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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Such gardens are still common throughout the Levant. They are usually situated on the outskirts of a city (compare John 18:1 , John 18:26; John 19:41 ), except in the case of the more pretentious estates of rich pashas or of the government seats (compare 2 Kings 21:18; Esther 1:5; Esther 7:7 , Esther 7:8; Nehemiah 3:15; 2 Kings 25:4; Jeremiah 39:4; Jeremiah 52:7 ). They are enclosed with walls of mud blocks, as in Damascus, or stone walls capped with thorns, or with hedges of thorny bushes (compare Lamentations 2:6 the American Revised Version, margin), or prickly pear. In nearly treeless countries, where there is no rain during 4 or 5 months, at least, of the year, the gardens are often the only spots where trees and other vegetation can flourish, and here the existence of vegetation depends upon the water supply, brought in canals from streams, or raised from wells by more or less crude lifting machines (compare Numbers 24:7 ). Such references as Genesis 2:10; Numbers 24:6; Deuteronomy 11:10; Isaiah 1:30; Isaiah 58:11; Song of Solomon 4:15 indicate that in ancient times they were as dependent upon irrigation in Biblical lands as at present. The planning of their gardens so as to utilize the water supplies has become instinctive with the inhabitants of Palestine and Syria. The writer has seen a group of young Arab boys modeling a garden out of mud and conducting water to irrigate it by channels from a nearby canal, in a manner that a modern engineer would admire. Gardens are cultivated, not only for their fruits and herbs (compare Song of Solomon 6:11; Isaiah 1:8; 1 Kings 21:2 ) and shade (compare Song of Solomon 6:11; Luke 13:19 ), but they are planned to serve as dwelling-places during the summer time when the houses are hot and stuffy. That this was an ancient practice is indicated by Song of Solomon 5:2; Song of Solomon 6:2; Song of Solomon 8:13 . A shaded garden, the air laden with the ethereal perfumes of fruits and flowers, accompanied by the music of running water, a couch on which to sit or recline, suggest a condition of bliss dear to the Oriental. Only one who has traveled for days in a dry, glaring desert country and has come upon a spot like the gardens of such a city as Damascus, can realize how near like paradise these gardens can appear. Mohammed pictured such a place as the future abode of his followers No doubt the remembrances of his visit to Damascus were fresh in his mind when he wrote.
Gardens were used as places of sacrifice, especially in heathen worship (Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 65:3; Isaiah 66:17 ). They sometimes contained burial places (2 Kings 21:18 , 2 Kings 21:26; John 19:41 ).
Figurative: The destruction of gardens typified desolation ( Amos 4:9 ); on the other hand, fruitful gardens figured prosperity (Numbers 24:6; Job 8:16; Isaiah 51:3; Isaiah 58:11; Isaiah 61:11; Jeremiah 29:5 , Jeremiah 29:28; Jeremiah 31:12; Amos 9:14 ).
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Garden'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/g/garden.html. 1915.