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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) The land in which "Yahweh God planted a garden," where upon his creation "he put the man whom he had formed" (Genesis 2:8 ). In the Assyrian inscriptions
The location of Eden is in part to be determined from the description already given. It must be where there is a climate adapted to the production of fruit trees and of animals capable of domestication, and in general to the existence of man in his primitive condition. In particular, its location is supposed to be determined by the statements regarding the rivers coursing through it and surrounding it. There is a river (
1. Central Asia
Columbus when passing the mouth of the Orinoco surmised that its waters came down from the Garden of Eden. It is fair to say, however, that he supposed himself to be upon the East coast of Asia. The traditions of its location somewhere in Central Asia are numerous and persistent. Naturalists have, with Quatrefages, pretty generally fixed upon the portion of Central Asia stretching East from the Pamir, often referred to as the roof of the world, and from which flow four great rivers - the Indus, the Tarim, the Sur Daria (Jaxartes), and the Ainu Daria (Oxus) - as the original cradle of mankind. This conclusion has been arrived at from the fact that at the present time the three fundamental types of the races of mankind are grouped about this region. The Negro races are, indeed, in general far removed from the location, but still fragments of them both pure and mixed are found in various localities both in the interior and on the seashore and adjacent islands where they would naturally radiate from this center, while the yellow and the white races here meet at the present time in close contact. In the words of Quatrefages, "No other region of the globe presents a similar union of extreme human types distributed round a common center" (The Human Species , 176).
Philology, also, points to this same conclusion. On the East are the monosyllabic languages, on the North the polysyllabic or agglutinative languages, and on the West and South the inflectional or Aryan languages, of which the Sanskrit is an example, being closely allied to nearly all the languages of Europe. Moreover, it is to this center that we trace the origin of nearly all our domesticated plants and animals. Naturally, therefore, the same high authority writes, "There we are inclined to say the first human beings appeared and multiplied till the populations overflowed as from a bowl and spread themselves in waves in every direction" (ibid., 177). With this conclusion, as already said, a large number of most eminent authorities agree. But it should be noted that if, as we believe, there was a universal destruction of antediluvian man, the center of dispersion had in view by these naturalists and archaeologists would be that from the time of Noah, and so would not refer to the Eden from which Adam and Eve were driven. The same may be said of Haeckel's theory that man originated in a submerged continent within the area of the Indian Ocean.
2. The North Pole
Dr. William F. Warren has with prodigious learning attempted to show that the original Eden was at the North Pole, a theory which has too many considerations in its support to be cast aside unceremoniously, for it certainly is true that in preglacial times a warm climate surrounded the North Pole in all the lands which have been explored. In Northern Greenland and in Spitzbergen abundant remains of fossil plants show that during the middle of the Tertiary period the whole circumpolar region was characterized by a climate similar to that prevailing at the present time in Southern Europe, Japan, and the southern United States (see Asa Gray's lectures on "Forest Geography and Archaeology" in the American Journal of Science ,
Much also can be said in favor of identifying Eden with Armenia, for it is here that the Tigris and Euphrates have their origin, while two others, the Aras (Araxes) emptying into the Caspian Sea and the Choruk (thought by some to be the Phasis) emptying into the Black Sea, would represent the Gihon and the Pishon. Havilah would then be identified with Colchis, famous for its golden sands. But Cush is difficult to find in that region; while these four rivers could by no possibility be regarded as branches of one parent stream.
Two theories locate Eden in the Euphrates valley. Of these the first would place it near the head of the Persian Gulf where the Tigris and Euphrates after their junction form the
The other theory, advocated with great ability by Friedrich Delitzsch, places Eden just above the site of ancient Babylon, where the Tigris and Euphrates approach to within a short distance of one another and where the country is intersected by numerous irrigating streams which put off from the Euphrates and flow into the Tigris, whose level is here considerably lower than that of the Euphrates - the situation being somewhat such as it is at New Orleans where the Mississippi River puts off numerous streams which empty into Lake Pontchartrain. Delitzsch supposes the
Dawson Modern Science in Bible Lands; Friedrich Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies? (1881); Sayce, HCM , 95ff; Hommel, Anc. Hebrew Tradition , 314; William F. Warren, Paradise Found , 1885.
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Eden'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/e/eden.html. 1915.