Historical Genesis

From Adam To Abraham

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Chapter 3 - Locating the Garden of Eden

Genesis names four rivers which delineate the location of Adam's home.

Genesis 2:11-14: "The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Cush." (Because cush also means "black," translators guessed at "Ethiopia." This is in some translations.) "And the name of the third is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates."

Although one could get the impression that one river separates into four, "and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads" (Gen.2:10), it can also be interpreted that four rivers become one, a confluence of rivers, which better suits the topography of Mesopotamia and the nature of rivers.

... 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.

The fourth river is easiest to identify as the well-known Euphrates, which today is joined by the other rivers before emptying into the Persian Gulf. At this point in history, roughly 7,000 years ago, the gulf region extended further north and all the rivers emptied directly into the Persian Gulf. The Hiddekel is the Tigris, the "great river" Daniel stood beside (Dan. 10:4). It originates in the region of Assyria, flowing southeast until it joins the Euphrates at a point east of Assyria, just as stated in the Bible.

M'Causland identifies the Gihon as the "Gyudes" of the ancients, the modern Karkheh joined by the Kashkan River in the region of Cush, or Kush, in Eastern Mesopotamia. Today it is called Khuzistan, a province in the southwest corner of Iran, formerly home to the Kassi of the cuneiform texts.

Driver places Havilah "most probably" in the northeast of Arabia on the west coast of the Persian Gulf: "The gold of Arabia was famed in antiquity." Hastings identified Havilah as "the ‘sandy’ region of northern Arabia, which extended westward towards the frontier of Egypt." In an article titled, "Has the Garden of Eden been located at last?," archaeologist Juris Zarins identified an ancient river bed in this region from LANDSAT space photos:

Genesis was written from a Hebrew point of view. It says the Garden was "eastward," i.e., east of Israel. It is quite specific about the rivers. The Tigris and the Euphrates are easy because they still flow. At the time Genesis was written, the Euphrates must have been the major one because it stands identified by name only and without an explanation about what it "compasseth." The Pison can be identified from the Biblical reference to the land of Havilah, which is easily located in the Biblical Table of Nations (Genesis 10:7, 25:18) as relating to localities and people within a Mesopotamian‑Arabian framework.

Supporting the Biblical evidence of Havilah are geological evidence on the ground and LANDSAT images from space. These images clearly show a "fossil river," that once flowed through northern Arabia and through the now dry beds, which modern Saudis and Kuwaitis know as the Wadi Rimah and the Wadi Batin. Furthermore, as the Bible says, this region was rich in bdellium, an aromatic gum resin that can still be found in north Arabia, and gold, which was still mined in the general area in the 1950s.

Farouk El-Baz, a Boston University scientist, studied pebble distributions in Kuwait and was led to the same conclusion, a river once flowed into this country from the Hijaz Mountains in Saudi Arabia. He dubbed it the "Kuwait River." In an article for Biblical Archaeological Review, James Sauer associates the Kuwait River with the Pishon:

Bible scholars have identified Havilah with the Arabian Peninsula because it is rich with bdellium (fragrant resins) and precious stones, but they have been unable to pinpoint the location of the river in this arid region. The recent discovery of the Kuwait River adjacent to the Cradle of Gold, the only Arabian source for such "good gold," has led James Sauer to suggest that this dry riverbed may be the Pishon.

Put in perspective, the most ancient cities of southern Mesopotamia, Eridu and Ur were located near the junction of these rivers, and Eridu when it was first settled on the Persian Gulf was furnished fresh water via canal from the Euphrates.