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Garden of Eden Location

Garden of Eden Location

The Garden of Eden is described by the Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, were created by God and lived until they fell and were expelled. The Hebrew meaning of Eden is pleasure and delight. It was heaven on earth at that time.

The Garden of Eden is the first location mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 2) and is the backdrop for one of the most iconic stories of the Bible. Whether or not you believe this to be true history or a purely symbolic or legendary account, it seems undeniable that the Bible treats the Garden as a real place.

Was the Garden of Eden a Real Place?

We believe the Garden of Eden was a real place that existed at the beginning of creation. Its location is given in stark detail, along with the story of Adam and Eve. Even Jesus affirmed its reality on a number of occasions. This validates its reality and existence substantially. 

Matthew 19:4-5: He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?'"

This is a direct reference to Genesis 2:24: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

We also believe God is the Author of Scripture, so we take the Genesis account literally and as inspired writing by God.

Additionally, all the places mentioned about the location of the Garden of Eden are real places as well. Many of which can be found even today.

Why Has the Garden of Eden Been Difficult to Locate?

The main reason it has been difficult to locate is because of the transaction of the Hebrew in Genesis 2:10. Some Bible translations make it seem there is one river flowing out of the Garden that forms four other rivers. Other translations make it sound like there is one river but mention four headwaters. The Hebrew in this text is somewhat vague. We'll address this issue first because when it's understood, it makes the location much easier to locate. In fact, it makes it very easy to locate.

Let's look at a few translations of Genesis 2:10 to understand better what this might mean.

English Standard Version

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.

New American Standard Bible

Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.

New International Version

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.

New King James Version
Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.

King James Bible
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

We notice here that some of the translations mention four river heads. The Hebrew in this verse allows the understanding of four rivers making one river instead of one river turning into four. This is why the word "heads" is used in some translations.

In the Anchor Bible Commentary of Genesis, E.A. Speiser explains this meaning. He says, "In verses 10 (see Notes) the term 'heads' can have nothing to do with streams into which the river breaks up after it leaves Eden, but designates instead four separate branches which have merged within Eden." In other words, instead of one main river becoming four separate rivers in Eden, four rivers become one in Eden. The mention of four river heads designates this. The river heads are what flow into one river so that in Eden, four rivers become one, and then the one river flows.

Speiser continues, "There is thus no basis for detouring the Gihon to Ethiopia, not to mention the search for the Pishon in the various remote regions of the world." In other words, the Gihon and Pishon Rivers are going to be located in the same area as the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.

In his book, "On the Reliability of the Old Testament," K.A. Kitchen also holds this view. When conveying the point that instead of one river becoming four, four rivers (headwaters) became one. He says, "This is a 'snapshot' -type view taken looking out from where the single stream entered the grade, and looking back just upstream to the point where the four 'head' rivers came together to form the single stream that entered the garden" (Pages 428-429). Therefore, Kitchen also believes the Hebrew in Genesis 2:10 refers to four rivers becoming one, not one river becoming four.

Additionally, in ancient Hebrew, the word "head" didn't necessarily refer to the beginning of a river, but rather, it indicated a place where a river intersected with other bodies of water. 

It should also be mentioned that nowhere on earth can there be found one river that turns into four. There is also no point where the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers (whose locations are very well known today) have a point where one river turns into two.

The idea of one river turning into four rivers contradicts how water tributaries function. They always go from smaller rivers merging with larger rivers and growing until they empty into some ocean. The idea of larger rivers turning into smaller rivers just doesn't happen.

So, I believe the best understanding of Genesis 2:10 is that four rivers joined together in the Garden of Eden to make one river. When we understand this, then the location of the Garden of Eden becomes much easier.

It Appears Genesis Was Written from a Post-Flood Perspective

This seems to be the case because all the locations in Genesis are mentioned and known throughout the Bible after the flood. With this being the case, it seems the Garden of Eden location is something God wanted us to know about, and its area was known after the flood. Therefore, we should be able to locate its general vicinity today. This doesn't mean the Garden is like it was before the fall because God cursed the earth, and things drastically changed for Eden. However, its location still exists. 

Where Are the Locations Given for the Garden of Eden?

After Genesis 2:10 describes four rivers becoming one in Eden, it provides numerous locations. Let's look at them one by one.

1. The land of Havilah, where there is gold.

Genesis 2:11-12: The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12(The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)

Genesis 25:18 tells us exactly where Havilah is: They settled from Havilah to Shur, which is east of Egypt, going toward Assyria; he settled in defiance of all his relatives. So the land of Havilah is directly between Egypt and Assyria. This makes the location of Havilah very clear. Before the time of King Solomon, this area was known as Havilah. After the time of Solomon, it was known as Arabia. Many Bible verses confirm this.

