Eden's Four Rivers (Part Two)
Revisions and updates through 31 December 2007
Duncan suggested that Babylonian records called the Tigris Idiklat or Idiglat, id meaning "river," but that after circa 1600 B.C. the id prefix was dropped to become Diklat. For him this suggests Genesis' Hiddekel is preserving a name that went out of usage after 1600 B.C.:
"In Genesis ii.14 the Tigris is named Hiddekel. From Babylonian records we learn that this is the oldest name of the Tigris. Down to about 1900 B.C. it was known as the Idiklat or Idiglat. Between 1900 and 1600 B.C. the name was changed to Diklat, the prefiz id, which is the determinative for "stream," being then dropped...the Old Testament thus preserves the name by which the Tigris was known prior to at least 1600 B.C." (p. 51. "The Babylon Narratives of Genesis." J. Garrow Duncan. New Light on Hebrew Origins. London. Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1936)
Duncan's observation suggests to me that the Hebrew Hiddekel is recalling a Sumerian rendering Idiklat and thus a very "archaic word" is being preserved of the period before circa 1600 B.C. Some scholars date Abraham anywhere from circa 2100 to 1800 B.C. and he is creditied in the Bible as receiving a revelation from God causing him to abandon the worship of many gods, and he was originally of the Sumerian city of Ur of the Chaldees (Tell Muqqayar south of Babylon according to some). Thus it would appear that it is perhaps Abraham who preserved a pre 1600 B.C. Sumerian word which later crops up in Genesis (written in the Exile circa 560 B.C.). Crawford understands the Tigris (Idiklat) flowed through Sumerian Adab, Umma and Larsa, and the maps appearing in this article suggest that after leaving Larsa the Tigris merged with the Euphrates just west of Ur in the days of Abraham. So, the notion a river arsies in Eden and becomes four streams, one of which is the Hiddekel/Idiklat suggests for me this archaic notion is from Abraham's world and has been preserved by his descendants over the millennia, the nations of Israel and Judah.
One of the "great mysteries" bedeviling scholars, is why does Genesis state that Tigris and Euphrates rivers arise from ONE RIVER? Eden-searchers have only to find this river and they will have found Eden! The problem? No-one to this day had found a river which becomes the Tigris and Euphrates. Some Christian Apologists argue Noah's flood destroyed the Edenic water courses, hence the reason that in today's world there is no river dividing into a Tigris and Euphrates. The problem? The vast majority of professional Geologists do NOT understand there was a world-wide flood as portrayed in the Bible. Archaeologists have found evidence of flood deposits (microscopically identified freshwater laid silts and clays) in Sumer of the 5th-3rd millenniums B.C. and have concluded the Flood was a flooding Euphrates (which still floods today).
The Sumerian hymns do _NOT_ understand that the source of the Tigris and Euphrates is in the mountains of modern Armenia in Turkey where modern maps locate these rivers' sourceS.
As noted by the late Professor Kramer, the Sumerians understood there was ONE SOURCE FOR THE TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES, that "one source" was the god of freshwaters called Enki or Ea who lived in the city of Eridu in Sumer, in edin-the-plain ( He does _not_ dwell in the mountains of Armenia or eastern Turkey where some would locate the source of Eden's four streams). In hymns, Enki is likened to a sexually rampant bull, lifting his penis and ejaculating clear-sparkling-life-giving-fresh-water into the beds of the Tigris and Euphrates,who are portrayed as sexually rampant female cows in estrus! Iconographically, on ancient cylinder seals, Enki is shown in a turban surmounted by rows of bull's horns (he is called the offspring of the mighty bull/ox, Anu, supreme lord of the gods- making Enki a Bull/Ox-god too), with two streams of water gushing from his shoulders in which fish appear. _I understand_ these two streams represent the Tigris and Euphrates, who receive their water from ONE SOURCE, Enki, who dwells at Eridu. Enki is also called Ea or E.A, meaning according to some scholars, "house of water." That is to say, he is the ONE source of ALL the freshwater rivers in the world. So, the ONE SOURCE of the Tigris and Euphrates is Enki who dwells in the depths of an imaginary spring or fountain in Eridu; the same location that he has his fruit-tree garden in, and the same location he made man in, of the clay over the Apsu (the imaginary freshwater fountain in Eridu) to tend and till his garden, relieving the Igigi gods of this onerous burden.
Clifford on Enki, who dwells at Eridu in edin-the-plain, being or personifying the freshwaters under the earth that fill rivers like the Tigris and Euphrates:
"Enki...creates the world by bringing up the underground waters to the Tigris and Euphrates and their canals."
(p. 39. "Bird and Fish." Richard J. Clifford. Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Washington D.C. The Catholic Biblical Association of America. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 26. 1994. ISBN 0-915170-25-6 paperback)
"Enki...imparts fertility to the fields by inseminating the Tigris and Euphrates with water from beneath the earth; the rivers will bring water to the field. Enki is spring water and so creates through the life-giving waters.
After he cast his eyes from that spot,
After father Enki had lifted it over the Euphrates
He stood up proudly like a rampant bull,
He lifts the penis, ejaculates,
Filled the Tigris with sparkling water.
The wild cow mooing for its young in the pastures, the scorpion
[The Tigr]is surre[endered] to him, as (to) a rampant bull.
Brought joy to the Tigris, like a big wild bull...
The water he brought is sparkling water..."
(pp. 34-35. "Enki and World Order." Richard J. Clifford. Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Washington D.C. The Catholic Biblical Association of America. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 26. 1994. ISBN 0-915170-25-6 paperback)
Kramer's translation suggests for me that Enki is the ONE source of the waters filling the Tigris and Euphrates, in that metaphorically "they fall from his body", yet however, the poet acknowledges _contradictorily_ "other waters" (tributaries?) feed these two streams:
"...[Enki, the fate decreeing king],
the third of them,
brought [the waters of all the land] together,
set them in their places:
life-giving waters that breed the fecund seed
he tied to his hands,
TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES,
HE LET FALL FROM HIS SIDE,
poured into them the waters of all lands,
and cleaned up the small canals,
lay out there irrigation ditches."
(p. 87. "A Creation Story." Samuel Noah Kramer & John Maier. Myths of Enki, The Crafty God. New York. Oxford University Press. 1989. ISBN 0-19-505502-0)
Enki dwells at Eridu, 12 miles south of Ur of the Chaldees (Tell Muqqayar) where dwelt Terah and Abraham. In hymns, it is stated that in the beginning there was only a vast sea or ocean, then in the midst of this salt-water sea (called Tiamat) appeared a SINGLE FRESHWATER STREAM, over which Enki amassed land and then built the world's first city, Eridu. Here he also erected his temple/shrine and in the depths of this SINGLE FRESHWATER STREAM called the Abzu/Apsu (now under the earth which floats over the Apsu), Enki dwells in the darkness in his Apsu-house. I understand that this "mythical" SINGLE STREAM (the Apsu stream) was conceived as the ONE RIVER that was the source of ALL OTHER RIVERS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. Thus Eden's ONE RIVER which became four rivers, the Gihon in Cush (modern Sudan, ancient Egyptian Kush, Greek Ethiopia), the Pishon or Wadi Baish near the Haulan (Havilah/Hawilah), NW of Sana in the Yemen, became the "mythical" River of Eden. In other words, Eridu was conceived of as an Edenic equivalent by the Mesopotamians. Enki not only dwells at Eridu, sending his waters up from the earth to fill the Tigris and Euphrates, he waters a garden planted by himself in Eridu, in which grows a wonderous tree called alternately in hymns a Kisanu-tree or a Mes-tree and a grove of fruit-trees as well. So, I understand that Eridu _is one of several prototypes_ behind Genesis' Eden and its garden and single river that furnishes water to ALL the rivers of the world. Thus the stream that arose from the depths of the earth at Eridu to water Enki's fruit-tree garden, also waters the Tigris and Euphrates (This of course is a physical impossibility, but we are dealing here not with reality, but with mythology). Enki _IS_ the "HOUSE OF WATER", he IS the SINGLE FRESHWATER STREAM OR SPRING filling ALL the world's streams. For more details please click here.
Leick (emphasis mine):
"ERIDU IS THE MESOPOTAMIAN EDEN, THE PLACE OF CREATION...Amid a primeval sea, THE FIRST CITY, ERIDU...Just like the marsh dwellers of southern Iraq, who still build their huts on floating islands of reed, the god [Marduk] spreads mud upon a reed frame to fashion a platform. From this primordial, rather flimsy basis, the cities and their temples take their beginning. Henceforth the gods take up residence on the earth and live in cities. And because the gods have the dwelling of 'their heart's delight' in cities, Mesopotamian cities are always sacred.
THUS THE MESOPOTAMIAN EDEN IS NOT A GARDEN BUT A CITY, formed from a piece of dry land surrounded by the waters. The first building is a temple. THEN MANKIND IS CREATED TO RENDER SERVICE TO GOD and temple. This is how Mesopotamian tradition presented the evolution and function of cities, and Eridu provides the mythical paradigm. Contrary to the biblical Eden, from which man was banished for ever after the Fall, Eridu remained a real place, imbued with sacredness but always accessible
(pp. 1-2. "Eridu." Gwendoyn Leick. Mesopotamia, The Invention of the City. London. Penguin Books. 2001. Paperback)
The editors of Sumer: The Cities of Eden, noted that for the Sumerians the world began with a city called Eridu, while for the Hebrews it was a garden in Eden; however, it is quite clear from the Mesopotamian myths that THE GODS' GARDENS WERE INTEGRAL ASPECTS OF THE CITY THEY DWELT IN, so the Hebrews in "recasting" the ancient Mesopotamian myths have merely OMITTED the fact that a god's garden was _always_ an aspect of a city:
"Sumerians viewed their own genesis in simple terms: In the beginning was Eridu. Here, in what was once a marshy landscape in southern Mesopotamia, where the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam locate humankind's first home -the primeval paradise of Eden- the Sumerian epic describes a far different kind of dwelling place. When the Sumerians looked back to the start of time, THEY SAW NOT A GARDEN BUT A CITY. Tales of the birth of the world appear on clay tablets dating from approximately 2000 B.C.: "A reed had not come forth. A tree had not been created. A house had not been made. A city had not been made. All the lands were sea. Then Eridu was made. The ruins of Eridu still linger in the desolate landscape west of the Euphrates, 12 miles to the southwest of Ur."
(p. 45. "Milestones on the road to Civilization." Thomas H. Flaherty. Sumer: Cities of Eden. Alexandria, Virginia. Time-Life Books. 1993. ISBN 0-8094-9887-1)
The VERY BEGINNING OF The Epic of Gilgamesh praises the city of Uruk where Gilgamesh dwells AND ITS CITY-GARDENS (emphasis mine):
"He [Gilgamesh] built the walls of ramparted Uruk...
One square mile of city, ONE SQUARE MILE OF GARDENS,
One square mile of clay pits, a half square mile of Ishtar's
Three and a half square miles is the measure of Uruk !"
