Garden of Eden

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The Garden of Eden (from גַּן עֵדֶן) is described in the Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. This garden forms part of the creation story and theodicy of the Abrahamic religions.

The creation story in Genesis relates the geographical location of both Eden and the garden to four rivers (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates), and three regions (Havilah, Assyria, and Cush [often translated as Ethiopia]<ref>"Ethiopia" is used as the name for Cush in the King James Version and the Douay-Rheims Bible. Eden's location remains the subject of controversy and speculation. There are hypotheses that locate Eden at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates, in Mesopotamia, Africa, and the Persian Gulf, among others.

The phrase "Garden of Eden" is often used to describe any peaceful place, or a state of perfect happiness or bliss.-Random House Webster's College Dictionary (1992).

Etymology

The origin of the term "Eden", which in Hebrew means "delight", may lie with the Akkadian word edinu, which itself derives from the Sumerian term E.DIN. The Sumerian term means steppe, plain, desert or wilderness, so the connection between the words may be coincidental. This word is known to have been used by the Sumerians to refer to the arid lands west of the Euphrates. Alan Millard has put forward a case for the name deriving from the Semitic stem dn, meaning "abundant, lush".

The story from source texts

Genesis

In the Garden of Eden story of the Biblical book of Genesis Gen|2:4-3:26, God molds Adam from the dust of the Earth, then forms Eve from Adam's "side" (rib in the King James Version), and places them both in the garden, eastward in Eden. "Male and female he created them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, ... " (Genesis 5:2) It may be allegorical, in as much as "Adam" may be a general term, like "Man" and refers to the whole of humankind.

God charges Adam to tend the garden in which they live, and specifically commands Adam not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve is quizzed by the serpent why she avoids eating off this tree. In the dialogue between the two, Eve elaborates on the commandment not to eat of its fruit. She says that even if she touches the tree she will die. The serpent responds that she will not die, rather she would become like a god, knowing good and evil and persuades Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil then Adam eats from it too. Then they become aware. God finds them, confronts them, and judges them for disobeying; it is also widely believed that the snake was also the devil in disguise.

It is at this point that 'God expels them from Eden', to keep Adam and Eve from partaking of the Tree of Life. The story says that God placed cherubim with an omnidirectional "flaming" sword to guard against any future entrance into the garden.

In the account, the garden is planted "eastward, in Eden," and accordingly "Eden" properly denotes the larger territory which contains the garden, rather than being the name of the garden itself: it is, thus, the garden located in Eden. The Talmud also states (Brachos 34b) that the Garden is distinct from Eden.

Book of Jubilees

The Book of Jubilees, canonical in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, relates a tradition that the angels did not place Adam in the garden until his 40th day, and his wife Eve on the 80th day. Later on (4:23-27), it states that they also conducted Enoch into the garden of Eden when he was translated from the Earth at age 365, where he records the evil deeds of mankind for all time — adding further that the garden is one of four holy places that the Lord has on Earth, the other three being Mount Sinai, Mount Zion, and the 'Mount of the East' (usually assumed by scholars to mean Mount Ararat.

Geography

The Book of Genesis is the primary source of Scriptural speculation with regards to geography, but still contains little information on the garden itself. It was home to both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as well as an abundance of other vegetation that could feed Adam and Eve.

{{cquote2|10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.|Genesis 2:10-14 KJV

Suspected locations

There have been a number of claims as to the actual geographic location of the Garden of Eden, though many of these have little or no connection to the text of Genesis. Most put the Garden somewhere in the Middle East. Some theologians have claimed that the Garden never had a terrestrial existence, but was instead an adjunct to heaven as it became identified with Paradise (see below).

Taurus Mountains/Anatolia

The text asserts that the Garden was planted in the eastern part of the region known as Eden, and that in Eden, the river divided into four branches: Hiddekel (also known as Tigris), Euphrates, Pishon and Gihon. While the identity of the first two is commonly accepted, the latter two rivers have been the subject of much debate. If the Garden of Eden had been near the sources of the Tigris and the Euphrates, then it might be located in eastern Anatolia, specifically the Armenian Highland in eastern Turkey.

