Saturday, December 23, 2017

Back to Eden

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates (Gen 2:10-14). 

24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:24). 

I often circle back to certain issues, because they interest me, and because there's always more to be said. One issue concerns the location and landscape of Eden. When we read the account, what should the reader try to visualize?

What's intriguing about Gen 3:24 is the implication that the Garden was enclosed space. There was one way in and one way out. So it wasn't wide open. You couldn't just walk into the Garden from anywhere. There was some kind of natural (?) barrier separating the Garden from the surrounding territory. But what might that be?

One possibility which suggests itself from the account is the river system. Perhaps the Garden was encircled by a meandering, impassable river. A river too wide and deep to wade across or swim across. On that view, the eastern access point was like an isthmus. Depending on whether Eden was near the ocean, it might even be a tidal river that submerged the access point at high tide, leaving it briefly exposed at low tide. That's a simple explanation. 

Another possibility is a river valley, where the surrounding hillside forms a solid boundary, like a brick wall. Or a fluvial island. 


  1. I believe I've heard Old Earthers mention this as something to listen to in the text. Young Earthers tend to assume the entire Earth was in a paradise state

  2. Perhaps a couple of other possibilities could be the following (though, granted, these don't seem as viable as the options already noted):

    1. Eden was on an irrigated hilltop or plateau, with a single face sloping downward toward the east. Some examples here. Related, if I'm not mistaken, many ancient cities were built on plateaus.

    2. Eden was entirely hemmed in or enclosed by mountains or hills. However, a single path through the mountains served as the entry/exit point. Perhaps a path that had to traverse through caverns. Or the path was protected by a waterfall. (This may be more imaginative than realistic.)