In Search of the Garden of Eden and the Rivers of Paradise
Please click here for _my map_ showing the location of the Garden of Eden based on my research. Please click here for maps showing the Euphrates as the "river of Eden" and its subdividing into the four streams of Paradise during the 6th through early 2nd millenniums B.C. Please click here for this website's most important article: Why the Bible Cannot be the Word of God. For Christians visiting this website my most important article is: The Reception of God's Holy Spirit: How the Hebrew Prophets _contradict_ Christianity's Teachings. Please click here.
On 22 May 2010 Yahoo ranked this article No. 1 over 272,008,617 other urls when "Eden" was keyed in
14 August 2001
Revisions through 26 May 2009
There are several "surprises" in this article:
(1) The biblical Garden of Eden and its river which subdivided into four streams cannot be found because they are a myth and never existed. They were were _not_ erased by Noah's Flood because Geologists claim it never happened and there is no geological evidence for it at any time in the Earth's history. Scholars determined Noah's Flood is a recast of a mythical flood at Shuruppak in ancient Sumer (Iraq) in the 3rd millennium BC caused by a flooding Euphrates river (the river silts were found).
(2) The Eden myth is a Hebrew refutation of Mesopotamian religious concepts about why the world was created and what man's purpose in life is, what will happen after his death, and the nature of his relationship with his creator.
(3) This article seeks to "identify" the _pre-biblical origins_ of Genesis' mythical Eden and its mythical characters: Yahweh-Elohim, Adam, Eve, the Serpent, and Cherubim as fictious beings who are in reality recasts of earlier mythical protagonists appearing in Mesopotamian myths.
(4) There is _not_ one pre-biblical location for the Garden of Eden, but several locations. There is not "one" prebiblical character for each of Eden's protagonists: Yahweh, Adam, Eve, the Serpent and Cherubim, there are several personages from different myths who have been fused together into each of Genesis' mythical characters.
(5) The above four preceding observations are _not_ new. They were made by professional PhD Liberal scholars trained in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at world-renown Universities and Seminaries in Europe and the United States over 100 years ago (most of their research being published in scholarly monographs, books and professional journals between 1862 and 1908, _away from the public eye_, so as to not disturb and upset Bible-believers and call the wrath of God from an outraged public down upon their academic heads, thus the reason why most Jews, Christians and Moslems are _unaware_ of these 100 year old findings).
(6) The Garden of Eden myth is a dangerous myth, men down through the ages have been willing to kill their fellow man because of it, being told by their religious leaders God will forgive them their sins and admit them to this paradise if they die in holy war fighting the non-belivers or infidels (as for example the Crusaders liberating Jerusalem and modern day Moslem Jihadists seeking to bring the world via godly-sanctioned terror to its knees before Allah).
It is in the Garden of Eden that a man (called Adam) acquires forbidden knowledge and loses out on a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind. In Mesopotamian myths a man (called Adapa) acquires, like Adam, godly-forbidden knowledge and, like Adam, loses out on a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind. Adam received his warning not to eat forbiddden food or he would die in the Garden of Eden. In Mesopotamian myth it is at Eridu in Sumer that Adapa is warned not to eat forbidden food or he too will die. For over 100 years various PhD Liberal scholars trained in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Religious Studies have proposed that Adapa has been recast as Adam and Eridu has been recast the Garden of Eden. I am in agreement. Please click here for satellite images of the Mesopotamian "Garden of Eden": Eridu in Sumer, where a man lost out on chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind.
I understand that Genesis is _denying, refuting and challenging_ the Mesopotamian myths' explanation of Who, What, Why, Where, When and How man came to made, what his purpose on earth is, and why he does not possess immortality. I understand that the Hebrews accomplished these denials or challenges by taking motifs and concepts from a variety of contradicting myths and giving them "new twists," changed the names of the characters, the locations, and sequences of events. It is my belief that the Hebrews were deliberately CHANGING _or_ RECASTING the earlier myths and their motifs IN ORDER TO REFUTE, DENY, AND CHALLENGE THEM, hence the "reason why" there are _no_ individuals called Adam, Eve, the Serpent, Yahweh, Noah, Shem, Japheth and Ham appearing in _any_ of the Mesopotamian pre-biblical myths.
Why did the Hebrews seek to refute, deny and challenge the Mesopotamian beliefs? Why did Christianity refute and deny Judaism? Why did Islam refute and deny Judaism and Christianity? Apparently each felt that its predecessor had wrong or erroneous beliefs regarding the relationship between God and Man and accordingly each sought to "correct" these "false" views via _refutations, denials and challenges_.
My Garden of Eden research in a nutshell (25 April 2007):
Genesis portrays God creating a garden in a location called Eden. He creates man and places him in his garden to care for it. Man is told he may eat of the garden's seed-bearing herbs and fruits from trees (Ge 1:29; 2:9, 16). Some Catholic scholars date the creation of the Garden of Eden based on the Bible's internal chronology to circa 5199 B.C. or 4004 B.C. according to some Protestant scholars. This research on Eden's garden and its trees can be broken down into basically three phases historically speaking:
(1) As demonstrated by archaeology the earliest known "gardens" are associated with the Neolithic "New Stone Age" villages found in the foothills of the Taurus and Zagros mountain ranges which border Mesopotamia (Modern Turkey, Iraq, and Iran), which date from the 12 to the 5th millenniums B.C. Eventually man leaves the rain-fed foothills and begins to create villages with irrigated gardens in the northern reaches above Baghdad in the Mesopotamian plain, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers providing the water for his village-gardens. (2) Mesopotamian myths apparently concocted in the 3rd millennium B.C. most probably by city-dwellers in the southern Mesopotamian flood plain, claim the gods discovered for themselves how to domesticate plants and animals, created cities to live in and invented irrigated city-gardens; tiring of all this toil, they later create man to care for their city-gardens, harvesting the produce to feed the gods in the cities' temples. The first city created by the gods is Eridu in the southern Mesopotamian plain according to the myths. Archaeology reveals Eridu is no older than circa 5900 B.C. or 4900 B.C. These myths in effect _deny, refute, and challenge_ (1) the "archaeological reality" that the gods _did not_ create the world's first irrigated gardens, Neolithic man did, in the mountainous foothills, not the southern Mesopotamian flood plain (Ancient Sumer and Akkad). (3) The Hebrew Bible's book of Genesis _denies, refutes and challenges_ (1) and (2): God did not create a city for himself to live in nor did he create a city-garden to provide food for himself, nor did he create man to harvest and prepare the garden's produce in order to have man feed God. He made the Garden of Eden to provide food for man and situated it in the midst of a region called Eden instead of the Mesopotamian region known to the Sumerians as the Edin (the uncultivated flood plain or steppe land that the Tigris and Euphrates flow through).
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 in the Atrahasis myth. 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 said: "WHEN THE GODS WERE _"MAN"_ THEY DID GRIEVOUS LABOR." So "MAN" IN THE FORM OF THE IGIGI GODS WAS REMOVED FROM A GOD'S 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! Christianity teaches that when man returns to the Garden of Eden he will once more enjoy God's fellowship and companionship as did Adam and Eve. But the Igigi working in the gods' gardens DID NOT ENJOY FELLOWSHIP with the Anunnaki gods! The Anunnaki ruthlessly exploited the Igigi and ignored night and day for 40 years their pleas for an end of their toil! With the "removal from the gods' gardens" the Igigi NOW ENJOY FELLOWSHIPPING WITH THE ANUNNAKI, for both now are free of toil upon the earth, both can recline on their couches in indolent leisure as both ruthlessly exploit man the agricultural slave having him care for their gardens, and present them the produce to eat in the city temples. An inversion has occured! Man's (the Igigi being called "man") fellowship with a god (Enlil of Nippur and Enki at Eridu) is obtained via removal from the god's garden instead of by remaining as a laborer in a god's garden!
24 November 2006 Update:
Two Jewish scholars Yahuda (A. S. Yahuda. The Accuracy of the Bible. London. William Heinemann Publisher. 1934) and Cassuto (Umberto Cassuto. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, Adam to Noah. Vol. 1. Jerusalem. Magness Press. Hebrew University. First edition in Hebrew: 1944. English editions: 1961-1989), noted that 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, Hiddekel (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. Geologists have determined that the Tigris and Euphrates first came to cross the plain of Iraq in the Lower Pliocene Age (Pliocene is 5 to 1.8 million years ago). They have NEVER arisen from one stream. They arise "near each other" in the mountains of modern day Turkey but from separate sources. The notion that Noah's flood in the 3rd millennium B.C. (Christian Protestants' 2345 B.C., Catholics' 2958 B.C.) destroyed and buried under tons of flood sediments the river beds of these two rivers is nonsense. Geologists have found NO evidence of a universal flood anywhere in the Ancient Near East from the 10th-1st millenniums B.C. That these two rivers ever arose from one stream is then a myth. Please click here for the "pre-biblical origins" of Noah's mythical Flood in Mesopotamian Flood myths.
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.
Professor 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)
Professor Tigay on echoes of man being created to provide food for the gods and Adam's work in the garden of Eden:
"Placing man in the garden "to till and tend it" faintly echoes the Mesopotamian creation stories according to which man was created to free the gods from laboring to produce their own food (Pritchard, Texts, 68; cf. W. G. Lambert, Atrahasis (1969), 42–67; A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis (1942) 69–71; S. N. Kramer, The Sumerians (1963), 149–50). In the Bible this is not seen as the purpose of man's creation—in fact, the creation of man and the placing of him in the garden are separated by several verses; and there is no suggestion at all that God or the other heavenly beings benefit from man's labor." (Jeffrey Howard Tigay. "Paradise." http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~jtigay/paradise.doc.)
Campbell's (1964) 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 origins 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)
30 Nov. 2006 Update:
Wallace on Eden's 'contested' etymology (emphasis mine):
"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, Ewe and Wheat, The Epic of Gilgamesh) man wanders naked in an uncultivated wilderness plain or steppe (Akkadian: seru and sometimes edinu, 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, O.B. Nippur Lu. 823) is rendered eden (Early Dynastic IIIb, 3000-2500 B.C.E. 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 (cf. the Ewe and Wheat myth as well as Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh). 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 `eden, meaning "delight, well-watered, or lush"? Thus the desertlike semi-arid 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)
Pritchard on Enkidu's and the wild animals of the steppe heart's DELIGHT being a watering hole (emphasis mine):
"The wild beasts came to the watering-place to drink.
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..."
(p. 44. "The Epic of Gilgamesh." James B. Pritchard. Editor. The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, New Jersey. University of Princeton Press. 1958)
Note: Hebrew `eden meaning "delight" is _not_ in any way similar in pronounciation to the verb #ia:bu, the word being translated above in the Epic of Gilgamesh as "delighting" and "delights". It is cognate with Arabic #ayi:b 'good' and Hebrew #o:v as in mazel #ov (my thanks to Professor Robert Whiting, a trained Assyriologist, for this information).
Foster on a city-dwelling Shamhat refering to the steppe's watering hole as a place of DESOLATION (emphasis mine):
"The harlot said to him, to Enkidu:
You are handsome, Enkidu, you are become like a god,
Why roam the steppe with wild beasts?
Come, let me lead you to ramparted Uruk...
Come AWAY FROM THIS DESOLATION, BEREFT EVEN OF SHEPHERDS."
(p. 13. Benjamin R. Foster. The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York & London. W. W. Norton & Company. A Norton Critical Edition. 2001)
Campbell on the Hebrews' mythology being that of nomadic shepherds and DESERT-DWELLERS (note: some scholars render Sumerian edin where Dumuzi the shepherd wandered with his sheep as "DESERT" as well as "steppe" and "plain", emphasis mine):
"...Ezra prevailed, and in the end the Jews...retained, or rather reinvented, an exclusive, DESERT-BASED MYTHOLOGY..." (p. 629. "The Earthly Paradise." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Creative Mythology. New York. Viking Penguin. 1968, reprint of 1976)
So, to sum it all up: The Hebrew 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 DESERT-LIKE 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, bereft 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 dwelling and hearts' delight whereas naked primal man's (Enkidu's) dwelling and heart's delight was a watering hole in the steppe (Akkadian seru, Sumerian edin).
I am here suggesting two possible origins for edin the steppe being transformed into Hebrew `eden or "delight": (1) A deliberate mispronounciation or misspelling (or a simple word substituion: edin/eden substituted with 'eden) to change the word's original meaning by adding the phoneme /`/ to Syrian (Ebla) eden, _or_ (2) a "morphing" of the steppe's watering hole into a "place of delight" because its water is a source of "hearts' delight" for the naked primal man, Enkidu (later recast as Adam) and his animal companions.
