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"The Garden of Eden" by Lucas Cranach der Ältere, a 16th century German depiction of Eden.

The Garden of Eden (Hebrew גַּן עֵדֶן, Gan Eden; Arabic: جنة عدن, Jannat ‘Adn)[1] is described in the Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden (Gen. 2:8). This garden forms part of the Genesis creation myth and theodicy of the Abrahamic religions, often being used to explain the origin of sin and mankind's wrongdoings.

The Genesis creation myth relates the geographical location of both Eden and the garden to four rivers (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates), and three regions (Havilah, Assyria, and Kush).[2] There are hypotheses that place Eden at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates (northern Mesopotamia), in Iraq (Mesopotamia), Africa, and the Persian Gulf. For many medieval writers, the image of the Garden of Eden also creates a location for human love and sexuality, often associated with the classic and medieval trope of the locus amoenus.[3]



The origin of the Hebrew עדן, which it translates to "delight", may derive from the Sumerian term EDIN.[4] The Sumerian term means steppe, plain, desert or wilderness,[5] so the connection between the words may be coincidental. This word is known to have been used by the Sumerians to refer to the arid lands west of the Euphrates. Alan Millard has put forward a case for the name deriving from the Semitic stem dn, meaning "abundant, lush".

The story from Genesis


"Expulsion from Paradise", marble bas-relief by Lorenzo Maitani on the Orvieto Cathedral, Italy

God charges Adam to tend the garden in which they live, and specifically commands Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve is quizzed by the serpent concerning why she avoids eating off this tree. In the dialogue between the two, Eve elaborates on the commandment not to eat of its fruit. She says that even if she touches the fruit she will die. The serpent responds that she will not die, rather she and her husband would "be as gods, knowing good and evil," and persuades Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve eats and gives the fruit to Adam, who also eats. At this point the two become aware, "to know good and evil," evidenced by an awareness of their nakedness. God then finds them, confronts them, and judges them for disobeying.

God expels them from Eden, to keep Adam and Eve from also partaking of the Tree of Life. The story says that God placed cherubim with an omnidirectional "flaming sword" to guard against any future entrance into the garden.

In the account, the garden is planted "eastward, in Eden," and accordingly "Eden" properly denotes the larger territory which contains the garden, rather than being the name of the garden itself: it is, thus, the garden located in Eden. The Talmud also states (Brachos 34b) that the Garden is distinct from Eden.


Spanish-Arabic world map from 1109 CE with Eden in east (at top)

The Book of Genesis gives no location for the Garden, beyond that it is "in Eden, in the East." Internally, it has the form of an enclosed space with a single entrance facing East.


The Biblical description of the garden says :

Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.[...] The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

There have been a number of claims as to the actual geographic location of the Garden of Eden, though many of these have little or no connection to the text of Genesis. Most put the Garden somewhere in the Middle East.

Map showing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers

In the Middle East

Sumer and Dilmun (Bahrain)

Some of the historians working from within the cultural horizons of southernmost Sumer, where the earliest surviving non-Biblical source of the legend lies, point to the quite genuine Bronze Age entrepôt of the island theorized by some to be Dilmun (now Bahrain) in the Persian Gulf, described as 'the place where the sun rises' and 'the Land of the Living'. The setting of the Babylonian creation myth, Enûma Elish, has clear parallels with the Genesis narratives. After its actual decline, beginning about 1500 BC, Dilmun developed such a reputation as a long-lost garden of exotic perfections that it may have influenced the story of the Garden of Eden. Some interpreters have tried to establish an Edenic garden at the trading-center of Dilmun.

