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In biblical times, an enclosed plot of ground on which flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruit and nut trees were cultivated (Genesis 2:8 ; 1 Kings 21:2 ; Esther 1:5 ; Isaiah 51:3 ; John 18:1-2 ).

Characteristics The primary Old Testament words for “garden” (gan and gannah ) derive from a root meaning “to surround.” Gardens were plots of ground enclosed or surrounded by walls or hedges. Some were large (Esther 1:5 ), the most prominent gardens being royal ones (2 Kings 25:4 ; Nehemiah 3:15 ; Jeremiah 39:4 ). Most gardens were situated close to the owner's residence (1 Kings 21:2 ). Occasionally a house might be located in the garden (2 Kings 9:27 ). An abundant supply of water was especially important (Genesis 13:10 ; Numbers 24:6 ; Isaiah 1:30 ; Isaiah 58:11 ; Jeremiah 31:12 ). Gardeners were employed to tend the more substantial gardens, sowing seed and watering (Deuteronomy 11:10 ; John 20:15 ). Orchards or small vineyards were sometimes called gardens.

Contents A variety of plants were cultivated in gardens though most of them were small (Matthew 13:32 ). Biblical references include cedar, cypress, and fruit trees (Ecclesiastes 2:5 ; Ezekiel 31:8 ); vegetables (KJV “herbs”; Deuteronomy 11:10 ); fragrant spices such as myrrh and balsam (Song of Song of Solomon 4:16 ; Song of Song of Solomon 5:1 );

flowers such as lilies (Song of Song of Solomon 6:2 ); and a wide variety of other plants—mint, rue (Luke 11:42 ), dill, cummin (Matthew 23:23 ), and mustard (Luke 13:19 ).

Uses Obviously a garden provided food for its owner (Jeremiah 29:5 ,Jeremiah 29:5,29:28 ; Amos 9:14 ), but it also served other aesthetic and utilitarian purposes. It was a place of beauty where plants were pleasing to the sight (Genesis 2:9 ). As a guarded and protected place (Song of Song of Solomon 4:12 ), persons could retreat there for prayer (Matthew 26:36-46 ), for quiet or solitude (Esther 7:7 ), or even for bathing (Susanna 1:15 ). It provided a cool escape from the heat of the day (Genesis 3:8 ; Susanna 1:7 ). Friends could meet in gardens (John 18:1-2 ), or banquets could be served there (Esther 1:5 ). It thus was often associated with joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:3 ). On the other hand, pagan sacrifices were sometimes offered in gardens (Isaiah 65:3 ; Isaiah 66:17 ); and gardens were used as burial sites (2Kings 21:18,2 Kings 21:26 ; John 19:41-42 ).

Important Gardens The garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8 ; Genesis 3:23-24 ) was planted by God (Genesis 2:8 ) and entrusted to Adam for cultivating and keeping (Genesis 2:15 ). Following their sin, Adam and Eve were banished from the garden; but “Eden the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:13 ) continued as a symbol of blessing and bounty (Ezekiel 36:35 ; Joel 2:3 ). The “king's garden” in Jerusalem was located near a gate to the city that provided unobserved exit or escape (2 Kings 25:4 ; Nehemiah 3:15 ; Jeremiah 39:4 ; Jeremiah 52:7 ). The “garden” (John 18:1 ) called Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36 ; Mark 14:32 ) was a place where Jesus often met with His disciples (John 18:2 ) and where He was betrayed and arrested.

Michael Fink

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Garden'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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