THE EARTHLY INHERITANCE SERIES of BIBLE SUBJECTS
Various Bible study guides in subjects pertaining to
New Earth prophecy, as taught by Paul Phelps.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD,
they shall inherit the earth. Psalm 37:9
The GARDEN of EDEN
Bible quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version
except for my own translations or as otherwise indicated.
There are good reasons to believe that the
Biblical Garden of Eden was in the Orient.
A Bible study project by Paul Phelps.
After several years of study this writing was completed in 2000.
The Bible takes an outside view of man, a view of earth people as seen by an
outside observer. Heaven and earth were created by God, and humanity also
was created by God (Gen. 1:1,27; Prov. 8:22-31; Is. 42:5). We were individually
handcrafted from the beginning. God formed man from the dust of the ground
(Gen. 2:7). He at first made one single male and then later one single female
(Gen. 2:18-22). So at the start there were just two humans, a man and a woman
(Gen. 2:25). All are descended from this first couple, Adam and Eve.
God made a total life support environment so that humans can live on earth;
(Gen. 1:29-31—2:1-7). God formed this earth to be inhabited; Isaiah 45:18,
For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God),
who formed the earth and made it (he established it;
he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!)…
God did not want humanity to begin life in a wild or dangerous location. He
chose an eastern site (eastward of Israel). All the animals and trees were there.
The Garden of Eden was a nature sanctuary, a paradise. Genesis 2:8,
The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden,
and there he put the man whom he had formed.
The Bible is not the only record of the Garden of Eden; other legends say the
same. There is also a racial memory in the soul. Everybody on earth wants to
return to our original paradise. Some people think this is only a fantastic myth
or a legend of the past, but this story is in the Biblical creation account. It was
written as a true report from the viewpoint of an outside observer and given to
humankind as a divine record of our earliest history.
Some people think earth is physically different from the past, so that original
river and land formations no more exist. But earth’s surface features were here
before man was ever created. “The sea is his, for he made it; and the dry land,
which his hands have formed” (Ps. 95:5). Mountains and oceans come from the
third creation day (but man is from the end of the sixth day; Gen. 1:9-10,24-31).
The Flood did not change the established structure of earth. Psalm 104:5-9,
vv 5-6, You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
Do you not fear me? says the LORD; Do you not tremble before me?
I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier
that it cannot pass; though the waves toss they cannot prevail,
though they roar they cannot pass over it.
The Bible has not much detail on the Garden of Eden but it is enough to tell us
the main ideas. Eden means pleasure. God originally made earth for pleasure
but regrettably most of it has disappeared due to the sin curse and was replaced
by vanity —emptiness. Ecclesiastes 2:10-11,
v 10, Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart
rejoiced in all my labour; and this was my reward from all my labour.
v 11, Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done—
and on the labour in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity
and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.
As a perfect place, Eden's garden is gone—for the sin curse is in all creation;
(Rom. 8:20). Eden is no more a perfect place until God restores it, but it may be
possible to discover the original location. The Garden of Eden was a real place
on earth and we want to know where it was. In Bible terminology, a 'garden' is
an enclosed park (Heb. GAN). We know the Garden of Eden was enclosed for
it had only one entrance. God sent his angels to guard the only place of entry.
v 23, —therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden,
to till the ground from which he was taken.
v 24, He drove out the man;
and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim,
and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.
The entrance was at the east side. It was where a river flowed out, because
a river flowed out from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10). The Garden’s enclosure
can only be a mountain range making a natural wall surrounding it. This means
the Garden of Eden is an interior basin accessible only through a river canyon.
Eden was in Asia because the Garden was eastward from Jerusalem (Gen. 2:8).
Biblically all directions begin at Jerusalem, so Eden is eastward from Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem latitude runs eastward across the Himalayan highlands ending at
China’s eastern coast near Shanghai—so Eden is somewhere in that direction.
