E'den (Hebrews id.), the name of three places and of one or two men.
I. "The garden of EDEN" (עֵדֶן, delight, and so Sept. ἡδονή,Vulg. voluptas) is the most ancient and venerable name in geography, the name of the first district of the earth's surface of which human beings could have any knowledge.
1. The Name. — The word is found in the Arabic as well as in the Hebrew language. It is explained by Firuzabadi, in his celebrated Arabic lexicon (Kamus), as signifying delight, tenderness, loveliness (see Morren, in Edinb. Biblical Cabinet, 11:2, 48, 49). Major Wilford and professor Wilson find its elements in the Sanscrit. The Greek ἡδονἤ is next to identical with it in both sound and sense. It occurs in three places (Isa 37:12; Eze 27:23; Am 1:5) as the name of some eminently pleasant districts, but not the Eden of this article. Of them we have no certain knowledge, except that the latter instance points to the neighborhood of Damascus. In these cases it is pointed, in the Hebrew text, with both syllables short עֶדֶן but when it is applied to the primitive seat of man, the first syllable is long. The passages in which it occurs in the latter sense are, in addition to Ge 2:2; Ge 4:16, the few following, of which we transcribe the chief, because they cast light upon the primeval term: "He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Jehovah." "Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God." "All the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him." "This land which was desolate is become like the garden of Eden" (Isa 51:3; Eze 28:13; Eze 31:9,16,18; Eze 36:35; Joe 2:3). All this evidence goes to show that Eden was a tract of country, and that in the most eligible part of it was the Paradise, the garden of all delights, in which the Creator was pleased to place his new and pre-eminent creature, with the inferior beings for his sustenance and solace. SEE GARDEN.
The old translators appear to have halted between a mystical and literal interpretation. The word עדן is rendered by the Sept. as a proper name in three passages only, Ge 2:8,10; Ge 4:16, where it is represented by Ε᾿δέμ. In all others, with the exception of Isa 2:3, it is translated τρυφή. In the Vulgate it never occurs as a proper name, but is rendered "voluptas," "locus voluptatis," or "deliciae." The Targum of Onkelos gives it uniformly עדן, and in the Peshito Syriac it is the same, with a slight variation in two passages. SEE PARADISE.
2. Biblical Description. — The following is a simple translation of the Mosaic account of the situation of the Adamic Paradise (Ge 2:8-17). SEE GENESIS.
Now Jehovah God had planted a garden in Eden eastward, and he placed there the man whom he formed: for Jehovah God had caused to spring from the ground every tree pleasant for sight or good for food; also the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river issued from Eden to water the garden, and thence it was parted, and became four head-[streams]: the name of the first is Pishon; this [is the one] that surrounds all the land of the Chavilah, where [is] the [metal] gold (the gold too of that land [is] good); there [also is] the [substance called bedolach, and a stone [called] the shoham); and the name of the second river [is] Gichon; this [is the one] that surrounds all the land of Cush: and the name of the third river [is] Chiddekel; this [is the one] that flows east of Ashshur: and the name of the fourth river, that [is] Perath.