God manifests himself to all Israel during the Exodus at Mount Sinai descending upon the mount in cloud and fire. At this mount Israel constructs a tent or tabernacle for God to dwell in. God is portrayed as a tent-dweller, NOT a city-dweller like the Mesopotamian gods, and he is a God of the wilderness, a "god-forsaken-wilderness" in Mesopotamian city-dweller's eyes. When, under Solomon, a temple is built in the city of Jerusalem, the tabernacle God dwelt in during the Exodus is folded up and placed in the Holy of Holies to remind the people that God's first domicile was a tent in the wilderness. The prophet Elijah did not seek God in the city of Jerusalem at the temple, he sought and found God at Mount Horeb in the Sinai wilderness (1 Kings 19:8-16). Yahweh-Elohim was then for the Hebrews a God of the wilderness, whereas for the city-dwelling Mesopotamians the gods who created man were city-dwellers. The gods had created man to work in their city-gardens, to raise food to feed the gods and to relieve for all eternity the gods of earthly toil. Speaking from an anthropological point of view, ancient peoples created their gods in their own image to explain their way of life. The Mesopotamians are city-dwellers, their source of food is irrigated city-gardens (fields), so they portrayed their gods as creating cities and irrigated gardens _before man's creation_ for the benefit of the gods. Then the gods create man to toil for the gods' benefit, man will provide life's necessities for the gods: Shelter, Food and Clothing. Abraham is portrayed as being a tent-dwelling shepherd with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats, these animals graze the uncultivated steppe lands of Mesopotamian edin (Ur of the Chaldees to Haran and Damascus). Understandably for the "shepherds of edin", their God will dwell in a tent and is to be found in the wilderness of eden (edin), NOT in a city and its god's city-garden. To the degree that Genesis presents God's garden as being in the midst of a region called Eden and not in a city, it appears to me that the watering hole in the midst of the steppe where Enkidu met Shamhat is the "closest match" to the garden in Eden (cities being founded by Cain and descendants _after the expulsion_ of Adam and Eve from God's garden). But fused with the watering hole which was the animals' and naked primal man's hearts' _DELIGHT_ are recast motifs originally associated with the gardens of the gods, said gods having made man to work in their city-gardens to relieve themselves of toil. Unknown to some scholars is that although the Epic of Gilgamesh is written in Akkadian it uses at times Sumerian logograms as a form of shorthand for certain Akkadian words. The "steppe" Akkadian seru, that Enkidu wandered and where he met Shamhat is rendered by the Sumerian logogram (EDIN). That is to say _the _word _is _not_seru_ its _EDIN_ shown in parentheses (EDIN) and capitalized as a scholarly notation. So, Enkidu was "undone" by Shamhat in the (EDIN), at its watering-hole, a place of Enkidu's "heart's delight."
Please click here for a map showing the "possible location" of the watering hole _in edin_ where a naked man, Enkidu, was separated from his wild animal companions by a naked woman, Shamhat, just three day's journey into the wilderness of edin from Uruk according to the Epic of Gilgamesh (said account being recast by the Hebrews as Adam with unfit animal companions and Eve's replacing them as a more fit companion).
The Sumerian edin is rendered variously as steppe, plain, desert, wilderness. There is a "high plain" or "high steppe" called an edin and a "low steppe" or "low plain" called ki edin. Depending on the season these steppe lands have grasses for the shepherds to forage their animals on. The "high steppe" because of its elevation is generally more verdant due to rainfall being greater.
Averbeck on the high and low plains:
"The upland plains were a place where wild animals such as the ibex and wild goats grazed on grass and herbs. The inland plains were also a place of grass and herbs, but here the focus is on domesticated sheep and cattle, sheepfolds and cow pens, fat and cream."
(p. 336. Richard E. Averbeck. "Ancient Near Eastern Mythology as it Relates to Historiography in the Hebrew Bible: Genesis 3 and the Cosmic Battle." pp. 328-356. James K. Hoffmeier & Allan Millard, Editors. The Future of Biblical Archaeology, Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions. Grand Rapids, Michigan. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2004)
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).
Adapa received the warning _not to eat or he would die _ON THE EARTH_ at Eridu from Ea, but the forbidden food was _OFFERED IN HEAVEN_ by Ningishzida and Dumuzi on Anu's behalf. Christianity's notions about Paradise being ON THE EARTH (Genesis 2:8) and IN HEAVEN (Luke 23:43) remarkably preserves the two locations in which the Mesopotamian story unfolded regarding man's (Adapa's) lost chance to obtain immortality, Ea's fruit-tree garden ON THE EARTH in Eridu and Anu's abode IN HEAVEN. However, the Mesopotamians understood that man's lot after death was an eternity in the underworld. There was no resurrection from the underworld to look forward to. No one was going to a heavenly paradise or an earthly god's garden somewhere on the earth's surface. That is to say, in Mesopotamian belief man did not "really die" he lived for all eternity as a disembodied 'shade' or 'specter' in the underworld, his food was clay and his drink was muddy water, just like his former life upon the earth, he still needed to "eat and drink" to sustain life even in the underworld!
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)
09 July 2006 An important WARNING or CAVEAT:
For two millennia (2000 years) scholars have attempted to locate the Garden of Eden by identifying the Edenic rivers. It is obvious to me after some 30 years of personal research that this is a flawed and unproductive methodology. The below article will explore the "problems" in using modern maps of rivers and wadies (dry river beds) to pinpoint the location of the Garden of Eden.
I understand that the Garden of Eden is a myth, a later Hebrew reworking of motifs appearing in earlier Mesopotamian myths regarding how and why man came to be created by the gods. These myths reveal that man was created inorder to work in their city gardens located in Lower Mesopotamia, then called Akkad and Sumer.
Many Christians are interested in locating the Garden _OF_ Eden. The Bible however, states that God planted a Garden _IN_ Eden:
Genesis 2:8 TANAKH (Philadelphia. The Jewish Publication Society. 1988. [5748 since the Creation])
"The LORD God planted a garden _in_ Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed."
Some scholars understand Eden is Sumerian edin, the great semi-arid plain of Lower Mesopotamia (where lay ancient Akkad and Sumer) crossed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and I am in agreement with this understanding.
Three CONTRADICTING Mesopotamian myths reveal man was created in three cities, Eridu, Nippur and Babylon by the gods Sumerian Enki (Akkadian Ea), Enlil (Ellil) and Akkadian Marduk (biblical Merodach). A fourth myth, the so-called "Eridu Genesis Myth," states only that man aimlessly wanders a steppe (Akkadian: seri, seru, serim which is the _later equivalent_ of the earlier Sumerian: edin, edin-na), abandoned and ignored by the gods, in a state of nakedness with wild animals for companions, eating grass and lapping water at waterholes before the goddess Nintur takes him from this place of desolation and has him build cities for the gods and care for their city gardens.
My personal research reveals that "many Mesopotamian locations or sites" are bound up in Yahweh-Elohim's "Garden _in_ Eden" account from differing myths involving different characters. That is to say, EVERY MESOPOTAMIAN CITY had its GOD'S GARDEN in which man worked, to provide food for the god. There is NOT _A_GARDEN_IN_EDIN, but _MANY_ GOD'S CITY GARDENS _IN_ EDIN. The Hebrews in "recasting" the Mesopotamian myths are _REFUTING_ this fact, replacing the many GOD'S CITY GARDENS IN EDIN with ONE GOD'S GARDEN IN EDEN, portraying it as "unassociated" with a city; another Hebrew _refutation_ of the Mesopotamian belief that a God's garden is an aspect of the city the god dwells in. Genesis has Cain building the world's first city, Enoch, AFTER THE EXPULSION from the Garden in Eden. Genesis is refuting, challenging and denying the Mesopotamian understanding of how man came to be created and PLACED IN A GOD'S CITY GARDEN to care for it.
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 to serve the gods as slaves/servants to provide life's necessities for the gods of shelter, food and clothing are (1) Eridu, (2) Nippur and (3) Babylon. Enkidu of The Epic of Gilgamesh as a sort of "primal man" is created of clay by the goddess Aruru and cast on the steppe to live naked with wild animals (Like a naked Adam, Enkidu has no father or mother and as Adam is made in the image of God, Enkidu is made in the image of the supreme heaven-dwelling god Anu). I understand Enkidu 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, edinu; 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, but the warning from his god Ea not to consume anything for it is the bread and water of death was at Eridu in Sumer. 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 (Which I identify with modern Tell el-Lahm east of Eridu).
In reality, it is quite impossible to "locate" the Garden _in_ Eden using Genesis' description of one river becoming four streams because this is a "recasting" of motifs from several contradicting earlier Mesopotamian myths. No such river system exists or has ever existed according to Geologists and Archaeologists except in the realm of fantasy and imagination.
Some Christian scholars claim Eden's garden can never be found because Noah's flood destroyed the original beds of the Edenic rivers, burying them under tons of Flood sediment. Some Roman Catholic scholars date Noah's Flood to ca. 2958 B.C. while some Protestants claim the Flood was ca. 2348 B.C. Both dates fall in the 3rd millennium BC. The problem? According to Geologists and Archaeologists there is no evidence of a worldwide flood covering the earth's mountaintops in the 3rd millennium B.C. There is also no geological evidence that the Tigris (biblical Hiddekel) and Euphrates rivers ever arose from one river. The biblical portrayal of Eden's river system is then, fantasy. However a two foot deep flood deposit was found at Tell Fara (ancient Shuruppak) where, according to Mesopotamian myths the "Mesopotamian Noah" (variously called Ziusudra, Atrahasis or Utnapishtim) lived when told to build a boat to preserve the seed of animal and mankind from the coming flood. The uncultivated land contguous to the cities of Lower Mesopotamia (Sumer) was called in Sumerian the edin, and archaeologists did document that this edin had been flooded circa 2900 B.C. about Shuruppak. So an edin (eden) was submerged under a flooding Euphrates, but not the whole world.
If scholars are "correct" that Sumerian edin was later transformed into Eden, and I assume they are, and if I am correct that the city gardens of edin (ancient Akkad and Sumer of Lower Mesopotamia) have been transformed into Genesis' Garden _in_ Eden, what then is recoverable for pinpointing the biblical "Paradise" on a modern map?
The "Golden Key" for unlocking the mystery of where the Garden in Eden lies is to _isolate the prototype_ for Mesopotamia's city gardens of the gods. In other words, WHAT CITY WAS THE _FIRST_ TO BE CREATED WITH ITS GOD'S CITY GARDEN according to the myths ? This "prototype" was identified over 100 years ago in the 19th century by professional scholars (Assyriologists). Even today, in the 21st century, one encounters in the scholarly literature the acknowledgement of the site which constitutes "the prototype" for the gods' city gardens in edin. This site has been excavated by trained archaeologists, its modern name is Tell Abu Shahrein, in the Sumerian myths it was called Eridug meaning "the good city," (Akkadian/Babylonian: Eridu). For further information on Eridu being the Mesopotamian EQUIVALENT of the Garden of Eden you will need to access an article which is divided into TWO parts. Please click here for PART ONE and click here for PART TWO (Note: after clicking on the article go to your browser menu at the top of your screen, click on the "FIND" Box, enter Eridu, and the FIND Box will scan the article highlighting this word, saving you the tedious task of reading the whole article. PLEASE READ _BOTH_ PARTS)
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).
07 July 2005 Update:
I have come to realize that Sumerian edin, edin-na, meaning a "desert plain" or "desert steppe" applies equally well to both northern (Haran to Sippar) and southern Mesopotamia (Sippar to Eridu) please click here for my article titled "Eden's Four Rivers." That is to say, edin-the-uncultivated-steppe-land is to be associated "somewhat" with what is called "The Fertile Crescent" on maps of the Ancient Near East. Please click here for a geological map showing the steppe-lands extending from Basra to Haran and Damascus and down to Israel and Transjordan. Ancient Israel's patriarchs Terah, Abraham and Isaac would have wandered this region of edin-the-steppe as shepherds.
I understand that Genesis is _refuting, denying and challenging_ Mesopotamian accounts of how, why, when and where and by whom Man was created, placed in a god's garden in Eden and later why his demise was sought in a universal Flood. This denial is accomplished by the Hebrews recasting the Mesopotamian myths. Instead of gods making men to work in their gardens, a God makes a man to work in His garden.
I found the below Edens, as a "byproduct" of attempting to document Mesopotamian _parallels_ to the Adam and Eve story in the Bible, as noted in the scholarly literature. To my surprise, I discovered that no single Mesopotamian myth possessed _all_ the elements or motifs appearing in the biblical story. The parallels or motifs were "scattered" amongst several different myths. Another unexpected surprise was to realize that the Mesopotamian myths at times DISAGREED and CONTRADICTED each other about how man came to be made by the gods and WHERE the location of his first appearance on the earth was. I understand that the Hebrews brought these contradicting parallels or motifs together and created the garden of Eden myth from them.
1) According to the Bible man is made by God and placed in the garden of Eden to till and keep the garden. Some Mesopotamian myths understand that man was created to till and tend the earthly garden at Nippur belonging to a god who in myth is called Enlil. The products of this garden were originally tended and tilled by the Igigi gods, who objected to the working conditions. To prevent a revolt by the Igigi, man is made by the god Enki to replace them at Enlil's behest. Enki has an Igigi god slain and his flesh and blood are mixed into some clay making man. So, both Mesopotamia and the Bible understand man's _first appearance_ on the earth is in a garden belonging to _a_ god_, his job being to tend and till it. However, in Sumer, the god's garden is ALWAYS associated with a city that the god dwells in. The Mesopotamian "garden of the god" was NOT in some remote wilderness all by its self as portrayed in Genesis. So, Nippur's _garden of a god_ (Enlil), is an edenic prototype.
2) In another contradicting myth, man is created by the god Enki to tend and till _his_ garden located in the city of Eridu in Sumer. The Igigi gods at Eridu object to their hard toil in Enki's garden so he makes man to replace them. In this myth man is made of clay over the apsu (a freshwater source of all rivers, a spring). Please note that Eridu like Nippur, lies on a great plain or steppe, which in Sumerian is called edin which was later replaced by the Akkadian/Babylonian term siri, seri, seru or serim (from whence arise the Arabic term zor for the plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers). So, man is made at Eridu _in_ edin/siri, of its clay or earth, thus Eridu and vicinity is another edenic prototype. Leick on Eridu as as "type of" Eden:
"Eridu is the Mesopotamian Eden, the place of creation...the Mesopotamian Eden is not a garden but a city...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...The etymology of the Sumerian word Eridu is unknown...The Sumerians wrote it with the sign NUN, which looks like some kind of tree or even a reed." (pp. 1-2. "Eridu." Gwendolyn Leick. Mesopotamia, the Invention of the City. London. Penguin Books. 2001)
Not noted by Leick, however, is that the cities had been made by the gods as their earthly habitation and each had its own city-garden, full of fruit-trees, vegetables, wheat and barley planted by the gods _before man's creation_, inorder to nourish the gods who could die of starvation if they had no earthly food to eat.
