KEBAR (kē'bar). A river or canal beside which Ezekiel saw visions (Ezek.1.1; Ezek.3.23; Ezek.10.15, Ezek.10.20, Ezek.10.22; Ezek.43.3); in Babylonia (Ezek.1.3), at Tel Aviv (Ezek.3.15). It has not yet been identified.
CHEBAR ke’ bär (כְּבָ֑ר; LXX Χοβάρ; Vul. Chobar; Luther Chebar; the Heb. means length). An unidentified stream of water “in the land of the Chaldeans” (Ezek 1:3), i.e., in ancient Babylonia.
In the OT Chebar occurs eight times in the expression נְהַר־כְּבָ֑ר. The Babylonian equivalent (nāru kabari) of Ezekiel’s phrase appears on two contract tablets (from 443 and 423 b.c.) unearthed at Nippur. Nāru kabari was indeed a “great canal” which branched off from the Euphrates above Babylon, flowed sixty m. SE, through Nippur, and finally emptied back into the Euphrates near Erech. Today after centuries of neglect this artificial watercourse is dry. The Arabs refer to it as Shaṭṭ en Nîl (“the river Nile”). This is prob. Ezekiel’s Chebar.
Nebuchadnezzar settled a colony of Jewish exiles on the banks of the Chebar (Ezek 1:1); and Ezekiel saw his earlier visions as he ministered here (1:1, 3; 3:15, 23; 10:15, 20). Whether Chebar was dug with the forced labor of Jewish captives is unknown.
The Babylonian cuneiform nāru denotes either “canal” or “river”; but כְּבָ֑ר is not to be identified with חָבֹ֛ור (2 Kings 17:6), a river which rises in upper Mesopotamia and finally flows into the Euphrates near Kierkesion.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(kebhar, "joining" (Young), "length" (Strong); Chobar): The river by the side of which his first vision was vouchsafed to Ezekiel (Ez 1:1). It is described as in "the land of the Chaldeans," and is not, therefore, to be sought in northern Mesopotamia. This rules out the Habor, the modern Chabour, with which it is often identified. The two names are radically distinct: chabhor could not be derived from kebhar. One of the great Babylonian canals is doubtless intended. Hilprecht found mention made of (naru) kabaru, one of these canals large enough to be navigable, to the East of Nippur, "in the land of the Chaldeans." This "great canal" he identifies with the rood. shaTT en-Nil, in which probably we should recognize the ancient Chebar.