Barada, from the coincidence of the name Amana mentioned in Song of Solomon 4:8, as one of the tops of Anti-Libanus, from which the Chrysorrhoas (or Barada) flows; and the ruins of Abila, now found on the banks of that stream, are thought to confirm this view. A better reason for this identification is, that Naaman would be more likely to refer to some prominent stream like the Barada, rather than to a small and comparatively remote fountain like the Fijih. (See PHARPAR). The turbid character of the water of Barada is no objection to this view, since Naaman refers to Abana as important for its medicinal qualities rather than on account of its limpid coldness. The identification of the Abana with the Barada is confirmed by the probable coincidence of the Pharpar with the Arvaj; these being the only considerable streams in the vicinity of Damascus (Bibliotheca Sacra, 1849, p. 371; Robinson's Researches, new ed. 3, 447). This is the view taken by the latest traveler who has canvassed the question at length (J. L. Porter, in the Jour. of Sacr. Literature. July, 1853, p. 245 sq.). According to Schwarz (Palest. p. 54), the Jews of Damascus traditionally identify the Barada with the Amana (q.v.). The Arabic version of the passage in Kings has Barda. According to Lightfoot (Cent. Chor. 4) the river in question was also called Kirmijon (קַרְמַיּון ), a name applied in the Talmud to a river of Palestine (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 2138). (See DAMASCUS).