Thus Jehovah God took the man, and settled him in the garden of Eden, to till it, and to keep it. Then Jehovah God enjoined upon the mans, saying, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, except of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day of thy eating of it, thou shalt surely die." The garden of Paradise is here said to be to the east, i.e., in the eastern part of the tract of Eden (see Gesenius, Heb. Lex. s.v.). The river which flowed through Eden watered the garden, and thence branched out into four distinct streams. The first problem to be solved, then, is this: To find a river which, at some stage of its course, is divided into four streams, two of which are the Tigris and Euphrates. The identity of these rivers with the Hiddekel and Perath has never been disputed, and no hypothesis which omits them is worthy of consideration. Setting aside minor differences of detail, the theories which have been framed with regard to the explanation of the above description of the terrestrial paradise naturally divide themselves into two classes. The first class includes all those which place the main river of the garden of Eden below the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris, and interpret the names Pison and Gihon of certain portions of these rivers; the second, those which seek for it in the high table-land of Armenia, the fruitful parent of many noble streams. These theories have been supported by most learned men of all nations, of all ages, and representing every shade of theological belief; but there is scarcely one which is not based in some degree upon a forced interpretation of the words of the narrative. Those who contend that the united stream of the Euphrates and Tigris is the "river" which "goeth forth from Eden to water the garden," have committed a fatal error in neglecting the true meaning of יָצָא, which is only used of the course of a river from its source downwards (compare Eze 47:1). Following the guidance which this word supplies, the description in verse 10 must be explained in this manner: the river takes its rise in Eden, flows into the garden, and from thence is divided into four branches, the separation taking place either in the garden or after leaving it. If this be the case, the Tigris and Euphrates before junction cannot, in this position of the garden, be two of the four branches in question. But, though they have avoided this error, the theorists of the second class have generally been driven into another but little less destructive. Looking for the true site of Eden in the highlands of Armenia, near the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates, and applying the names Pison and Gihon to some one or other of the rivers which spring from the same region, they have been compelled to modify the meaning of נָהָר the "river," and to give to רָחשַׁים a sense which is scarcely supported by a single passage. In no instance is ראֹשׁ (lit. "head") applied to the source of a river. On several occasions (compare Jg 7:16; Job 1:17, etc.) it is used of the detachments into which the main body of an army is divided, and analogy therefore leads to the conclusion that רָאשַׁים denotes the "branches" of the parent stream. There are other difficulties in the details of the several theories which may be obstacles to their entire reception, but it is manifest that no theory which fails to satisfy the above- mentioned conditions can be allowed to take its place among things that are probable. What, then, is the river which goes forth from Eden to water the garden? is a question which has often been asked, and still waits for a fully satisfactory answer. That the ocean stream which surrounded the earth was the source from which the four rivers flowed was the opinion of Josephus (Ant. 1, 1, 53) and Johannes Damascenus (De Orthod. Fid. 2:9). It was the Shat el-Arab, according to those who place the garden of Eden below the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates, and their conjecture would deserve consideration were it not that this stream cannot, with any degree of propriety, be said to rise in Eden. By those who refer the position of Eden to the highlands of Armenia, the "river" from which the four streams diverge is conceived to mean "'a collection of springs," or a well-watered district. It is scarcely necessary to say that this signification of נָהָר(nahar') is without a parallel; and even if it could, under certain circumstances, be made to adopt it, such a signification is, in the present instance, precluded by the fact that, whatever meaning we may assign to the word in verse 10, it must be essentially the same as that which it has in the following verses, in which it is sufficiently definite. Sickler (Augusti, Theol. Monatschrift, 1:1), supposing the whole narrative to be a myth, solves the difficulty by attributing to its author a large measure of ignorance. The "river" was the Caspian Sea, which in his apprehension was an immense stream from the east. Bertheau, applying the geographical knowledge of the ancients as a test of that of the Hebrews, arrived at the same conclusion, on the ground that all the people south of the Armenian and Persian highlands place the dwelling of the gods in the extreme north, and the regions of the Caspian were the northern limit of the horizon of the Israelites (Knobel, Genesis). But he allows the four rivers of Eden to have been real rivers, and not, as Sickler imagined, oceans which bounded the earth east and west of the Nile. The modern Lake Van, or perhaps the ancient stream of which this is now the representative, appears to be the only body of water in this vicinity answering to the Mosaic description. Nor will it do to suppose that in former ages great changes had taken place, which have so disguised the rivers in question that their course connection, and identity are not now traceable; for two of the rivers, at least, remain to this day essentially the same as in all historic times, end the whole narrative of Moses is evidently adapted to the geography as it existed in his own day, being constantly couched in the present tense, and in terms of well-known reference as landmarks. SEE RIVER.