Tabriz (Iran)

David Rohl suggests that the land of Eden was a vast area referred to in ancient Sumerian texts as the Edin (lit. "Plain", or "Steppe"), north of Mesopotamia beyond the Zagros mountains. The Garden of Eden was then located in a long valley 'in the east of Eden', to the north of Sahand volcano, near Tabriz. He cites several geographical similarities and toponyms which he believes match the Biblical description, including the four river headwaters of the Tigris (Hiddekel), Euphrates (Perath), Gaihun-Aras (Gihon) and Uizun (Pishon); the mountain range of Kusheh Dagh (the land of Cush); and Upper and Lower Noqdi (the land of Nod).[6]


Several religious traditions identify the location of the garden of Eden with the city of Jerusalem,[7] in particular Gihon Spring.[8]


Eden as paradise

"The Garden of Eden" by Thomas Cole (c.1828)
The Expulsion illustrated in the English Caedmon manuscript, c. AD 1000
Eden as depicted in the first or left panel of Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych. The panel includes many imagined and exotic African animals.[9]

"Paradise" (Hebrew פרדס PaRDeS) used as a synonym for the Garden of Eden shares a number of characteristics with words for 'walled orchard garden' or 'enclosed hunting park' in Old Persian. The word "paradise" occurs three times in the Old Testament, but always in contexts other than a connection with Eden: in the Song of Solomon iv. 13: "Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard"; Ecclesiastes 2. 5: "I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits"; and in Nehemiah ii. 8: "And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's orchard, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." In the Song of Solomon, it is clearly "garden"; in the second and third examples "park". In the post-Exilic apocalyptic literature and in the Talmud, "paradise" gains its associations with the Garden of Eden and its heavenly prototype. In the Pauline Christian New Testament, there is an association of "paradise" with the realm of the blessed (as opposed to the realm of the cursed) among those who have already died, with literary Hellenistic influences observed by numerous scholars. The Greek Garden of the Hesperides was somewhat similar to the Christian concept of the Garden of Eden, and by the 16th century a larger intellectual association was made in the Cranach painting (see illustration at top). In this painting, only the action that takes place there identifies the setting as distinct from the Garden of the Hesperides, with its golden fruit.

Alan Millard has hypothesized that the Garden of Eden does not represent a 'geographical' place, but rather represents 'cultural memory' of "simpler times", when man lived off God's bounty (as "primitive" hunters and gatherers still do) as opposed to toiling at agriculture (being "civilized").[10] Of course there is much dispute between Judeo-Christian and secular scholars as to the plausibility of this idea - the refuting claim being that cultivation and agricultural work were present both before and after the "Garden Life".

The Second Book of Enoch, of late but uncertain date, states that both Paradise and Hell are accommodated in the third sphere of heaven, Shehaqim, with Hell being located simply " on the northern side:" see Seven Heavens.

Eden as a Kingdom

The structure and order defined by God in the Garden of Eden is also believed to have been the early structure for the Kingdom of God[citation needed]. Immediately following the creation of Man, God commands them to "fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground" (Gen 1:28). The obvious references to domination are important to the Christian view of Man's relation to nature and Man's role in the Kingdom of God.

Later, in Chapter 3, the "Fall of Man" is followed by the pronouncement of a curse. This curse contains references to the enmity between the Kingdom and its subjects—as had been described in 1:28—that would affect the kingdom unto the present day: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers."

In Jewish Eschatology

In the rabbinic literatures of the Talmud and the jewish Kabbalah[11], the scholars agree that there are two types of spiritual places called Garden in Eden. The first is rather terrestrial, of abundant fertility and luxuriant vegetation, known as the "lower Gan Eden". The latter is envisioned as being celestial, the habitation of righteous, jewish and non-jewish, immortal souls, known as the "higher Gan Eden". The Rabbanim differentiate between Gan and Eden. Adam is said to have dwelt only in the Gan. Whereas Eden is said to never been witnessed by any mortal eye.[12]

According to jewish Eschatology[13][14], the "higher Gan Eden" is called the "Garden of Righteousness". It has been created since the beginning of the world, and will appear gloryously at the end of time. The righteous dwelling there will enjoy the sight of the heavenly Chayot carrying the throne of God. Each of the righteous will walk with God, who will lead them in a dance. Its jewish and non-jewish inhabitants are "clothed with garments of light and eternal life, and eat of the tree of life" (Enoch 58,3) near to God and His anointed ones.[15] This jewish rabbinical concept of a "higher Gan Eden" is opposed by the Hebrew terms Gehinnom[16] and Sheol, figurative names for the place of spiritual purification for the wicked dead in Judaism, a place envisioned as being at the greatest possible distance from "heaven".[17]