3) Another contradicting myth called the Enuma Elish has the god Marduk making man to relieve the gods of earthly toil at Babylon. So, Mesopotamian myths CONTRADICTORILY have man being created at THREE LOCATIONS: Nippur, Eridu and Babylon. HOWEVER NO MESOPOTAMIAN MYTH EXISTS STATING THAT MAN WAS CREATED _IN_ DILMUN. There are _two_ Dilmun stories. The first is about gods and goddesses: Enki and wife Ninhursag and his daughters. In the second Dilmun story a man called Atrahasis (Ziusudra, or Utnapishtim) with his un-named wife, survive a Flood sent to destroy mankind, and are given immortality and settled _in_ Dilmun where they will not have to toil like their fellow man. Many scholars associate Dilmun with the Garden of Eden even though there is NO mention _in either myth_ of man being created to work its garden. Why ? Because life is portrayed as idylic like Eden's garden. However, they are right -to a degree- Dilmun is a garden of Eden "prototype," but it is NOT where man was created according to various Mesopotamian myths.
4) Another CONTRADICTING Mesopotamian myth, called by some scholars "The Eridu Genesis Myth" has man in a steppe or plain called in Akkadian (Babylonian) seri, seru, serim, which in earlier Sumerian times would have been called edin . He wanders this seri (edin) NAKED and wild animals are his companions; he eats grass and laps water at watering holes like an animal (According to the Ewe and Wheat myth and the Epic of Gilgamesh). Eventually a goddess called Nintur takes pity on naked man's "hard life" in the steppe and takes him from this seri/seru (edin) and "civilizes him." Man is taught that it is wrong to be naked, he MUST wear clothes when he comes to _dwell with the gods in their cities_ and _work in their gardens_, for the gods wear clothes and nakedness is an offense for them. The gods provide man clothing and settle him in cities built originally to house only the gods. From the gods man learns the arts of civilization, how to make musical instruments, how to forge metals, how to be shepherds, how to grow food in irrigation-fed gardens, as the gods do. To the degree that edin means an _uncultivated_ "plain, floodplain or steppe", and the Tigris and Euphrates do cross a great _plain_, extending from Baghdad to Basrah these rivers are thus associated with edin. However, please note an interesting contradiction exists here, the cities of Sumer were built in edin the plain. According to one myth in the beginning the gods (called the Anunnaki and Igigi) who built these cities were originally naked like animals, eating grass and lapping water like naked man. So, edin is not only the UNCULTIVATED PLAIN that wild animals and naked man roamed, its also a plain "TAMED" by civilized man, with irrigation canals and networks for gardens and cities. So, edin the UNCULTIVATED PLAIN which SURROUNDS Nippur and Eridu as well as Uruk (biblical Erech Genesis 10:10) is another edenic prototype. The Eridu Genesis myth notes that NAKED man in the uncultivated seri (edin), knew NO FEAR, no animal offered harm to him. Apparently Genesis' notion of an "idyllic eden" is fusing two different Mesopotamian concepts, the uncultivated edin with the gods' cultivated city-gardens planted by the gods for their self-nourishment before man's creation (Note: The gods' gardens were never called edin as this term applies only to uncultivated land, however, the cultivated gardens of the gods can be said to "lie in the midst of" or "are surrounded by" uncultivated steppe-land or the edin).
5) The notion that Adam and Eve ate of forbidden food from a tree is drawn from -in part- the myth about Enki and Ninhursag in the earthly garden of Dilmun. Enki eats without his goddess-wife's permission eight of her plants, in order to "know" them; enraged, she curses him with death, the first plant that Enki consumed is called "a tree plant". She later relents, asking him what body part ails him and thereupon makes either a god or goddess to heal that part. When he complains of his rib aching, she makes Nin-Ti, a goddess to heal his rib (Sumerian ti means rib). In Sumerian Nin-ti can mean "Lady of the rib" and "Lady that makes live." One of Enki's epithets was En-Ti, "Lord of the Rib."A number of professional scholars have suggested that Eve's being made of Adam's rib is drawing from this myth, as well as her name Eve, Hebrew Kavvah/Havvah meaning "mother of life" located at Dilmun. Some scholars have suggested Dilmun is the island of Bahrain near Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. My research, however, suggests its at Tel el Lahm in the marshes just east of Eridu. The Mesopotamian Noah called Ziusudra was placed in Dilmun, " _in the East_ where the sun rises, _AT THE MOUTH OF THE RIVERS_"
( pi narati ) and in the 3rd millennium BCE the mouth of the Euphrates was near Eridu and Ur (biblical Ur of the Chaldees) which were in texts of that era described as being at the sea's shore or edge.
Kramer suggested Dilmun was an Edenic prototype (Note: I understand the "Sumerian Noah and wife placed in Dilmun to be prototypes for Adam and Eve):
"Paradise, according to the Sumerian theologians, was for the immortal gods, and for them alone, not for mortal man. One mortal, however, and only one, according to Sumerian mythmakers, did suceed in gaining admittance to this divine paradise. This brings us to the Sumerian "Noah" and the deluge myth, the closest and most striking Biblical parallel as yet uncovered in cuneiform literature." (p. 149. "The First Biblical Parallels." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer: Twenty-seven "Firsts" in Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959 reprint of 1956 published by The Falcon's Wing Press)
But, according to other non-mythcal annalistic texts, Dilmun is a location with a city, it has a king, buildings, boat docks, irrigation canals, plantations of Date Palms, lagoons filled with fish, and marshlands. So, Dilmun (Tilmun), in edin-the-plain, east of Eridu, Shuruppak and Uruk, is another edenic prototype. Modern Arabic traditions have Eden at Qurnah where the Tigris and Euphrates join to form the Shat al Arab which empties into the Persain Gulf. The problem? I know of _NO_ ancient settlement at Qurnah from the 3rd-1st millennium BCE when Dilmun appears in annals, and the Euphrates mouth emptied into the tamtu (marshlands) near Eridu and Ur in these millennia. So, I have proposed that Dilmun might be modern Tel el Lahm, just east of Eridu (modern Tell Abu Shahrein), as it does have a 3rd millennium BCE Sumerian graveyard and evidence of an occupation in Neo-Babylonian times. In the 3rd-2nd millenniums BCE it would have been an island in the midst of the "sea" (marshlands called tamtu or "sealands"), Eridu being described as at the edge of the sea and its "snake-marshes" in 3rd-2nd millennium BCE texts. Today no sea or marsh surrounds Tell el Lahm, the remnants of this sea (marsh) I understand is the modern Hawr al Hammar Lagoon further to the ENE of Tell el Lahm and west of Qurnah. Professor Bernard F. Batto has observed that Genesis' notion that life in the beginning for primitive man was idyllic and paradisical is NOT a concept embraced by the Mesopotamians ((cf. an e-mail sent to the Ancient Near Eastern List hosted by the Oriental Institute of Chicago [said list being defunct as of Feb 2006] dated 14 May 1996. Please click here for his views). He has quite rightly noted that man's life at first was _not_ idyllic. I note that in one myth he roams the steppe (Akkadian seri) as a naked beast. The myths explain he has no fear of lions and hyenas and snakes because they did _not _yet_ exist. In other words, they will be created "later" by the gods. He is not portrayed in myths as being a naked gardener with wild harmless beasts in a god's garden in the steppe (cf. Ewe and Wheat, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and The Eridu Genesis Myth). Other myths have man created to replace the toiling Igigi gods (Atrahasis) who are threatening rebellion over their onerous working conditions, making and clearing irrigation canals and ditches at Eridu and Nippur. Man is _not_ going to enjoy an "idyllic life" as a naked gardener in the gods' gardens, his life will be that of grievous toil similar to that of the Igigi, he will make and clear irrigation ditches and plant, hoe and harvest food from the gods' city gardens to feed them. Batto rightly understands that man's life is improved when he comes to live in the cities as the gods' servant. I understand that Genesis is refuting the Mesopotamian presentation of how, why, where, when and how man came to be created.
6) The motif of forbidden access to trees appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh, when he and Enkidu set out to cut down for timber Cedars growing on a mountain guarded by a half-human monster called Huwawa or Humbaba. Most scholars usually identify this cedar mountain with some location in the Lebanon, famed in antiquity for its mighty cedars, coveted for the building of palaces and temples throughout the Ancient Middle Eastern world. Gilgamesh and Enkidu take 6 days to cross a great plain (called the steppe Akkadian seru, Sumerian edin) to reach this cedar mountain where Enkidu once roamed with his animal friends. Has Huwawa the guardian of the trees been reformatted in the Cherubbim ? Has the SWORD used by Gilgamesh to slay Huwawa become the "feiry sword" that bars access to the forbidden trees of Eden ? Perhaps Adam and Eve's forbidden access to sacred trees is a reformatting of Gilgamesh and Enkidu's forbidden access to cedar trees ? If so, then it worth noting that Ezekiel mentions the cedars of Lebanon in the Garden of Eden, comparing themselves to Pharaoh who is portrayed like a mighty cedar. That is to say, perhaps a Lebanese cedar mountain in the Epic of Gilgamesh lies behind Ezekiel's imagery of a cedar mountain in the Garden of Eden in the Lebanon ? Thus another "edenic prototype" is a Lebanese cedar mountain.
Ezekiel 31: 3, 8-9 RSV
"Behold, I will liken you [Pharaoh] to A CEDAR IN LEBANON...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."
Some may "wonder" how does the garden of Eden wind up in association with a _mountain_ (Hebrew: Har, pronounced khar) in Ezekiel's imagery, if it originally was associated with Sumerian edin-the-PLAIN ? The answer will surprise you ! In Sumerian hymns, Eridu in Sumer, where Enki lives, and where he "made man to tend and till his fruit-tree garden" is called on occasion _KUR_, which in Sumerian has several meanings, "land", "the underworld," and "_MOUNTAIN_." Perhaps "_KUR_ERIDU_" became over the millennia, the "Garden of Eden on a mountain" ? Another contradicting myth as noted above, has man created at Nippur to tend the garden of a god called Enlil. Enlil dwelt in a temple-ziggurat called e-kur, meaning "mountain house" (e= house, kur= mountain), so his garden is associated with a mountain too like Eridu.
Archaeologists understand that the progenitors of the Sumerians lived in the mountains (the Taurus-Zagros range) bordering the great Mesopotamian plain and that the earliest irrigated fields were associated with villages that received rain in the mountainous foothills. These settlers apparently brought rudimentary irrigation systems with them when they came to settle later in the flood-plain of Sumer and Akkad. Thus the ziggurats (artifical mountains) built to honor their gods are recalling their ancestors' worship of gods in mountain villages and mountain-gardens. The Bible's notion of the garden of Eden being associated with a mountain (Ezekiel) apparently harkens back to the 8th-6th millenniums BC and the villages with their gods' gardens in the Taurus and Zagros mountain ranges.
Kramer (emphasis mine in CAPITALS):
"Then Enki raises the city Eridu from the abyss and makes it float over the water like a lofty MOUNTAIN. Its green fruit-bearing gardens he fills with birds...
Enlil says to the Anunnaki:
"Ye great gods who are standing about,
My son has built a house, king Enki;
Eridu LIKE A MOUNTAIN, he has raised up from the earth,
In a good place he has built it."
(pp. 62-63. "Enki and Eridu: The Journey of the Water-god to Nippur." Samuel Noah Kramer. Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievement in the Third Millennium B. C. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1944, 1961, 1972, 1997. ISBN 0-8122-1047-6 paperback)
Now, Eridu does has the remains of a great ziggurat-temple, and the ziggurat at Nippur was called the E-Kur "Mountain House" of the god Enlil. So, if one wants to argue for the real physical presence of a "mountain" at Eridu in association with Enki's fruit-tree garden worked by man who has been created to replace the Igigi gods, the ziggurat would be my first choice. The other possible "edenic mountain" is Nippur's ziggurat called the "mountain house" where man was created to work in a god's garden (Enlil's garden).
7) Adam loses out on attaining immortality, he ate the forbidden fruit. In the Adapa myth (Adam's prototype according to several scholars) while at Eridu, his god Ea (Sumerian: Enki) warns him that when he goes up to heaven to face the supreme god Anu (Sumerian: An), not to eat anything offered for its is "the food of death." In reality, it is the "food conferring immortality" on mankind, but Ea does not want to lose man as a servant (He, as Enki, made man to be a servant to the gods). The Hebrews have INVERTED this myth, having man consume forbidden food when in the Adapa myth, man obeyed a lying god and lost out in attaining immortality (but note, neither Adapa or Adam ate the food which would confer immortality on them and via them, mankind). In another INVERSION the Hebrews place the event on the earth (but note that the warning from Ea was given on the earth at Eridu, which lies in edin-the-plain, where he has a garden of fruit trees he planted next to his shrine). So, another "edenic prototype" is Anu's abode _in Heaven_.
8) By the 2d-1st centuries BCE (Before the Common Era or BC, Before Christ), the Hasmonean Jews had come to locate Eden in the Yemen and nearby Dhofar, sources of spices and incense since King Solomon's days and the Queen of Sheba. This notion is preserved in various books called "The Pseudepigrapha." These books claim that when Adam was expelled from Eden, he asked God to allow him to take from the garden spices and incense as offerings to God, and God assented. As the ONLY known location for these products was Southwest Arabia (the Yemen and Dhofar), thus Eden came to be "transposed" there from Lower Mesopotamia (the steppe called edin, where are located Eridu and Nippur of Sumer as well as Dilmun and its marshes) to a new location. Jewish communities, according to Yemeni Jewish traditions existed from Mecca and Medina to the Yemen, settled in the days of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba to exploit the spice trade between Sheba and Jerusalem (other traditions say they settled in the area after the fall of Jerusalem, ca. 587 BCE, to the Babylonians). So, by the 2d-1st centuries BCE, Eden had come to be identified with Arabic Adn, the modern port of Aden in the Yemen, the Islamic holy book, The Koran/Quran, calls the "garden of Eden" Jannat Adn. Thus, when The Quran came to be composed in the 7th century CE (CE means "of the Common Era", or AD meaning Anno Domini, "year of our Lord"), its Jannat Adn (however Jannat Adn in the Quran is understood to be in heaven, not on the earth), was a concept the Arabs had picked up from Jews living in their area, which had been a part of Jewish folklore since the 2d century BCE; that is to say, for some 9 centuries Jewish traditions in the areas of the Yemen, Mecca and Medina, had preserved a notion of Eden being in this part of the Arabic world !