⇒See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
Some, ever ready to use the knife, have unhesitatingly pronounced the whole narrative to be a spurious interpolation of a later age (Granville Penn, Min. and Mos. Geol. page 184). But, even admitting this, the words are not mere unmeaning jargon, and demand explanation. Ewald (Gesch. 1:331, note) affirms, and we have only his word for it, that the tradition originated in the far East, and that in the course of its wanderings the original names of two of the rivers at least were changed to others with which the Hebrews were better acquainted. Hartmann regards it as a product of the Babylonian or Persian period. Luther, rejecting the forced interpretations on which the theories of his time were based, gave it as his opinion that the garden remained under the guardianship of angels till the time of the Deluge, and that its site was known to the descendants of Adam; but that by the flood all traces of it were obliterated. But, as before remarked, the narrative is so worded as to convey the idea that the countries and rivers spoken of were still existing in the time of the historian. It has been suggested that the description of the gardens of Eden is part of an inspired antediluvian document (Morren, Rosemuller's Geogr. 1:92). The conjecture is beyond criticism; it is equally incapable of proof or disproof, and has not much probability to recommend it. The effects of the flood in changing the face of countries, and altering the relations of land and water, are too little known at present to allow any inferences to be drawn from them. (See below.)
Conjectures with regard to the dimensions of the garden have differed as widely as those which assign its locality. Ephraem Syrus maintained that it surrounded the whole earth, while Johannes Tostatus restricted it to a circumference of thirty-six or forty miles, and others have made it extend over Syria, Arabia, and Mesopotamia. But of speculations like these there is no end.
3. Identifications of the Site. — It would be difficult, in the whole history of opinion, to find any subject which has so invited, and at the same time so completely baffled conjecture, as the garden of Eden. The three continents of the Old World have been subjected to the most rigorous search; from Chine to the Canary Isles, from the Mountains of the Moon to the coasts of the Baltic, no locality which in the slightest degree corresponded to the description of the first abode of the human race has been left unexamined. The great rivers of Europe, Asia, and Africa have in turn done service as the Pison and Gihon of Scripture, and there remains nothing but the New World wherein the next adventurous theorist may bewilder himself in the mazes of this most difficult question. Upon the question of the exact geographical position of Eden dissertations innumerable have been written. Many authors have given descriptive lists of them, with arguments for and against each. The most convenient presentation of their respective outlines has been reduced to a tabulated form, with ample illustrations, by the Reverend N. Morren (annexed to his translation of the younger Rosenmuller's Biblical Geography of Central Asia, pages 91-98, Edinburgh, 1836). He reduces them to nine principal theories, as follows (numbered as in the following table; compare Kalisch, Genesis, page 100 sq.)
a. The opinion which fixes Eden in Armenia we have placed first, because it is that which has obtained most general support, and seems nearest the truth. (See Number 6) For if we may suppose that, while Cain moved to the East (Ge 4:16), the posterity of Seth remained in the neighborhood of the primeval seat of mankind, and that Noah's ark rested not very far from the place of his former abode, then Mount Ararat in Armenia becomes a connecting point between the antediluvian and post- diluvian words (Ge 8:4), and the names of the Phrat, Hiddekel, etc., would readily be given to rivers, which, after the great deluge, seemed to flow in channels somewhat corresponding to the Paradisiacal streams. The opinion in question was first systematically propounded by Reland, and is held by Calmnet, and by his American editor, Professor Robinson, who, however, understands by Cush, Chusistan. Professor Stuart takes the Pishon for the Kur, and Cush for Cushi-Capcoch, i.e., the northern part of the region between the Caspian Lake and the Persian Gulf (Heb. Chrest on Ge 2:10-14). The Cossaei, whom Reland finds in Cush, lived near Media, in the tract now called Dilem, southwest of the Caspian Sea. Link takes the Gihon for the Cur or Cyrus, and Cush for the Caucasus. Verbrugge coincides with Reland, except that he takes the Gihon to be the Gyndes, which flowed between Armenia and Matiana.
b. This opinion was most elaborately defended by Huet, bishop of Avranches; but it is also maintained by Calvin, Bochart, Wells, Steph. Morinus, Vorst, etc. Hales was of this sentiment in the first edition of his Chronology, but in the second he follows the opinion of Reland. The Shat el-Arab is the name of the united streams of the Euphrates and Tigris. Ainsworth says, "It is probable that the united rivers emptied themselves into the gulf at this period (in ancient times) by several distinct mouths, of which the first or greatest was at Teredon, the Ostium Tigris Occidentale of Ptolemy, and the mouth of the Euphrates, according to Nearchus; the second was the Pasitigris of Pliny, probably the Shat el-Arab, and the Ostium Tigris Orientale of the Alexandrian geographer." Cush they compare with the Cutha of 2Ki 17:24; and Havilah with the Chaulataioi of Eratosthenes in Strabo, 16:767. Grotius thinks the Pishon is the Pasitigris, and the Gihon, the Nahr Malikah, or the Chaboras. Hottinger agrees with Grotius as to the Pishon, but takes the Gihon for the Nahr Sura. Hopkinson makes the Pishon and Gihon to be the two canals of the Euphrates, the Nahl Malikah, and the Nahr Sares or Sura.