(p. 3. "Tablet I." Benjamin R. Foster. The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York & London. W. W. Norton & Company. [A Norton Critical Edition]. 2001. ISBN 0-393-97516-9. paperback)
The VERY ENDING of The Epic of Gilgamesh praises Uruk's walls AND GARDENS. Note this literary device is called a "Ring-Composition" whereby the beginning foreshadows the end and the end recalls the beginning (emphasis mine):
"When they arrived in ramparted Uruk,
Gilgamesh said to him, to Ur-Shanabi the boatman:
Go up, Ur-Shanabi, pace out the walls of Uruk.
Study the foundation terrace and examine the brickwork.
Is not its masonry of kiln-fired brick?
And did not seven masters lay its foundations?
One square mile of city, ONE SQUARE MILE OF GARDENS,
One square mile of clay pits, a half square mile of Ishtar's
Three and a half square miles is the measure of Uruk!"
(p. 95. "Tablet XI." Benjamin R. Foster. The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York & London. W. W. Norton & Company. [A Norton Critical Edition]. 2001. ISBN 0-393-97516-9. paperback)
Professor Pinches on Eridu and the freshwater stream in the midst of the salty ocean:
"The connection of the stream which was the path of Ae with Eridu seems to have been very close:
"When within the sea there was a stream,
In that day Eridu was made, Esagila was built-
Esagila which the god Lugal-du-azaga had founded within the abyss."
(p. 73. "From Creation to the Flood." Theophilus G. Pinches. The Old Testament In the Light of the Historical Records and Legend of Assyria and Babylonia. London. Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1908)
The Adapa and the Southwind myth informs us that the "bread of life" and "water of life" which would have bestowed immortality on Adapa of Eridu if consumed, was located at Anu's heavenly abode. However, another myth informs us that a "food of life" and "water of life" is to be found ON THE EARTH AT ERIDU, the very location which Adapa served his god Ea (Sumerian Enki) at! This important info is found in a myth recounting how Inanna "the queen of heaven" descends into the underworld and is slain by her sisiter who rules that realm. Before her descent she advises her servant to ask the great gods to intervene and rescue her from the underworld if she doesn't return after three days and nights (assuming she is dead). The mesenger first appeals to Enlil of Nippur, then Nanna of Ur (a moon-god), and finally Enki (Akkadian Ea) of Eridu. When the "food of life" and "water of life are sprinkled on Inanna's dead corpse which hangs from a stake, she is revived, brought back to life and ascends to the earth's surface. In tablets found at Nippur Inanna is called Nin-edin-na "the lady of edin" and Inanna-edin-na "Inanna of edin" she being the wife of the shepherd-god Dumuzi (biblical Tammuz). What is important here, is that Adapa who lostout in a chance to obtain immortality by consuming the "bread and water of life" at Anu's heavenly abode, was also a resident of Eridu where the god Ea (Enki) possessed "the food of life and water of life" which could restore the dead to life. Leick has argued that for the Mesopotamians Creation began with the city of Eridu and that Eridu is the Mesopotamian equivalent of the Hebrews' Garden of Eden. What Leick did not note was that it is at Eridu that the "food of life and water of life reposes" in the care of Ea/Enki who, in other myths is considered to be the creator of man from clay over his apsu dwelling to replace the rebelling Igigi gods who object to their hard toil in his city-garden (making and clearing the canals and irrigation ditches which provide water for the garden). Below, an excerpt from the Descent of Inanna into the Underworld (emphasis mine):
"If Enlil stands not by thee in this matter, go to Ur [Ur of the Chaldees where dwelt Abraham and Terah].
"In Ur upon thy entering the house of the . . . of the land,
The Ekishshirgal, the house of Nanna,
Weep before Nanna:
'O Father Nanna, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.'
"If Nanna stands not by thee in this matter, go to Eridu.
"In Eridu upon thy entering the house of Enki,
Weep before Enki:
'O father Enki, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.'
"Father Enki, the lord of wisdom,
Who knows THE FOOD OF LIFE, who knows THE WATER OF LIFE,
He will surely bring me to life...
Inanna walked toward the nether world,
To her messenger Ninshubur she says:
The word which I have commanded thee . . ."
Upon her entering the first gate,
The shugurra, the "crown of the plain" of her head, was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world...
Father Nanna stood not by him in this matter, HE WENT TO _ERIDU_.
IN _ERIDU_ upon his entering the house of Enki,
Before Enki he weeps:
"O father Enki, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world."
Father Enki answers Ninshubur:
"What now has my daughter done! I am troubled,
What now has Inanna done! I am troubled,
What now has the queen of all the lands done! I am troubled,
What now has the hierodule of heaven done! I am troubled."
. . . he brought forth dirt (and) fashioned the kurgarru,
. . . he brought forth dirt (and) fashioned the kalaturru,
To the kurgarru he gave THE FOOD OF LIFE,
To the kalaturru he gave THE WATER OF LIFE,
Father Enki says to the kalaturru and kurgarru:
. . .
"Upon the corpse hung from a stake direct the fear of the rays of fire,
Sixty times THE FOOD OF LIFE, sixty times THE WATER OF LIFE, sprinkle upon it,
Verily Inanna will arise."
Note: We are not told _what_ the "FOOD OF LIFE" is, only that it is "SPRNKLED" upon Inanna's corpse. The Adapa and the Southwind myth identifies the "WATER OF LIFE" with "BREAD OF LIFE", so, most probably either wheat flour or bread crumbs were sprinked on Inanna bringing her back to life. We are informed that Adapa in his role as a priest of Ea (Enki), he "feeding" this god, served as a BAKER OF BREAD and and he procured clear pure WATER for the offering table as well as fish (he being a fisherman). Excavations at Eridu have unearthed the shrine and near it a bread oven, within the shrine were found fish bone offerings, and nearby a canal and irrigation ditches for the fields of barley and wheat have been identified. All this is to say that Eridu is one of several prototypes underlying Genesis' Garden in Eden. Leick IS CORRECT, Eridu is the Mesopotamian equivalent of the Garden of Eden WHERE CREATION BEGAN _AND_ it is where, on the earth, the FOOD OF LIFE and WATER OF LIFE was to be found in Enki's possession AND it was WHERE Adapa set the offering table daily to feed his god the FOOD OF LIFE and WATER OF LIFE (man's purpose in Mesopotamian myths being to provide food for the gods and toil in the their city-gardens to grow, harvest the food the gods needed to eat to stay alive).
Revelation 22:1-2 (RSV)
"Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, through the middle of the street of _THE CITY_; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its tweleve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
Note: Revelation suggests that the "water of life" and "tree of life" IS TO BE FOUND WITHIN A CITY, the city of Jerusalem! This ALIGNS NICELY with the Mesopotamian myths claiming that the gods created man to till their CITY-GARDENS, feeding them the crops which were raised. I GUESS ONE COULD SAY WITH REVELATION 22:1-2 WE HAVE "_COME FULL-CIRCLE_" WITH THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHS ABOUT MAN BEING CREATED TO CARE FOR THE GODS' CITY-GARDENS FOR ALL ETERNITY! As noted by Leick, the gods' hearts' delight is to dwell in cities, and other myths reveal man will present food raised in city-gardens to the gods in their temples. The Mesopotamian myths then, agree somewhat with Revelation, MAN WILL FOR ALL ETERNITY DWELL IN THE COMPANY OF THE GODS as their agricultural servant, _IN A CITY_ AND CARE FOR THE GODS' (God The Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost) CITY-GARDEN (at Jerusalem).
The Mesopotamian myths do NOT have any knowledge of man being expelled from their city-gardens for an act of rebellion like Genesis' Garden of Eden account. The gods made man to replace themselves as agricultural laborers, it would be foolish to expell man from their city-gardens for the gods would have to care for their gardens themselves. Where then are the Hebrews getting the notion that a rebellion has occured in a god's garden and the gardener has been removed? I suspect this is a recasting of the Igigi gods rebellion. They were "removed" from Enlil's garden at Nippur and Enki's garden at Eridu, and man was created to replace them. So, yes, there was indeed in the Mesopotamian myths a story about a rebellion of "man" working in a god's garden and being removed from said garden! In fact when the hardwork of the Igigi gods is described it is described as: "WHEN THE GODS WERE _"MAN"_ THEY DID GRIEVOUS LABOR." So "MAN" IN THE FORM OF THE IGIGI GODS WERE REMOVED FROM A GARDEN FOR AN ACT OF REBELLION. However, the Hebrews have INVERTED the storyline. "Man" (the Igigi) welcomed this removal for now they enjoy an eternal rest from toil as already enjoyed by the Anunnaki gods (Anu, Enlil and Enki). The Hebrews portray the removal of "man" from a god's garden AS PUNISHMENT FOR MAN whereas it was an ACT OF MERCY AND A BLESSING FOR THE IGIGI, ending their grievous labor. Christianity hopes that one day God will allow man _back into_ his garden of Eden, whereas the Igigi would never want to return to the Anunnaki's city-gardens and the grievous toil there!
A Jewish scholar, Professor Cassuto, suggested that Eden derived its name from a Canaanite root `dn, meaning "a place well-watered," NOT from the Sumerian/Akkadian edinu or "plain." If he is correct, the irrigated gardens of the gods in Lower Mesopotamia could certainly qualify as "a place well-watered."
"The suggested explanations of the name that connect it either with the Sumero-Akkadian word edinu ('the steppe-land, wilderness') or with the expression ha`okhelim lema `adhannim ['those who feasted on dainties'] (Lam. iv 5) are unacceptable...in Ugaritic we find the stem `dn, with an ordinary `ayin, whose signification is well-suited to our theme. In the Epic of Baal, for example, it is stated (Tablet II AB, V, lines 68-69): wn `p `dn mtrh b`l y`dn `dn [to be rendered according to some authorities: and now also the moisture of his rain/Baal shall surely make moist': y`dn `dn are derived from the root `dn] in connection with the watering of the ground. In this connotation it is possible to find the root adhan also in Hebrew: and Thou givest them to drink from the river of Thy watering [ `adhanekha; E.V. Thy delights] (Psa xxxvi 9); and in rabbinic language: `rain water, saturates, fertilizes and refreshes [me adden] (B. Kethuboth 10 b); 'Just as the showers come down upon the herbs and refresh [me`addenin] them', etc. (Sifre Deutr 32:2). The etymological meaning of the name Eden will, accordingly be: a place that is well watered throughout; and thus we read further on: that it was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord (xiii 10)." (Vol. 1. pp.107-108. Umberto Cassuto. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. [2 Vols.]. Jerusalem. The Hebrew University. The Magnes Press. , 1986)
Genesis never calls the Garden _in_ Eden "God's garden," but the association is made by the prophet Ezekiel who associates the location with a cedar mountain:
Ezekiel 28:13, 14 RSV
"You [the prince of Tyre] were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, topaz, and jasper, chrysolite, beryl, and onyx, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald; and wrought in gold were your settings...you were on the holy MOUNTAIN of God...so I cast you as a profane thing from the MOUNTAIN of God..."