Michael Sanders, director of expeditions for the Mysteries of the Bible Research Foundation, in Irvine, California, says that the Garden of Eden is in eastern Turkey, because the Tigris and Euphrates take their source in the mountains there. Sanders identifies the 4 rivers of Eden as the Murat River, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the north fork of the Euphrates. In support of this, Sanders cites a satellite image showing that "a river rises out of Eden and divides into four".Satellite image This is centred at approximately 38|33|25.0|N|39|12|0.0|E|

In Assyrian records, there is mention of a "Beth Eden" (House of Eden), a small Aramaean state, located on the bend of the Euphrates River just south of Carchemish, in the vicinity of Urfa and Harran (Turkey) at approximately 36|55|N|38|00|E|.

Northern Mesopotamia

Eden has a brief mention in II Kings at 19:12, [1],

Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?

This has been used to justify Eden's location within the Middle East in northern Mesopotamia in the general region of Template:Coor dms.

Southern Mesopotamia and The Persian Gulf

Satellite photos reveal two dry riverbeds flowing toward the Persian Gulf near where the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia also terminate. This would account for four easterly flowing rivers. Archaeologist Juris Zarins claimed that the Garden of Eden was situated at the head of the Persian Gulf, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers run into the sea at Template:Coor dms, from his research on this area using information from many different sources, including Landsat images from space. In this theory, the Bible’s Gihon River would correspond with the Al-Qurnah in Iraq, and the Pishon River would correspond to the Wadi Al-Batin river system (also now called the Kuwait River) that 2,500-3000 years ago drained the now dry, but once quite fertile central part of the Arabian Peninsula from the Hijaz mountains 600 miles to the South West. This theory is supported by C. A. Salabach The Pishon River - Found. by C.A. Salabach at Focus Magazine.

Genesis 2:10-14 also states that "the name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone." In the Biblical Table of Nations, Havilah is associated with Arabia but without a specific location being identified. The Cradle of Gold at Mahd adh Dhahab in the Hijaz mountains is the primary gold area of the peninsula. The Hijaz region also produces bdellium, a gum associated with myrrh or guggul plant.The Pishon River - Found. by C.A. Salabach at Focus Magazine.

A corresponding theory is that the "there" or "thence" of verse 10 references greater Eden and not the garden, and that the description is of looking upriver from the garden into Eden and that from "there/thence" the river "separates" or "diverges" [Heb פרד = PRD] into four separate rivers. Following each of these upstream, past the various lands, leads you to their headwaters. Rejected is the commonly held idea of a fifth unnamed river from an unstated source that divides into four separate paths. This theory also puts the Garden of Eden in the vicinity of the northern end of the Persian Gulf, supporting the theory of Zarins.

This 'folk memory' about the changeable environment and coastline of the Persian Gulf is also resonant of the geological evidence about the reflooding of the lower Tigris-Euphrates Valley circa 12,000 years ago.

Sumer and Dilmun (Bahrain)

Some of the historians working from within the cultural horizons of southernmost Sumer, where the earliest surviving non-Biblical source of the legend lies, point to the quite genuine Bronze Age entrepôt of the island Dilmun (now Bahrain) in the Persian Gulf, described as 'the place where the sun rises' and 'the Land of the Living'. The setting of the Babylonian creation myth, Enûma Elish, has clear parallels with the Genesis narratives. After its actual decline, beginning about 1500 BC, Dilmun developed such a reputation as a long-lost garden of exotic perfections that it may have influenced the story of the Garden of Eden. Some interpreters have tried to establish an Edenic garden at the trading-center of Dilmun.

There is also a Sumerian story about a mountainous kingdom accessible from Sumer by river called Aratta. Recent excavations of the Jiroft civilization in the southeast highlands of Iran have led prominent Iranian archaeologists to suggest that Jiroft was Aratta, although this location is not connected with Sumer by river.

Jerusalem

Several religious traditions identify the location of the garden of Eden with the city of Jerusalem. Kaplan, Aryeh. Jerusalem Eye of the Universe. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (1993). ISBN 1879016125, for example. Varied Biblical and circumstantial evidence has been cited that to suggest that this is the case.

