Nahr al-Kabir

The Nahr al-Kabir, also known in Syria as al-Nahr al-Kabir al-Janoubi (Arabic: النهر الكبير الجنوبي, lit.'the southern great river', by contrast with the Nahr al-Kabir al-Shamali) or in Lebanon simply as the Kebir, is a river in Syria and Lebanon flowing into the Mediterranean Sea at Arida. The river is 77.8 km (48.3 mi) long, and drains a watershed of 954 km2 (368 sq mi).[1] Its headwaters are at the Ain as-Safa spring in Lebanon and it flows through the Homs Gap.

Map of a part of the Levant. Blue lines are rivers, white lines are country borders. Nahr al-Kabir is the relatively short river that forms a part of the Lebanon–Syria border, flowing into the Mediterranean Sea roughly between the cities of Trablous (Tripoli) and Tartus

The river forms the northern part of the Lebanon–Syria border. In antiquity, the river was known as Eleutherus (Greek Ελεύθερος Eleutheros, Ελευθερίς Eleuteris lit. 'free'). It defined the border between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires during much of the 3rd century BCE.[2]

The river is mentioned by Josephus[3] and in 1 Maccabees 11:7 and 12:30.


  1. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia et al., "Nahr el Kabir Basin", Inventory of Shared Water Resources in Western Asia 8 PDF
  2. Dov Gera, Judaea and Mediterranean Politics: 219 to 161 B.C.E., p. 9
  3. Josephus, The Jewish War 1:363 pg 75 Translated by G.A.Williamson 1959, printed 1981