Ezekiel 31: 2, 8-9 RSV
"Behold, I will liken you [Pharaoh] to a cedar in Lebanon...of great height...The cedars in the GARDEN OF GOD could not rival it...all the trees of Eden envied it, that were in the GARDEN OF GOD."
Eden's Cedars are apparently being associated by Ezekiel with the Lebanon mountains not a Mesopotamian "plain." Yet the Mesopotamians referred to their temple-ziggurats as "mountains," (the Nippur ziggurat being called e-kur, "house-mountain") and it is this archaic Sumerian notion of god's gardens near ziggurat-mountains that _I suspect_ is confusingly fused with Ezekiel's imagery. That is to say, Ezekiel's imagery of God's garden being a cedar mountain of the Lebanon has a long history going back to Sumerian notions of the gods of Lower Mesopotamia planting fruit tree gardens for themselves near their cities and ziggurats and later bringing naked man -removing him from his wild animal companions he roamed with in edin the plain- to care for these gardens as an agricultural servant. Archaeologists have determined that the ancestors of the 6th/5th millennium B.C. settlers of edin-the-plain of Lower Mesopotamia were earlier dwellers of villages located in the Taurus and Zagros mountain ranges abuting the Mesopotamian plains. Perhaps the ziggurat-mountains recall their ancestors worshipping in antiquity their gods in a mountainous setting? That is to say, before they settled in edin-the-plain, these peoples were already cultivating irrigation gardens _in the foothills of the mountains_ for the mountain-dwelling gods. Thus the gods' "mountain gardens" came to be "transferred" in the 6th/5th millennium B.C. to edin-the-plain of Lower Mesopotamia in the Sumerian myths.
Because of Ezekiel's imagery of God's Garden of Eden being associated with a Cedar Mountain, a number of Christian scholars in the Middle Ages proposed Eden's garden was atop a mountain "somewhere" in the East and Eden's streams descended from this height. Delmeau discusses these notions and has suggested that the New Testament's book of Revelation may have transformed Ezekiel's imagery and applied it to a "New" Jerusalem atop Mount Zion:
"The images of the cosmic mountain on which Ezekiel locates the garden of Eden and of precious stones with which he fills it will be applied in the Johannine Apocalypse of the messianic Jerusalem. This new Jerusalem will shine "like jasper, clear as crystal," and the foundations of its wall will be adorned with sapphires, emeralds, topazes, and nine other precious stones (Revelation 21:11-22). From the heavenly throne of the Lamb who was slain "the river of the water of life" will flow (22:1-2)."
Jean Delumeau. History of Paradise, The Garden of Eden in Myth and Tradition. New York. Continuum Pub. Co. 1995. ISBN 0-8264-0795-1 [translated from French edition: Une Historie du Paradis: Le Jardin des delices. Libraire Artheme Fayard. 1992]).
I understand that the various motifs associated with the Hebrew Bible's Garden of Eden are drawn from different Mesopotamian myths whose details at times contradict each other. This is why it really isn't possible to pin-point one exact location (such as Mari, Nippur, Eridu, Uruk, Dilmun) which will encompass _all_ the motifs. So, in reality, Eden's motifs appear in numerous localities in the "conflicting" Mesopotamian myths. Skinner (1930) was correct, Eden is a myth based on a later Hebrew "re-working" of earlier Mesopotamian myths which sought to explain the origins of man and of civilization and a flood sent to destroy mankind, and Professor Delitzsch (1881) was correct in identifying edin-the-plain with the biblical Eden.
Professor Delumaeu's "conclusion" on the history of Paradise sums up much of my own research in various articles I have posted at this website on Eden:
"In the Christian Europe of the Middle Ages the most widespread belief about the earthly paradise was that it still existed on our earth. It was, of course, inaccessible, girt with fire, and guarded by swordbearing cherubim, but it had not disappeared. Mapmakers had no hesitation about locating it in a far distant corner of the East. Travelers tried to get close to it, and the explorers of the Renaissance thought they had reached areas that retained some aspects, traces, and privilieges of the wonderful garden of Eden.
Following the impulse given by two religious reformations, commentators tackled the first chapters of Genesis with new energy, only to reach a distressing conclusion: the earthly paradise had disappeared. The flood had swallowed it up. On the other hand, scientists of the time, in their thirst for knowledge, made use of all the information at their disposal in an attempt to pinpoint as accurately as possible the place in which God had put the first human couple before the fall. These scholars abandoned any location in the distant East for a closer site, their preference being for Mesopotamia or sometimes Armenia or the Holy Land.
But in the eighteenth century a new factor had to be taken into account. The study of fossils proved that the earth was not a mere six thousand years old. The conclusion was soon reached that human history too was far longer than people had thought; that humanity had gradually emerged from the animal world; that in its beginning it could not have possessed all the "preternal" gifts with which theologians had obligingly endowed it in their learned works. From this moment on the "garden of delights" vanished...It was becoming ever clearer that the earthly paradise was only a symbol, even though official pastoral practice endeavored for a long time yet to hide this obvious fact behind a literal reading of the Genesis story.
There was a close theological link between the earthly paradise and original sin. The two were interdependent...Due to the sin of Adam and Eve, the human race had become "a condemned mass" in which all shared the guilt of the first sin. Only the Savior's sacrifice would deliver a minority of the elect from the condemnation that all had earned. The tragic theology of Western Christendom can be explained only by an exaggerated view of the beauties of the garden of Eden and the unparalled advantages that God had granted to our first parents...It is not a bad thing, is it, that the disappearence of the earthly paradise also meant the disappearance of the repulsive image of a vengeful God ?"
(p. 229-230 & 233. "Conclusion: Another Reading of a Myth." Jean Delumeau. History of Paradise, The Garden of Eden in Myth and Tradition. New York. Continuum Pub. Co. 1995. ISBN 0-8264-0795-1 [translated from French edition: Une Historie du Paradis: Le Jardin des delices. Libraire Artheme Fayard. 1992]).
Professor Hoerth has noted that the Pishon and Gihon might be two rivers associated with Lower Mesopotamia called in ancient sources the Pisanu and Guhana:
"Genesis 1 presents a summary of creation. The second chapter focuses on the first couple for whom God prepared Eden, a garden. The Bible places Eden "in the east" and in relation to four rivers: the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon and Gihon. Two ancient waterways in southern Mesopotamia were called the Pisanu and Guhana. Etymologically these names equate with the Pishon and Gihon and, together with the reference to the Tigris and Euphrates, would seem to locate the garden somewhere in southern Mesopotamia." (p. 187. "Eden." Alfred J. Hoerth. Archaeology and the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Baker Books. 1998. ISBN 0-8010-1129-9)
Bob Utley. A Commentary or Study of Genesis 1-11. East Texas Baptist University. 1995, using the NASB, or New American Standard Bible:
"Pishon," Literally this is "gush." This may refer to an ancient waterway or canal in southern Mesopotamia called "Pisanu."
"Gihon" Literally this is "bubble." This may refer to an ancient waterway or canal in southern Mesopotamia called "Guhana."
Professor Price (1907) of Chicago University cites the German Professor and Assyriologist Friedrich Delitzsch (1881) as suggesting two canals called the Guhana and Pisanu may lie behind Eden's Gihon and Pishon rivers:
"The vexed question of the location of the Garden of Eden is not solved by the inscriptions of Babylonia. They make frequent mention of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and, among a list of irrigation canals of that great valley, Prof. Delitzsch has found two by the names Guhana and Pisanu, answering to the requirements of the narrative (Gen, ii. 10-14) in the Old Testament."
(p. 87. Ira Maurice Price. The Monuments and the Old Testament, Oriental Light on Holy Writ. Chicago. The Christian Culture Press. 1907. 5th edition)
A number of scholars have suggested the Garden of Eden lies in Armenia as the Euphrates and Tigris rise near each other in its mountains. Rasmussen, however, has dismissed this location, noting that because it is a mountainous region it would be too cold for a "naked" Adam and Eve and it is too cold for fig trees to grow:
"We can infer that it [The Garden of Eden] was a warm climate -note the mention of fig trees and the lack of clothes...However this region [Armenia] does not match the warm conditions implied in the biblical account." (p. 70. "Garden of Eden." Carl G. Rasmussen. Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan Publishing House. 1989)
Why have four streams sudividing in Genesis' Eden (Sumerian: edin)? Archaeologists and Paleohydrologists have determined that in antiquity the Euphrates broke up into three major streams as it crossed the floodplain of Lower Mesopotamia south of ancient Sippar. In the course of the 6th-3rd millenniums B.C. the Tigris had merged with the Euphrates near ancient Sippar which lies just west of modern Baghdad, to create four streams flowing through Lower Mesopotamia. By the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C. the Tigris had split off from the Euphrates and began to wander eastwards. Perhaps this archaeologically attested fact is "behind" the Bible's notion that "once upon a time" a single stream arising in Eden/Edin subdivided into four streams? The names of the Euphrates' three streams were the (1) Purattu (Euphrates); (2) Arahtu/Arakhtu; (3) Abgal (Apkallatu) to be joined near Sippar and Tell ed-Der by the (4) Idiklat/Idiglat (Persian: Tigra, Greek: Tigris, Arabic: Digla/Dijlah).
Professor Bailey has a map of Lower Mesopotamia (Sumer), Nippur to Eridu, showing a canal labeled as the
Id-Ninaki-Gena south of ancient Girsu (Tello). Was Gena _morphed_ by the Hebrews into the Gihon (the Greek Septuaginta Bible's "Geon"), one of the rivers of Eden (note also the plain labeled Edin to the west of the Id-Ninaki-Gena)? (cf. p. 34. "Map of Sumer." Lloyd R. Bailey. Noah the Person and the Story in History and Tradition. Columbia, South Carolina. University of South Carolina. 1989. Said map being reproduced from the journal titled
Iraq. vol. 26. 1964. Plate XVIII. British School of Archaeology in Iraq). Please note: the word id can mean a river or a man-made canal. The Mesopotamian myths claim the Igigi gods dug-out the river-beds for the Tigris and Euphrates then the god Enki filled these empty man-made beds with water. Perhaps this myth explains why canals and rivers are both called id, both being man-made with hoes?
Brinkman in discussing the hydrological features of 1st millennium B.C. Babylonia in Lower Mesopotamia, noted that this region was possessed of 3 major "watercourses," the Purattu (Euphrates), and its sub-branches, the Abgal (later called Apkallatu, the Greeks' Pallakottas) and the Arakhtu. The two latter being man-made canals to deliver the Euphrates' water to cities that were later without water due to shifts of the Euphrates away from their areas.
