Garden of Eden
EDEN (GARDEN OF) (including Pishon, Phison, Pison) עֵ֔דֶן; LXX, ̓́Εδεμ, the first habitation of our first parents.
Two possibilities are encountered on this score: (a) either the word “Eden” is derived from the Akkad. edinu, or from the Sumer. edin, i.e. “open field”; or again (b) it is the Heb. (’eden) for “delight.” Possibility (a) is less likely, because “open field” is not an apt designation of a “garden.” Besides, the LXX frequently trs. for “garden of Eden,” “park of delight.”
Use of the word.
The word ’eden is used for garden in general; also for a territorial or geographic location; it appears as a proper name of a person; and lastly as the name of a town (
Three major possibilities are to be encountered under this head: (a) Armenia, (b) Babylonia, or near the head of the Persian Gulf, (c) near the N Pole. The last of these may be dismissed quickly, inasmuch as about all it can adduce by way of support is that evidence of tropical flora has been discovered as fossil remains in the frozen N. Babylonia also seems unlikely, because the river-pattern described in
Description of the garden.
The scriptural emphasis in reference to the garden seems to lie in the fact that it constituted a flawless background for human beings themselves flawless. It had many tokens of divine goodness and favor made accessible for the first parents. Among these tokens “trees” are mentioned first (
Then it should be noted that as to location the garden lay “in Eden.” Eden appears as a larger territory within whose confines the garden was located. Besides, the location is specified as lying “in the east,” which must indicate: E from the point of location of the writer of the account, which does not help in this instance, for one does not know where the writer was.
In addition to many types of trees there were many animals, representatives perhaps of all major classes of the creatures that had been created on the sixth day (
That the garden was well-watered has been indicated indirectly in the things that were said about the one river and the four rivers. In Biblical language almost always abundance of water is the major physical blessing. At the same time the care of the garden provided a suitable occupation for the first parents, but since nature had not been “made subject to vanity” the work assigned was neither too much nor too little. Lastly, everything points to the possibility that the climate was temperate, for clothing apparently was not a physical necessity.
The use of the term elsewhere in Scripture.
It is not to be wondered that the Garden of Eden became the symbol or epitome of beauty and perfection, to which the following passages bear witness:
The later history of the garden.
At first it must be remembered that cherubim were stationed to the E of the garden to prevent the entrance of man. It was also a matter of tradition that Cain’s place of dwelling lay to the E of the garden. From there on, everything is wrapped in silence. There is always the possibility that the garden continued to exist and was the place of the manifestation of the Lord’s presence to man until the time of the Flood, the cherubim involved, being in this case the ones who upheld the throne of the Almighty. The NT, basing on the term used by the LXX, uses paradise as a term descriptive of the bliss of the hereafter (
Any standard commentary on Genesis; also the current run of encyclopedias of the Bible and dictionaries of the Bible.