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AHAVA (a-hā'va, Heb. ’ahăwā’). A river in Babylonia named after a place by which it flowed (Ezra.8.15, Ezra.8.21), where Ezra assembled the Jewish exiles to seek God’s guidance and protection for the long and dangerous journey to Jerusalem.

AHAVA ə hā’ və Heb. אַהֲוָ֔א, a place name of a canal and the surrounding area in Babylon, mentioned only in Ezra 8:15, 21 (which may be a gloss derived from the other two citations), and 31. No such location has ever been found and there is little evidence to support the supposition of the older commentators that it was a city. It was the gathering place for the Israelites returning to Jerusalem with Ezra.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The river in Babylonia on the banks of which Ezra gathered together the Jews who accompanied him to Jerusalem. At this rendezvous the company encamped for three days to make preparation for the difficult and dangerous journey (Ezr 8:15 ff). On reviewing the people and the priests Ezra found no Levites among them; he therefore sent to Iddo, "the chief at the place Casiphia," a request for ministers for the temple. A number of Levites with 220 Nethinim returned to the rendezvous with the deputation. Ezra had expressed to the king his faith in the protection of God; being, therefore, ashamed to ask for a military escort he proclaimed a fast to seek of God "a straight way." To 12 priests Ezra assigned the care of the offering for the temple in Jerusalem. When all was ready the company "departed from the river Ahava," and journeyed in safety to Jerusalem.

This river, apparently called after a town or district toward which it flowed (Ezr 8:15), remains unidentified, though many conjectures have been made. Rawlinson thinks it is the "Is" of Herodotus (i.79), now called "Hit," which flowed past a town of the same name in the Euphrates basin, 8 days’ journey from Babylon. Some identify the district with "Ivvah" (2Ki 18:34, etc.). Most probably, however, this was one of the numerous canals which intersected Babylonia, flowing from the Euphrates toward a town or district "Ahava." If so, identification is impossible.