The Garden of Eden had a full variety of trees for beauty and food. Gen. 2:9,
Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow
every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food …
A wide climate range is needed to accommodate many different types of trees
from tropical to arctic. It needs a tropical climate for the interior valley, and it
requires a continuous rise of mountain elevation reaching up to glacial heights.
Taking all that into consideration, we conclude that the Garden of Eden needed
an area at least the size of a large province.
A large area is needed as well for other reasons; all the species of land birds
and land animals lived there; Gen. 2:19-20,
Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field
and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see
what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each
living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to
all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field.
A nature sancturary for animals needs a big food supply. Green growth was
prolific, with fertile land and abundant water.
… for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth,
and there was no one to till the ground; but a mist
would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground—
and the animals of Eden were herb-eating, Gen. 1:30,
And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air,
and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the
breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so.
Some animals now eat flesh, but in the Kingdom they will be herb-eating, as in
Eden (Isaiah 11:6-8). The original Edenic condition will be restored; (Acts 3:21).
The Garden of Eden had four rivers, called heads. Genesis 2:10-14,
And a river goes out of Eden to water the garden,
and there it is divided into four heads.
The name of the first is Pishon... The second river name is Gihon...
The third river name is Hiddekel… The fourth river is the Euphrates.
(literal translation mine)
The Garden of Eden was the source of river-water to the agricultural lowland
farther east where people afterwards dwelt. The river going out of the garden is
not identified but probably kept the name of the fourth river 'Euphrates.' These
four rivers began in the mountain highlands that surrounded the interior valley;
they were therefore snow and glacier-fed streams. We may reasonably expect
the main river flowing out of the Garden of Eden to have been large! We know
this river flowed out from the east side (Gen. 3:23-24), an important fact for our
topic—for as we look eastward from Jerusalem there is only one river that flows
continuously eastward. It is the Chang Jiang (Yangzi River) of central China.
Some Bible scholars think the Garden of Eden was near Babylon, (where the
Flood survivors built Babel), because a river named Euphrates flows near there.
Many think this is enough reason to say that the Garden of Eden was in Babylon,
but we think that old world names were often transferred into the Babylon area
because the Flood survivors only knew old-world names. They took old-world
names to fit new geographic needs. The fourth river in the Garden of Eden was
Euphrates (Heb. PHRŔT, Gen. 2:14), so Babylon's main river was named after it.
The region of Babylon does not fulfil the requirements of the Garden of Eden.
It has just two rivers, not four, and they flow southward, not eastward. Babylon
is not enclosed in mountains; it is open at the south and west and easy of access
from all sides. The mountains that rise in the north and east are not tall and do
not keep snow very long. At the river’s exit there is no canyon for an entrance.
Babylon’s rivers flow directly into the sea; but the Garden of Eden was not near
the sea, for God did not bring to Adam sea animals to be named (Gen. 2:19-20).
The Babylon region does not have the unique climate that could support and
preserve a complete range of tree species such as the Biblical record indicates.
A climate like that is rare. There is no ancient evidence that the Babylon region
has ever supported a complete world-variety of plant and animal life.
The land of Canaan also cannot qualify; the only valley in Canaan eastward of
Jerusalem is the Dead Sea valley, wherein all streams flow to the Dead Sea, and
none flow eastward. In olden times that valley was luxuriant and well watered;
in Abraham’s time it was “like the garden of the LORD” (Gen. 13:10) but was not
the original garden. The Indus River region is worth consideration, except that
the river flows southwest, rather than east, and the southern plain towards India
is totally open, it is not enclosed. Another possibility is the Brahmaputra River
at the east side of India but the river flows west instead of east and the latitude is
too far south of Jerusalem’s latitude to be thought of as eastward from Jerusalem.
It is only as we consider the Sichuan valley of west-central China that we find
an interior valley exactly matching the Biblical record. It is called four streams
(Sichuan), and is a large basin surrounded on all sides by tall mountain ranges,
of which many are snow-clad throughout the year. The area abounds in rivers.
