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Where Is Eden?

The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden,
and there He put the man whom He had formed.

And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow
that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.

The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden,
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden,
and from there it parted and became four riverheads.

The name of the first is Pishon;
it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah,
where there is gold.
And the gold of that land is good.
Bdellium and the onyx stone are there.

The name of the second river is Gihon;
it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush.

The name of the third river is Hiddekel;
it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria.

The fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:8-14)

The search for Eden had been in the hearts of mankind ever since the first man and woman were expelled from it.

Yesterday, I sought to find it out from the Bible as I was teaching the Book of Genesis to some Japanese Bible students.

To find this lost paradise again, one must identify the main river and its four riverheads listed in Genesis 2. Including the main river, there were five rivers, and not just 4. A river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. Thus, the five rivers are namely the River of God, Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates.

As God had planted the garden eastward in Eden, the garden was obviously east of Eden. Thus the river of God flowed eastward!

A simple diagram of these five rivers can be illustrated as below:

Let's first identify these four riverheads starting from the fourth river backwards to the first before identifying the River of God.

The fourth riverhead, Euphrates, is quite simple as it still exists today. It is the longest river of Western Asia. The river begins in the mountains of Armenia in modern-day Turkey. It then heads west towards the Mediterranean Sea, turns to the south, swings in a wide bow through Syria, and then flows some 1,000 miles southeast to join the Tigris River before it empties into the Persian Gulf.

The third riverhead Hiddekel is not too difficult too. In Daniel 10:4, it was again mentioned. In the King James and American Standard versions, the river was named Hiddekel. But in the New King James and New International versions, the river was named Tigris instead. The Tigris was considered by most scholars to be Hiddekel.

The Tigris is a major river in Southwest Asia. Flowing about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) from the Taurus Mountains of eastern Turkey, the Tigris joins the Euphrates River north of Basra. The Tigris and Euphrates flow roughly parallel to each other for hundreds of miles in the Land of the Two Rivers called Mesopotamia.

Two riverheads down, and we have two more to solve.

The second riverhead, Gihon, is harder to decipher. According to Genesis 2:13, this river went around the whole land of Cush. The land of Cush is the land south of Egypt. This also includes part of the countries of Sudan and Ethiopia. Below are some scriptural references to Cush:

  • Cush began just beyond Syene (Ezekiel 29:10).

  • The Persian Empire extended from India to Cush (Esther 1:1).

  • Precious topaz stones came from Cush (Job 28:19).

  • The people were tall with smooth skin (Isaiah 18:1-7).

  • Their skins could not be changed (Jeremiah 13:23).

  • The land of Cush would be judged by God (Isaiah 18:1-6; Zephaniah 2:12).

  • Cush will bring gifts to God, and worship Him as their King (Psalm 68:31; Isaiah 11:11; 18:7).

Some scholars believed that Gihon is the Nile River. River Nile is the great river of Egypt that flows more than 5,700 kilometers (3,500 miles) from central Africa north through the desert to a rich delta area on the Mediterranean Sea. The source of the Nile is derived from two rivers: the Blue Nile from Ethiopia and the White Nile from Lake Victoria in central Africa. Thus, these two sources would contradict that the Nile was one of the four riverheads that split from the River of God. Hence, Gihon cannot be River Nile but it is something close. Gihon must flow through Egypt and Ethiopia.

Now, we must find where the first riverhead Pishon was. It was described in great details in Genesis 2:11-12:

  • It flowed through the whole land of Havilah.

  • There was gold.

  • The gold of that land was good.

  • Bdellium and the onyx stone were there.

Havilah is a land in eastern Arabia. In Samuel 15:7, King Saul's army attacked the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, which was east of Egypt. This location was somewhere in the northeastern Sinai Peninsula. Even today, this land still has gold, bdellium, onyx stones and even diamonds!

If all four rivers were connected to the Great Rift, a rough estimation of these four river heads might look something like this:

This is not entirely impossible. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Genesis, the earth had undergone a major significant geologic shift during and after the Noah's Flood. And in the Middle East, there was another tectonic or volcanic activity during the days of Abraham - the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

There will be a coming geologic shift again upon the return of Christ Jesus:

Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;

The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 40:4-5)

After solving the four riverheads, we must seek out their source - the river of God. Where is this river of God?

And he showed me a pure river of water of life,
clear as crystal,
proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river,
was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits,
each tree yielding its fruit every month.

The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
And there shall be no more curse,
but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,
and His servants shall serve Him.

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.
There shall be no night there:
They need no lamp nor light of the sun,
for the Lord God gives them light.
And they shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5)

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. (
Psalm 46:4)

The river of God flows through the city of God! And this pure river of water of life still flows eastward according to Ezekiel 47:1-12:

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple;
and there was water,
flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east,
for the front of the temple faced east;
the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple,
south of the altar.

He brought me out by way of the north gate,
and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east;
and there was water, running out on the right side.

And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand,
he measured one thousand cubits,
and he brought me through the waters;
the water came up to my ankles.

Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters;
the water came up to my knees.
Again he measured one thousand and brought me through;
the water came up to my waist.

Again he measured one thousand,
and it was a river that I could not cross;
for the water was too deep,
water in which one must swim,
a river that could not be crossed.

He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?"
Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.

When I returned, there, along the bank of the river,
were very many trees on one side and the other.

Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region,
goes down into the valley, and enters the sea
When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed.
And it shall be that every living thing that moves,
wherever the rivers go, will live.
There will be a very great multitude of fish,
because these waters go there;
for they will be healed,
and everything will live wherever the river goes.
It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim;
they will be places for spreading their nets.
Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea,
exceedingly many.
But its swamps and marshes will not be healed;
they will be given over to salt.
Along the bank of the river, on this side and that,
will grow all kinds of trees used for food;
their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail.
They will bear fruit every month,
because their water flows from the sanctuary.
Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."

It may be good to ask another question: "Why does the Bible begin with a garden in Genesis, and end with a garden in Revelation 22:1-3?"

The answer is found in these two verses:

God, Who made the world and everything in it,
since He is Lord of heaven and earth,
does not dwell in temples made with hands. (Acts 17:24)

Thus says the LORD:
"Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.

Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?" (Isaiah 66:1)

God desires us to worship Him freely without any obstruction. As He fills all in all, no physical building is good enough. Thus, the garden is the best setting for Him as heaven is His Throne, and earth is His footstool.

In Matthew 5:34-35, Jesus said:

"But I say to you, do not swear at all:
neither by heaven, for it is God's throne;
nor by the earth, for it is His footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King."

In the new heaven and the new earth, there will be no temple (Revelation 21:22-26):

But I saw no temple in it,
for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,
for the glory of God illuminated it.
The Lamb is its light.
And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light,
and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).

With the Bible as our main source and reference, all the above evidences and estimations appear to suggest that present-day Israel was the central location of the Garden of Eden.

If this is so, there is blessed hope for the whole world. The River of God will flow, and heal all the nations of the world, especially Israel and her neighbouring countries! There will be perfect love, joy and peace eventually! And no more wars! Back to Eden again!

You may be interested to read:

Nelson's Bible Dictionary

Written on:
22 April 2006