In art

Garden of Eden motifs most frequently portrayed in illuminated manuscripts and paintings are the "Sleep of Adam" ("Creation of Eve"), the "Temptation of Eve" by the Serpent, the "Fall of Man" where Adam takes the fruit, and the "Expulsion". The idyll of "Naming Day in Eden" was less often depicted. Much of Milton's Paradise Lost occurs in the Garden of Eden. Michelangelo depicted a scene at the Garden of Eden in the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Kush" is often incorrectly translated as Ethiopia, which was also known as Cush, but in this case thought to be referring to Cossaea which, unlike Ethiopia, does lie within the region being described. See E. A. Speiser, The Rivers of Paradise, reprinted in R. S. Hess & D. T. Tsumura (eds.), I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood, Eisenbrauns, 1994.
  3. ^ See p. 200 n. 31)Curtius, Ernst Robert; Willard R. Trask (trans.) (1953/1990). European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Princeton UP. ISBN 9780691018997. 
  4. ^ Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Rev. Ed. of: Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary.; Includes Index. (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995).
  5. ^ D. R. W. Wood, New Bible Dictionary (InterVarsity Press, 1996, c1982, c1962), 289
  6. ^ Rohl, David: Legend: The Genesis of Civilisation (Century, London, 1998).
  7. ^ For example, Aryeh Kaplan, Jerusalem Eye of the Universe. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (1993). ISBN 1879016125.
  8. ^ Freedman, David Noel; Allen C. Myers; Astrid B. Beck Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000. ISBN 9780802824004. p.371 [1]
  9. ^ Gibson, Walter S. Hieronymus Bosch. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1973. p. 26. ISBN 0-5002-0134-X
  10. ^ A. R. Millard (January 1984). "The Etymology of Eden". Vetus Testamentum 34 (1): 103–106. 
  11. ^ Gan Eden - JewishEncyclopedia; 02-22-2010.
  12. ^ ibidem.
  13. ^ Olam Ha-Ba - The Afterlife -; 02-22-2010.
  14. ^ Eshatology - JewishEncyclopedia; 02-22-2010.
  15. ^ ibidem.
  16. ^ "Gehinnom is the Hebrew name; Gehenna is Yiddish." Gehinnom - Judaism 101 websourced 02-10-2010.
  17. ^ Gan Eden and Gehinnom

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun

Garden of Eden

  1. (Christianity) In the book of Genesis, the place where Adam and Eve first lived after being created by God.


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


—Biblical Data:

Name given to the "earthly paradise" occupied by Adam and Eve before their fall through sin. The word "Eden," perhaps an Assyrian loan-word, is of the same root as the Assyrian "edinu," synonymous with "ṣeru" (= field, depression; compare the Arabic "zaur," which is the name still given to the country south of Babylon and extending to the Persian Gulf; the nomadic tribes inhabiting it were called by the Assyrians "sabe edini") (see Delitzsch, "Wo Lag das Paradies?"). Its connection with the Hebrew word (missing hebrew text) is of later origin. Sprenger ("Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammad," ii. 507) explains it through the Arabic "'adn."

Views of Delitzsch.