Brinkman ( Emphasis mine in CAPITALS):
"The topography presented by these texts seems fairly simple. The Arahtu [pronounced Arakhtu] river flowed through Babylon. The Purattu lay some distance away and could be reached either by way of a connecting canal or overland. The inscriptions of Nabopolassar some decades later at the end of the 7th century present the same general picture: the king rerouted the Purattu back to Sippar (after it had receded some distance from the city) and lined the new riverbank with baked bricks and bitumen, and he used the Arahtu to transport building materials to Babylon...To the Arahtu and the Purattu as two major branches of the Euphrates, one can add a third: the Palluk(k)atu (the classical Pallakottas of both Arrian and Appian). This westernmost branch of the river is first attested as the Abgal in the Old Akkadian period, later becoming the Apkallatu and eventually the Pallukatu. As the Abgal, it occurs in documents of the Ur III and Old Babylonian periods...THESE THREE RIVER BRANCHES IN THE EARLY 1ST MILLENNIUM essentially RECREATE A PICTURE DERIVED FROM EARLIER PERIODS when the Purattu, the Arahtu, and the Abgal (or Apkallatu) -from east to west- FEATURED AS THE THREE MAJOR BRANCHES OF THE EUPHRATES. The Purattu went from Sippar to Kish, Nippur, Uruk and Ur; the Arahtu, leaving the Purattu well south of Sippar, passed through Babylon, Marad and Isin, rejoining the Purattu just south of Shuruppak; and the Abgal left the right bank of the Purattu to the south of -but somewhat closer to- Sippar and served western sites...it seems that the main watercourse passing through Babylon could be referred to as either the Arahtu or Purattu at least in the royal inscriptions of some Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian kings."
(pp. 21-22. J. A. Brinkman. "Reflections on the Geography of Babylonia (1000-600 BC)." pp. 19-29. in Mario Liverani. Editor. NeoAssyrian Geography. Roma. 1995. [Universita di Roma "La Sapienza" Dipartimento di Scienze storiche, archeologiche e anthroologiche dell' Antichita Quaderni di Geografia Stroica, 5])
Brinkman noted that hydrological surveys by Gasche and others noted the intrusion into the Sippar area of the Tigris. This observation lies behind the notion that the Tigris may have been seen as a channel of the Euphrates in the 3rd millennium BCE by some scholars as noted earlier above.
Brinkman (Emphasis mine):
"Before closing, I should note that this paper has treated only a few minor aspects of geography and the changing complexity of Babylonian life in the early 1st millennium, I have suggested that shifts in river channels and corresponding canal realignments may have been a significant factor in new phases of Babylonian urbanism, agriculture and trade...Work by Gasche and his colleagues in unraveling channels and OFFSHOOTS OF THE EUPHRATES in the vicinity of Tell ed-Der and Sippar IN NORTHERN BABYLONIA has revealed a varigated and problematic history of THE EARLY EUPHRATES, most likely complicated -especially in late prehistoric times- by THE INTRUSION OF THE TIGRIS INTO THE AREA."
(p. 27. Brinkman. Note: Brinkman gives an extensive bibliography in his footnotes on scholarly research on the hydrological features -river channels, canals, marshes of ancient Lower Mesopotamia and nearby sites)
I found in Brinkman's article no mention of a canal or river channel remotely "resembling" Eden's "mysterious" rivers the Pishon and Gihon. However Herodotus (ca. 430 B.C.?) relays a story of the Persians diverting a river called the Gyndes whose waters flowed into the Tigris. A Caveat or note of Caution: These Greek names _may not have anything to do_ with "preserving" ancient Mesopotamian river names of the 10th through 6th centuries B.C.!
"Gyndes: a river of Assyria, rising in the country of the Matieni (in the mountains of Kurdistan), and flowing into the Tigris, celebrated through the story that Cyrus the Great drew off its waters by 360 channels (Herodotus i.189). It is very difficult to identify this river: perhaps it is the same as the Delas or Silla (Diala), which falls into the Tigris just above Ctesiphon and Seleucia. It is also doubtful whether the Sindes of Tacitus (Ann. xi.10) is the same river."
(p. 290. "Gyndes." Wlliam Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875)
A river called in Greek the Pasitigris "might" (?) preserve Pishon:
"Pasitigris: probably the Karoon, a considerable river of Asia, rising in the mountains east of Mesobatene, on the confines of Media and Persis, and flowing first west by north to Mount Zagros or Parachoathras, then, breaking through this chain, it turns to the south, and flows through Susiana into the head of the Persian Gulf...Some geographers make the Pasitigris a tributary of the Tigris."
(p. 529. "Pasitigris." Wlliam Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875)
Some scholars have noted that 10 pre-flood kings are enumerated in Mesopotamian records, the so-called Sumerian King List (abbreviated commonly to S.K.L.) and that perhaps Genesis' notion of there being 10 generations of man from Adam to Noah before the flood is a recasting of this list. They are probably right. Brinkman has noted the Euphrates breaking up into three channels in the Lower Mesopotamian floodplain and the intrusion of the Tigris into this area. This would give us the four rivers of Eden, two of which have had their names preserved, the Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates. Just as the Hebrews took liberties with the Sumerian King List and changed the names of the 10 pre-flood Sumerian kings recasting them as Noah's ancestors (who are _not_ portrayed as being kings), perhaps so too the Hebrews recast edin-the-floodplain's four rivers, preserving two names the Hiddekel and Euphrates but recasting the other two channels into the Gihon and Pishon (or was the Gena canal morphed into the Gihon?)?
As noted earlier, above, I understand that Noah's Flood is a later Hebrew reinterpretation and transformation of various motifs appearing in Mesopotamian flood myths, the event being recalled is the Shuruppak flood of ca. 2900/2800 B.C. Of interest are some "more" Mesopotamian motifs which appear in the Genesis Flood account:
In the Bible, we are told that the Flood commenced in the 600th year of Noah, I note that the Atrahasis myth suggests that the Flood occured at the end of a 600 year interval too. It appears _to me_ that the Hebrews have preserved Atrahasis' 600 year interval of time elapsing before a Flood commences and reformatted this motif as occurring in Noah's 600th year. Perhaps the Flood's commencement in the 600th year of Noah's life is a reformatting of the "catchline" or "repeating refrain" of the Atrahasis Epic that implies for 600 years the gods have endured man's noise and now seek his demise ? In the epic, every 600 years (at last 3 or 4 times) Atrahasis receives advisement about the god's efforts to decimate mankind.
Genesis 7:11-12 RSV
"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights."
"600 years, less than 600, passed and the country became too wide, the people too numerous. The country was as noisy as a bellowing bull. The god grew restless at their clamor, Ellil had to listen to their noise. He addressed the great gods, "The noise of mankind has become too much. I am losing sleep over their racket."
(p. 18. "Atrahasis." pp.1-38. Stephanie Dalley. Myths From Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh and Others. New York. Oxford University Press. 1989, 1991. ISBN 0-19-281789-2. paperback)
Disease decimates the populaton (p.18. Dalley)
"600 years, less 600 passed (p. 20. Dalley)
"Tablet II :
600 years, less than 600, passed and the country became too wide, the people too numerous. The country was as noisy as a bellowing bull. The god grew restless at their clamor, Ellil had to listen to their noise. He addressed the great gods, "The noise of mankind has become too much. I am losing sleep over their racket." (p.20. Dalley)
3 year famine attempted (pp.20-22. Dalley)
"600 years, less than 600, passed and the country became too wide, the people too numerous...He grew restless at their noise. Sleep could not overtake him because of their racket." (p.23. Dalley)
"Six hundred years is a round number in the sexagesimal system used by the ancient Mesopotamians. as a numerical unit, 600 was the simple noun neru in Akkadian. Repetition of a number seems to occur as a literary device..." (Note 22. p. 37. "Atrahasis Notes." Dalley)
"Note the literary strategem which defies literal chronology by featuring Atrahasis as the same mortal in recurrent crises 600 years apart."
(note 32. p. 38. "Atrahasis Notes." Stephanie Dalley. Myths From Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh and Others. New York. Oxford University Press. 1989, 1991. ISBN 0-19-281789-2. paperback)
Biography on Dalley :
"Stephanie Dalley has worked on various excavations in the Middle East and has published cuneiform tablets found there by the British Archaeological Expedition to Iraq as well as a book for the general reader about those discoveries. Mari and Karan (1984). She taught Akkadian at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford and is now Shillito Fellow in Assyriology at the Oriental Institute, Oxford, and a Senior Research Fellow of Somerville College. She is editor and main author of The Legacy of Mesopotamia (Oxford University Press). (cf. inner flyleaf of Myths from Mesopotamia)
The Sumerian Flood account has the rain-storm lasting 7 days and nights, the later Babylonian account has the rains ending on the 7th day as well. I wonder if perhaps these "motifs" have been preserved in the Genesis account as an "INVERSION"? God is portrayed as announcing that in 7 days time the rains will begin and continue for 40 days. In other words, following a period of 7 days of NO RAIN, the Flood will begin. I would argue, then, that the 7 days of rain in the Sumerian and Babylonian accounts were INVERTED into 7 days of NO rain in the later Hebrew account; that is to say, the rains _ending_ on the 7th day have been transformed into rains _beginning_ on the 7th day.
Genesis 7:4 RSV
"For in SEVEN DAYS I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights..."
Millard and Lambert noted that Atra-Hasis had 7 days notice for the Flood's commencement (emphasis mine, Update of 07 April 2005):
"...in Atra-hasis Enki gives the hero ONLY SEVEN DAYS in which to prepare for the onset of the flood..."
(p. 12. "Introduction." W. G. Lambert & A. R. Millard. Atra-Hasis, The Babylonian Story of the Flood. Oxford University Press. 1969. Reprint, 1999 by Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake. Indiana)
Perhaps I am in error about an "inversion" and that Genesis' 7-day advance warning to Noah of a pending Flood is drawing from the above Atra-Hasis account?
Three great monolithic faiths share a belief in the story of the Garden of Eden, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The sad truth is that millions (billions?) _do not know or refuse to acknowledge_ that Eden is a myth. The blood which has been shed in the past and which is being shed today, is in part, because of a belief in this myth.
Judaism teaches all the world will bend the knee to Eden's God, Yahweh-Elohim, Christianity claims all the world will bend the knee to Jesus Christ (who was the God in Eden in his role as "The Word" or Logos), while Islam claims all the world will bend the knee to Allah. How many more centuries must elapse before the adherents of these three faiths come to realize Eden and its God is a myth and their present-day vengeful religiously motivated political actions against each other are founded on false premises preserved in the book of Genesis?
This inquiry into the pre-biblical origins of Eden possessing a river that subdivided into four streams has concluded that motifs and concepts have been brought together from a wide variety of sources drawn from an expanse of four millennia.
The frequently encountered Christian notion that Eden's rivers can "never be located" because Noah's flood destroyed them has been _dismissed_ as archaeological excavations in the Ancient Near East reveal a universal flood exists nowhere, be it Egypt, Canaan, Syria, Mesopotamia, in the 3rd millennium B.C. as suggested by the Bible's chronology (some settlements in this area being dated to the 12th millennium B.C. without any evidence of a worldwide flood). The 3rd millennium B.C. Shuruppak flood (revealed by excavations to be a flooding Euphrates) has been determined to be the "source" of Genesis' Noahic Flood by some scholars and I am in agreement with their assessment.