c. The celebrated Gottingen professor, J.D. Michaelis, originated this hypothesis, though he is doubtful as to some of the points. Gatterer, in the main, agrees with him, only he understands the Hiddekel to be the Indus, and takes the Pishon for the Phasis. Cush is found by Michaelis in the name of the city Cath or Caths, the ancient capital of Chowrasmia, on the Oxus or Jihun, near the site of Balkh. He refers to Quint. Curtius as speaking of the Cusaei or Cusitani being in Bactria upon the Oxus. Wahl sees Cush in the Khousti of Moses of Chorene, meaning the large province between the Caspian and Persian Seas, as far as the Indus and Oxus. The land of Havilah Michaelis connects with the tribe of Chwaliski or Chwalisses, from whom the Russians call the Caspian Sea the Chwalinskoie More.
d. This theory has been proposed by the eminent Orientalist Von Hammer. The Sihon, he says, rises near the town of Cha, and compasses the land of Ilah, famous for the gold and precious stones of Turkistan.
e. That Paradise was in Syria was the opinion of the voluminous Le Clerc, in his valuable Commentary. Havilah is the tract mentioned in 1Sa 15:7. Cush is Cassiotis or Mount Casius, near Seleucia in Syria. This opinion is shared by Lakemacher, who, however, takes the Pishon to be the Jordan. Heidegger thinks the Jordan was the great river of Paradise, an idea adopted by the paradoxical Hardouin, in his Excursus to Pliny's Nat. Hist. lib. 6. Others, who place Eden in Arabia Felix, transform the Pishon into the Persian Gulf, and the Gihon into the Red Sea.
f. This is perhaps the most ancient opinion of any being found in Josephus (Ant. 1:1, 3), and in several of the fathers, e.g. Theophilus Autol, 2:24; Epiphan. (Epp. 2:60); Philostorgus in Nicephor. Hist. Eccl. 9:19, though the latter takes the Pishon for the Indian river Hypasis. The editor of Calmet observes that "the inhabitants of the kingdom of Goiam call the Nile the Gihon." Cush is naturally taken for Ethiopia. This view is embraced by the celebrated Gesenius, with the exception that he maintains the Pishon to be the Indus; in this he is followed in the main by Professor Bush, who likewise observes: "This view of the subject, it is admitted, represents the ancient Eden as a very widely extended territory, reaching from the Indus on the east to the Nile and the Mediterranean on the west, and including the intermediate countries. If the view above given of the topography of Eden be correct, it will be seen that it embraced the fairest portion of Asia, besides a part of Africa, comprising the countries at present known as Cabul, Persia, Armenia, Kurdistan, Syria, Arabia, Abyssinia, and Egypt. The garden, however, which is said to have been 'eastward in Eden,' was probably situated somewhere in the neighborhood of the Euphrates, perhaps not far from the site of Babylon, a region nearer its eastern than its western limits; but the exact position it is apparently vain to attempt to determine." Among the most thorough scholars, the contest seems snow to lie mainly between this view and that in Number 1.
g. Captain Wilford, well known for his profound acquaintance with Hindu antiquities, advanced the present view, as being founded upon the Indian Puranas (Asiatic Researches, 6:455, Lond. edit.). It was partly adopted by a late ingenious but fanciful writer, Mr. C. Taylor, editor of Calmet's Dictionary, who, in however, makes the Pishon the Nilab; the Gihon, the western branch of the Oxus; the Hiddekel, the eastern; and the Phrat, the Hirmend.
h. This and the following are given as specimens of the views of the modern German school of neology, which regards the whole narrative as a myth, similar to the Greek tradition of the Hesperides, the Islands of the Blessed, etc. Philip Buttman is the author of the hypothesis under the present number. The Pishon he compares with the Besynga, which is mentioned by Ptolemy as the most considerable river of India east of the Ganges. Ava was early known as a region of gold; and an anonymous geographer, in Hudson's collection, volume 3, speaks of the Eviltae or Evilaei as being near the Senes or Chinese.
i. Another neological theory — the author, A.T. Hartmann, who looks upon the description as a product of the Babylonish or Persian period. The idea of Eden being the far-famed vale of Cashmere had been anticipated by Herder in his work on the History of Mankind. Appropriate accounts of Cashmere may be found in the travels of Burnes and Jacquemont.