9) Even later, additional Pseudepigraphic writings identified Eden with Jerusalem or Bethshean near the Jordan River !
10) Today, some scholars seek Eden in Missouri (the Mormons), others near the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates (David Rohl). Another scholar, Dr. Juris Zarins proposed that Eden is submerged beneath the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab in Iraq. By the 1600's and 1700s a number of European scholars, both Catholic and Protestant, believed Eden could never be found because they argued that Noah's Flood had destroyed the original river courses by which it could be pin-pointed or located.
Of interest _to me_ is a passage from The Epic of Gilgamesh speaking of "a garden of the plain," as plain is "edin" in Sumerian, perhaps we what we have here is the earliest or "_first_" mention of a "garden of edin" ? Also of interest is the presence of trees in this "garden of edin," the biblical garden of Eden being famous for its trees.
Kramer (emphasis mine):
"To the...GARDEN OF THE PLAIN he [Gilgamesh] directed his step,
The...-tree, the willow, the apple-tree, the box-tree, the
...-tree he felled there."
(p. 178. "Slaying of the Dragon [Huwawa or Humbaba], the First St. George." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer, Twenty-seven "Firsts" In Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959. paperback)
Crawford on ancient Sumer's GARDENS, possessing 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 (Ge 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 Ki 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?
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)
Professor Sayce (1912) understood that Eden was the Babylonian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the "garden of Eden" was watered by these rivers and was principally a plantation of fruit trees:
"The Babylonian plain was called the Land of Eden by its inhabitants -Eden signifying a plain in the primitive language of Babylonia. It was in this plain that the garden was situated. It was not a garden in our sense of the term. The word signified what we would now call a plantation mainly of fruit trees...It was thus the annual flood of the Babylonian rivers which irrigated Paradise."
(p. 145. Professor Sayce, John Jackson, L. W. King, F. R. Maunseh & William Willcocks. "The Garden of Eden and its Restoration: Discussion." The Geographical Journal. Vol. 40. No. 2 (August 1912). pp. 145-148)
Campbell noted that the Hebrews, apparently employing inversions, are reversing or inverting motifs by 180 degrees borrowed from the earlier Mesopotamian culture. He notes that Abraham through Jacob are portrayed as wandering shepherds, _not_ settled urbanites, planting orchards and harvesting the fruit. He suggests the Hebrew shepherds wanting to magnify themselves, took earlier Mesopotamian themes praising city life and applied these motifs to themselves, portraying the urban life as depraved and not in God's favor (After the expulsion from the Garden of Eden Cain the agriculturalist and murderer appears and builds the world's first city). Campbell may be right. This would explain how a Mesopotamian city garden which man is created to toil in, relieving the Igigi gods, becomes a lush garden planted by a God before man's creation (Adam) in the midst of a wilderness called Eden. The uncultivated desert or steppe land in which wandered wild animals and shepherds was called in Sumerian edin. That is to say, the Hebrews may have reversed or inverted the Mesopotamian "creation of man" myths. Instead of man being created to work in a city garden, he is placed in God's garden in the midst of a wilderness called Eden (edin?).
Campbell on the Garden of Eden's Trees having been originally a myth of a settled peoples who plant trees and gardens instead of 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)
I do NOT understand that Eden is a real place, _its a Hebrew myth_ based on a re-working of earlier Mesopotamian myths, which offer -contradictorily- several different locations, as noted above.
The original pre-biblical prototypes appear to be_all_ Mesopotamian and associated with the great plain of edin in LOWER MESOPTAMIA and the lands of Sumer and Akkad, the island of Dilmun in the marshlands east of Eridu, and a Lebanese Cedar Mountain abutting edin-the-plain. However, the "steppe-lands" (Sumerian: edin; Akkadian : edinu or seru, seri, siri) extend from near Basra in the east near the head of the Persian Gulf to the vicinity of Haran and Damascus in Syria. To the degree that edin is associated with uncultivated steppe-land usually associated with tent-dwelling shepherds, eden is quite a large area, and includes a "high-steppe" called in Akkadian an-edin (constituting the area of Upper Mesopotamia) and a "low-steppe" called ki-edin (constituting the floodplain of the Euphrates in Lower Mesopotamia south of ancient Sippar and extending eastward to Basra).
Of interest here, is a Mesopotamian flood myth in which Enlil ("Lord Wind") is portrayed as the principal instigator in SENDING a flood to destroy _all_ of mankind which disturbs _his rest_ with its noise. However, his brother, the god Enki ("Lord Earth"), _defies him_, and WARNS a pious man called variously Ziusudra, Atrahasis or Utnapishtim of the coming flood and to save himself, family and animals by building a boat. When the Flood ends, an enraged Enlil learns that some humans have survived (Ziusudra and family). Enki confronts his angry brother, beseeching him not to ever again send a flood to destroy mankind. Enlil, relents, and agrees never again to send a flood, then Enlil "blesses" the survivors (Yahweh "blessed" the flood's survivors too, cf. Ge 9:1).
In Genesis it is Yahweh who SENT the flood and he WARNED one man, Noah, to save himself, family and animals by building a boat. I understand that Yahweh-Elohim is a fusion of Enlil who _sent_ the flood and Enki who _warned_ the Mesopotamian Noah, Ziusudra and his family.
So, according to various Mesopotamian "creation and flood" myths man was created to tend and till the garden of _a_ god in edin-the-plain at Nippur (Enlil) and another contradicting myth has man created to work in a garden of _a_ god at Eridu belonging to Enki. Thus the two brother gods, Enlil and Enki, who each had man created to work in their garden, are also involved in a Mesopotamian FLOOD myth, the one seeking mankinds' destruction, the other intervening to spare "a remnant" for a new beginning. That is to say, I understand that Enlil and Enki "lurk" behind Genesis' presentation of Yahweh-Elohim.
Another important "theme" or "motif" in the Mesopotamian "creation and flood" myths is that of the gods' attaining REST. Man is made to replace the Igigi gods who toil in the garden of a god (Enlil) at Nippur or at Eridu (Enki). The Igigi thus attain "eternal rest" from agricultural toil with man's creation. In the Mesopotamian flood myth man is to be destroyed because his "noise" disturbs the "rest" of the god Enlil (for whom man was created to work in his garden at Nippur) who complains he can neither sleep or rest ! The myths suggest that the Igigi themselves constantly clamored for a freedom from toil and this clamor was at first ignored by the Annuaki or senior gods (Enki and Enlil). When man is made, we are told that the Igigi gods "clamor" is TRANSFERRED to man ! In other words, the reason for man's "clamor" is for the same reason as that of the Igigi gods' -he has no rest from agricultural toil ! Enlil decides he will obtain sleep and rest from the "clamor" by sending a flood to destroy man. That mankind seeks to enter into the "rest" from toil enjoyed exclusively by the gods is suggested in the Bible when Yahweh swears he will not allow a sinful mankind to enter into "his rest" (cf. Hebrews 3:11, 18; 4:1, 3, 5, 8-11).
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 and Akkad (Lower Mesopotamia) of the 5th-3rd millenniums BCE 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 (Akkadian: Ea) who lived in the city of Eridu in Sumer, in edin-the-plain. 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/Ea, 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
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)
Please click here for my article identifying a 3rd millennium BCE Euphrates river's four heads or streams fanning out over edin-the-floodplain of Lower Mesopotamia, said four water courses lying between ancient Sippar and Nippur (cf. the accompaning archaeological map showing these rivers) being possibly Eden's river that became four streams.
For some 2000 years various attempts have been made to locate Genesis' Garden in Eden. I understand it is a Hebrew myth, a later recasting of motifs found in several earlier contradicting Mesopotamian myths.
In more recent times some scholars have thought they could locate the Garden _in_ Eden (Ge 2:8) by identifying its river system using modern maps. All one need do was open an Atlas and find a river dividing into four streams as described in Genesis (said river arising in Eden, and separating into the Pishon, Gihon, Hidekkel and Euphrates). The problem? No such river system can be found on modern maps.
Numerous solutions to this "anomaly" have been proposed:
Some scholars aware that the Euphrates and Tigris have never emanated from one stream based on modern geological field surveys have suggested that Genesis has been misunderstood, it isn't describing a river subdividing into four streams, rather it is four streams converging together at the garden.Wenham critiques E. A. Speiser on this notion as noted by Tsumura (Emphasis mine):
"Speiser contends that "the original narrator...has to be visualized as looking from the Persian Gulf inland" and hence 'the four heads' (verse 10) are meant to be viewed upstream rather than down," However, this view has been aptly criticized by Wenham, who holds that "the general setting as described in verses 5-8 favors a Mesopotamian site." As Wenham says, "the greatest difficulty with this [Speiser's] view is that, according to Genesis, the rivers as they flow from Eden split into four, whereas on Speiser's location THEY FLOW TOWARD EDEN TO CONVERGE THERE." (p. 38. David Toshio Tsumura. "Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood: An Introduction." pp. 27-57, in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra. Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood. Winona Lake, Indiana. Eisenbrauns. 1994)
The notion that four rivers are converging together at the Garden of Eden is a popular one and several websites on the Internet can be found propounding this theory and identifying different rivers (as well as dry river beds called wadies) as the Pishon and Geon that intersect near the mouths of the Tigris (Hebrew: Hiddekel) and Euphrates and the river they form called the Shatt al-Arab which empties into the Persian Gulf.
Some Christian scholars reject all of the above arguing that Eden's river courses are buried under tons of Flood sediments and are not recoverable. According to these scholars one should give up attempts to locate the Garden of Eden by seeking ancient river courses near the Tigris and Euphrates, it is an excercise in futility. They argue further that the present beds of the Tigris and Euphrates are not the original beds of the pre-Flood Edenic world.
Professor Millard on the notion that the Flood was a "real" event and that the Mesopotamian and Israelite accounts are merely Polytheistic vs. Monotheistics recollections:
"Differences between the Babylonian and the Hebrews traditions can be found in factual details of the Flood narrative...For both Babylonians and Hebrews the Flood marked the end of an age...The two accounts undoubtedly describe the same Flood, the two schemes relate the same sequence of events...Granted that the Flood took place, knowledge of it must have survived to from the available accounts; while the Babylonians could only conceive of the event in their own polytheistic language, the Hebrews, or their ancestors, understood the action of God in it. Who can say it was not so?" (Alan R. Millard. "A New Babylonian 'Genesis Story.' Tyndale Bulletin Vol.18 (1967). pp. 17-18. cited on p. 40. "The Flood." John H. Walton. Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context, A Survey of Parallels Between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan Publishing House. 1989. 1990 Revised Edition)
Walton (a devout evangelical christian scholar), citing Millard's above observations, understands that the biblical account is recollecting the "same event" as the Babylonians and is not indebted to the borrowing of Mesopotamian literary statements and recasting them:
"This suggests that we are not dealing with a literary dependence or even a tradition as much as we are dealing with two literary perspectives on a single actual event." (p. 40. John H. Walton. Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context, A Survey of Parallels Between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan Publishing House. 1989, 1990 revised edition)
As noted earlier, above, some Christian scholars have argued that Noah's Flood, which they understand was a real event, destroyed the Edenic river courses burying them under millions of tons of flood sediment and thus the Garden can never be found. However there is a problem. Roman Catholic scholars date Noah's Flood as circa 2958 BC while Protestant scholars suggest a Flood date of ca. 2349 BC. Why two differing dates? The Catholic Bible is descended in part from the Septuaginta Bible, which, according to some traditions was written in Greek in the 3rd century BC by Jews for Jews living at Alexandria, Egypt. It gives differing ages for the pre-flood patriarchs which places Creation at ca. 5199 BC. The King James Bible popular among some Protestants is derived in part from the Jewish Massoretic Text of the Middle Ages, and it suggests for some scholars a Creation ca. 4004 BC. Whether or not Noah's Flood is ca. 2958 or ca. 2348 BC is not the issue, the issue is that Geologists and Archaeologists have never found the sedimentary silt evidence of a universal flood anywhere in the world of the 3rd millennium BC (both the Catholic and Protestant flood dates falling within this millennium). To date, archaeologists and geologists have failed to find evidence of world wide flood in the 5th-1st millenniums BC anywhere in the ancient Near East. They date some settlements in Sumer (modern Iraq) to the Ubaid period of circa 4900 BC, specifically the ancient city of Eridu (modern Abu Shahrein near Ur of the Chaldees), which in Mesopotamian myths was the very "first" city built by the god Enki. This myth has the world covered in water, then a freshwater stream eurpts from the depths of the ocean, land forms about it and Enki builds Eridu. Of course in the Bible the "first" city is built by Cain and called Enoch after his son (Ge 4:17). So, it is clear that Genesis' author understands at least _one city_ built by Cain sometime in the course of the 4th millennium was engulfed by Noah's 3rd millennium BC flood, but the archaeological and geological evidence does not support this notion.
Bright (1961) on a world encompassing flood's absence in the 3rd millennium BC:
"Has Archaeology Found Traces of the Flood?
...For excavations in Palestine and Syria the answer is an unqualified "No." In these two countries some of the oldest towns in the world have been excavated. We know now that Jericho was founded near the beginning of the Late Stone Age. While we cannot be certain that the town was first settled in such an early period, we can be sure that the town was first settled between about 5000 and 4500 BC. This city and others in Palestine established after it show no evidence whatever of a flood...
1. The evidence from Ur...At Ur Wooley found a continuous occupation from the Early Dynastic back to the Obeid [Ubaid]Period. In the middle of the Obeid level he found a stratum of river mud or deposit some ten feet thick -conclusive proof that a deluge had interrupted the occupation of the place, at least temporarily, during the fourth millennium. Wooley is confident that he has here the evidence of Noah's flood (see, for example, his Ur of the Chaldees  p. 29) and his assurance is enthusiastically shared by most popular handbooks which deal with the subject.