Some of Genesis' motifs are probably derived from 4th/3rd millennium B.C. notions of the Sumerians that the gods made man to be their servant to work in their earthly city-gardens (more specifically, Eridu and Nippur) in edin-the-plain of Lower Mesopotamia. Archaeo-hydrological surveys have noted the Tigris (biblical Hiddekel) and Euphrates were once joined in the 6th through 3rd millenniums B.C. and that up to modern times the Euphrates has poured some of its water into the Tigris via branches and canals. Various scholars have suggested that this phenomenon may explain why the Euphrates and Tigris are portrayed sharing "the same water" from one stream (the Euphrates between Mari and Sippar being the "one" stream).
Finally, I have noted that Homeric (Ionian Greek) notions of the 7th/6th centuries B.C., portrayed _one freshwater stream_ called "River Ocean" as being the source of _ALL_ the rivers of the world (via underground streams), and that this concept _may explain_ how a Geon/Nile in Cush (the Sudan), Pishon/Baish near the Haulan/Havilah in the Yemen, and Euphrates and Tigris in Mesopotamia _all_ arose from one Edenic river. I have proposed that the "Pre-Exilic" Jews probably came to be exposed to this Homeric/Ionian concept via either Greek merchants or mercenaries present in Judah during the reigns of Josi'ah, Jeho'ahaz and Jehoi'akim (2 Kings 23:28-36), and that Genesis was probably written circa 560 BCE in the Exile.
Noah's Flood was accepted as a real event by the authors of the New Testament (cf. Matthew 24:38-39; Luke 6:48; 17:27; 2 Peter 2:5). Matthew (24:38-39) has Jesus speaking of Noah's Flood. It follows that if Secular Humanist scholars are correct _ and I understand that they are_ then the Shuruppak flood of the 3rd millennium B.C. (ca. 2900 B.C.) is in fact the Bible's 3rd millennium B.C. Flood, dated by some Protestant Conservative scholars to ca. 2345 B.C. on the basis of Archbishop James Ussher's chronology found in the King James verison of the Bible; however, Roman Catholic Bibles calculate Noah's Flood as being circa 2958 B.C. just a scant 58 years off the mark from the 2900 B.C. Flood at Shuruppak found by Archaeologists. Jesus' statement about Noah's Flood is based upon false premises; Christianity as well as Judaism have apparently erected their belief systems upon reworked and transformed Mesopotamian myths and fables going back to the 4th/3rd millennium B.C.
As noted above, some Conservative Christian scholars have dated Noah's Flood to circa 2345 B.C. How do they arrive at this date? In the 17th century A.D. an Irish Archbishop by the name of James Ussher published a Chronology of the Bible. He argued that "the Creation" began in 4004 B.C. His chronology was added into the margins of a number of later editions of the popular King James Version of the Bible (The KJV being published for the first time in 1611). Because today, many _PROTESTANT_Christians _ACCEPT_Ussher's chronology_ for the Bible_, when they came to subtract the number of years from Adam to the 600th year of Noah, the Flood was reckoned as about 2345 B.C.
There is, however, a problem. The Roman Catholics use a Bible that gives a different date for Creation, its NOT 4004 B.C., instead its 5200 B.C.! When the period of time between Adam and Noah's 600th year is reckoned, the date of the Flood is NOT 2345 B.C., instead its 2958 B.C.! Using the Jewish Bible called the TANAKH, the Seder Olam Rabbah calculates the Creation as being 3761 B.C.and the Flood 2105 B.C.
Professor Steibing on three different and _CONTRADICTING_ dates for God's creation of the world found in the book of Genesis calculated by Jewish, Catholic and Protestant scholars:
"Most scholars [prior to the 19th century A.D.] agreed that the world was only about six thousand years old, though there was considerable disagreement over the exact date of the creation. Jewish rabbinical calculations from the Hebrew Massoretic Text showed that the world began 3,740 years before the Christian Era. Roman Catholic tradition, based on the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, placed the creation in 5199 B.C. And most English-speaking Protestants accepted the seventeenth-century Archbishop James Ussher's calculation of the time of creation, 4004 B.C. Ussher's dates were placed in the margins of early eighteenth-century editions of the King James version of the Bible, making them seem even more authoritive." (p. 32. "The Discovery of Prehistory." William H. Steibing Jr. Uncovering the Past. New York & Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1994 [1993 Prometheus Books])
It is of interest to note here, that archaeologists dated the Shuruppak flood (a flooding canal off the Euphrates river) to CIRCA 2900 B.C. and this date is very near the 2958 B.C. Flood date found in Catholic Bibles! For all the details on various Bibles possessing DIFFERENT CREATION DATES and FLOOD DATES please click here for all the details.
All this is to say that the Roman Catholic Bible's Flood Date of _2958 B.C._ is the "closest" to the CIRCA _2900 B.C._ Flood at Shuruppak, which I and many Liberal Scholars understand is the event behind Noah's Flood, said account being understood to be a later Hebrew "recasting" and "reinterpretation" of the Mesopotamian Shuruppak Flood Myth.
The Apologetic Christian notion that Eden's Garden can never be found, or its rivers, because Noah's Flood destroyed the Edenic river courses has been rejected. Geologists understand no evidence exists of a universal Flood from the 3rd millennium B.C. anywhere in the world. I have argued that Secular Scholars are correct, Noah's Flood is a later transformation of the Shuruppak Flood found in 2d millennium B.C. cuneiform tablets recording Mesopotamian myths, the Shuruppak Flood being dated by archaeological findings to the 3rd millennium B.C., _the same millennium_ the Bible situates the Flood in.
Yet, at no time, as noted by Professor Skinner (1910), has the science of Geology shown that the Tigris (Hiddekel) and Euphrates arose from one stream as portrayed in Genesis. Skinner suggested that the Bible's notion probably had a foundation in some kind of cosmology myth, and my research proves his penetrating analysis to be correct, it is based on Mesopotamian cosmology myths. In agreement with other scholars, I understand the one river which watered Eden's garden and four other great world rivers, the Gihon (Nile) in Cush (Ancient Egyptian Kush, modern Sudan), the Pishon encircling Havilah (Wadi Baish near the Haulan WNW of Sana in the Yemen) are recalling the Eridu myth. For the Sumerians, their world was bounded by two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, I have argued that the Hebrews expanded this notion, their world being bounded by great rivers too, in the West the Gihon/Nile and The Baish and Bishah (Pishon?) by Haulan, as well as the Hiddekel/Tigris and Euphrates in the East.
As noted by Pinches and Leick, for the Mesopotamians "creation began" with Enki when he amassed earth over a freshwater stream in the midst of the salty-ocean and created the world's first city, Eridu. From this city, in myths, Enki sends from this SINGLE STREAM OF FRESHWATER, water for all the world's rivers. I have also attempted to point out that in Mesopotamian beliefs, the god ENKI planted the world's FIRST FRUIT-TREE GARDEN AT ERIDU for his own nourishment, watered by his Apsu stream/fountain/spring. In Mesopotamian myth a GOD'S GARDEN WAS ALWAYS ASSOCIATED WITH THE CITY THE GOD DWELT IN. Later, after planting their CITY-GARDEN, the Anunnaki gods (Enlil and Enki) CREATE MAN of clay, to work in a state of nakedness in their garden, relieving the Igigi gods (the junior of minor gods) of that onerous task. The gods made man to be their slave or servant to work in their city-gardens and to feed them in the temples at least twice a day, morning and evening. In the Hebrew Bible God or Yahweh is ALSO FED TWICE A DAY by his "servants" JUST LIKE THE MESOPOTAMIAN GODS. I understand the Hebrews have merely adapted and transformed the Mesopotamian myths, challenging their portrayal of the relationship between the gods and man.
My research suggests for me SEVERAL _CONFLICTING_ MESOPOTAMIAN PROTOTYPES EXIST and are behind the Bible's portrayal of Eden's Garden (and its rivers), and these "god's garden" prototypes exist in several different locations. However, if "hard-pressed" to choose from these several different locations, "the one primary source" lying behind the Edenic myth: Eridu, Nippur, Anu's Heavenly abode, or a Lebanese mountain and its sacred cedars, I would have to choose Eridu, where lay in myth the one source of all the freshwaters for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Apsu stream which also fed Enki's fruit-tree city-garden. In myth, Enki makes man to tend his fruit-tree garden at Eridu of the clay above the Apsu. These myths are preserved at Tell Muqayyar (Mugheir), understood by some to be Ur of the Chaldees, where dwelt Terah and Abraham. I understand these two individuals may be the source of Genesis' transformation of Sumerian Creation and Flood myths, as the kings of Ur held Eridu in great reverence and restored its temple to Enki and financed its upkeep and sacrifices.
Please click here for another "earlier" article on Eden's rivers. I am in agreement with earlier scholars that the Pishon is probably a conflation of wadi Bishah and wadi Baysh (Baish) in Southwest Arabia, the land of Havilah (the Targum's Chavilah) being the mountainous region of Khawlan (Khaulan, Haulan) lying south of wadi Baysh which has the somewhat unique distinction of being a perennial river which flows all year round, and Sana the capital of Yemen. Please click here for maps of the Bishah, Baysh (Baish) and Khaulan/Khawlan to the northwest of Sana. I am in agreement with these scholars that Havilah most probably is the Khawlan/Haulan area of SW Arabia.
My research suggests that as many as SEVEN LOCATIONS appearing in Mesopotamian myths are fused together and recast in Genesis' Garden in Eden myth: Three locations were man is made are (1) Eridu, (2) Nippur and (3) Babylon. Enkidu of The Epic of Gilgamesh has been recast as Adam and his "undoing" by Shamhat who has been recast as Eve was at a wateringhole in the steppe (Akkadian: seru, seri, serim; Sumerian: edin, edin-na) near (4) Uruk. Enkidu's (recast as Adam) forbidden access to trees occurs at a Cedar Mountain in the (5) Lebanon. Adapa's (recast as Adam and fused with Enkidu) failure to eat the "bread of life" which would bestow on him and mankind immortality was in (6) Heaven at Anu's abode. The motif of a woman made of a man's side recalls Nin-ti "the lady of the rib" at the island of (7) Dilmun/Tilmun (which I identify with modern Tell el-Lahm east of Eridu).