Many of the Orientals think that Paradise was in the island of Serendib or Ceylon; while the Greeks place it at Beth-Eden, on Lebanon.
These, indeed, are but a few of the opinions that have been propounded; yet, though many more might be added, it is to be observed that most of them have much in common, and differ only in some of the details. To enumerate the vagaries of German and other writers on this subject would be endless. (See Kittos Scripture Lands, page 1-8.) The fact is that not one of them answers to all the conditions of the problem. It has been remarked that this difficulty might have been expected, and is obviously probable, from the geological changes that may have taken place, and especially in connection with the Deluge. This remark would not be applicable, to the extent that is necessary for the argument, except upon the supposition before mentioned, that the earlier parts of the book of Genesis consist of primeval documents, even antediluvian, and that this is one of them. There is reason to think, however, that since the Deluge the face of the country cannot have undergone any change approaching to what the hypothesis of a post-diluvian composition would require. But we think it highly probable that the principal of the immediate causes of the Deluge, the "breaking up of the fountains of the great deep," was a subsidence of a large part or parts of the land between the inhabited tract (which we venture to place in E. long. from Greenwich, 300 to 500, and N. lat. 250 to 400) and the sea which lay to the south, or an elevation of the bed of that sea. SEE DELUGE.
As nearly as we can gather from the Scriptural description, Eden was a tract of country, the finest imaginable, lying probably between the 35th and the 40th degree of N. latitude, of such moderate elevation, and so adjusted, with respect to mountain ranges, and watersheds, and forests, as to preserve the most agreeable and salubrious conditions of temperature and all atmospheric changes. Its surface must therefore have been constantly diversified by hill and plain. In the finest part of this land of Eden, the Creator had formed an enclosure, probably by rocks, and forests, and rivers, and had filled it with every product of nature conducive to use and happiness. Due moisture, of both the ground and the air, was preserved by the streamlets from the nearest hills, and the rivulets from the more distant; and such streamlets and rivulets, collected according to the levels of the surrounding country ("it proceeded from Eden") flowed off afterwards in four larger streams, each of which thus became the source of a great river.
Here, then, in the south of Armenia, after the explication we have given, it may seem the most suitable to look for the object of our exploration, the site of Paradise.
That the Hiddekel (this name is said to be still in use among the tribes who live upon its banks — Col. Chesney, Expedition. to Tigris and Euphrates, 1:13) is the Tigris, and the Phrath the Euphrates, has never been denied, except by those who assume that the whole narrative is a myth which originated elsewhere and was adapted by the Hebrews to their own geographical notions. As the former is the name of the great river by which Daniel sat (Da 10:4), and the latter is the term uniformly applied to the Euphrates in the Old Testament, there seems no reason to suppose that the appellations in Ge 2:14 are to be understood in any other than the ordinary sense. One circumstance in the description is worthy of observation. Of the four rivers, one, the Euphrates, is mentioned by name only, as if that were sufficient to identify it. The other three are defined according to their geographical positions, and it is fair to conclude that they were therefore rivers with which the Hebrews were less intimately acquainted. If this be the case, it is scarcely possible to imagine that the Gihon, or, as some say, the Pison, is the Nile, for that must have been even more familiar to the Israelites than the Euphrates, and have stood as little in need of a definition.