In Jerusalem, there is a water spring called Gihon. This is said to be a part of an underground river<ref>Michas, Peter. The Rod of an Almond Tree in God's Master Plan. Wine Pr. Publishing, 2nd edition (1997). ISBN 1579210074</ref> (though this claim has been disputed), which would link this spring to the Gihon River of Eden.

Eden is also tied with Jerusalem by the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 28:13-14, he recorded, "You were in Eden, the garden of God;" ... "You were on the holy mount of God." In most Jewish and Christian traditions, "the holy mount of God" is Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (see (Isaiah|2:2-2:3), (Psalm|48:1-2) e.g.). Furthermore, Ezekiel records a vision of a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem with a river flowing from under its threshold (47:1-12) towards the Dead Sea, bringing life to that which is dead. Because of its supernatural nature, this river has been associated with the "river of life"<ref>Kaplan, Aryeh. Waters of Eden. National Conference of Synagogue Youth of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (1982). ASIN B0006YQYN2 in Eden (the river which watered and flowed from Eden). Revelation 21:1-22:5 in Christian scripture records a similar vision of a "river of life" and "trees of life" that heal in a new Jerusalem, just as there was a river of life and tree of life in Eden.

Finally, Jewish and Christian tradition see symbolism within the Temple, which once stood in Jerusalem and can only be rebuilt in Jerusalem, which connects it to Eden; the menorah as the tree of life, for example.

Iran

Another possibility was proposed by archaeologist David Rohl, based on archaeological evidence, putting the garden in north-western Iran. According to him, the Garden was located in a vast plain referred to in ancient Sumerian texts as Edin (lit. "Plain", or "Steppe") east of the Sahand Mountain, near Tabriz. He cites several geological similarities with Biblical descriptions, and multiple linguistic parallels as evidence. In the Sumerian texts, an emissary is sent north through "Seven Gates", also known as Mountain passes in ancient texts. Hebrew lore includes references to Seven layers of Heaven, the 7th being the Garden of Eden, or Paradise. Just beyond the seventh gate, or pass, was the kingdom of ArattaTemplate:Fact. The region today is bound by a large mountain range to the North, East and South, and marshlands to the west. The eastern mountain region has a pass leading in and out of the Edin region. This fits with the Biblical geography of Eden containing marshlands to the westTemplate:Fact, and the Land of Nod to the east, outside the Garden. Geographically speaking, it would form a "wall" around the Garden, conforming to the definition of the Persian word pairidaeza (paradise) and the Hebrew word gan (garden), both of which mean a "walled garden or park". Additionally, this location would be bound by the four biblical rivers to the West, Southwest, East and Southeast.

Underwater

Other literalists point out that the world of Eden's time was destroyed during Noah's Flood and it is therefore impossible to place the Garden anywhere in post-flood geography. There is also an attempt to tie this with the mysterious sunken land of "Atlantis" mentioned by Plato.

Sundaland

Another location that has been mentioned is Sundaland in the South China Sea. In this theory, the current Tigris and Euphrates rivers would not be the ones referred to in the story, but rather later rivers named after two earlier ones, just as colonists often name features of their new land after similar features in their homeland. This idea also resolves the apparent problem in the theory that the rivers had a common source, which the current rivers lack.

Africa

Some people believe that Garden of Eden was somewhere in Northeast Africa. Evidence given in support of this includes the facts that the oldest human remains have been found in Africa, and that the Gihon is usually thought to be a name for the Nile.

Mòinteach Bharbhais (Scotland)

According to some strands of Scottish Gaelic tradition the Garden was located in Mòinteach Bharbhais (Barvas Moor) on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Climate change has since altered the topography and prevailing weather considerably.