As noted earlier (cf. above) by two Jewish scholars Yahuda (1934) and Cassuto (1944), the biblical text suggests that a river rises in Eden and waters God's garden, AFTER LEAVING THIS GARDEN it subdivides into FOUR STREAMS: The Pishon, Gihon, Hidekkel (Tigris) and Euphrates. That is to say, NEITHER THE TIGRIS OR EUPHRATES IS ENVISIONED IN GENESIS AS PROVIDING WATER FOR THE GARDEN OF EDEN. As noted in this article, it is these two streams that provide water for the irrigated city-gardens of the gods in Mesopotamia's Sumerian edin (steppe/plain). I understand that the Hebrews are _refuting, denying and challenging_ Mesopotamian understandings regarding when, why, how, and where the gods created man and placed him in their city-gardens to care for them and provide the gods with food. The Hebrews are also DENYING AND REFUTING the "reality" that ALL OF THE GODS' CITY-GARDENS ARE WATERED BY THESE TWO STREAMS, claiming instead that God's garden is watered by a stream that LATER becomes the Tigris and Euphrates _AFTER_ LEAVING GOD'S GARDEN.
From my research over the past 30 years on the "pre-biblical origins" of Genesis 1-9 (Creation to the Flood), I have concluded that in many cases the Hebrews are employing INVERSIONS AND REVERSALS in order to deny, refute and challenge Mesopotamian beliefs and concepts. The Hebrews are exhibiting great artistry and creativeness in doing all of this. Joseph Campbell (1964) earlier noted this phenomenon in his study of Genesis vis-a-vis the Mesopotamian creation myths: that the Hebrews are transforming these myths and presenting a "180 degree about face" counter-argument.
Campbell on the Garden of Eden's Trees having been originally a myth of a settled peoples who plant trees and gardens instead of desert-wandering shepherds and herdsmen like the Hebrews (Emphasis mine):
"...And Yahweh took the man and put him in the garden of Eden _to till_ and keep it...We recognize the old Sumerian garden, but with two trees now instead of one, which the man is appointed to guard and tend...it is to be remarked that one of the chief characteristics of Levantine mythology here represented is that of man created to be God's slave or servant. In a late Sumerian myth retold in Oriental Mythology it is declared that men were created to relieve the gods of the onerous task of _tilling_ their fields. Men were to do that work for them and provide them food through sacrifice...The ultimate source of the biblical Eden, therefore, cannot have been a mythology of the desert -that is to say, a primitive Hebrew myth- but was the old planting mythology of the peoples of the soil. HOWEVER, IN THE BIBLICAL RETELLING, ITS WHOLE ARGUMENT HAS BEEN TURNED, SO TO SAY, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DEGREES...One milllennium later, the patriarchal desert nomads arrived, and all judgements were reversed in heaven, as on earth."
(pp.103, 105-106. "Gods and Heroes of the Levant." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. Arkana. A Division of Penguin Books. 1964. 1991 reprint)
Crawford on ancient Sumer's GARDENS possessing Date-palms, FRUIT-TREES and VEGETABLES (emphasis mine):
"So far we have been considering the relationships of settlements to the landscape and to each other, but each of these settlements was supported by its own agricultural hinterland, irrigated by canals, which separated it from its neighbours and provided the vital foodstuffs and fuel on which its survival depended. The utilised land can be divided into three categories: the intensively cultivated GARDENS, which often lay within the boundaries of the settlement on the banks of the water courses; the irrigated fields lying in a band parallel to the waterways and producing the bulk of the staple crops; and the land further from the water supply which was used as grazing, for collecting fuel, for hunting, and occasionally for catch crops when conditions were favorable...The most important crop produced by the GARDEN plots south of the Hit-Samarra line in the third millennium was almost certainly dates, although the archaeological and textual evidence for the production of dates at this time is surprisingly flimsy. Date stones are reported in late Ubaid context at Eridu (Wright 1981:324)...More date stones were found in the grave of the lady Puabi in the Royal Cemetery at Ur...There are also reports of the import of special sorts of date from Dilmun...The date palm is ideally suited to the conditions in south Mesopotamia: it flourishes with its roots in stagnant, salty water and...can be relied on to produce heavy crops south of the 35th parallel. As far north as Qurna it is not even necessary to irrigate because of the backup from the tidal regime on the head of the Gulf. The trees not only produce a highly nutritious food which is a staple part of the diet, but the sap provides a useful sweetner and can also be used to make a sort of fermented date wine...Just as important to the farmer was THE SHADOW CAST BY THE DATE PALM. This ALLOWED allowed more tender plants, such as FRUIT TREES, pomengranates, FIGS, APPLES and even vines, TO GROW IN ITS SHADE. In the deeper shade below the fruit trees were the GARDEN plots, which produced vegetables such as onions, garlic and cucumbers...These plots required much labour, but were amazingly productive. The irrigated arable land, much of it owned by the great public households of the temple and the palace, formed by far the most important category of land in terms of both area and productivity."
(pp. 52-54. "Patterns of settlement and agriculture. Harriet Crawford. Sumer and the Sumerians. Cambridge, United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. 1991, 2004)
Note: Genesis does not identify what tree was the "Tree of Knowledge" or what tree was the "Tree of Life." Some scholars have suggested that as Adam and Eve are portrayed covering their nakednes with FIG LEAVES (Genesis 3:7) after eating of the "Tree of Knowledge" that perhaps it is the FIG TREE. Elsewhere in the Bible, we are told that Solomon had his temple decorated with cherubim and palm-trees (1 Kings 6:32, 35). Perhaps this is an allusion to the "Tree of Life" that God sets the cherubim to guard in the garden of Eden (Ge 3:24)? If so, then the DATE-PALM was probably the "Tree of Life." Of interest here is Crawford's _above_ observations about date-palm gardens (date-palm plantations) and fig trees growing in the shade of the date palms. Is Genesis recalling a fig tree (as the "Tree of Knowledge") because in Mesopotamian gardens the fig tree grew _NEAR_ the date-palm (the "tree of life"), THRIVING IN ITS SHADE? Was the date-palm seen as the "Tree of Life" because (1) its dates were a staple food for all, both rich and poor, and (2) its "life-giving-shade" allowed smaller fruit trees to flourish, who's shade, in turn, allowed vegetables to flourish as well?
Crawford on THE EDIN, "uncultivated land" surrounding the Mesopotamian city gardens and irrigated fields being utilized by shepherds to graze their flocks and herds (emphasis mine):
"The third category of land which we listed at the beginning of this section was the unirrigated land, which lay furthest from the waterways, and which merged into the unused land referred to in the texts as THE EDIN. This empty land formed a buffer between one settled enclave and another. It also had a considerable economic role. For much of the year it provided valuable grazing for the sheep and goats, which supplied both meat and dairy produce, as well as wool for the important textile industry. In the summer months the land yielded nothing more than a little scrub, but plants with deep roots, such as prosopis, survive on very little moisture and provide not only a little meager grazing, but also small quantities of fuel, as does the dung dropped by the animals. This is mixed with chopped straw and dried and today provides a major source of fuel IN A VIRTUALLY TREELESS ENVIRONMENT."
(pp. 57-58. "Patterns of settlement and agriculture." Harriet Crawford. Sumer and the Sumerians. Cambridge, United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. 1991, 2004)
Genesis suggests God plants a garden _in_ Eden with fruit trees (Ge 2:8-9). Crawford's above observation of THE EDIN BEING A TREELESS STEPPE OR PLAIN, which SURROUNDS AND IS CONTIGUOUS TO THE GARDENS OF THE GODS WHICH POSSESS FRUIT-TREES, APPEARS TO ME TO BE A MIRROR-IMAGE OF GENESIS' GARDEN. IN THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHS IT IS THE GODS WHO PLANTED THESE GARDENS _IN_ THE EDIN _BEFORE_ MAN'S CREATION. THE GODS PLANTED THESE GARDENS TO PROVIDE FOOD FOR THEMSELVES AS THEY HAVE BUILT CITIES IN THE EDIN TO DWELL IN. AFTER 'TIRING' OF ALL THIS LABOR, BUILDING IRRIGATION CANALS AND DREDGING THEM THEY CREATE MAN TO WORK IN THEIR STEAD, MAN WILL CARE FOR THE GOD'S CITY GARDENS WHICH ARE FILLED WITH FRUIT-TREES. I understand the Hebrews are "refuting" these Mesopotamian myths regarding how the gods came to create man and place him in their city-gardens to grow food and feed them.
Woolley on Sumer's extensive date palm gardens, and the fact that the date was a "staple" food of the people. Could perhaps the date's being a "staple food" for the Sumerians account for why it became Genesis' "tree of life"? (emphasis mine):
"The prosperity of Sumer depended on its agriculture and on its commerce. The carefully irrigated fields produced amazing crops of barley and spelt, onions and other vegetables grew along the canal banks, and as early as 2800 BC the DATE-GARDENS were very extensive -a number of varieties of dates were cultivated, and the harvest afforded one of THE STAPLE FOODS of the people."
(p. 112. "Sumerian Society." Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. The Sumerians. Oxford, England. The Clarendon Press. 1928, 1929)
Woolley on grain being grown in Sumer for BREAD (Adam apparently grows grain in Genesis, being told by God he will earn his bread by the sweat of his brow (Ge 3:19) (emphasis mine):
"The grain was used for BREAD ground to flour between flat rubbing-stones, or was parched and bruised for a kind of porridge or brewed into beer; wine was manufactured from dates as well as from grapes..." (p. 114. "Sumerian Society." Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. The Sumerians. Oxford, England. The Clarendon Press. 1928, 1929)
Campbell's observation that the Mesopotamian myths have been transformed by the Hebrews in Genesis TO RENDER AN ARGUMENT CONTRARY TO THE OLDER MESOPOTAMIAN FAITH IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT (Emphasis mine):
"No one familiar with the mythologies of the primitive, ancient, and Oriental worlds can turn to the Bible without recognizing COUNTERPARTS on every page,TRANSFORMED, however, TO RENDER AN ARGUMENT CONTRARY TO THE OLDER FAITHS. In Eve's scene at the tree, for example, nothing is said to indicate that the serpent who appeared and spoke to her was a deity in his own right, who had been revered in the Levant for at least seven thousand years before the composition of the Book of Genesis. There is in the Louvre a carved green steatite vase, inscribed c. 2025 BC by King Gudaea of Lagash, dedicated to a late Sumerian manifestation of this consort of the goddess, under his title Ningizzida, "Lord of the Tree of Truth." (p. 9. "The Serpent's Bride." Joseph Campbell. Occidental Mythology, The Masks of God. Arkana. New York. Viking Penguin Books. 1964, 1991 reprint) Please click here for my article on the pre-biblical origns of Eden's Serpent.
Campbell on the Hebrews "inverting" of earlier myths (Emphasis mine):
"The first point that emerges from this contrast, and will be demonstrated further in numerous mythic scenes to come, is that in the context of the patriarchy of the Iron Age Hebrews of the first millennium B.C., THE MYTHOLOGY ADOPTED FROM THE EARLIER NEOLITHIC AND BRONZE AGE CIVILIZATIONS of the lands they occupied and for a time ruled BECAME INVERTED, TO RENDER AN ARGUMENT JUST THE OPPOSITE TO THAT OF ITS ORIGIN."
