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CARCHEMISH (Heb. כַּרְכְּמִישׁ), ancient city in N. Syria, on the east bank of the Euphrates. Known today as Jerablus, it is about 62 miles (100 km.) northeast of Aleppo. The city's importance as a political and commercial center derived from its location at the crossroads connecting Mesopotamia with Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt. It is first mentioned in Akkadian sources of the 18th century b.c.e. as Karkamiš. During that period Carchemish was ruled by an "Amorite" dynasty. Carchemish (k-r-k-m-š) was one of the cities conquered by Thutmosis iii, king of Egypt (15th century). In the 15th and 14th centuries the city came into the sphere of influence of Mitanni, and with the decline of Mitanni, it became part of the Hittite empire. It is included among the states allied with the Hittite king in the battle against Egypt at Kadesh (c. 1286 b.c.e.). The disaster which overtook the Hittite empire with the invasion of the Sea Peoples did not spare Carchemish; however, the city was resettled by people from Asia Minor and soon became a center of Neo-Hittite culture. Ashurnasirpal ii and *Shalmaneser iii (ninth century b.c.e.) subjugated Sangara of Carchemish, imposing a heavy tax upon him. The attempts of such rulers of Carchemish as Pisiris to free themselves of Assyrian rule, with the aid of Ararat or the Syrian states, ended when Sargon ii turned it into an Assyrian province in 717 b.c.e. (cf. Isa. 10:9). Carchemish continued to be a large commercial center under Assyrian rule. At the same time, the population of the city absorbed Aramean and Assyrian cultural influences. When Pharaoh Neco went to Assyria's aid against Babylonia and Media in 609 b.c.e. he established his camp at Carchemish (cf. ii Chron. 35:20), occasionally venturing forth to attack the enemy. The Babylonian Chronicle reports that in 605 b.c.e. Nebuchadnezzar inflicted defeat upon the Egyptian forces at Carchemish (Galgameš; cf. Jer. 46:2), thereby opening the way to Syria and Palestine for the Babylonian forces.

*Benjamin of Tudela reported 500 Jews in Kirkisiya (Girgisiya), a town on the bank of the Euphrates, which he identified with Carchemish.


L. Woolley, Carchemish, 2–3 (1921–1952); A. Goetze, in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 8 (1954), 74; H.G. Gueterbock, in: jnes, 13 (1954), 102–14; D. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldean Kings (1956); em, s.v., includes bibliography; H. Klengel, Geschichte Syriens (1965); D. Ussishkin, in: jnes, 26 (1967), 91.

[Bustanay Oded]