The writer of the Biblical story of Eden (Gen. ii.-iii.) is evidently describing some place which he conceives to be on the earth; hence the exact details: "God planted a garden eastward, in Eden," etc. Many attempts have been made to determine the precise geographical location. The most ancienttradition, going back to Josephus and followed by most of the Church Fathers, makes Havilah equivalent to India, and the Pison one of its rivers, while Cush is Ethiopia and the Gihon the Nile. A very popular theory places Eden in Babylonia. Calvin made the Shaṭṭal-'Arab—formed by the union of the Tigris and Euphrates—the river that "went out of the garden"; but it is now known that in ancient times the two rivers entered the Persian Gulf separately. Friedrich Delitzsch also places Eden in the country around Babylon and south of it, a country which was so beautiful in its luxuriant vegetation and abundant streams that it was known as "Kar-Duniash," or "garden of the god Duniash." Rawlinson even tried to show the identity of the names "Gan-Eden" and "Kar-Duniash." This region is watered practically by the Euphrates alone, which is here on a higher level than the Tigris. The Pison and the Gihon are identified with two canals (they may originally have been river-beds) which branch out from the Euphrates just below Babylon. The former, to the west, is the Pallacopas, upon which Ur was situated, and Havilah is thus identified with the portion of the Syrian desert bordering on Babylonia, which is known to have been rich in gold. The latter, Gihon, is the Shaṭṭ al-Nil, which passes the ruins of the ancient Erech, while Cush is the Mat Kashshi, or the northern part of Babylonia proper. Curiously enough, this region was also called "Meluḥa," which name was afterward transferred to Ethiopia. Other Assyriologists (e.g.,Haupt, "Wo Lag das Paradies?" in "Ueber Land und Meer," 1894-95, No. 15) do not credit the Biblical writer with the definiteness of geographical knowledge which Delitzsch considers him to have had.

The Gilgamesh Epic.

A very natural theory, which must occur to any one reading the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, connects Eden with the dwelling of Parnapishtim, the Babylonian Noah, at the "confluence of streams." This is supposed to have been in the Persian Gulf or Nar Marratim ("stream of bitterness"), into which emptied the four rivers Euphrates, Tigris, Kercha, and Karun (compare Jensen, "Kosmologie der Babylonier," p. 507, and Jastrow, "Religion of the Babylonians and Assyrians," p. 506). It is probable, however, that the story as given in the Bible is a later adaptation of an old legend, points of which were vague to the narrator himself, and hence any attempt to find the precise location of Eden must prove futile. Indeed, the original Eden was very likely in heaven, which agrees with the view on the subject held by the Arabs. Gunkel, in his commentary on Genesis, also adopts this view, and connects the stream coming out of Eden with the Milky Way and its four branches.

The El-Amarna Tablets.

Though there is no one Babylonian legend of the Garden of Eden with which the Biblical story can be compared as in the case of the stories of the Creation and of the Flood, there are nevertheless points of relationship between it and Babylonian mythology. On one of the tablets found at Tell el-Amarna, now in the Berlin Museum, occurs the legend of Adapa. Adapa, the first man, is the son of the god Ea, by whom he has been endowed with wisdom, but not with everlasting life. He lives in Eridu, and cares for the sanctuary of the god. One day while fishing in a calm sea the south wind suddenly arises and overturns his boat. In his anger Adapa fights with the south wind and breaks his wings so that he can not blow for seven days. Anu, the god of heaven, hearing of this, summons Adapa before him. Ea gives his son instructions as to his behavior before Anu; among other things he tells him: "Bread of death will they offer thee: eat not of it. Water of death will they bring thee: drink not of it." Adapa does as he is told, but the bread and water Anu causes to be placed before him are of life, not of death. Thus Adapa loses his chance of eternal life. He puts on the garment, however, which is offered him, following Ea's instructions. In this story the bread of life is parallel to the tree of life in the Biblical story. It is probable that the water of life also formed a part of the original story, and that the river of Eden is a trace of it. In Ezek 47:6-12 and, with some variation, in Rev 22:1f mention is made of a "river of water of life, . . . and on either side of the river was there the tree of life," showing that the water of life was associated with the tree of life.

Further, in the Biblical story, as in the Adapa legend, man is prevented from eating the food of life through being told that it means death to him. "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen 2:17); and it is Ea, who has formed man, who is the means of preventing him from attaining life everlasting, just as it is God who removes man from out of Eden "lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" (Gen 3:22). Jastrow (l.c.) remarks that the Hebrew story is more pessimistic than the Babylonian, since God even begrudges man knowledge, which the Babylonian god freely gives him. Adapa, who has been endowed with knowledge, puts on the garment given him by Anu, and Adam and Eve, after eating of the tree of knowledge, make for themselves garments of fig-leaves.