(p. 17. "The Serpent's Bride." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. New York. Arkana & Viking Penguin. 1964. Reprinted 1991)
Professor Batto (1992) on the Hebrews recasting of earlier Mesopotamian myths and motifs in the Hebrew Bible:
"...I want to emphasize that this new mythmaking process is a conscious, reflected application of older myths and myhic elements to new situations...In so far as one admits the presence of myth in ancient Babylonian and Canaanite culture, then one must also admit the presence of myth in the Bible...This book, then, is a series of case studies of mythmaking in ancient Israel, or to be more exact, in the biblical tradition."
(pp. 13-14. "Introduction." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"Now the Yahwist's primeval narrative is itself a marvelous example of mythmaking based upon prior Mesopotamian myths, notably Atrahasis and Gilgamesh. Interestingly, the reappropriation of mythic traditions and intertextual borrowing posited for biblical writers was already present within ancient Babylonia, and illustrates that biblical writers must be understood within the larger ancient Near Eastern literary and theological tradition."
(p. 14. "Introduction." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"The theme of this volume...is, of myth and mythmaking speculation within the Hebrew Bible...biblical writers employed much the same techniques and even the same mythic motifs as their ancient Near Eastern neighbors...Israel...drew heavily upon the Babylonian myth of Atrahasis, supplementing with motifs from Gilgamesh and other traditional myths, to create a specifically Israelite primeval myth...Like their ancient Near Eastern counterparts, Israel's theologians were concerned with the place of humankind -and particularly of their own people- within the realm of being."
(pp. 168-169. "Conclusion." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"The focus of this volume has been the various ways in which biblical writers throughout the history of the composition of the Hebrew Bible have used and reused myth...to undergird their religious and/or sociopolitical agenda. My purpose...has been only to show through representative examples how biblical authors actually went about using mythic motifs in their writing and how they consciously manipulated these to serve their specific purposes."
(pp. 171-172. "Conclusion." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
Geologists have established that the Tigris and Euphrates came to cross the great plain of Iraq in the Pliocene Era (which ended 1.8 million years ago). At no time have they arisen from one stream as portrayed in Genesis. Geologists have also established that at no time has the Ancient Near East been covered by a Universal Flood in the 3rd millennium B.C. as portrayed by Genesis. To the degree that the Hebrews appear to be refuting, denying and challenging Mesopotamian beliefs by recasting their myths into counter-arguments, as noted by Campbell (cf. above), the fact that the many gods' city-gardens were watered by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is probably being denied by the Hebrews. They claim there is only ONE god's garden, it is NOT a city-garden, it is NOT watered by either the Euphrates or Tigris (biblical Hiddekel).
The "one" stream that becomes the Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates is then a Hebrew refutation device. It never existed. It was created to deny Mesopotamian beliefs, understandings and realities. Why? The Mesopotamians portrayed life in the edin (steppe, plain) as harsh, it was a semi-arid, desertlike environment that in the beginning was roamed by naked man who had only wild animals for companions (not gods for companions), who ate grass like a beast (not tree fruits provided by the gods) and lapped water at watering holes like an animal.
Other Mesopotamian myths have man created to work in the gods' city gardens replacing the Igigi gods who protest the onerous working conditions. Genesis denies God has a city-garden. Genesis denies that God made the garden to provide sustenance for himself and Genesis denies God put man in it to releive himself of self-toil in that garden. Genesis denies that the gods created man and left him to wander edin and eat grass like an animal. Genesis denies the gods' city-gardens, there is only one god's garden and neither the Euphrates or Tigris (Hiddekel) waters it. Using Genesis' imaginary river that rises _in_ Eden and becomes the Hiddekel/Tigris and Euphrates after leaving the garden, it is _impossible_ to locate the garden of Eden. The river never existed except as a rhetorical device to deny Mesopotamian gods' city-gardens being where man was created and placed in to toil on the gods' behalf.
If Sumerian edin (Akkadian seru or seri) is what is behind Genesis' eden how did a semi-arid, desertlike steppe or plain become associated with being a "well-watered place of DELIGHT"? The answer will surprise you. The Hebrews objected to the Mesopotamian portrayal of man being despised and exploited by the gods. For the Mesopotamians the good life was in cities, made by the gods before man was created, NOT the edin. Only shepherds live in the edin, grazing their flocks. The edin is a semi-arid waste where nomads in tents with flocks and brigands and cut-throats and outcasts from civilized society wander looking for a victim. The Hebrew's ancestors are portrayed as being shepherds, thus their home would be the edin. They objected to their home being characterized as a god-forsaken wilderness and themselves as castoffs from urban society. So in defense of their way of life, they recast the Mesopotamian beliefs. Man was loved by God, he was NOT left naked to wander edin and eat grass, he was NOT denied the companionship of God (having only wild animals to commune with). God's garden was NOT in a city, it was in the midst of the edin, where the Hebrew shepherds roamed with their flocks and herds.
At ancient Ebla (Tell Mardikh) has been found a lexicon showing that the Old Babylonian word rendered edin (at Nippur), meaning steppe is eden (ca. 3000-2500 B.C., Early Dynastic IIIb, Ebla sign list 55). I suspect that the Hebrews of a Syrian Haran took the Syrian form eden and deliberately misprounced and misspelled it as a rhetorical refutation device. By adding the phoneme /`/ to the Syrian eden it became in Hebrew `eden and associated with the root `dn meaning "delight, lush, a place well-watered". Another denial is that the Gods' city-gardens are where man was first created and put to work. So, the Hebrew Patriarchs who with their flocks and herds were the "SHEPHERDS -OF-EDEN" recast the Mesopotamian myths glorifying their way of life and denigrating the Mesopotamian notion that it is city-life which is the glory of mankind (the Hebrews having an outcast murderer, Cain, founding the world's first city). Are there any examples in the Bible of the Hebrews deliberately misspelling and mispronouncing words? Yes. Nimrod is understood by some scholars to be a misspelling of Ninurta a war-god of the Assyrians. Nimrod in Hebrew means "we will rebel," that is to say the Hebrews have deliberately mispronounced a foreign word and given it a false meaning inorder to hold the nation it is dervied from in derision and contempt. Babel, meaning "gate of God" (bab=gate, ili=god) is rendered to mean in Hebrew balal, "confusion", again, the Hebrews in derision of another nation's religious beliefs, deliberately misrepresent a word's pronounciation and meaning. I am arguing here that Syrian eden (Sumerian: edin) was deliberately mispronounced and misspelled to transform a desertlike inhospitable wasteland in Mesopotamian belief into a well-watered place of "delight" (`eden) in Hebrew belief.
Wallace on Eden's 'contested' etymology:
"Two explanations have been proposed for the origin of the name `eden, "Eden": (a) that it derives from the Akkadian word edinu, "plain, steppe," which in turn is a loan word from Sumerian eden; (b) that is is connected with the West Semitic stem `dn occurring in several languages, having to do with "luxury, abundance, delight, or lushness"...However, several objections have been raised. First, Genesis 2-3 refers to Eden in terms of a fertile garden or oasis. The transference to this meaning from a Sumerian word for "plain" or "steppe" is obscure. Secondly, while the word eden is common in Sumerian, the Akkadian equivalent edinu is attested only once...The usual Akkadian equivalent to Sumerian eden is seru. From available evidence it seems that edinu was an extremely rare word in Akkadian and it is not a likely candidate for further borrowing into biblical Hebrew. The craft of a narrator or scribe in adopting such a word would be lost to nearly all hearers or readers."
(p. 281. Vol. 2. Howard N. Wallace. "Eden, Garden of." David Noel Freedman. Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992)
In the Mesopotamian myths (The Eridu Genesis Myth) man wanders naked in an uncultivated wilderness plain or steppe (Akkadian: seru or seri, Sumerian: edin or edin-na) with wild animals for companions. It is my understanding that Hebrew `eden is recalling the Sumerian edin. But, as I have noted before, the Hebrews are _denying and refuting_ the Mesopotamian myths. At Ebla (Tell Mardikh) in Syria the Old Babylonian edin (ca. 2000-1500 BCE, OB Nippur Lu 823) is rendered eden (Early Dynastic IIIb, 3000-2500 BCE. Ebla Sign List 55), meaning a "steppe or plain". I suspect that the Hebrews took the Syrian eden and added a phoneme /`/ to it rendering eden as `eden causing the semi-arid, desertlike steppe to become a "well-watered delightful place". Why? _The Hebrews are refuting Mesopotamian beliefs!_ The gods despised man. In the Eridu Genesis myth naked man is a wild animal, his companions are not the gods, but wild animals naked like himself. The gods do not give man any fruits from their city-gardens to eat, man must fend for himself, HE EATS GRASS and laps water like the other beasts. The Hebrews apparently objected to this portrayal of man. Edin (Syrian Ebla's eden) is a place of desolation, wild animals roam it, brigands, cut-throats and murdering outcasts like Cain from civilized society also inhabit it. Dumuzi was slain by demons in the edin at his sheepfold. Edin/Eden is not an idyllic place for man in the Mesopotamian myths. I suspect that the Hebrews, in refuting all this, added the phoneme /`/ to the Syrian eden rendering it into a new `eden, a place of "abundance and lushness, delightful and well-watered". God loves man, he would not place man in a desertlike wilderness to eat grass like a beast and abandon him! In the Mesopotamian understanding the uncultivated edin is where shepherds graze their flocks (like Dumuzi). The "good life" is in the cities (not the edin) built according to the myths by the gods for thier habitation _before_ man's creation. The Hebrews' ancestors are portrayed as wandering shepherds, living in tents, as such their habitation would the edin. Perhaps these "shepherds-of-edin" were offended by the Mesopotamian myths concocted by "city-dwellers", glorifying city-life over shepherding in the edin? Thus the "shepherds of edin" concocted _a counter-argument_, glorifying life in the edin and denigrating city-life? Cain the murderer builds the world's first city and man descends into corruption and sin. So the Hebrews' shepherding ancestors are refuting, denying and challenging the Mesopotamian world view regarding primitive naked man's life in the uncultivated edin being a curse. That is to say, the Hebrew shepherds are glorifying their own life style as against that of life in cities glorified by the city-dwelling Mesopotamians. Perhaps these shepherds of edin deliberately misspelled eden/edin by adding the phoneme /`/ rendering Hebrew `ede, meaning "delight, well-watered, or lush"? Thus the desertlike semiarid edin steppe lands, the "god-forsaken-wilderness", became a "place of delight" portraying God fellowshipping with man in this remote location instead of in cities allegedly built by the gods for their habitation and their city-gardens which they would later create man to till and care for on their behalf as an agricultural slave. When Cain the founder of city-life and an agricultualist presents his offering to God it is rejected, but the offering of "the shepherd", Abel is accepted. Is this Godly rejection of a city-dweller and agriculturalist (Cain) "another swipe at" the Mesopotamian notion that the gods' contact with man occured when man was created and placed in the gods' city-gardens to relieve the Igigi gods of self-toil?
