Was there really a Garden of Eden?
And if so, where was it located?
Actually, the Septuagint version of the OT text says this at Genesis 2:8:
‘God planted a Paradise on the east side of Edem, where He put the man whom he had formed.’
Then in verses 10-14 we read:
‘A river flowed from Edem to water the Paradise, and from there [came the] head [waters] of four [rivers].
The name of the [first river] is Phison.
It circles the entire land of Evilat, where there is gold (and the gold from that land is good), as well as coal and ornamental stone.
The name of the second river is Geon.
It runs around the land of Kush.
The third river is the Tigris.
It flows over toward the Assyrians.
The fourth river is the EuPhrates.’
As you can see, according to the Greek Septuagint, the Garden wasn’t named Eden, it was just called ‘the Paradise’ or ‘the Walled Garden’ (from the word’s old Iranian roots), and it was also called ‘the Paradise of Delights,’ at Genesis 2:15.
So, where did Eden come in?
Notice that the Greek Septuagint account tells us that the Garden was located along the east side of ‘the land of Edem.’ Therefore, the garden wasn’t named Eden (or Edem). Rather, it was located next to a land of that name.
But, which spelling is correct, Eden or Edem?
We don’t know, for we frequently find the letters M and N interchanged in Bible names in the ancient texts. But don’t confuse this name (Ed-em) with Edom (Ed-om), although they both have similar meanings and may have once been pronounced the same. For Edom is the name of the land that belonged to the family line of IsaAc’s son Esau, and Edem or Eden is the name of a land east of that, which was next to the garden that we commonly call Eden today.
And where was that?
It’s important to notice that when Moses wrote this first portion of Genesis, he used the names of places and countries that existed in his day to describe where they had once been.
For at Genesis 2:14 he tells us that the Tigris river ‘flows over toward the Assyrians.’
And since there was no nation of Assyria before the Downpour, we must assume that he was describing the place where it was located in his day, which was somewhere north of the ancient land of Assyria…
For the Tigris River was described as flowing from Edem into Assyria.
So then, was there really a land of Edem that existed north of Assyria in the time of Moses?
Yes, for there was a people called the Sons of Edem that are mentioned in other scriptures.
Notice, for example, that at 2 Kings 19:12 (4 Kings 19:12 Sept.), we read that when the Assyrians were taunting the people of JeruSalem by bragging about the cities they had already conquered, they spoke of their conquest of the Sons of Edem at ‘ThaEsthen’ (‘Tel Assar’ in the Hebrew text), which almost all modern references cite as being ‘a country annexed to Assyria.’
Therefore, the land of Edem (or Eden) was likely north of where most people think of it as being today (in southern Iraq). For, that’s where you’ll find the headwaters of the Tigris, EuPhrates, and two other rivers, the Geon (probably the Gihon or the Gaihun-Aras) and the Phison (likely the Pishon, which is now known as the Sefid-Rud, or Long Red River), since they have similar names today.
So, as several modern researchers have concluded;
The Garden was probably located to the southwest of Mt. Ararat near the modern city of Tabriz in Azerbaijan.
It’s also important to note that the Bible account tells us that the headwaters of these rivers all started in the area of the land of Edem (not in the Garden).
Yet, if the garden had been (as most sources say) near Babylon;
A geographical map shows that the headwaters of these rivers have never started that far south in what is now a desert. For, as with many rivers, the source is often found in the mountainous regions, such as near Mt. Ararat. And notice that this area is still called Eden today by the local tribes.
Then, was there ever a man named Edem from whom the land at the foot of Mt. Ararat derives its name? That is likely, but since Edem appears to mean red earth, the term the sons of Edem could also mean the sons of the red earth after the bright red ochre soil that is found near Tabriz.
And notice that;
Since the name Adam also seems to mean Red Earth, it could be that the red soil from that area (SW of Ararat) was the dust of the ground from which Adam was made.
Another thing to note is that according to Genesis 10:7, one of the descendants of Noah’s son Kush (a dark-skinned race of people) was named Evilat, which is the name of the land around which the Phison flowed (see Genesis 2:11)…
Yes, it’s where the account says that gold and other valuable minerals could be found.
Also, the Hebrew (Masoretic) text says that the Geon River ran around ‘the entire land of Kush’ (it was originally spelled with a K not a C). So, according to the Genesis account, the dark-skinned Kushites once lived in this area north of Assyria.
For the Bible tells us that Kush’s son Nimrod founded many cities in Iran and Iraq.
But is there any historical proof that this is so?
Notice that the book ‘A History of All Nations from Earliest Times’ by John Henry Wright speaks of a dark-skinned race that once lived along the Black Sea coast in Northern Assyria, whom the Greeks called ‘Ethiopians’ – Black People. This is found in the second paragraph under the heading, ‘Medes and Persians.’ And there we read that these people were thereafter relocated southeast and became the Indians (modern Brahui). That this is likely true can be seen from the newest maps of migrations as proven by genetics. For if you follow the ‘L’ (Indian) genetic branch backward, you’ll see that it returns to the area of modern Persia, as the Bible account in Genesis indicates.
Then, why don’t these people still live in that land today?
Because, as was common among all the races that were conquered by the Assyrians, they were displaced to other areas within the vast Assyrian empire (as were the ‘lost’ ten tribes of IsraEl, by the way). And notice that the people who live in the country that we call Ethiopia today still refer to themselves as ‘the Kingdom of Kush.’ So, they are apparently close relatives to the black or dark-skinned people that once inhabited the area around ancient Edem or Eden.