GARDEN (Heb. gan, gannâh, a covered or hidden place; Gr. kēpos). A cultivated piece of ground, usually in the suburbs, planted with flowers, vegetables, shrubs, or trees, fenced with a mud or stone wall (Prov.24.31) or thorny hedges (Isa.5.5), and guarded (whence “garden”) by a watchman in a lodge (Isa.1.8) or tower (Mark.12.10) to drive away wild beasts and robbers.
The quince, citron, almond, and other fruits, herbs, and various vegetables and spices are mentioned as growing in gardens. A reservoir cistern, or still better a fountain of water, was essential to a good garden. See Song.4.15, “a garden fountain,” i.e., a fountain sufficient to water many gardens.
The occurrence of no fewer than 250 botanical terms in the OT shows the Israelite fondness for flowers, fruits, and pleasant grounds. These are still a delight to the Oriental who lives in a hot, dry country. Every house court or yard generally had its shade tree. The vine that grew around the trellis or outside staircase was the emblem of the living and fruitful wife and happy home within (Ps.128.3). The “orchards” (Heb. paradises) were larger gardens especially for fruit trees. Solomon’s gardens and fruit orchards with pools of water for irrigation (Eccl.2.4-Eccl.2.6) very likely suggested the imagery of Song.4.12-Song.4.15. The “king’s garden” (2Kgs.25.4; Neh.3.15; Jer.39.4; Jer.52.7) was near the pool of Siloam.
The believer is a garden watered by the Holy Spirit (Jer.2.13; Jer.17.7-Jer.17.8; John.4.13-John.4.14; John.7.37-John.7.39). “A well-watered garden” expresses abundant happiness and prosperity (Isa.58.11; Jer.31.12) just as “a garden without water” (Isa.1.30) expresses spiritual, national, and individual barrenness and misery.——AMR
God planted the first garden (Gen 2:8). Complete irrigation was provided (2:10), and God Himself loved walking in the garden in the cool of the day (3:8).
Kings liked gardens. Ahab, for instance, wanted to make a scented garden of herbs near his palace, and his wife had Naboth murdered so that he could do it. It was so important to him. Ahaziah fled down the garden path and through the orangery or head gardener’s house and so escaped (2 Kings 9:27), but Jehu followed him and killed him. Years later, at the siege of Nebuchadnezzar, many of the Heb. soldiers fled the same way. Manasseh had a garden in Jerusalem and was buried there (2 Kings 21:18).
Solomon waxed lyrical about gardens in the Song of Solomon (4:15)—“a garden fountain”; (6:2) “to pasture...in the gardens and to gather lilies”; (4:16) “Let my beloved come to his garden.” In Ecclesiastes 2:5, it says: “I made myself gardens.”
A garden is used to express joy, peace and satisfaction (Jer 31:12)—“their life shall be like a watered garden,” while a fruitless life is described as “a garden without water” (Isa 1:30).
Foreign potentates delighted in watered gardens. Esther saw the beautiful courtyard gardens of King Ahasuerus (Esth 1:5). The king found that a walk in his gardens calmed him when he was angry (Esth 7:7).
The garden of nuts (Song of Solomon 6:11) was prob. a grove of walnut trees. Moffatt therefore calls it a walnut bower—and it is a Pers. bower at that, as this was the species grown in Pal. See EDEN, GARDEN OF.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
No doubt the remembrances of his visit to Damascus were fresh in his mind when he wrote. El-Jannah is used by the Moslems to signify the "paradise of the faithful."
Gardens were used as places of sacrifice, especially in heathen worship (Isa 1:29; 65:3; 66:17). They sometimes contained burial places (2Ki 21:18,26; Joh 19:41).
James A. Patch