Leick on CITIES BEING THE PLACE OF THE GODS' HEARTS' DELIGHT NOT A GOD'S GARDEN IN A REMOTE WILDERNESS CALLED EDEN AS PORTRAYED IN GENESIS (emphasis mine):
"ERIDU IS THE MESOPOTAMIAN EDEN, THE PLACE OF CREATION...Amid a primeval sea, THE FIRST CITY, ERIDU...Just like the marsh dwellers of southern Iraq, who still build their huts on floating islands of reed, the god [Marduk] spreads mud upon a reed frame to fashion a platform. From this primordial, rather flimsy basis, the cities and their temples take their beginning. Henceforth the gods take up residence on the earth and live in cities. AND BECAUSE THE GODS HAVE THE DWELLING OF 'THEIR HEARTS' DELIGHT' IN CITIES, MESOPOTAMIAN CITIES ARE ALWAYS SACRED. THUS THE MESOPOTAMIAN EDEN IS NOT A GARDEN BUT A CITY, formed from a piece of dry land surrounded by the waters. The first building is a temple. THEN MANKIND IS CREATED TO RENDER SERVICE TO GOD and temple. This is how Mesopotamian tradition presented the evolution and function of cities, and Eridu provides the mythical paradigm. Contrary to the biblical Eden, from which man was banished for ever after the Fall, Eridu remained a real place, imbued with sacredness but always accessible."
(pp. 1-2. "Eridu." Gwendolyn Leick. Mesopotamia, The Invention of the City. London. Penguin Books. 2001. Paperback)
I understand that Enkidu has been recast as Adam and Shamhat as Eve. Genesis has Eve being presented to Adam in a garden located in a place called Eden (the garden's name was _not_ Eden, it was located _in_ a place called Eden). I note that the Epic of Gilgamesh written in Akkadian uses the Sumerian logogram (EDIN) to represent the Akkadian word seru meaning "steppe," as transcribed (cf. below) by Heidel. It is at edin's watering hole that Shamhat encounters Enkidu and has sex with him accomplishing thereby his separation from his animal companions, the gazelles that he eats grass with. I understand that this watering hole became the Hebews' "garden of eden" meaning "delight" because Enkidu's "heart's delight" was the water at this watering hole. So, down through the centuries, the Sumerian location, edin "the steppe," where a naked man who had no father or mother (like Adam) was undone by a naked Shamhat (like Eve), and he, accompanying her, is persuaded to leave edin of his own free will clothed and naked no longer. In other words in the "original" account an angry god (Yahweh-Elohim) did _not_ expell the naked man and woman from edin, nor was he outraged that they had covered their nakedess before leaving edin. Note: The verses in bold print are reproduced further-down in Heidel's transcription which follows Pritchard's.
Professor Pritchard on Enkidu's arrival at the watering hole in the steppe (steppe in Sumerian being edin, Akkadian seru), where wait Shamhat the harlot-priestess of Uruk and the Hunter:
"The creeping creatures came, their heart delighting in water.
But as for him, Enkidu, born in the hills-
With the gazelles he feeds on grass,
With the wild beasts he drinks at the watering-place,
With the creeping creatures his heart delights in water-
The lass beheld him, the savage-man,
The barbarous fellow from the depths of the steppe:
"There he is, O lass, Free thy breasts,
Bare thy bosom that he may possess thy ripeness!
Be not bashful! Welcome his ardor!
As soon as he sees thee, he will draw near to thee.
Lay aside thy cloth that he may rest upon thee.
Treat him, the savage, to a woman's task! Reject him will his wild beasts that grew up on his steppe,
As his love is drawn unto thee."
The lass freed her breasts, bared her bosom,
And he possessed her ripeness.
She was not bashful as she welcomed his ardor..."
(p. 44. "The Epic of Gilgamesh." James B. Pritchard. Editor. The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 1958. paperback)
Heidel reproduces the above words (which I have rendered in bold print) from the Epic of Gilgamesh ("he" is in reference to Enkidu):
"...while on Tablet I. 4:7, he is called
itlu (GURUS) sag-ga-sa-a sa-qa-bal-ti seri (EDIN):
"The savage man from the midst of the seru."
(cf. p. 233. Alexander Heidel. "A Special Usage of the Akkadian Term Sadu." The Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Vol. 8. No. 3. July 1949)
My thanks to Robert M. Whiting, PhD. of Helsinki, Finland, a professional Assyriologist (Managing Editor of the world-renown Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, The Assyrian State Archives Series) for explaining to me that Heidel's 1949 transcription reveals that the scribe actually wrote the word "steppe" using the Sumerian LOGOGRAM (EDIN), and that modern scholars "read" (EDIN) as a substitution for seru. Heidel's transcription also reveals that the Akkadian word itlu was actually written as (GURUS) another Sumerian LOGOGRAM. Whiting explained that the use of Sumerian logograms is quite common in Akkadian compositions.
Whiting's explanation solved the mystery for me of how _seru_ the "steppe" came to become Hebrew `eden, I realized that the Hebrews had apparently morphed the Sumerian logogram (EDIN), used in lieu of seru in the Epic of Gilgamesh, into 'eden! Hebrew `eden means DELIGHT, and we are told when Enkidu appeared at the watering hole in EDIN, his heart's "DELIGHT" was its water. So, I understand the Hebrews took this notion of a primal naked man's "DELIGHT" over water and morphed EDIN's watering hole into Hebrew `eden, a place of DELIGHT (The Mystery solved at long last, after some 3000 years!).
Also of interest is that Enkidu (a prototype of Adam) and his wild animal companions encounter a naked Shamhat (a prototype of Eve) at a watering hole in the "steppe." The Akkadians at times employed a form of "shorthand writing" in the form of a Sumerian Logogram. The Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh at times renders the Akkadian word "steppe" by the Sumerian Logogram (EDIN). That is to say, the reader's mind upon seeing (EDIN) automatically knew this was shorthand for seru "steppe." In other words, Enkidu's association with the Sumerian edin or "steppe" was never completely lost when Akkadian came to replace Sumerian as a literary language, Enkidu's association with the seru in the form of a Sumerian logogram (EDIN) kept alive the connection down through the centuries.
Please click here for the possible location of the watering hole where Enkidu (Adam) met Shamhat (Eve) three days' journey from Uruk, which was transformed in the Garden in Eden by the Hebrews in Genesis.
The Hebrews' patriarchs, Abraham through Jacob (called later Israel) are portrayed as tent-dwelling shepherds: "And you shall make response before the Lord your God, 'A wandering Aramean was my father" (King James Bible: "Syrian" Deut 26:5). They grazed their herds and flocks in the edin steppe lands extending from Ur of the Chaldees (Ge 11:28), south of Babylon to Haran (Ge 11:31) in northern Syria, and Damascus (Ge 15:2) and thence south to Beersheba (Ge 21:33). The city-dwellers of Mesopotamia held the tent-dwelling shepherds of the western lands (Martu, Amurru, Aram) in contempt and regarded them a menace to civilized life in the cities.
IN DEFENSE OF THEIR WAY OF LIFE AND THE LOCATION THEY LIVED IN WITH THEIR HERDS (THE EDEN/EDIN STEPPE) THE HEBREW SHEPHERDS ('SYRIAN' OF DEUTERONOMY 26:5) PROBABLY RECAST THE CREATION-OF-MAN MYTHS CONCOCTED BY THE MESOPOTAMIAN CITY-DWELLERS INTO A REFUTATION: GOD'S DELIGHT WAS NOT IN A CITY AND IT'S CITY-GARDEN FOUNDED BY A MUDERING CAIN AND DESCENDANTS, IT WAS IN THE EDEN, WHICH VIA A DELIBERATE MISPRONOUNCIATION AND SPELLING BECAME A PLACE OF "DELIGHT AND WELL-WATERED" INSTEAD OF A SEMIARID DESERT-LIKE GOD-FORSAKEN-WILDERNESS, A FIT PLACE ONLY FOR THIEVES, BRIGANDS AND CUT-THROATS IN MESOPOTAMIAN CITY-DWELLER'S EYES.
Primal man, Adam had dwelt NAKED with animals for companions in a garden, in a location called Eden, just as another primal man, Enkidu of the Epic of Gilgamesh had dwelt NAKED with animal companions until he "fell for" a naked woman brought by the hunter to the watering hole in the steppe, a place where Enkidu and the animal's "HEARTS' DELIGHT was water", to undo the naked man of the steppe, separating him from his animal companions and having him leave the steppe to dwell with civilized man in a city called Uruk. The naked woman's words to Enkidu: "You are like a God now, why roam with the animals? Let us leave THIS PLACE OF DESOLATION, berift of shepherds, come with me to Uruk, to meet mighty Gilgamesh." Enkidu agrees and she clothes his and her nakedness before leaving the steppe, and they dwell in the city of Uruk, glorified for its "civilized amenities" over the god-forsaken desolate steppe. I understand Enkidu was recast as Adam and Shamhat the naked harlot who separated him from his animals as "a more fit companion", became Eve. The watering hole in the steppe where she seduced Enkidu, the source of Enkidu's and the animals' heart's "delight" became morphed into 'eden, meaning a place of "delight" _contra_ a city-dwelling Shamhat characterizing the steppe as a place of desolation. It is well to recall's Leick's words that the gods regarded cities as their dwellings and hearts' delight whereas naked primal man's (Enkidu's) dwelling and heart's delight was a watering hole in (EDIN).
Eden's river that subdivides into four streams may be recalling the 6th through 4th millenniums B.C. (others: as late as the early 2nd millennium B.C.) archaeologically attested fact that in antiquity the Euphrates subdivided into many streams and the Tigris (biblical Hiddekel) had during this time period merged with the Euphrates near modern Bahgdad and ancient Sippar before being transformed into numerous channels in the Lower Mesopotamian flood plain.
Perhaps Terah, Nahor and Abraham at Ur of the Chaldees (modern Tell Muqayyar) in Lower Mesopotamia are the "source" of Genesis' notion that a river arose in Eden (edin-the-flood-plain) becoming four streams? Some scholars suggest they may have lived as early as the 21st century B.C. (others: as late as the 18th century B.C.) and would have knowledge of this phenomenon of Nature as recorded or preserved in oral traditions of the inhabitants of Lower Mesopotamia (Ur of the Chaldees).
It has been argued that the Hebrews may have later transformed this 6th through early 2nd millennium B.C. phenomenon into a Gihon in Cush, the modern Sudan (or Wadi Aqiq east of Medina in Saudi Arabia?) and Pishon of Havilah (Wadies Baysh and Bishah of the coastal Asir mountains in the Yemen and Saudi Arabia).
Finally, Flavius Josephus' notion that the river of Eden encircles the world and is the source of all the world's rivers appears to preserve a Homeric Greek notion that a mythical Freshwater River Ocean is the source of all the world's rivers via underground channels and such a concept might have been introduced to the Jews in the 7th-6 centuries B.C. by Greek mercenaries serving in Judah under either the Saitic Pharaohs or King Josiah. Said concept appearing in the Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings) which I understand was composed in the Exile circa 560 B.C.
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