Sichuan Province is directly east from Jerusalem. There are four large rivers
that join together as the Yangzi, that flows eastwards into China’s eastern plain.
The Yangzi flows out of the Sichuan valley through awe-inspiring river canyons,
called Three Gorges. The river is very wide leaving Sichuan; the only access is
along the narrow shore of the river facing canyon walls, and by riverboat. This
amazing canyon is the entrance to the Garden of Eden, where God put angels
to guard the way (Gen. 3:24). This province is truly ideal for a nature preserve
as it is large and offers a total climate variation from tropical to arctic. It is very
famous for its vast abundance of rare plants and animals. The Garden of Eden
probably included some of the surrounding highlands in adjoining provinces.
The Bible was first written in the West Asian Aramaic and Hebrew languages.
Those languages began in Babylon over four millennia ago (Gen. 11) but names
from Eden pre-date those languages. The original names in Eden are important
in their meanings. We will explain the river names in regard to their meanings.
The river of Assyria, called Tigris, is called different names by peoples of the
area. The Arabs call it Diglah. The Babylonians called it Igna, Idiglat or Digla;
the Persians called it Tigra and the Greeks called it Tigris. Daniel wrote about a
“great river” that he called Hiddekel (Heb. KHIDČKEL, ‘to increase palm trees’).
The translators of the Greek Septuagint Bible changed this name (in Dan. 10:4)
into Tigris, thus linking together the names Hiddekel and Tigris, supposing that
they were the same. Bible scholarship later accepted that decision, but in fact
there is nothing to verify it. There was no reason to change the name Hiddekel
into Tigris. When the Scriptures mention the “great river” (as in Genesis 15:18,
or Rev. 16:12), the Euphrates River is the intended meaning. The Hebrew Bible
has no mention of a river named Tigris; this name isn't found in the Hebrew text.
Assyria’s river is the Tigris but Daniel was in Babylon, and Babylon’s river is
the Euphrates. Daniel was living beside the Euphrates when he wrote the name
‘Hiddekel’ in Dan. 10:4, and he should have said 'Euphrates' (PHRŔT). The name
KHIDČKEL is fitting for Babylon’s profusion of palm trees, but the name PHRŔT
(to grow, to expand) is the name normally given in the Bible. The Euphrates is
the largest river of west Asia. It was pivotal to world events from ancient times
and has defined the limit of empires both east and west. That is why the Bible
calls it simply “the river” (Deut. 11:24; Joshua 24:2-3). It was named after Eden's
fourth river (Heb. PHRŔT, Gr. Euphrates) because of its large size.
The Gihon and the Pishon were the other two rivers in Eden (Gen. 2:11-13).
Gihon means to burst forth. Pishon means to jump about (as calves playing).
The name meanings of the four rivers are KHIDČKEL—to increase palm trees;
GIKHŇN—to burst forth; PISHŇN—to jump about; PHRŔT—to grow, to expand.
The names in their meanings are the original names of the rivers in Sichuan.
Three of Eden’s rivers were identified by region (Genesis 2:11-14), but these
regional names referred to provinces in the old world from before Noah's Flood.
Originally these names were places in China, surrounding the Garden of Eden,
but they reappeared as new names for new places after the world-Flood.
A relationship exists in the Hebrew Bible words: Adam, man, red, and ground.
Genesis 2:7, "... the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground... "
The word ADŔM is a personal name, or can be translated as 'man' or 'human.'
It relates to the word ADAMŔH—red ground. Evidently the ground from which
God first created man was red in colour for the word comes from DŔM—blood
and ADŇM—red. Hence the words human, blood, ground, and red are related.
The Sichuan valley is known as the ‘red basin’ (referring to the ground colour).
So all these evidences confirm our conclusion that the Sichuan Province of China
and nearby regions is the original place of the Garden of Eden. Botanic studies
have confirmed that all tree species around the world have their genetic origins
in the Sichuan, Yunnan, and eastern Tibet regions of China.
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