2. The evidence from Kish. The excavations conducted at this site between 1923 and 1932 also yielded evidence of inundation. But the flood level here lies well within the Early Dynastic Period l that is, considerably later than 3000 BC and many centuries after the Ur flood deposit, The two cannot refer, therefore, to the same catastrophe (see Watelin and Langdon, Excavations at Kish, Vol, IV, pp. 40 ff.).
3. The evidence from Fara [ancient Shuruppak]. During the excavations at this site in 1931 a sterile, alluvial layer some two feet thick was found between the Jemdet Nasr and Early Dynastic layers -thus indicating an inundation at the site which was earlier than the one at Kish and yet much later than the one at Ur (see Schmidt, Museum Journal, XXII, 193 ff.). (pp. 34-35. John Bright. "Has Archaeology Found Any Evidence of the Flood?" pp. 32-40. G. Ernest Wright & David Noel Freedman, editors. The Biblical Archaeologist Reader. Chicago. Quadrangle Books. 1961)
"This concludes the actual archaeological evidence bearing on the flood...Archaeology has given us no trace of it..." (p. 37. John Bright. "Has Archaeology Found Any Evidence of the Flood?" pp. 32-40. G. Ernest Wright & David Noel Freedman, editors. The Biblical Archaeologist Reader. Chicago. Quadrangle Books. 1961)
If the disciplines of Geology and Archaeology declare there is no evidence of a worldwide flood covering the mountian tops, where then did the Hebrews get the notion of a world wide Flood occurring some time in the 3rd millennium BC (Roman Catholic 2958 BC or Protestant 2348 BC)?
Some Secular and Liberal Scholars understand that the worldwide Flood appearing in the The Epic of Gilgamesh is the source. This epic provided a GOLDEN KEY to "unlocking" the mystery of Noah's Flood. Unlike the Bible, the epic revealed that the individual called variously Ziusudra, Atrahasis and Utnapishtim who built the ark to "save the seed of man and animals" LIVED AT SHURUPPAK in Lower Mesopotamia when his god warned him of the coming event and to build the boat. Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara in Iraq) has been identified and excavated (1931) and only _one_ flood layer was found at the site bringing to an end the Jemdat Nasr era, said era being variously dated ca. 3200-2800 BC. The Shuruppak Flood was dated ca. 2900/2800 BC, _that is to say, it occurred in the same millennium, the 3rd millennium, as Noah's Flood_ (the Catholic Bible suggesting a date of 2958 BC while the Protestant Bible suggests 2348 BC). The Flood at Shuruppak was determined by a study of the sediment to be a local flooding Euphrates river and its canals. It did not cover all of Mesopotamia or even all of Lower Mesopotamia as excavations at other nearby cities revealed the absence of this Flood layer.
Ergo, if there was no Noah's Flood in the 3rd millennium BC, then Eden's river system "ought" to be recoverable from modern maps but it isn't. The Tigris (biblical Hiddekel) and Euphrates as determined by modern geological surveys have never arisen from one stream as portrayed in Genesis. They rise from different sources near each other in the mountains of Armenia (modern Turkey).
Why then did the anonymous narrator of Genesis have four streams arising from one? The solution is to recall the premise underlying _my investigations_ of the pre-biblical Mesopotamian motifs incorporated in Genesis: The Hebrews are recasting the Mesopotamian motifs and beliefs in order to refute them.
In one Mesopotamian myth there is a single stream of water for the Tigris and Euphrates, it comes from Enki's penis. He ejaculates his "sperm" and it fills the empty beds of these two rivers which according to myth, were dugout by the Igigi gods before man's creation. The Hebrews are then challenging this notion. They have put "a new twist" on the story (to use Lambert's observation), yes, there is one stream that the Euphrates and Hidekkel (Tigris) arise from but its not Enki's ejaculate, its a natural stream flowing from the Garden in Eden. This one stream leaves the Garden in Eden and then divides into four rivers.
Another Mesopotamian myth has Enki residing at Eridu, in the depths of the apsu or abzu (abyss), a freshwater stream or spring under the earth, and from this location he sends the freshwater needed for edin's two streams, the Tigris and Euphrates. That is to say, the Mesopotamians understood that the mythical underground apsu stream at Eridu was the source of all the freshwater in springs, wells and rivers via subterranean channels emanating from this location. I understand that Eridu has been recast by the Hebrews as Yahweh's Garden in Eden, its mythical apsu spring, source of underground streams for the Tigris and Euphrates, was transformed in a single river that subdivides into four rivers flowing atop the earth.
Where then is the Pishon and Gihon? I understand with other scholars it is probably a Wadi called Bishah (Bisha) in the province of Asir in present day Saudi Arabia, South West Arabia (cf. p. 374. Vol. 5. W. W. Muller. "Pishon." David Noel Freedman. Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992) . This 300 mile wadi rises in the Asir mountains near the Red Sea and flows north. When heavy rains fall in the mountains this wadi can flow with torrential water. South of Wadi Bishah lies a terraced fertile mountain region called the Haulan (Khaulan or Khawlan) which some scholars have suggested might be the land of Havilah (Hebrew: Hawila, the Targum's Chavilah) associated with the Pishon. To its south lies San'a the capital of the Yemen (Another Haulan/Khaulan region or district lies to the ESE of San'a). The book of Genesis (10:26-31) stated that Joktan had several sons: Sheba, Hazarmaveth, Ophir and Havilah. South Arabian traditions claim Joktan is their ancestor Qahtan (cf. p. 935. Vol. 3. Richard S. Hess. "Joktan." David Noel Freedman. Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992). Sheba is identified with Saba of the Classical Greek Geographers in SW Arabia (the Yemen), while Hazarmaveth is generally identified by some with a region called Hadramawt (In the east border of Yemen and near Dhofar). Thus Havilah and its Pishon river are to be found in SW Arabia, far away from the Tigris and Euphrates. The Gihon was identified in the Septuaginta Bible with the Nile in Ethiopia (the modern Sudan). How does a Gihon/Nile and Pishon/Bishah connect to the Hidekkel and Euphrates? They don't, except in myth. In Homeric myth (ca. 850 BC) freshwater River Ocean encircles the world and via subterranean streams is the source of all the world's rivers. In Mesopotamian myth, Enki at Eridu, residing in the apsu stream, is the source of all the world's rivers via subterranean channels. I suspect that the Hebrews employing an _inversion_ the Mesopotamian concept of all the world's rivers being fed by UNDERGROUND streams emanating from one source, the apsu stream at Eridu where dwells Enki have the edenic stream dividing ATOP the earth's surface.
The archaic Sumerian "world" of the 4th-3rd millenniums BC was the land bordered by two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. I suspect that the Hebrews expanded this notion of a world bordered by rivers to include Cush in Africa and Southwest Arabia's Joktanic tribes, Sheba, Hazarmaveth, Ophir and Havilah with the Gihon/Nile and Bishah/Pishon.
I understand that the Jews before going into Exile (ca. 587 BC) may have been exposed to these Homeric Greek notions, and thus could have portrayed the Bishah of SW Arabia and the Gihon/Nile of Cush (Sudan) as streams of the Edenic river. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who flourished in the 1st century AD stated that the river of Eden encircled the world and it gave rise to Eden's four streams. It would appear that Josephus is utilizing the Homeric Greek notion of River Ocean being the source of all the world's rivers as the Greeks understood River Ocean encircled the known world. How did a Jew in the Exile writing Genesis ca. 562-560 BC know of the Homeric River Ocean? Genesis mentions two Greek personages: Japheth (Greek: Iapetos) and Ionia (Hebrew and Neo-Assyrian: Iawan, derived from the Greek personage called Ion). In the 7th century BC Gyges of Lydia, (Genesis' Ludim or "Lydians" according to some scholars, cf. Ge 10:13) sent Greek mercenaries to Saitic Egypt to help them rebel against Assyria and re-establish their independence. These Pharaohs used "Greek" mercenaries (Lydians, Carians, and Ionians) in their forces which reoccupied Canaan and Judah after Assyria had withdrawn her troops ca. 640 BC from this area to combat rebellions in Media, Elam and Babylonia. It has been suggested by some scholars that King Josiah of Judah (ca. 640-609 BC) may have even hired Greek mercenaries to augment his troops as pottery shards in the Jewish fortress of Arad in the Negev bear inscriptions of Greek names in the 7th century BC. So, via either Greek mercenaries stationed in Judah by the Pharaohs to keep Judah in a state of subservience to Egypt or by Greek mercenaries hired by Josiah, the Jews may have come to know Homeric myths of one river that was the source of all the world's rivers. This notion then would have resurfaced in the Exile in Genesis (written ca. 562-560 BC) as Eden's four streams arising from one stream.
How did the Greek Titan called Iapetos/Iapetus regarded by the Greeks to be their ancestor via his son Prometheus and grandson Deucalion come to appear in a 562-560 BC Genesis account as Japheth on Noah's Ark? Perhaps the Ionian Greek mercenaries stationed in Judah either under the Saitic Pharaohs or Josiah related to the Jews stories of their ancestor Iapetos, whose descendants who were called Iapetidae, Iapetionidae or Iapetionis survived "Deucalion's Flood" in Greece, Iapetos' grandson Deucalion building an ark to withstand the Flood. The Jews -apparently in error- associated the Iapetidae Deucalion's flood with Noah's Flood, the latter flood being traced by Liberal Scholarship to the flood appearing in The Epic of Gilgamesh and documented by archaeologists as a flooding Euphrates river at Shuruppak in Lower Mesopotamia ca. 2900 BC. In the Greek myths Iapetos is not the son of a person called Noah, he is the son of Uranos/Uranus ("Heaven") who hates and abuses his sons. In revenge, one of Uranos' sons, Cronos (a younger brother of Iapetos), emasculates his father, cutting off his testicles with a knife when he arrives in a state of _nakedness_ "to bed" (or copulate with) his wife Gaea ("Earth"). I understand the Jews have transformed Cronos into Ham who violated a _naked_ Noah (The _naked_Uranos' violation becoming the _naked_ Noah's violation). Perhaps Iapetos the son of Uranos (Uranus) became Japheth, son of Noah in this Hebrew recast of a Greek myth. Deucalion, the Flood survivor has three children (two sons and a daughter: Hellen, the ancestor of the Hellenes, Amphictyon and Protogenia), Noah too has three children (Shem, Japheth, Ham).
To reiterate, the commonly encountered Christian Apologists' notion that the Garden of Eden cannot be found because Noah's 3rd millennium BC Flood destroyed the Edenic watercourses is nonsense. Archaeologists and Geolgists have found no evidence of a worldwide flood covering the earth's mountaintops in this era. Liberal Scholars have correctly identified Noah's Flood as a later Hebrew recast of the Shuruppak Flood appearing in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Excavations at Shuruppak (1931) established that a flooding Euphrates river and its canals left its sediments ca. 2900/2800 BC in the Jemdat Nasr period said period being variously dated ca. 3200-2800 BC in the 3rd millennium BC, the _same_ millennium the Bible dates Noah's Flood to (Roman Catholic Bibles dating the Flood to circa 2958 BC while Protestant Bibles prefer 2348 BC).
The Septuaginta Bible written in the 3rd century BC at Alexandria, Egypt by Jews for Jews in Greek, understood that the source of the Tigris and Euphrates was a “spring or fountain,” (rendered in Hebrew as ed). The Mesopotamian myths agree somewhat with Genesis, that there is one source of water for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Eridu lies on a great flood plain in Iraq and Sumerian accounts called uncultivated land edin. The very first edu ('opening' for the subterranean waters) was at Eridu where dwelt Enki (Ea). From the depths of the edu at Eridu flowed a stream from the apsu or abzu, the subterranean freshwater ocean the earth floated on. Enki at Eridu, was then envision as dwelling in this apsu and he released its water to the earth's surface via wells and springs to fill rivers. Cylinder seals frequently show Sumer's kings receiving from an enthroned Enki, pots symbolizing water sources with two or even four streams of water pouring from their brims, that they might have freshwater for the gods' city-gardens in edin.
Tsumura on the Hebrew `ed and its meaning:
"Etymology of `ed. The term `ed in Gen 2:6 has been rendered as 'spring'/'fountain' [in the Septuaginta Bible]...I have shown that Albright's view that the Hebrew `ed is a Sumerian loanword via Akkadian id 'river' is less convincing than Speiser's view that `ed is connected to the Akkadian edu 'flood', which is a Sumerian loanword from e4-de-a...Both `ed and its allomorph `edo [Job 36:27] mean 'high water' and refer to the water flooding out of the subterranean ocean." (p. 40. David Toshio Tsumura. "Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood: An Introduction." pp. 27-57, in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra. Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood. Winona Lake, Indiana. Eisenbrauns. 1994)
The so-called “Eridu Genesis Myth” knows of a semi-arid steppe, a desolate wilderness inhabited by wild animals and their “companion” primitive, naked, savage man. He will be taken from this steppe (Akkadian: siri, seru, Sumerian: edin, edin-na) by the goddess Nintur and he will build cities and gardens for the gods. In other texts man is specifically created to replace the toiling Igigi gods who dug the canals and irrigation ditches for the Anunnaki gods’ city-gardens. Every Sumerian city had its god's city-garden made possible by canals and irrigation ditches radiating from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. I understand that Genesis' association of the Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates with the Garden in Eden is an allusion to these rivers being the source of the water for the gods' city-gardens in the originally uncultivated edin.
Surprisingly there are several edins. Sumerian texts found at Nippur mention a an-edin (“high steppe”); a ki-edin a “low steppe”); and an arali-edin (“underworld steppe”) (cf. pp. 2, 29, & 17. Hugo Radau. Sumerian Hymns and Prayers to the god Dumu-zi or Babylonian Lenten Songs from the Temple Library of Nippur. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1913).
Scholars are divided on the origins of the Hebrew word eden (`eden). It has been translated to mean 'delight'. Some have suggested it is derived from Aramaic `dn meaning 'a place well-watered' or 'abundant in water'.
