Where is the garden of Eden located?


The garden of Eden is described in Genesis 2 as being located on the eastern edge of a region known as Eden (Genesis 2:8). Eden was the source of a mighty river that watered the garden and as it exited the garden, it divided into four great rivers: Pishon that flowed around the land of Havilah, Gihon that flowed around the land of Cush, Tigris that flows east of Assyria, and Euphrates. For those of you familar with geography, the description does not match any known location on this world. However, this is not surprising as a significant event separates the beginning from our days -- the Flood that destroyed the world.

The Flood of Noah's day was stated to have lasted about one year with the waters rising for 150 days (Genesis 7:24) and then taking another 150 days to recede. The depth of the water rose to over 22 1/2 feet over the tops of the highest mountains (Genesis 7:20). If you ever played with sand and water, you know that moving water can cause signifcant erosion. As the flood waters receded, there would have been unprecendented erosion across the entire world, completely altering the landscape of earth. In addition, Psalms 104:6-9 mentions, "You covered it with the deep as with a garment; The waters stood above the mountains. At Your rebuke they fled, at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You established for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass over, so that they will not return to cover the earth." As the flood waters receded, God maded the mountains taller and the valleys deeper to contain the water. Hence, the topology of the world today is nothing like the earth that existed before the flood.

Yet, you may have noticed that several names in the description of Eden are names that still exist today. There are a Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the Tigris did form the eastern boundary of an empire that was called Assyria. During ancient days, northern Africa contained an area that was known as Cush. What likely happened is that as Noah and his descendants left the ark on Mt. Ararat, they came across two mighty rivers that reminded them of the rivers of in Eden. Hence they were named in memory of two of the four ancient mighty rivers. Since only two rivers are in the area where Noah exited the ark, the other two names were left unused. Like the world before, the land west of the Tigris was again called Assyria. One of Noah's grandsons was named Cush (Genesis 10:6) and with the scattering of the nations, the region he settled became known by his name. Though none of these places necessarily match the places prior to the Flood, we can understand how names were reused. Such has frequently happened in the history of man. As people moved from Europe to America, many places in America were given names for places in Europe. As settlers migrated from the east coast into the midlands, towns and rivers were again named for places on the east coast. I guess we are not very innovative people when it comes to names.

Another clue that the garden of Eden no longer exists in this world is the fact that prior to the Flood, we are told that an angel guarded the entrance into the garden so that man would not have access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). Later passages state that the tree of life is now in heaven. "To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7, see also Revelation 22:2).

September 13, 2014