Genesis 2:12 also mentions that the land of Havilah was rich in gold. It should be noted that this Havilah area still has many gold mines and is famous for gold production. In fact, it has around 55 gold mines still in operation today. This matches perfectly with what Genesis 2:12 says about it being rich in gold. 

Additionally, in this region, we find a place called Adh Dhahab, which means “cradle of gold.” Scholar Carol Hill says it “was the largest and one of the richest gold mines of the ancient world.” It is, therefore, very likely that this is the location of the gold that Genesis associates with the land of Havilah.

 

Other passages (Genesis 10:7, 29; 25:18; 1 Samuel 15:7; 1 Chronicles 1:9, 23) suggest Havilah is in Arabia or nearby. Bible scholar Gordon Wenham summarizes, “On this basis, the Pishon must either be identified with an Arabian river, or with the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea ‘which goes round all the land of Havilah.’”

In summary, the location of Havilah is very certain and is a key location in the search for Eden.

2. The Pishon River

Genesis 2:11 says the Pishon River "winds through the entire Land of Havilah." This means the Pishon River is in this area. The climate has changed since the writing of Genesis so this river today is not exactly certain. However, there is a large dry riverbed called "Wadi al Rummah," which turns into Wadi al Batim close to its end, which matches this river exactly. 

The location of the Pishon River seems to be where Wadi al Rummah (Wadi Ar Rumah), which becomes Wadi al Batin, is today. It was first located in 1994 when Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University and a pioneering figure in remote sensing, used ground-pene­trat­ing radar images from the Space Shuttle to locate and trace the bed of an ancient river that flowed for about 600 miles (965 kilometers) through Saudi Arabia, ending in Kuwait where it became a broad water­course three miles (almost five kilometers) wide.

Joel Kramer, an archaeologist, recently explored this riverbed from its beginning in the mountains to its end. He found the same rocks in the mountains that are down toward its end. This means this river once flowed and carried these rocks as it flowed.

The climate of Havilah changed at some point. Maybe this occurred during the same time God changed the climate around the Dead Sea when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and the other three cities in its area. The Dead Sea area was once watered like the Garden of the Lord, as mentioned in Genesis 13:10, but is now a barren wasteland. So, the Pishon River, which runs through the middle of Arabia and is now a dry riverbed, once flowed with abundant water in ancient times due to a wetter climate.

In summary, it's safe to say that the area of Havilah is known today and is where the Pishon River ran through to its end, where it joined the other three rivers, as mentioned in Genesis 2:10-14.

3. The Land of Cush

Genesis 2:13 mentions that the Gihon River is in the land of Cush: The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush

There are generally two locations where Cush is referenced in the Bible. The first is in the area of modern-day Iraq, north of the Persian Gulf. The second reference is in Africa and translated as Ethiopia (where modern-day Sudan is located). 

Some of this confusion regarding the location of Cush stems from the incorrect assumption that Cush refers to the kingdom of Cush located immediately south of Egypt in Africa (Ethiopia), which leads to the conclusion that the Gihon must be the Nile River (as Josephus also surmised). But the story makes it clear that the four rivers of Eden joined together, so the Nile River doesn't fit the biblical description of its location as it doesn't join the other rivers and is on an entirely different continent.

 

Cush derives its name from Cush, a son of Ham, son of Noah. In its beginning, we see that the land of Cush encompassed the land of Mesopotamia, just to the east of where the Garden of Eden is located.

Genesis 10:6-11: The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 

 

The land of Cush is mentioned throughout the Old Testament, and Cushites regularly interacted with Israelites.  

Cush was located at the beginning of biblical history, near the head of the Persian Gulf, but afterward, in the migration of the Cushite family, the name was applied to southeast and southern Arabia and gradually to western Arabia not long before the time of Solomon. After that time, the Cushites spread to northern Africa. Wherever Ethiopia occurs in our English translation of the Scriptures, it is Cush in the Hebrew.

Which of the places the Cushites settled is where the Gihon River was located? It would have to be in the area north of the Persian Gulf because that's where the other rivers mentioned are mentioned in Genesis. It's also the land where the kingdom of Cush began, as mentioned in Genesis 10:6-11.

4. Gihon River

Genesis 2:13 mentions that the Gihon River is in the land of Cush: The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush

Now that we know where the land of Cush was located, we only need to look for the Gihon River in this area. The Gihon River is not mentioned today, but it's believed to be the Karun River as it runs through the land of Cush and joins the Euphrates, Tigris, and Pishon Rivers just north of the Persian Gulf. It matches perfectly with the biblical account. 

Other candidates for the Gihon River are the Karkheh River and Dez River. These two rivers also flow through Western Iran and meet up with the Tigris and Euphrates. Genesis links this Gihon river with the land of Cush, which, in this view, is tied to the Kassites.

 

5. East Side of Ashur

Genesis 2:14 mentions the Tigris River and that it ran along the east side of Ashur: The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur.