Latter Day Saints' geography

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons or Latter Day Saints), the Garden of Eden is believed to have been located in present-day Jackson County, Missouri according to Joseph Smith, Jr.<ref>Bruce A. Van Orden, [2]“I Have a Question: What do we know about the location of the Garden of Eden?”], Ensign, Jan. 1994, 54–55; see also Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, 7:438-39 (1888); Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 219 (1967); Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie (ed.) Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 3:74 (1954-56); Heber C. Kimball, "Advancement of the Saints", Journal of Discourses 10:235 (1863); Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young to Orson Hyde, March 15, 1857 (1830- ); Wilford Woodruff, Susan Staker (ed.), Waiting for the World to End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 305 (1993); John A. Widtsoe, G. Homer Durham (ed.), Evidences and Reconciliations, 396-397 (1960) Independence, Missouri was revealed to be the "center place" of Zion and the original dwelling place of Adam and Eve in the Garden which God planted "eastward in Eden".<ref>Doctrine & Covenants 57:1-3; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 19-20 </ref><ref> Moses 3:8</ref> According to Joseph Smith, Adam and Eve traveled 85 miles north to the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman after they had transgressed and were driven from the Garden. Deseret News, 10-25, 1895 (Letter Benjamin F. Johnson)</ref> (Adam-ondi-Ahman is sometimes mistakenly associated with the location of the garden itself). As for its location in the western hemisphere, some Latter-day Saints have presumed the continents were not yet separate before the Great Flood See, e.g., Mark E. Petersen, Noah and the Flood, 78 and that this approach would be consistent with the configuration of the super-continent Pangaea.<ref>Frank B. Salisbury, The Creation, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 176 (1976). While geologists consider that the continents had separated by the Cretaceous period, some Latter-day Saints and other Christians have pointed to the account in Genesis which states that the earth was "divided" in the days of Peleg.Genesis 10:25.

In the Pearl of Great Price, it is claimed that there were lands and rivers that were given names later attached to other lands and rivers as in the Book of Genesis. Moses 3:10-14. The geographic descriptions of Eden in the Bible would therefore refer to entirely different lands and rivers than those carrying the same names today, whose names were transposed after the biblical flood to local lands and rivers in the Near East. By one account Joseph Smith taught that Noah built the ark near modern-day South Carolina "...according to the words of the Prophet Joseph, mankind in that age continued to emigrate eastwardly until they reached the country on or near the Atlantic coast; and that in or near Carolina Noah built his remarkable ship, in which he, his family, and all kinds of animals lived a few days over one year without coming out of it." (Oliver B. Huntington, The Juvenile Instructor (November 15, 1895, pp. 700-701) "The place or country where Noah's ark was built was designated in my hearing by the Prophet Joseph Smith as being in or near South Carolina." (Oliver B. Huntington journal excerpt in Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 65.) . Thus, it is argued, the offspring of Noah populated the eastern hemisphere. See also: Journal of Discourses 11:336-337; Alvin R. Dyer, The Refiner's Fire, 111, 167; Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, 622; Genesis 2:13, 15, 22; D&C 116; D&C 117:8-9. Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of his Life and Labors, Bookcraft, p. 481

Eden as paradise

"Paradise" (Hebrew פרדס PaRDeS) used as a synonym for the Garden of Eden shares a number of characteristics with words for 'walled orchard garden' or 'enclosed hunting park' in an ancient Persian language. This word "paradise" occurs three times in the Old Testament, but always in contexts other than a connection with Eden: in the Song of Solomon iv. 13: "Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard" ;Ecclesiastes 2. 5: "I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits";and in Nehemiah ii. 8: "And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's orchard, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. ". In the Song of Solomon, it is clearly "garden;" in the second and third examples "park." In the post-Exilic apocalyptic literature and in the Talmud, "paradise" gains its associations with the Garden of Eden and its heavenly prototype. In the Pauline Christian New Testament, there is an association of "paradise" with the realm of the blessed (as opposed to the realm of the cursed) among those who have already died, with literary Hellenistic influences observed by numerous scholars. The Greek Garden of the Hesperides was somewhat similar to the Christian concept of the Garden of Eden, and by the 16th century a larger intellectual association was made in a Cranach painting. In his painting, only the action that takes place there identifies the setting as distinct from the Garden of the Hesperides, with its golden fruit.

Alan Millard has hypothesized that the Garden of Eden does not represent a geographical place, but rather represents cultural memory of "simpler times", when man lived off God's bounty (as "primitive" hunters and gatherers still do) as opposed to toiling at agriculture (being "civilized"). The Etymology of Eden, Vetus Testamentum|volume=34|issue=1|pps. 103-106) Of course there is much dispute between Judeo-Christian and secular scholars as to the plausibility of this idea - the refuting claim being that cultivation and agricultural work were present both before and after the "Garden Life".