Schrader ("K. A. T." ii. 1, 523) calls attention to the possibility of associating the name "Adam" with "Adapa." The "garden of God," situated on the mountain, in Ezek 28:13ff and the tall cedar in Ezek 31:3, may have some connection with the cedar-grove of Khumbaba in the Gilgamesh epic and with the high cedar in the midst of the grove. In this connection may be mentioned the attempt to associate Eden with the mountain in Iranian mythology, out of which rivers flow, or with the Indian mountain Maru with the four rivers (Lenormant). Jensen ("Keilschriftliche Bibliothek," vi.) places the "confluence of the streams" in the Far West, and associates the island with the Greek Elysium.

Snake and Cherubim.

The snake in the story is probably identical with the snake or dragon in the Babylonian story of the Creation. In the British Museum there is a cylinder seal which has been supposed by Delitzsch, among others, to represent the Babylonian story of Eden (see illustration, Jew. Encyc. i. 174). The seal represents two figures, a male and a female, seated on opposite sides of a tree, with handsstretched toward it; behind the woman is an up-right snake. This picture alone, however, is hardly sufficient basis for believing that the Babylonians had such a story. The cherubim placed to guard the entrance to Eden are distinctly Babylonian, and are identical with the immense winged bulls and lions at the entrances to Babylonian and Assyrian temples. See Cherub.

Bibliography: Guttmacher, Optimism and Religionism in the Old and New Testaments, pp. 243-245, Baltimore, 1903.

—In Rabbinical Literature:

The Talmudists and Cabalists agree that there are two gardens of Eden: one, the terrestrial, of abundant fertility and luxuriant vegetation; the other, celestial, the habitation of righteous, immortal souls. These two are known as the "lower" and "higher" Gan Eden. The location of the earthly Eden is traced by its boundaries as described in Genesis.

In 'Erubin 19a (comp. Rabbinovicz, "Variæ Lectiones," ad loc.) Resh Laḳish expresses himself to the following effect: "If the paradise is situated in Palestine, Beth-Shean [in Galilee] is the door; if in Arabia, then Bet Gerim is the door; and if between the rivers, Damascus is the door." In another part of the Talmud (Tamid 32b) the interior of Africa is pointed out as the location of Eden, and no less a personage than Alexander the Great is supposed to have found the entrance of Gan Eden in those regions which are inhabited and governed exclusively by women. Alexander, who desired to invade Africa, was directed to Gan Eden by the advice of the "elders of the South."

A baraita fixes the dimensions of Gan and of Eden by comparisons with Egypt, Ethiopia, etc.: "Egypt is 400 parasangs square, and is one-sixtieth the size of Cush [Ethiopia]. Cush is one-sixtieth of the world [inhabited earth], the Gan being one-sixtieth of Eden, and Eden one-sixtieth of Gehinnom. Hence the world is to Gehinnon in size as the cover to the pot" (Ta'an. 10a). The same baraita in the Jerusalem Talmud defines the territory of Egypt as 400 parasangs square, equal to forty days' journey, ten miles being reckoned as a day's journey (Pes. 94a).

The Rabbis make a distinction between Gan and Eden. Samuel bar Naḥman says that Adam dwelt only in the Gan. As to Eden—"No mortal eye ever witnesseth, O God, beside thee" (Isa 64:4, Hebr.; Ber. 34b).

Identification of the Four Rivers.