But the stringent difficulty is to find any two rivers that will reasonably answer to the predicates of the Pishon and the Gihon, and any countries which can be collocated as Havilah and Cush. The latter name, indeed, was given by the Hebrews and other Orientals to several extensive countries, and those very distant both from Armenia and from each other. As for Havilah, we have the name again in the account of the dispersion of the descendants of Noah (chapter 10:29); but whether that was the same as this Havilah, and in what part of Asia it was, we despair of ascertaining. Reland and others, the best writers upon this question, have felt themselves compelled to give to these names a comprehension which destroys all preciseness. So, likewise, the meaning of the two names of natural products can be little more than matter of conjecture the bedolach and the stone shoham. The farmer word occurs only here and in Nu 11:7. The Septuagint, our oldest and best authority with regard to terms of natural history, renders it, in our passage, by anthrax, meaning probably the ruby, or possibly the topaz; and in Numbers by crystallos, which the Greeks applied not merely to rock-crystal, but to any finely transparent mineral. Any of the several kinds of odoriferous gum, which many ancient and modern authorities have maintained, is not, likely, for it could not be in value comparable to gold. The pearl is possible, but not quite probable, for it is an animal product, and the connection seems rather to confine us to minerals; and pearls, though translucent, are not transparent as good crystal is. Would not the diamond be an admissible conjecture? The shoham occurs in ten other places, chiefly in the book of Exodus, and in all those instances our version says onyx; but the Septuagint varies, taking onyx, sardius, sardonyx, beryl, prase-stone, sapphire, and smaragdus, which is a green-tinctured rock-crystal. The preponderance seems to be in favor of onyx, one of the many varieties of banded agate; but the idea of value leads us to think that the emerald is the most probable. There are two remarkable inventories of precious stones in Ex 39:10-13, and Eze 28:13, which may be profitably studied, comparing the Septuagint with the Hebrew. SEE HAVILAR. For attempted identifications of the Pison and Gihon, see those names respectively.
4. For the Literature of the subject, SEE PARADISE.
II. (עֶדֶן, Sept. Ε᾿δἐμ, but omits in Isa 37:12, and Eze 27:23; Vulg. Eden), one of the marts which supplied the luxury of Tyre with richly embroidered stuffs. It is associated with Haran, Sheba, and Asshur; and in Am 1:5, Beth-Eden, or "the house of Eden," is rendered in the Sept. by Charran (Xαῤῥάν). In 2Ki 19:12, and Isa 37:12, "the sons of Eden" are mentioned with Gozan, Haran, and Rezeph, as victims of the Assyrian greed of conquest. Telassar appears to have been the headquarters of the tribe; and Knobel's (Comm. on Isaiah) etymology of this name would point to the highlands of Assyria as their whereabouts. But this has no sound foundation, although the view which it supports receives confirmation from the version of Jonathan, who gives חדיב (Chadib) as the equivalent of Eden. Bochart proved (Phaleg. part 1, p. 274) that this term was applied by the Talmudic writers to the mountainous district of Assyria; which bordered on Media, and was known as Adiabene. But if Gozan be Gausanitis in Mesopotamia, and Haran be Carrhe, it seems more natural to look for Eden somewhere in the same locality. Keil (Comm. on Kings, 2:97) thinks it may be Ma'don, which Assemani (Bibl. Or. 2:224) places in Mesopotamia, in the modern province of Diarbekr. Bochart, considering the Eden of Genesis and Isaiah as identical, argues that Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and Eden are mentioned in order of geographical position, from north to south; and, identifying Gozan with Gausanitis, Haran with Carrhae, a little below Gausanitis on the Chabor, and Rezeph with Reseipha, he gives to Eden a still more southerly situation at the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris, or even lower. According to him, it may be Addan or Addana, which geographers place on the Euphrates. . Michaelis (Suppl. No. 1826) is in favor of the modern Aden, a port of Arabia (called by Ptolemy Α᾿ραβίας ἐμπόριον), as the Eden of Ezekiel. SEE VEDAN.
III. (עֶדֶן, Am 1:5, "house of Eden"). SEE BETH-EDEN.
IV. (Sept. Ι᾿ωδἀν v. r. Ι᾿ωαδάμ.) Son of Joah, and one of the Gershonite Levites who assisted in the reformation of public worship under Hezekiah (2Ch 29:12). B.C. 726. He is probably the same with the Levite appointed in the same connection one of the superintendents of the distribution of the free-will offerings (2Ch 31:15, Sept. Ο᾿δόμ, v.r. •δόντων).