Genesis 2:8 BDC: Was the Garden of Eden a real historical place?

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS
Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

The beautiful garden that God supplied as a home for the first human pair, Adam and Eve, was located in a section of the region that was known as Eden. It was watered by a river that became the source of four rivers.

The search for the Garden of Eden has gone on since Noah stepped off the ark. The exact location is speculative at best. Nevertheless, we can infer some things without going beyond Scripture.

Genesis 2:10-14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 Now a river flowed out[1] of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.[2] 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows 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 Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria.[3] And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

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The territories Cush, Havilah, and Assyria (Asshur) were in existence after the flood. They apparently derived their names from Noah’s offspring. (Gen. 10:7, 22, 29) Speaking geographically, the name “Cush” early on became practically interchangeable with Ethiopia. The territory of Havilah seems to have assumed the northwest part of the Arabian Peninsula and advanced near the Sinai Peninsula, where the wilderness of Shur was doubtless located. (Gen. 25:18; 1 Sam. 15:7) The Genesis account speaks of the Hiddekel or Tigris as “flowing east of Assyria.” (Gen. 2:14) This suggests that Assyria inhabited significant territory west of the Tigris in the time under consideration, which conceivably included Babylonia.

Therefore, the evidence indicates that Moses used terms that were familiar in his day (late 16th century BCE) to reveal the location of the Garden of Eden. Clearly, the Genesis account does not explicitly say that Eden covered all this area. Cush, Havilah, and Assyria (Asshur) mention identifies the rivers’ courses. Nonetheless, their reference would have been useful to those existing in Moses’ day. It would have helped them acquire a mental image of the connection of the Garden of Eden to these areas he had mentioned. But to modern-day man, the regions do not supply much help in specifying the location of the Garden of Eden.

The Euphrates has long been known, as is also true of the Tigris. However, the identity of the Pishon and Gihon has never been identified. In addition, the topography today does not have the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers proceeding from a single source. The earth-wide flood that Noah and his family survived in the ark would explain the change in topography. Some rivers would have been filled in, and others would have had their courses changed. Even a tremendous local flood can change the course of a river, such as the Mississippi, in the United States. If the rivers were ones that had existed in the post-Flood era, other natural wonders, such as earthquakes, could have altered their courses.

The Hebrew word translated “heads” in Genesis 2:10 has a bearing on the matter. It would place the Garden of Eden in the mountainous area near the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The Anchor Bible states in its comment on Genesis 2:10: “In Heb[rew] the mouth of the river is called ‘end’ (Josh xv 5, Jos xviii 19); hence the plural of ro’s ‘head’ must refer here to the upper course. . . . This latter usage is well attested for the Akk[adian] cognate resu.” Both the Euphrates and the Tigris have their current sources in the mountainous region to the north of the Mesopotamian plains.

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

The long-accepted location of the Garden of Eden has been the mountainous area about 140 miles Southwest on Mount Ararat, in the Eastern part of Modern-day Turkey. Again, the mountains could be a result of the flood, or it could be that a mountainous range surrounded the Garden of Eden, giving us the reason why cherubs protected only the East of Eden.―Genesis 3:24.

Garden of Eden

Sadly, it is true that most modern scholars dismiss the Garden of Eden as a legend or a myth, not being a real historical account. Nevertheless, this writer, as well as many other conservative scholars, accepts the historical reality of the whole of Genesis. The account itself is highly detailed, giving the sense of a historical narrative, not a myth or legend. Moreover, we do have geographical evidence, as two of the four rivers identified are still in existence today. In addition, verse 14 says, “The name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” This location is present day Iraq.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

Truth be told, the skepticism about the Genesis account has little objective basis? On the other hand, there is robust evidence that the account is actual history.

For example, Jesus Christ, a well-attested historical person, even by Agnostics and atheists, is called “the faithful and true witness.” (Revelation 3:14) Acknowledge by true Christians, Jesus was a divine person and a perfect man, he always told the truth, and he would never misrepresent the truth in any way. Moreover, he taught that he had existed in heaven with the Father before his life was transferred into the womb of Mary, and he lived about 33 years on earth. In fact, he had lived alongside his Father “before the world existed.” (John 17:5), So Jesus was not only alive in heaven, but he was the master worker in the act of creating all things. (Prov. 8:30) What does Jesus have to say about Adam and Eve? He is the most trustworthy witness of all time?

Jesus spoke of Adam and Eve as real historical people. He informs us that they were married when explaining God’s criterion for monogamy. (Matthew 19:3-6) If Adam and Eve were fictional, allegorical, and never existed and the Garden of Eden where they lived was a mere legend, then the Son of God, the master worker in their creation, was fooled, or he was a liar. Either conclusion is ludicrous! Jesus had been in heaven carrying out the creation work, observing as the disaster developed in the Garden of Eden. There is no other evidence that could be more compelling than that.

To be honest, doubt and skepticism in the Genesis account will destroy one’s faith in Jesus. Such doubt also makes it so that the Bible reader will not be able to understand some of the Bible’s most significant recurring themes and most encouraging promises, not to mention its impact on Bible prophecy.

It is impossible to come to a definite conclusion as to the immediate source from which Moses received the information that he recorded. He could have acquired it through direct revelation, oral tradition, or written records. In all likelihood, all three sources were involved. What we need to keep in mind, however, is that the essential thing is not the immediate source but the fact that God, by means of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21), guided the prophet Moses to author the trustworthy account preserved in the Genesis record. – MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP CONTROVERSY: Who Really Wrote the First Five Books of the Bible? By Edward D. Andrews.

[1] Lit., was going out; Hebrew participle refers to a continuous stream

[2] Lit became four heads

[3] Assyria Heb., Ashshur

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