The Midrash (Gen. R. xvi. 7) identifies the "four heads" of the rivers with Babylon (Pison), Medo-Persia (Gihon), Greece (Hiddekel), Edom-Rome (Perat), and regards Havilah as Palestine. The Targum Yerushalmi translates "Havilah" by "Hindiki" ("Hindustan," or India), and leaves "Pison" untranslated. Saadia Gaon, in his Arabic translation, renders "Pison" the Nile, which Ibn Ezra ridicules, as "it is positively known that Eden is farther south, on the equator." Naḥmanides coincides in this view, but explains that the Pison may run in a subterranean passage from the equator northward. Obadiah of Bertinoro, the commentator of the Mishnah, in a letter describing his travels from Italy to Jerusalem in 1489, relates the story of Jews arriving at Jerusalem from "Aden, the land where the well-known and famous Gan Eden is situated, which is southeast of Assyria." Jacob Safir, who visited Aden in 1865, describes it in his "Eben Sappir" (ii.3) as sandy and barren, and can not posssibly indorse the idea of connecting Aden with the Eden of Genesis. The opinions of the most eminent Jewish authorities point to the location of Eden in Arabia. The "four heads" or mouths of the rivers(= seas) are probably the Persian Gulf (east), the Gulf of Aden (south), the Caspian Sea (north), and the Red Sea (west). The first river, Pison, probably refers to the Indus, which encircles Hindustan, confirming the Targum Yerushalmi. The second river, Gihon, is the Nile in its circuitous course around Ethiopia, connecting with the Gulf of Aden. The third river, Hiddekel, is the Tigris, which has its course in the front ( (missing hebrew text) ) of Assur (= Persia), speaking from the writer's point of view in Palestine. Some explain the difficulty of finding the courses of the rivers by supposing that since the Deluge these rivers have either ceased to exist, entirely or in part, or have found subterranean outlets. Indeed, the compiler of the Midrash ha-Gadol expresses himself as follows: "Eden is a certain place on earth, but no creature knows where it is, and the Holy One, blessed be He! will only reveal to Israel the way to it in the days of the king Messiah" (Midr. ha-Gadol, ed. Schechter, col. 75).

Earthly and Heavenly Gan Eden.

The boundary line between the natural and supernatural Gan Eden is hardly perceptible in Talmudic literature. In fact, "Gan Eden and heaven were created by one Word [of God], and the chambers of the Gan Eden are constructed as those of heaven, and as heaven is lined with rows of stars, so Gan Eden is lined with rows of the righteous, who shine like the stars" (Aggadat Shir ha-Shirim, pp. 13, 55). The leviathan disturbs the waters of the seas, and would have destroyed the life of all human beings by the bad breath of his mouth, but for the fact that he occasionally puts his head through the opening of Gan Eden, the spicy odor issuing from which acts as an antiseptic to his bad smell (B.B.75a). Ḥiyya bar Ḥanina says that God had prepared for Adam ten canopies of various precious stones in Gan Eden, and quotes Ezek 28:13 (B. B. 75a). This, according to the Midrash, relates to the celestial Gan Eden. The Zohar claims for everything on earth a prototype above (Yitro 82a). Naḥmanides also says that the narrative of Eden in Genesis has a double meaning, that besides the earthly Gan Eden and the four rivers there are their prototypes in heaven (Commentary to Gen 4:13). See Paradise.

—In Arabic Literature:

The Arabic word for Eden is "'Adn," which, according to the commentators and lexicographers, means "fixed residence," i.e., the everlasting abode of the faithful. "'Adn," preceded by "jannat" (gardens), occurs ten times in the Koran (suras ix. 73, xiii. 23, xvi. 33, xviii. 30, xix. 62, xx. 78, xxxv. 30, xxxviii. 50, xl. 8, xli. 12), but always as the abode of the righteous and never as the residence of Adam and Eve, which occurs in the Koran only under the name of "jannah" (garden), although the Moslem commentators agree in callingit "Jannat'Adn "(the Garden of Eden). In sura ii. 23 occur the words: "And we have said to Adam: 'Stay with thy wife in the garden ["fi al-jannah"],'" which Baiḍawi explains: "The garden here is the 'Dar al-Thawab' [The House of Recompense], which is the fourth of the eight heavens." According to the Koran, the gardens of Eden are in heaven, and form a part of the blissful abode of the believers. In sura ii. 23 it gives the command: "Announce that the believers will reside in delightful gardens," on which Baiḍawi remarks: "According to Ibn al-'Abbas, there are seven gardens, one of which is called 'Firdaus' [Paradise] and one "Adn' [Eden]." Hence there is a difficulty as to the Eden from which Adam was cast out. Baidawi says on sura ii. 23: "Some people have thought that this Eden was situated in the country of the Philistines, or between Persia and Karman. God created it in order to put Adam to the test." Mohammed Ṭahir ("Majma' al-Biḥar, " p. 225), speaking of the tradition that the rivers Jaiḥun and Jaiḥan are rivers of the garden ("al-jannah"), says: "The terms are figurative, implying that faith extended to those regions and made them rivers of paradise." In another place (ib. p. 164) he says: "The four rivers, Siḥan [Jaxartes], Jaiḥan [Gihon], Furat [Euphrates], and Nil [Nile], are rivers of paradise." Abu Mohammed Mu'afa al-Shaibani, author of the "Uns al-Munḳaṭi'in," states the following tradition: "When God created the Garden of Eden, He created in it that which the eye had never seen before, that which the ear had never heard of before, and that which had never been desired before by man's heart." There is another tradition that God, having created the Garden of Eden, ordered it to speak. The garden pronounced the following words: "There is no God besides Allah." The garden was ordered to speak a second time, and it added: "The faithful will be happy." After a third order it said: "Misers or hypocrites will never enter me." Wahb ibn Munabbah says: "There is a tradition that the Garden of Eden has eight gates, the porters of which must not let anybody come in before those who despise earthly things and prefer those of heaven." According to one tradition the tree of life was a stalk of wheat—which in the days of Adam grew to the size of a tree—a vine, a fig-tree, or a "tree that whoever eats of it grows young again" (Baiḍawi, Commentary on Koran, sura ii. 33). Weil, in "Biblische Legenden der Propheten," gives some interesting traditions in regard to Eden and Satan.