Tsumura on Eden's 'contested' etymology:
"Etymology of `eden. In light of the new information from Fekheriyeh, Millard, Greenfield, and others have recently suggested that the term `eden means 'a place well-watered place'. This fits the context of Geneis 2 very well. There are three theoretically possible explanations for the etymology of the Hebrew `eden:
(a) Sumerian Loanword directly into West Semitic. The Sumerian edin 'plain', has been suggested as its origin. But since Sumerian presumably has no phoneme /`/, it is not likely that the Sumerian edin was borrowed directly into Canaanit as `eden or the like. Also, the meaning 'plain, steppe', or uncultivated land does not fit the context of Genesis well.
(b) Sumerian Loanword via Akkadian into West Semitic. It has been suggested that the Sumerian edin was borrowed through Akkadian edinu. While this has been a common view for the etymology, Hebrew `eden cannot be a loanword from or via Akkadian edinu, since Akkadian has no phoneme /`/ either..."
(c) Common West Semitic. The root *`dn, which appears in the Fekheriyeh Inscription, in a Ugaritic text, in the divine epithet h`dn in Old South Arabic, as well as in the Arabic verb `adana, probably has the literal meaning 'to make abundant in water supply'. Hence, the Hebrew `eden probably means 'a place where there is an abundant water supply' (cf. Gen 13:10). The term *`eden (plural `adanim in Psalm 36:9), which means 'pleasure, luxury', has the same etymology as Eden, though the Massoretic Text seems to distinguish `eden from *`eden." (pp. 40-41. David Toshio Tsumura. "Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood: An Introduction." pp. 27-57, in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra. Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood. Winona Lake, Indiana. Eisenbrauns. 1994)
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)
Edin is not a "delightful" place, its a place of "horror." It is uncultivated land associated with the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This region is semi-arid and at times desert-like. It howls with blinding dust-storms. The area's source of water is primarily the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Shamhat the harlot asks Enkidu "Why roam with animals, come with me to Uruk and meet mighty Gilgamesh, "LET US LEAVE THIS _PLACE OF DESOLATION_ BEREFT OF SHEPHERDS." The steppe, edin/seru is associated with death, it is a place without abundant water, wild animals prey upon man; brigands, murderers and cut-throats wander its wastes. It is a god-forsaken wilderness. So what is going on here? Why is edin, if it is eden, being called a place of 'delight' and 'well-watered'? The Hebrews _are objecting_ to the Mesopotamian portrayal of man's relationship with his Creators. The Mesopotamians understood that the gods in the beginning DESPISED MAN. They did not seek his fellowship, or care about him, THEY ABANDONED MAN, LEAVING HIM TO WANDER _NAKED_ THE HOWLING WILDERNESS OF EDIN WITH WILD ANIMALS FOR COMPANIONS (NOT GODS FOR COMPANIONS), THE GODS GAVE MAN NO FRUITS FROM THEIR CITY-GARDENS, THEY LEFT HIM TO FEND FOR HIMSELF _EATING GRASS_ LIKE A WILD ANIMAL AND LAPPING WATER AT WATERING HOLES IN THE WILDERNESS. LIFE IS NOT AN IDYLLIC PARADISE FOR NAKED PRIMITIVE MAN IN THE MESOPOTAMIAN EDIN, ITS PURE HELL!
In the Mesopotamian myths (The Eridu Genesis Myth) man wanders naked in an uncultivated wilderness plain or steppe (Akkadian seru, Sumerian: edin) 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 ancient Ebla (Tell Mardik) in Syria (a kingdom circa 2500-2300 BCE) archaeologists have discovered that Akkadian or Old Babylonian edin, meaning "steppe or plain" is rendered as eden. Wallace has made a very important observation, if Hebrew `eden is dervied from eden/edin how does one explain away the disharmony of a semi-arid, desertlike plain or steppe becoming a lush, well-watered oasis, a place of delight? For me the answer is that the Hebrews deliberately added the phoneme /`/ to the word Syrian form eden and transformed it to mean "delight" rather than "steppe". Why? The Hebrews are refuting Mesopotamian beliefs! The Mesopotamians portrayed their gods as despising man, creating him in order to exploit him. The Eridu Genesis myth has naked man wandering the seru (Akkadian for steppe, which replaced Sumerian edin) with wild animals, abandoned by the gods. He eats grass and laps water at watering holes like a wild animal. Man was not made as an act of love. The gods do not seek man's wefare, nor do they seek to fellowship with him. The edin/eden (later Akkadian siri, seru, serim) is a place of desolation, horror and dread. Dumuzi the shephered was slain in the edin by ugalla demons. Nomads, brigands, cut-throats and outcasts wander the "lawless" eden/edin/siri, seru.
The Hebrews objected to this portrayal of primitive man "as he was in the beginning." God loves man, he seeks man's welfare, he does not place man in a place of desolation and potential harm, instead he places man in a location well-watered, "a delight" with harmless wild animals, refuting the Mesopotamian portrayal of man in the beginning. To refute the Mesopotamian portrayal of man being despised and abandoned by the gods to wander a place of desolation and horror I understand that the Hebrews took the word eden/edin and deliberately transformed it by adding the phoneme /`/ rendering Syrian eden into `eden, a "place of delight, and well-watered."
All this is to say that scholars ARE CORRECT, Hebrew `eden IS RELATED to `dn meaning "abundance, lush", BUT Syrian eden was deliberately miss-spelled in order to challenge, refute and deny the Mesopotamian notion that man in the beginning was despised and abandoned by the gods to wander eden/edin, a place of desolation and horror.
Is there _any_ evidence elsewhere in the Bible of the Hebrews changing words' original meanings in order to create a new story line? Yes. We are told Eve gives birth to Cain, Hebrew qayin, and Genesis explains the name as derived from a root qana "to acquire," but philologists suggest qayin/Cain is a regular noun and means a "smith," as in a metal-smith. Moses (Hebrew Moshe) is explained as being derived from an "act of drawing" the infant from water (the Nile river), but Egyptologists understand that his name is actually Egyptian mes/mose meaning to be "born of" and is part of a sentence name, like for instance, Thuthmose meaning "born of the god Thoth." Jewish Rabbis studying Noah's name have noted that Noah means "rest" in Hebrew but that Genesis implies he gets his name because he gives man "comfort," which suggests his name ought to be Nahman, not Noah. These "false" etymologies appearing in the Hebrew Bible then suggest for some scholars that the Hebrews were employing what is called "folk-etymologies" to explain names' meanings. In other cases the Hebrews give false etymologies and deliberately miss-spell foreign words to heap scorn and abuse on what they regard to be false religious beliefs of other nations. Babel is explained as meaning in Hebrew balal "confusion" when in fact in Akkadian/Babylonian it means "Gate of the God" (bab=gate, el=god). Genesis' Nimrod is understood by some scholars to be a deliberate miss-spelling of Ninurta a war-god of the Assyrians. Nimrod in Hebrew meaning "we will rebel." The Hebrew's willingness to twist the meanings of foreign words and change their spellings and meanings to heap derision on other nations' religious beliefs suggests for me that the Hebrews would not be adverse to changing eden the steppe as a place of desolation and horror to a place of "well-watered delight" by the adding of the phoneme /`/ to eden rendering `eden in its place.
What better way to refute man's presence in the beginning as in an uncultivated semi-arid plain or steppe called the edin with wild animals for companions, than to portray his presence with non-threatening wild animals as being in a 'well-watered place of delight' an `eden where exists a god's garden? That is to say, in the Mesopotamian myths naked man and his wild animal companions who do him no harm are associated with the uncultivated steppe or plain called edin/seru, whereas in Genesis naked man and his wild-animal companions live together with no fear in a state of bliss in a god's "delightful-well-watered-garden"! The Mesopotamian myths do not portray naked man enjoying the company of wild animals in their city-gardens (which were never called edin or seru), this relationship exists _only_ in the uncultivated steppe/plain known as the edin or seru! The god's city-gardens are off-limits for foraging by wild animals!
The Mesopotamians had another contradicting myth about man's creation, that he was created in order to work in a god's city-garden in Nippur, relieving the Igigi gods of their back-breaking agricultural toil clearing irrigation ditches of sediments. MAN'S LIFE IN THE GODS' CITY-GARDENS IS NOT IDYLLIC EITHER. IN BOTH THE EDIN HE ROAMS AS A NAKED ANIMAL EATING GRASS AND IN THE GOD'S GARDENS, HIS LIFE IS HELL. If life was idyllic in the gods' gardens the Igigi would not have complained and rebelled. They are glad that man now bears their burdens.
The Hebrews, objecting to all this recast the myths and their motifs, refuting, denying and challenging them. God loves man, he creates a world for man's benefit, he places him in his garden in Eden which will provide sustenance for man. The gods on the otherhand had made their gardens for their sustenance before man was created. Yahweh is not portrayed creating the Garden in Eden for his sustenance. He does not make man so that he, God, may dwell at ease and not have to toil in his garden for his sustenance.
If edin is what is behind the Hebrew `eden, as I have argued, is there "anything" in the Mesopotamian myths that might suggest the notion of "delight" and a "place well-watered" with the steppe (Sumerian edin, Syrian eden, Akkadian seru)? Yes, there is.
Enkidu (of the Gilgamesh Epic) is a hairy naked wildman who's companions are wild animals (gazelles), they roam together the uncultivated steppe. It is stated that Enkidu's "delight" is to enjoy the water of this steppe with his animal companions. So, in a sense, those scholars who argue that the Hebrew `eden means either "delight" or a "place well-watered" would appear to have this imagery attested "somewhat" in the description of the uncultivated seru/edin being a place possessing wild animals who "delight" with a naked man (Enkidu) in a "well-watered" location (a wateringhole) found in this wilderness near Uruk. As noted by earlier scholars Genesis' `eden appears _not_ to be associated with a city as a god's city-garden, instead is appears to be a well-watered oasis in the midst of a semi-arid wilderness which aligns somewhat with the Sumerian uncultivated semi-arid steppe or plain called edin (Akkadian seru). Pritchard on the motifs of "delight" and "water" associated with naked man (Enkidu) and his animal companions in the uncultivated steppe or seru near Uruk (Emphasis mine):
"The wild beasts came to THE WATERING PLACE to drink.
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-"
(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. Library of Congress Card 58-10052. Paperback)
The NAKED Enkidu's heart not only DELIGHTS IN WATER, it is at this watering place that he encounters a NAKED WOMAN, Shamhat the Harlot patiently awaits his arrival in order to seduce him and separate him from his animal companions. Enkidu has sex with her for six days and seven nights, apparently HIS_HEART_ _DELIGHTED_ IN_SHAMHAT_TOO. I understand that the watering hole has become a "PLACE WELL-WATERED" and the motif of "DELIGHT" (Hebrew `eden) recalls Enkidu and the animals' DELIGHT in the watering hole. The Hunter who brought Shamhat to ensnare Enkidu was recast by the Hebrews into Yahweh who introduced Eve to Adam.
For over a hundred years various Liberal Scholars have suggested the Sumerian word edin meaning the uncultivated semi-arid desert-like plain or steppe about the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is what lies behind Genesis' Eden. I am in agreement with this assessment. Every Sumerian city had its god's city-garden (cultivated fields within and without a city's walls) made possible by canals and irrigation ditches radiating from these two streams. In myths said rivers and canals being dug-out originally by the Igigi gods before man's creation. The gods according to these myths had also planted city-gardens before man's creation, to provide food for themselves as they dwelt in the cities of Akkad and Sumer (Lower Mesopotamia, today's Iraq).
I understand that the Hebrews in recasting the Mesopotamian motifs, have taken the many city-gardens (each belonging to a local god or goddess) of Akkad and Sumer which lie in edin-the-plain/steppe between the Tigris and Euphrates and fused them into _one_ Garden in Eden. Whereas the Mesopotamian myths understand a god's garden is almost always associated with the city the god dwells in, Genesis refutes and denies this by having the first city built by Cain after the expulsion from the Garden in Eden. That is to say, the Garden in Eden is not associated with a city-garden belonging to a god, instead it lies all by itself in the edin, the uncultivated semi-arid wilderness (variously described as a steppe or plain). The Hebraic notion that God's garden is in a wilderness is recalling the watering hole in edin that Enkidu and Shamhat meet at. Please note my preference in using the term "Garden _in_ Eden" rather than "Garden _of_Eden." I do not understand the Garden's name to be Eden. I understand Eden is a semi-arid region through which flows a river that waters a god's garden:
Genesis 2:8 TANAKH (Emphasis mine):
"The LORD God planted a garden _in_ Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed."
(TANAKH, The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Jewish Publication Society. 1988 [5748 since the Creation])
The Hebrews objected to the Mesopotamian myths portraying the gods as despising man and abandoning him to roam wild in the semi-arid desert-like edin, they transformed the story and made the desert-like edin into a well-watered place of DELIGHT, an `eden.
The Mesopotamian myths contradict each other in regards to where, when, how, and by whom man came to be created. Three cities have been identified with man's creation, Eridu, Nippur and Babylon. My research suggests that motifs and themes associated with Adam and Eve and Yahweh-Elohim in the Garden in Eden appear in several conflicting myths which possess many different locations. I am not first the first to make this observation. Several professional scholars have in the past noted that the motifs and themes associated with Genesis' Garden in Eden do not appear 'all together' in a single Mesopotamian composition, they appear randomly scattered about in several different ancient literary works. So it is quite impossible to claim that all the events associated with the Garden of Eden can be linked with just "one location" in one Mesopotamian composition, be it a hymn, poem, short story, or epic!