 

Ashur is well known as Assyria during the Old Testament period. In fact, many Bible translations say Assyria instead of Ashur.

6. Tigris River

This is easy to locate as it's the same Tigris River that exists today. It is exactly where the Bible places it in Genesis 2:14.

The Tigris River (known by the Hebrews as "Hiddekel") is one of the two large rivers of Mesopotamia, which the Bible says, flowed to the Garden of Eden. The phrase "the great river" is used to describe the Tigris in Daniel 10:42. The Tigris is formed by the confluence of two rivers that flow from the mountains of Armenia.

The Tigris River joins the Euphrates River north of the Persian Gulf. Its location and the fact that it joins the Euphrates River fits perfectly with the Bible's location of the Garden of Eden area.

 

7. Euphrates River

The latter part of Genesis 2:14 says, "And the fourth river is the Euphrates."

Interestingly, this river is the only one without any description of the land in which it's located. Why is this so? I believe it's because the river was so well known at the time Genesis was written that the audience had no need to know its location. It would be the same today; this river is so well known that all you have to do is mention its name, and most people know where it is. 

The Euphrates River runs almost parallel to the Tigris. These two rivers defined a large part of the Fertile Crescent, the cradle of civilization in ancient times. This gives further weight to the belief that where all these rivers met was the area in which the Garden of Eden was located. 

The Euphrates River is mentioned in God’s promise to Abraham regarding the Land of Israel and is used as one of the defining borders of the Promised Land. We are also told that there was a time when Jewish civilization had spread so far that members of the tribe of Reuben were living all the way to the banks of the Euphrates River.

Summary of All the Locations for the Garden of Eden

As we have pointed out, the four rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:10-14 refer to four heads of rivers joining together to form one river. Not one river that separates and becomes four rivers. ​

One thing can be certain: All the rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:10-14 must meet at some point. And with the locations of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers being well known, the only place this can happen is just a little north of the Persian Gulf.

Where Is the Garden of Eden?

Considering all the locations we have looked at, we can safely locate where the Garden of Eden existed. 

 

The most common location for the Garden of Eden is in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). The primary reason is the mention of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers which flow through that country. This view has been accepted by Christians from antiquity down to modern times.

 

Another location that has been proposed is the region around Armenia because this is the general area where the Tigris and Euphrates originate. However, as we've learned, there is no place in this area where these two rivers join.

Tree of Knowledge (Adam's Garden Shrine)

Interestingly, in the small southern city of Qurna (also spelled Qurnah and pronounced “gurna”) in Iraq, an unusual shrine stands on the shore where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet. A small, dead tree, protected by low brick walls and surrounded by a concrete plaza. According to legend, this tree is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which Eve ate from in the Garden of Eden. Now, realistically, this would not be the actual tree, as the original tree existed well over 6,000 years ago. However, it's a shrine marking the area.

Qurna has been noted in travelers’ accounts for centuries as the place where the great Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet and join together for a few miles before emptying into the Persian Gulf. Elements from the early stories of Genesis have been traced to the cuneiform tablets written by the Sumerians and Babylonians, who lived in this part of the world. This is just one more piece of evidence pointing to this area as the authentic place of Eden.

Even if this shrine is not the actual exact spot, I believe it's in the general area where the Garden of Eden was located.

How Big Was the Garden of Eden?

I'm not certain about you, but I must confess that before all my investigation regarding the location of Eden, I pictured the Garden about the size of a small valley. However, it appears it was much larger than this. It was quite large, most likely the size of a small country.

Faith Lesson

1. God made everything perfect, including Adam and Eve.

Genesis 1:31: And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

God made everything perfect. It was all good. No imperfections, stains, or sin. What about us? Do we believe God made everything perfect at the beginning of creation?

 

2. Disobedience Led to Paradise Lost

God created everything perfect for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. However, because of their disobedience to God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, sin and death began, and the entire earth was cursed.

Genesis 2:15: The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

 

Satan lied to Adam and Eve and deceived them.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Satan continues to lie to us today and says, "Has God said?" When we believe Satan's lies and go our own way, we reap death and destruction. 

Galatians 6:7-8: Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

As a result of the fall of mankind in Eden, humanity is lost in sin and destruction, and without hope. 

3. Paradise Regained

The hope of eternal life and paradise can now be restored through the gift of Jesus Christ. He died for our sins, rose from the dead, proving to have power over death and sin, and offers us the free gift of paradise with Him in heaven forever. 

 

John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life

4. The Tree of Life

The Garden of Eden environment will exist forever in heaven.

 

Revelation 22:1-5: And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illuminate them; and they will reign forever and ever.

What about us? Do we have the hope of eternal life in paradise with God Himself? This is the most important issue of life. Life has no purpose without God and this hope.

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