Bibliography: Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, s.v. Eden; D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, i. 166; Mohammed Ṭahir, Majma' at-Biḥar, pp. 164, 225; A. Geiger, Judaism and Islam, pp. 32, 33, Madras, 1878.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
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Simple English

The Garden of Eden is the place where the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, lived after they were created by God.

In the Christian Bible, the story of the creation of the world in the book of Genesis describes how Adam and Eve lived in Eden in peace with all of the animals. They tended the garden and could eat from any tree except the Tree of Knowledge. After they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, God punished Adam and Eve by making them leave the Garden of Eden forever.

The story is told in Book of Genesis 1-3 (in the old Testament of the Bible and the Tanakh. The Tanakh translates the Garden of Eden as Paradise.


Where the name Eden is from

In Sumerian, Eden is a name for the Steppe. Heavenly Eden is also mentioned. It refers to a place that appears to be fertile at first, but later changes to become infertile. Climatologists have said this is a good description of the climate change that happened in The Levant after the last ice age. The green steppe became dry. This meant that food was no longer available all year round, but only at certain times. This forced the people living at the time to start agriculture and to keep some of their food for the periods where there was none. Scientists have referred to this change as the Neolithic Revolution. This change of food is also mentioned in the story.

Babylonian mythology sees the main reason for the creation of man to grow food for the gods. This is different in the Bible. There, god created plants as food for humans, and animals to keep them company.

The beginning of the Book of Genesis has been seen as describing the state before a climate change in a certain region. >Because of this change, humans were condemned to growing crops and keeping some food in stock, to be able to eat it, during the times it did not grow. Genesis has been seen to only start when this region converted to agriculture (the Neolithic Revolution, mentioned above). This means that Genesis roughly covers the time from about 8000 - 6000 BC to about 2000 BC.

Having to leave the Garden


Judaism teaches that sin cannot be passed on from the parents to their children. There is a free will, everyone is responsible for their own sins only. Humans can do bad things and good things. God's commandments help them do good things. What exactly makes up the Commandments of God is not written down, but needs to developed by tradition. Sins are forgiven once a year (at Jom Kippur). Unlike Christianity, Judaism has no personified evil.


Christianity believes that sin can be passed on from the parents to their children. This is known as original sin. Without Jesus, humans must live in sin. Augustine of Hippo formalized this belief, which is now a dogma in the Western Christian denominations (Catholicism and Protestantism).


Islam sees Adam and Eve being chased away as a chance for a new start. Islam says the Christian concept of original sin is false. This means that them being chased away does not change the relationship between men and God. According to Islamic tradition, Adam and Eve were placed in different parts of the world. They first had to wander around, before they found each other.

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