My personal research reveals that "many Mesopotamian locations or sites" are bound up in Yahweh-Elohim's "Garden _in_ Eden" account from differing myths involving different characters. That is to say, EVERY MESOPOTAMIAN CITY had its GOD'S GARDEN in which man worked, to provide food for the god. There is NOT _A_GARDEN_IN_EDIN, but _MANY_ GOD'S CITY GARDENS _IN_ EDIN. The Hebrews in "recasting" the Mesopotamian myths are _REFUTING_ this fact, replacing the many GOD'S CITY GARDENS IN EDIN with ONE GOD'S GARDEN IN EDEN, portraying it as "unassociated" with a city; another Hebrew _refutation_ of the Mesopotamian belief that a God's garden is an aspect of the city the god dwells in. Genesis has Cain building the world's first city, Enoch, AFTER THE EXPULSION from the Garden in Eden. Genesis is refuting, challenging and denying the Mesopotamian understanding of how man came to be created and PLACED IN A GOD'S CITY GARDEN to care for it.
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 (Which I identify with modern Tell el-Lahm east of Eridu).
In reality, it is quite impossible to "locate" the Garden _in_ Eden using Genesis' description of one river becoming four streams because this is a "recasting" of motifs from several contradicting earlier Mesopotamian myths. No such river system exists or has ever existed according to Geologists and Archaeologists except in the realm of fantasy and imagination.
If scholars are "correct" that Sumerian edin was later transformed into Eden, and I assume they are, and if I am correct that the city gardens of edin (ancient Akkad and Sumer of Lower Mesopotamia) have been transformed into Genesis' Garden _in_ Eden, what then is recoverable for pinpointing the biblical "Paradise" on a modern map?
The "Golden Key" for unlocking the mystery of where the Garden in Eden lies is to _isolate the prototype_ for Mesopotamia's city gardens of the gods. In other words, WHAT CITY WAS THE _FIRST_ TO BE CREATED WITH ITS GOD'S CITY GARDEN according to the myths ? This "prototype" was identified over 100 years ago in the 19th century by professional scholars (Assyriologists). Even today, in the 21st century, one encounters in the scholarly literature the acknowledgement of the site which constitutes "the prototype" for the gods' city gardens in edin. This site has been excavated by trained archaeologists, its modern name is Tell Abu Shahrein, in the Sumerian myths it was called Eridug meaning "the good city," (Akkadian/Babylonian: Eridu).
According to Mesopotamian myths the very first city (and its god's city-garden) to be built by the gods was Eridu in Sumer. For over a hundred years various scholars have suggested that for the ancient Mesopotamians Eridu was their equivalent of the Garden of Eden.
The god of Eridu was called in Sumerian Enki meaning “lord earth.” His Akkadian or Babylonian name was Ea (believed to have been pronounced aya or ayya) is understood by some scholars to mean “ [the] House of Water.” In myths the heavens are ruled by the Sumerian god An “Heaven” (Akkadian: Anu). An has two sons, Enlil “lord wind” or "lord air" (Akkadian: Ellil) rules the earth and lives at Nippur while Enki rules over the subterranean freshwater stream called the apsu or abzu.
However, _if_ "hardpressed" by my readership to choose only "one primary location" for Genesis' Garden in Eden (Sumerian edin), it would have to be the Sumerian city of Eridug (Akkadian: Eridu). Why? It not only has the _most_associations, it also has the most important association!
(1) Eridu is the "first named" location when land is first formed over the apsu freshwater stream that emerges from the depths of the salty sea and Enki builds his shrine there. Eden is the "first named" location in Genesis upon land being formed. As Leick has correctly noted Eridu is the Mesopotamian equivalent of the Garden of Eden where creation began (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." Gwendolyn Leick. Mesopotamia, The Invention of the City. London. Penguin Books. 2001. Paperback)
(2) Sumerian texts speak of the "edin of Eridu," as noted by Langdon thus edin-na or "plain" as an "Eden" is specifically associated with Eridu:
"...edin-na ? -a erida (ki)-ta In the ...plain of Eridu..."(p. 299. Line 31. Stephen H. Langdon. Sumerian Liturgies and Psalms. Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. Publications of the Babylonian section. Vol X.4. 1919 (Philadelphia, 1911-).
(3) Adapa at Eridu obtains forbidden wisdom from Ea (Enki) but is denied immortality by him. Adam obtains forbidden wisdom and is denied immortality.
(4) Ea (Enki) Adapa's patron-god, warns him _in Eridu_ not to eat the "bread of death" or drink "the water of death" which will be offered him by Anu in heaven or he will die. This for me has been recast as Yahweh warning Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil or he will die. For me this motif is the most important of all Edenic associations. Other locations in other myths have associations or motifs paralleling the Garden in Eden account, but _only Eridu_ is where man is told by his god NOT TO EAT A SPECIFIC FOOD ITEM BECAUSE HE WILL DIE IF HE DOES SO. The failure to "drink of the water of life" by Adapa seems to be echoed in the book of Revelation where we told the righteous will be allowed to eat of the tree of life and drink of the water of life (Revelation 22:1-2).
(5) Ea of Eridu "tricks" Adapa, he is offered "bread of life" and "water of life" by Anu at his heavenly abode, and obeying his god, he refuses to eat, and loses out on a chance for immortality for himself and mankind. Anu orders his two gate guards, Ningishzida and Dumuzi to return Adapa to "his earth" (Eridu) after he refuses the proffered bread and water. This is for me, the Mesopotamian prototype behind God and the Cherubim driving Adam and Eve from the Garden in Eden.
(6) Ea of Eridu as the Sumerian Enki bears the Sumerian epithet ushumgal "great serpent-dragon" (a mythical beast that walks upon four legs), however, Enki is never portrayed as being a serpent-dragon in art forms (his "animal symbol" is actually a goat-fish similar to the Greek Capricorn). Enki is famed for his "trickery" of the gods and man and he is considered to be the god of wisdom and knowledge. Enki then possesses a humanform, and can walk and talk in his fruit-tree garden at Eridu. His epithet ushumgal may have been recast as Genesis' Serpent that prevented man from obtaining immortality according to later Christian traditions.
(7) Enki (Ea) the ushumgal of Eridu is famous for his planting a wonderous Mes-tree, which towers over all other trees and is famed for its bountiful harvest of fruits. I understand that Genesis' Serpent and its association with fruit trees is a recast of the Enki the walking, talking humanlike god who bore the epithet ushumgal who planted the Mes-tree in Eridu's city garden.
(8) Ea (Enki) of Eridu (he has shrines at Shuruppak and at Ur of the Chaldees where dwelt Terah and Abraham) warns one man, Utnapishtim of Shuruppak (also called Atrahasis or Ziusudra) of the Flood which will destroy mankind, he is to build a great boat and enter it with "the seed" of mankind (himself and family) and animals, and he does so. Yahweh, the God of the Garden in Eden warns one man, Noah, of the Flood. Ea (Enki) is one of several prototypes behind Yahweh-Elohim. Enlil of Nippur who instigated the Flood is another Yahweh prototype.
(9) Enki (Ea) of Eridu out of envy and spite of his brother-god Enlil of Nippur, changes the one language of the world by which mankind offers prayers and hymns to Enlil into a babel of languages. I agree with Professor Kramer that the Hebrews have recast this motif as Yahweh creating a babel of languages in Genesis.
(10) Archaeologists have unearthed at Eridu's temple clay snakes, and naked male and female figurines, which for me, somewhat recalls a naked Adam and Eve and a Serpent.
(11) Enki at Eridu creates man of clay to work in his fruit-tree city garden, relieving the Igigi gods of that task. Yahweh creates Adam and places him in his Garden in Eden.
(12) Yahweh-Elohim is a later recast of several gods in different Mesopotamian myths. In Eridu's city garden with its wonderous Mes-tree is Enki/Ea who possesses a humanform, he is thus capable of walking and talking with man his creation. Enki also bears the Sumerian epithet ushumgal, "great serpent-dragon" (Note: Sumerian ushum means "serpent," gal means "great," yet most scholars instead of rendering ushumgal as "great serpent" render "dragon." I have taken the liberty to render the term as "great serpent-dragon"). Enki is famed for his crafty words being like "serpent venom" (as noted by Kramer) entrapping sinners. He is famed for his wisdom, cunning and trickery with the gods and man. That is to say, I understand that Yahweh-Elohim and Eden's Serpent (Christianity's Satan) are nothingmore than "alter-egos" of Enki/Ea the ushumgal of Eridu who created man of clay to work in his city garden, allowed him (as Adapa) access to forbidden knowledge and denied him and mankind immortality.
(13) The Mesopotamian myths reveal that man had been created to be a slave or servant of the gods. He was to build and maintain canals and irrigation ditches, dredging them of sediments to provide water for the god's city-gardens. He was to plant, hoe the weeds, harvest the food, prepare it and present it to the gods in their temples and shrines. The Mesopotamian gods had no intention of ever expelling man from their city-gardens, for they would then have to hoe them themselves, a task they abhorred, hence the reason they made man to replace themselves as toilers of the earth. However, these myths do mention that once-upon-a-time there was a 'rebellion" in a god's city-garden and its gardeners were "removed" because of this rebellion. The Igigi gods at Nippur rebelled against Enlil protesting their having no rest from their grievous toil. Enlil had ignored their night and day "noisey clamor for a rest" from toil for 40 years. Then the Igigi burn their tools and surround Enlil's home threatening a confrontation. In fear, Enlil summons Enki (Ea ) of Eridu to help solve the dilemma. Enki decides that man will be created to relieve the Igigi of their toil. Now the Igigi will be able to "fellowship" with the Anunna gods (Enlil and Enki) and "loll about on couches" like the Anunna, free of toil, for man will serve both Igigi and Anunna gods. Man is needed by the gods to hoe their city gardens and present them food. If man is expelled the gods will have to grow their own food and feed themselves, something they do not want to do, the "good life" is lolling about on the couches of the gods in idleness, not sweating and toiling in the hot sun hoeing in the city-gardens of the gods and dredging their ever-clogging irrigation canals.
How did the Hebrews come by these ORIGINALLY SUMERIAN & Mesopotamian MOTIFS ? The answer is that these existed in the literature and traditions of a city called UR OF THE CHALDEES, modern Tell al-Muqayyar in Iraq, where lived Terah and his son Abraham. I understand that perhaps these two individuals, transformed these myths, believing that they had a "relevation from God," to do so.
Predictably the local populace OBJECTED to this reinterpretation and transformation of their myths explaining where, how and why man came to be made. I suspect Terah and Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees as OUTCASTS or HERETICS, rejected by the local populace. Of note here is that the Jewish Hasmonean authors of the book of Judith (said book being in Catholic Bibles, and a few Protestant bibles under the title of Apocrypha), understood that because Terah and Abraham had REJECTED THE GODS OF THEIR ANCESTORS, to follow Yahweh-Elohim, they were _forced to flee_ to Haran of Mesopotamia, and later to Canaan.
Here is the account from Judith (believed by some scholars to date from the late 2nd century BCE):
"Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him, "Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth about this people that dwells in the nearby mountain district. No falsehood shall come from your servant's mouth. This people is descended from the Chaldeans.At one time they lived in Mesopotamia, because they would not follow the the gods of their fathers who were in Chaldea. For they had left the ways of their ancestors, and they worshipped the God of Heaven, the God they had come to know; hence they drove them out from the presence of their gods; and they fled to Mesopotamia, and lived there a long time. Then their God commanded them to leave the place were they were living and go to the land of Canaan. There they settled, and prospered..." (Herbert G. May & Bruce M. Metzger. Editors. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. [Revised Standard Version]. New York. Oxford University Press. 1977)
Professor Kramer on Abraham of Ur being Genesis' possible source of motifs:
"To be sure, even the earliest parts of the Bible, it is generally agreed, were not written down in their present form much earlier than 1000 BC, whereas most of the Sumerian literary documents were composed about 2000 BC or not long afterward. There is, therefore no question of any contemporary borrowing from the Sumerian literary sources. Sumerian influence penetrated the Bible through the Canaanite, Hurrian, Hittite, and Akkadian literatures -particularly through the latter, since, as is well known, the Akkadian language was used all over Palestine and its environs in the second millennium BC as the common language of practically the entire literary world. Akkadian literary works must therefore have been well known to Palestinian men of letters, including the Hebrews, and not a few of these Akkadian literary works can be traced back to Sumerian protoypes,
remodeled and transformed over the centuries.
However, there is another possible source of Sumerian influence on the Bible, which is far more direct and immediate than that just described. In fact, it may well go back to Father Abraham himself. Most scholars agree that the Abraham saga as told in the Bible contains much that is legendary and fanciful, it does have an important kernel of truth, including Abraham's birth in Ur of the Chaldees, perhaps about 1700 BC, and his early life there with his family. Now Ur was one of the most important cities of ancient Sumer; in fact, it was the capital of Sumer at three different periods in its history. It had an impressive edubba; and in the joint British-American excavations conducted there between the years 1922 and 1934, quite a number of Sumerian literary documents have been found. Abraham and his forefathers may well have had some acquaintence with Sumerian literary products that had been copied and created in their home town academy. And it is by no means impossible that he and the members of his family brought some of this Sumerian lore and learning with them to Palestine, where they gradually became part of the traditions and sources utilized by the Hebrew men of letters in composing and redacting the books of the Bible." (p. 292. "The Legacy of Sumer." Samuel Noah Kramer.
The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.  reprint 1972. ISBN 0-226-45237-9. paperback)
21 Feb 2005 Update:
Highly reccomended is Tim Langille's article which draws pretty much the same conclusions as I do in the above preceeding preface of 14 February 2005.
Please click here for his article titled "Myth Making in the Bible and in the Ancient Near East: The Yahwist Primeval Creation Myth" (2003). However, let it be acknowledged here, that in a search for "The Truth," one MUST study _both sides_, so, dear reader, I would encourage you to pause a moment and click here and read what I regard as a typical Christian Apologist "refutation" of the notion that Genesis is a reformatting of Ancient Near Eastern Mesopotamian myths.
