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Bank (Geography)

BANK (of river). The outer limiting border of a river. Three Heb. words are tr. “bank.” The most common one is שָׂפָה, H8557. It is often used of lips, sometimes of the shore or edge of the sea (1 Kings 9:26), and may be tr. “the brink,” as when Moses’ mother put her child in a basket and placed it in the reeds “at the river’s brink” (Exod 2:3). But it is commonly tr. “bank” (Gen 41:17). Ezekiel saw a great variety of trees, with their nourishing and healing fruit and leaves, on the banks of the cleansing river of the last day (Ezek 47:7, 12).

Another term is גָּדָה, H1519, derived from the idea of cutting. It is always used with mention of a river’s overflow, as though the bank of the river was cut or torn by the force of the stream’s flow. The Jordan overflowed its banks in the spring (cf. Josh 3:15; 4:18), its waters easily scoring its muddy banks at other times of the year. The term is also used fig. of Assyria overflowing its banks like a river and sweeping down upon Judah in Isaiah’s time (Isa 8:7). Akin to this is גִּדְיָה, H1536, which is also used once with the idea of overflow (1 Chron 12:15).