Eden - Paradise lost

A Paradise Lost: In Search of Eden

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Nothing else has fascinated both archaeologists and theologians alike more than the identity to the location of man’s paradise lost; that is, the Garden of Eden. Throughout history, the idea of a paradise was a common theme in almost all ancient cultures. The Sumerians called it Dilmun (commonly identified as the modern day island of Bahrain). The Greeks called it the Garden of the Hesperides. The idea was not a unique one to the Biblical author(s), however the Book of Genesis does provide us with the most details; albeit vague, to its location. What was Eden and where was it located? We will need to dive through the ancient sources at our disposal so that we may decipher the enigma that is Eden.

Genesis 2:8-9 informs us of a garden set to the east, trees and animals a plenty, which a river flowed through and parted into four: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and Euphrates. The Septuagint (or LXX) confirms the translations of the Tigris and Euphrates, although the Pishon and Gihon continue to remain a mystery. The identification of the two rivers have led many to look to Mesopotamia and more recently the submerged regions of the Persian Gulf, although how much of these details can we consider to be credible?

It would seem that geography was not the author’s strongest feature. For instance, we know where both the Tigris and Euphrates meet in southern Mesopotamia and where the rivers flow to in the North and Northwest. As for the river Gihon, a literal reading of Genesis 2:13 from the Hebrew source translates to: ‘And [the] name [of] the second [is] the river Gihon. It circles around all [the] land [of] Cush.’ We clearly read that Gihon flowed from the Persian Gulf and parted to circle Cush. According to Hebrew and Assyrian source, Cush is identified as Ethiopia. Yes, the very same Ethiopia that resides on the separate continent of Africa. For this reason, many have identified the river Nile with Gihon, although such an identification would invalidate the original statement in that it parted alongside three others from the same river. Coincidently, 1Kings 1:33 mentions a spring near Jerusalem by the name of Gihon. The Hebrew name translates to ‘bursting forth,’ a generic term that can describe just about anything.

When we read beyond the Book of Genesis, we do find additional references to Eden:

Isaiah 37:12: Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar?

Ezekiel 27:23: Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants.

Ezekiel 31:16: I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.

Does this mean that Eden was still around at the time the Book of Ezekiel was written (during the Babylonian Exile)? Isaiah speaks of the children of Eden as a nation that still existed, while

Ezekiel hints at Eden being a merchant town. It is listed along with other locations situated in northern Mesopotamia, southern Anatolia and the northern Levant. Does this hint at Eden being located somewhere within this outline? When we reread Ezekiel 31:16, we observe the verse confirming that Eden is in the land of Lebanon, a region well renowned for its cedars.

This is further confirmed when identifying the proper etymology for the name Eden. Traditionally, scholars believed it to be a Hebrew rendering of the Sumerian word edin translating to ‘steppe.’ Archaeology, however, has shown this word to be Aramaic in origin, a Semitic language, widely used to the North of ancient Israel and in ancient Lebanon and Syria.

Discovered at Tell el Fakhariyah (on one of the tributaries of the Khabur River), Syria in 1979, was a statue containing a bilingual inscription. Dating to approximately the late 9th century BCE, the statue provides the oldest evidence of the Aramaic language. Written on the skirt of the man, the bilingual inscription was inscribed in Assyrian cuneiform and the Semitic linear alphabet in an Aramaic dialect. It is this bilingual text that holds the key to the earliest identification and interpretation of the word ‘eden.’ Used as a verb, ‘dn corresponds to the Assyrian verb for ‘wealth or luxuriance.’ This translation reinforces the idea of a paradise behind the Genesis narrative.

Comments

It is the rage currently among scholars to deny any association between Sumerian Edin and Hebrew 'eden. The Tell el Fekhariyah statue has the Aramaic word 'dn, translated to mean :wealth, luxuriance," and thus an allusion to Genesis' 'eden as a type of luxurious paradise. I understand scolars are correct, Hebrew 'eden is derived etymologically from Aramaic 'dn. But, I also uunderstand that Sumerian Edin is what is behind, in part Genesis' 'eden. How so? It is my understanding that the Hebrews MISHEARD Edin and equated it with their Aramaic/Hebrew word 'dn/'eden, via assonance. Motifs shared between 'eden and edin: (1) A location's name, (2) a god's garden exists IN eden, (3) this location is watered by two streams the Euphrates and Hidekkel, (4) in Edin a man loses at a chance to obtain immortality but acquires godly-forbidden wisdom, (5) a naked man and woman in edin, leave clothed, abandoning herbivore animals as companions for the man. All the motifs asociated with edin appear in Genesis' 'eden. My book (2010) available via Amazon.com, gives the details, The Garden of Eden Myth: Its Pre-biblical Origin in Mesopotamian Myths.

My research suggests that as many as 10 locations in Mesopotamian myths have been fused together and made into the Bible's Garden of Eden myth. The Hebrews are repudiating Mesopotamian polytheism's Edin and its constellation of fictional characters and making of all this a Monotheistic Garden of Eden account, Edin has become Eden, the gods and goddesses of Eden are recast as one god, Yahweh, several fictional characters in Mesopotamia's Edin have been fused together into new fictional characters: Adam, Eve, God, the Serpent, and the Cherubbim.

What a shame to all mankind that the ISIS terrorist faction has destroyed many of the artifacts in the area, such as Lamassu statue you have pictured above.

The garden, properly "protected or fenced in place", was *in* Eden and was not the entirety of Eden.

Look! We must first identify exactly what we mean by the term, Garden of Eden. However, that is not possible if we use myth and ancient writings.

Let us look at it this way. Today, the world uses scientific language. Just how do you connect modern scientific language with myth and ancient script? From any objective point of view, it is not possible. The ancients did not use modern scientific language. We have no choice but to consider these ancient writings as just stories.

Here is another issue. Just who were Adam and Eve? Were they modern people, homo sapiens, or were they some kind of human ancestor? The ancient writings don't communicate to us in a definitive way so we can determine this. Therefore,the location of the Garden of Eden, can not be determined.

We need another method, one that can give us more precise information.

I've been working on this and other issues for some time and have placed some of my research on my blog. Although I have not identified the Garden of Eden, I have identified the extreme old age of intelligent life and civilization on earth. See my blog: http://black2tell.wordpress.com. Mr. Black.

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