According to ‘Wikipedia’ there are roughly thirty names of the most popular and well-known mythical lands. Some of these places evoke a sense of wonder, peaceful serenity, or even sacredness. Whether it is the spade of the archaeologist or the scribbled entries in the journal of seafarers, describing exotic and far away lands, it only arouses our curiosity and adds to the allure of these unsolvable mysteries.
So, the question is whether the ‘Garden of Eden’ is a fabled place that was the invention of imaginative, superstitious, religiously-pious Jewish scribes who lived in Mesopotamia several millennia ago, who borrowed from the pagan religions of their fellow Semitic neighbors; refining and reworking the ‘Creation Lore’ to fit their own particular theology. The following references from The Old Testament Scriptures are offered for consideration.
Ezekiel 28: 13a
You were in Eden, the garden of God. (Cp. Genesis 13: 10b).
31: 3, 8-9, 16b
Indeed Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon with fine branches that shaded the forest, and of high stature; and its top was among the deep boughs. The cedars in the garden of God [‘Eden’] could not hide it; No tree in the garden of God [‘Eden’] was like it in beauty. I made it with a multitude of branches, so that all the trees of Eden envied it, that were in the garden of God. Then all the trees of ‘Eden,’ the choicest and best of Lebanon, all the trees were well-watered, were consoled in the earth below.
To which of the trees in Eden will you then be likened in glory and greatness? Yet you shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the depths of the earth.
NOTE: Is the description of trees in the Garden of Eden used figuratively and as a ‘metaphor’ for the King of Assyria? It is recommended to read all of Ezekiel 28 & 31.
Isaiah 51: 3b
He will make her wilderness like ‘Eden,’ and her desert like the garden of the Lord.
Now, it is time to look at some geography or physical landscape of the region:
Genesis 2: 8a,
The Lord planted a garden, ‘eastward’ in Eden. NOTE: The direction would be from the standpoint of where Jerusalem [‘Judea’] is located.
Now a “river” went out of ‘Eden’ to water the garden, and from “there” it parted and became four riverheads.
NOTE: Using Biblical “cartography” [the ‘science of mapmaking’] and ‘Google Earth’ the “Persian Gulf” is the most likely source that fits the Biblical criteria. It must be kept in mind that due to the shifting of Teutonic plates and large land masses sinking or breaking away to form new Continents, it is possible that this region was once above ground. Not only is that, but the word ‘Eden’ in the Sumerian language is translated, “Plain.”
There might have at one time been an ancient, mighty river (??) proceeding from the Persian Gulf region that traversed the Plain into ‘Eden,’ branching off into the Tigris River through Eastern Assyria, the Euphrates River up through Iraq between Syria and Assyria; the other two rivers having dried up over time. This ancient river from the Persian Gulf enters ancient Iraq [‘Chaldea’] where it borders Iran [‘Elam/Persia’], and then it splits into the other rivers; that’s where the Garden of Eden was located from antiquity.
NOTE: The patriarch Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldeans (Cp. Genesis 11: 28, 31), which on a Biblical map of the period is directly west on the area where the ‘Garden of Eden’ might have been.
It is worth noting that in describing the course of the rivers in the book of GENESIS, the Euphrates River didn’t require an explanation because the people or audience to whom this scroll [‘book’] was written, already knew how and where it traversed the land. Also, the river ‘Gihon’ is mentioned as going around the whole land of “Cush” and in II Chronicles 32: 30, an “Upper Gihon” is mentioned; so it stands to reason that if there is an Upper one, there must have been a “Lower Gihon,” which might have continued flowing in its course during that time.
Some other interesting things about Eden:
Ezekiel 27: 23-24
Haran [‘Mesopotamia’], and Canneh, ‘Eden,’ Asshur and Chilmad all send their wares. In your marketplace they traded with you beautiful garments, blue fabric, embroidered work and multicolored rugs with cords twisted and tightly knotted.
Amos 1: 5a
And the one who holds the scepter from Beth-Eden (‘House of Eden’??).
Isaiah 37: 12b
The people of Eden who were in ‘Telassar.’ NOTE: Is ‘Telassar’ the same as ‘Ellasar’ mentioned in Genesis 14: 1, 2, 9 during the battle of the Kings in the valley of ‘Siddim’ (The “Salt Sea”)?
Perhaps it will never be known as to the precise location of the Garden of Eden or whether it can be proven to have ever existed, but one thing is certain, that this place will forever hold a special place in the imagination and hearts of any person who wants to believe that it was ‘real;’ and in the end, this is all that matters.
Read more articles by Robert Randle or search for articles on the same topic or others.