The Second Book of Enoch, of late but uncertain date, states that both Paradise and Hell are accommodated in the third sphere of heaven, Shehaqim, with Hell being located simply " on the northern side:" see Seventh Heaven.

Eden as a Kingdom

The structure and order defined by God in the Garden of Eden is also believed to have been the early structure for the Kingdom of God. Immediately following the creation of Man, God commands them to "fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground" Gen|1:28. The obvious references to domination are important to the Christian view of Man's relation to nature and Man's role in the Kingdom of God.

Later, in Chapter 3, the "Fall of Man" is followed by the pronouncement of a curse. This curse contains references to the enmity between the Kingdom and its subjects—as had been described in 1:28—that would affect the kingdom unto the present day: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers." which is immediately followed by a statement foretelling the future reign of Jesus and his restoration of the perfect kingdom, "he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" Gen|3:15.

Eden in art

Garden of Eden motifs most frequently portrayed in illuminated manuscripts and paintings are the "Sleep of Adam" ("Creation of Eve"), the "Temptation of Eve" by the Serpent, the "Fall of Man" where Adam takes the fruit, and the "Expulsion". The idyll of "Naming Day in Eden" was less often depicted. Much of Milton's Paradise Lost occurs in the Garden of Eden. Also, in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Captain Spock has a painting hanging in his room he calls "Expulsion from Paradise", depicting Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden. He explains to a fellow member of the crew that it is a personal reminder that all things must end.

See also

References

  1. "Ethiopia" is used as the name for Cush in the King James Version and the Douay-Rheims Bible
  2. Random House Webster's College Dictionary (1992) New York:Random House.
  3. a b A. R. Millard (January 1984). "The Etymology of Eden". Vetus Testamentum 34 (1): 103-106.
  4. Satellite image
  5. The Pishon River - Found. by C.A. Salabach at Focus Magazine
  6. The Pishon River - Found. by C.A. Salabach at Focus Magazine
  7. Kaplan, Aryeh. Jerusalem Eye of the Universe. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (1993). ISBN 1879016125, for example
  8. Michas, Peter. The Rod of an Almond Tree in God's Master Plan. Wine Pr. Publishing, 2nd edition (1997). ISBN 1579210074
  9. Kaplan, Aryeh. Waters of Eden. National Conference of Synagogue Youth of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (1982). ASIN B0006YQYN2
  10. Bruce A. Van Orden, “I Have a Question: What do we know about the location of the Garden of Eden?”, Ensign, Jan. 1994, 54–55; see also Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, 7:438-39 (1888); Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 219 (1967); Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie (ed.) Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 3:74 (1954-56); Heber C. Kimball, "Advancement of the Saints", Journal of Discourses 10:235 (1863); Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young to Orson Hyde, March 15, 1857 (1830- ); Wilford Woodruff, Susan Staker (ed.), Waiting for the World to End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 305 (1993); John A. Widtsoe, G. Homer Durham (ed.), Evidences and Reconciliations, 396-397 (1960)
  11. Doctrine & Covenants 57:1-3; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 19-20
  12. Moses 3:8
  13. Deseret News, 10-25, 1895 (Letter Benjamin F. Johnson)
  14. See, e.g., Mark E. Petersen, Noah and the Flood, 78
  15. Frank B. Salisbury, The Creation, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 176 (1976).
  16. Genesis 10:25.
  17. Moses 3:10-14.
  18. ...according to the words of the Prophet Joseph, mankind in that age continued to emigrate eastwardly until they reached the country on or near the Atlantic coast; and that in or near Carolina Noah built his remarkable ship, in which he, his family, and all kinds of animals lived a few days over one year without coming out of it." (Oliver B. Huntington, The Juvenile Instructor (November 15, 1895, pp. 700-701)
  19. "The place or country where Noah's ark was built was designated in my hearing by the Prophet Joseph Smith as being in or near South Carolina." (Oliver B. Huntington journal excerpt in Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 65.)
  20. See also: Journal of Discourses 11:336-337; Alvin R. Dyer, The Refiner's Fire, 111, 167; Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, 622; Genesis 2:13, 15, 22; D&C 116; D&C 117:8-9. Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of his Life and Labors, Bookcraft, p. 481

External links