Below, is a copy of a letter I wrote to the b-hebrew list (22 Aug. 2001) explaining the problems in identifying the Garden of Eden's location:
You are quite right about the many different theories. No one has been able
to find a river that divides into four heads or branches. Those arguing for
Eden in Mesopotamia do so on the basis of the mention of the Tigris and
Euphrates. They posit other streams that empty into these streams as
tributaries or which empty into the Shatt al Arab, which empties into the
Persian Gulf. All have to acknowledge however, that the source of the Tigris
and Euphrates is not the river of Eden. The sources of these two rivers are
in the mountains of Turkey, they do not arise from one river. So, if
geography "proves" the Bible wrong, that there is no river of Eden, what is
the recourse ? A common answer given by those of faith is that God
destroyed Eden with Noah's flood and thus the reason the Edenic river cannot
be located. Geologists understand there was _NO Noah's Flood_ covering the
entire world. So Humanists/Rationalists _don't buy_ that argument. The only
other "rational" argument has to be that the Edenic river is based on
imperfect knowledge and fantasy. What river feeds the Gihon in Cush, below
Egypt (please note that the Early Fathers of the Christian Church accepted
Jewish notions that the Gihon was the Nile) and the Tigris and Euphrates in
Mesopotamia ? Geography will tell you there is none. But Greek and Egyptian
myths will tell you that the Nile/Gihon arises from the Oceanic river that
encircles the world. This freshwater stream called by the Homeric Greeks
"river Ocean" is the source of all the world's rivers. Here then is the only
possible source for the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia and the Gihon in
Cush/Egypt, a mythological river.
22 March 2005 Update:
I received a most interesting e-mail today from a reader of my articles asking what my opinion was regarding the "origins" of the Anunnaki gods. I am posting my reply because it caused me "to see" the Garden of Eden story from _a neglected_ Anthropological point of view. That is to say, the Mesopotamian myths about man's origins are merely a recollection of REAL HISTORY to a degree, but in "mythologized form." I recall here Life magazine's excellent book titled The Epic of Man (Time Life Publishers. 1961), which traces his development from a naked beast, to a gatherer of nuts and berries, then hunter, who fashions clothes for himself from animal hides; then the REAL REVOLUTION, he settles down in Lower Mesoptamia and builds villages, domesticates animals, builds canals and irrigation systems and grows his food, and learns to grow plants to make "real clothes from" on looms to cover his naked body. That is to say, the Sumerian myths about the gods initially making man NAKED, and having him roam "edin-the-steppe/plain" with other animals, lapping water and eating herbs of the field with other beasts, are recalling their ancestors' evolution from hunter-gatherers to urban civilized man. It is _my understanding_ that Genesis' 1-4, although a later reformatting of these Sumerian myths is recalling this same _momentuous event_ in man's history. My letter:
I'm not quite sure how to answer your question. Obviously the Mesopotamian
gods and goddesses are "figments of the imagination," and are in fact -from
an Anthropological point of view- man's projection of his fears, loves and
hatreds onto "imaginary" deities created in his image.
Society has always had leaders and followers, and some kind of a "pecking
order" as seen in non-human species (chickens, ants, bees, wolves, apes,
lions, etc). Probably the Anunnaki represent this "pecking order," they _not
having to toil_ in the earthly garden of the gods, leaving the lesser Igigi
gods that _onerous_ task. That is to say, in early Sumerian society there
were the priests, nobles and kings who did not do manual labor, and then
their were the common people, who toiled. The Anunnaki probably reflect the
"privileged" class in Sumerian society and the Igigi the un-privileged.
The building of Ziggurats, called at times, Kur meaning "mountains," suggest
that they may have lived originally in the Zagros mountain range as hunters
and gatherers, who came down into the flood plains of the Tigris and
Euphrates in search of game and wild food-bearing flora. Eventually, they
came to realize they would be better-off settling down and growing their own
food and raising domesticated animals of the area, and came to build at first,
villages with canals and irrigation networks which later evolved into cities. So the "Anunnaki
stories" about them being naked at first and lapping water like beasts (like
the first humans) and roaming "edin-the-plain" with wild animals, is _probably_ the
Sumerian "recollection" -in mythical terms- of mankind's transformation from
hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist and city dweller. In a sense, Genesis 1-9
is recalling this Sumerian mythology of man's transformation from a roaming
naked beast to a clothed urbanite, but transforming it somewhat into a
single god, Yahweh-Elohim vs. many gods.
I hope this has answered your question. You might also want to try the
Google internet search engine for more articles on the Anunnaki."
25 March 2005 Update:
Neglected, in the above article is _"Eden from an Anthropological view"_. Let me "digress" here a moment. I was an educator or teacher from 1967 to my retirement in 2002. I taught Art and Social Studies to Middle School students (ages 12-14 years of age). One of those Social Studies courses was World Geography. Only a few days ago, did it finally dawn on me what the Garden of Eden story was "really all about." Its about something I had taught my students in Geography classes for the past 30 years !
I taught 7th Grade "Cultural Geography," man's inter-relationship to the land. The most important event in the history of mankind was when he ceased to be a roaming naked wild animal and became "civilized." This momentuous event was accomplished in the following manner: Speaking Anthropologically, man at first was an animal, he roamed naked with other beasts. He ate what they ate, wild herbs of the field and fruit from trees. He drank at watering holes with the animals. Then he became a "gatherer-hunter," still nomadic. Then the great revolution occured, man settled down, built villages and then cities, and became civilized and wore fine clothes made from plant fibers on looms. What made this "civilization" possible ? It was man's becoming a domesticator of animals for food and his becoming an agriculturalist, growing and raising food to eat. In Lower Mesopotamia, he achieved this via the creation of canals and irrigation sytems for gardens supporting fruit trees, vegetables, date palms, etc., said gardens being associated with a nearby village or city.
Even today, in the 21st century, the Great Civilizations are made possible by "the agriculturalist" or farmer who tends his "garden," which provides A SURPLUS OF FOOD, allowing others in the group or "society" to not have to spend their time scrounging for a mouthful to feed their empty bellies or their family's hunger. By contrast, primitive man who is still a nomadic "gatherer and hunter," spends most of his time seeking food, he has NO TIME to develop a civilization. Also note that it is not unusual to find primitive man in the wilds, NAKED like Adam and Eve, and without shame. I know of no Great Civilization, whose people wander about naked, all are clothed.
It is _my understanding_ that the Sumerian myths about the who, what, why, where, and how of man coming to be created, is in reality, recalling a REAL EVENT of great importance, these myths recall that moment in time when man ceased to be a naked wild animal roaming with other animals, and settled down, became an agriculturalist (creating gardens for food) and Civilization began.
Speaking from an Anthropological viewpoint, in reality, it was NOT a god or gods who taught man it was wrong to be naked, and provide him with clothes (as in the Sumerian Eridu Myth), nor was it the gods or a god who made man to tend his/their garden on the earth, teaching him "how" to be an agriculturalist. That great achievement was man's doing, not a god's. Man gave up being a nomadic "gatherer-hunter," gave up being naked, gave up roaming the wilds with animals. In Lower Mesopotamia he settled down, built canals, irrigation ditches, became an agriculturalist, raised food, grew plants which could be turned into cloth on looms. Man, via, experimentation, keen observation of nature (flora and fauna), and trial and error, developed Civilization and cities, NOT the gods or a god.
I understand with other scholars, that Genesis' myths regarding man's creation and being placed in a god's garden to till and tend it, in a state of nakedness, and then later leaving it to found cities (Cain) is nothing more than a "re-working" of earlier Sumerian motifs on how man came to be made, and cities and civilization came into being. The Sumerians possesed one of the world's earliest "great" civilizations with temples, ziggurats, canals, cities, writing, mathematics and calendars.
The Sumerians were WRONG, the gods did NOT teach their ancestors all this ("the arts of civilization"), man achieved all this ON HIS OWN ACCORD. So, in a sense the Sumerian myths about man's creation and his cites are recalling man's _EVOLUTION_ from a naked ANIMAL TO A CLOTHES-WEARING CIVILIZED HUMAN BEING dwelling in cities.
Thus _I understand_ Genesis' "Garden of Eden" and creation of man by God, although a later re-working of Sumerian creation myths of how mankind came to be made by the gods, is in reality, a recollection of the greatest achivement ever made by man, his self-transformation from a wandering naked animal to a settled agriculturalist and city dweller, all made possible by man's becoming an agriculturalist, creating wonderous gardens capable of creating a "food-surplus" freeing his fellow men, so that they could apply themselves to discovering and developing the "arts of civilization."
So, man _was robbed_ by "priests" of his greatest intellectual achievement, his SELF-TRANSFORMATION from a naked animal roaming edin-the-plain to a clothes-wearing civilized man. The "priests" of Sumer ascribed man's "wearing of clothes" and "arts of civilization" to the gods teaching man that he should wear clothes, till and tend the gods' gardens and build cities for the gods to dwell in. It would take some 6000 years for man's SELF-TRANSFORMATION from naked beast to clothes-wearing city-dweller to be _properly restored to man_ by the secular humanist disciplines of Archaeology and Anthropology, which arose in the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries, our modern era.
Professor Foster on how man came to be created:
"When the gods were man, they did forced labor, they bore drudgery. Great indeed was the drudgery of the gods, the forced labor was heavy, the misery too much: The seven (?) great Anunna-gods were burdening the Igigi gods with forced labor...[The gods] were digging watercourses, canals they opened, the life of the land...They heaped all the mountains. [ years] of drudgery, [ ] the vast marsh. They counted years of drudgery, [ and] forty years too much ! [ ] forced labor they bore night and day. They were complaining, denouncing, muttering down in the ditch, "Let us face up to our foreman the prefect, He must take off this our heavy burden upon us ! (pp. 52-3, "The Story of the Flood," [The Atrahasis version]." Benjamin R. Foster. From Distant Days, Myths Tales and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland, CDL Press, 1995, ISBN 1-883053-09-9, paperback)
The Anunna gods acknowledge the burden of the Igigi and their "clamor":
"Ea made ready to speak, and said to the gods [his brethren], what calumny do we lay to their charge ? Their forced labor was heavy. [their misery too much] ! Every day [ ] the outcry [was loud, we could hear the clamor]. There is [ ] [Belet-ti, the mid-wife], is present. Let her create, then a human, a man, let him bear the yoke...[let man assume the drud]gery of god...She summoned the Anunna, the great gods...Mami made ready to speak, and said to the great gods, "You ordered me the task and I have completed (it) ! You have slaughtered the god, along with his inspiration. I have done away with your heavy forced labor, I have imposed your drudgery on man. You bestowed (?) clamor upon mankind..." (pp.58-59, Foster)
The Igigi gods in gratitude fall at her feet, kissing them, she having freed them from toil, and declare a new name for her "Mistress of All the gods" (Belet-kala-ili).
A CAVEAT ("WARNING"):
As can be seen from Professor Foster's above translation the Igigi gods are objecting to the making of watercourses and canals, NOWHERE does the text say they are working in the Anunnaki gods' city-gardens ! So, why am I claiming the Igigi worked in the Anunnaki gods' gardens ?
I am stepping back and looking at the "big picture," or to put it another way "connecting the dots" (making INFERENCES)! We have two sets of gods dwelling in cities they have made for themseleves on the earth, the senior gods called the Anunnaki or Anunna and the junior gods called the Igigi. The Anunnaki are making the Igigi do the work. What is the purpose of canals and watercourses in Mesopotamia ? Its not to water the grass lawns near the temples. The cities of Lower Mesopotamia are habitable only if a food-supply is available for the occupants.
The watercourses, canals and irrigation ditches MAKE POSSIBLE THE CITY-GARDENS OF THE GODS. Thus I INFER that when the Anunnaki sit down to a meal, they as the senior gods are not out in the hot sun planting the crops, nor are they hoeing out the weeds, nor are they harvesting the crops, nor are they preparing the crops for the table. The Anunnaki are eating the garden-produce, and someone has to make all this "happen."
According to the myths Man has not yet been created, so that leaves the Igigi gods as bearing these burdens. That is to say it is my understanding that they not only are digging-out watercourses and canals, but irrigation ditches, and planting, hoeing and harvesting the crops to feed the Anunnaki as well as themselves.
When it is at last decided to REPLACE THE IGIGI WITH MAN, it is man who will now dig watercourses, canals, irrigation ditches and plant the crops, hoe them of weeds and harvest them and present them as food in the temples and shrines to the Anunnaki and the Igigi. Hence the reason I understand that the Igigi were burdened with toil in the gods' gardens. The gods' gardens cannot exist without water from man-made watercourses, canals and irrigation ditches.
George (a Professor of Babylonian at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies) suggests that THE IGIGI WERE TASKED WITH GARDENING DUTIES: planting, harvesting and preparing crops for the table in addition to making canals and irrigation ditches (Emphasis mine):
"We know from many ancient Mesopotamian sources, in Sumerian and in Akkadian, that the Babylonians believed the purpose of the human race to be the service of the gods. BEFORE MANKIND'S CREATION, the myth tells us, the cities of lower Mesopotamia were inhabited by the gods alone and they had to feed and clothe themselves by their own efforts. Under the supervision of Enlil, the lord of the earth, THE LESSER DEITIES GREW AND HARVESTED THE GODS' FOOD, TILLED THE SOIL and most exhaustingly, dug the rivers and waterways THAT IRRIGATED THE FIELDS...Eventually the labour became too much for them and they mutinied." (p. xxxvii. "Introduction." Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh. The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999)
I understand that the "irrigated fields" ARE THE CITY GARDENS OF THE GODS, which provide them with food. Man is created to replace the mutinous Igigi gods. Man's destiny is to toil in the Gods' gardens for evermore, providing the Anunna and Igigi gods with food, releasing them from agricultural toil upon the earth. Genesis' notion that God made man and placed him in his garden in Eden, is then, for me a later Hebrew recasting of the Mesopotamian myths about man being made and placed in the gods' gardens to relieve them of toil. The Hebrews in RECASTING these Mesopotamian myths regarding how, why, when, where man was created ARE REFUTING, DENYING AND CHALLENGING this presentation of the relationship between Man and his God.
Man is made of clay at Nippur under the god Ea's (Sumerian Enki) direction. This clay (titi) is given life or animated by being mixed with the flesh and blood of the Igigi god considered to be the ringleader of the Igigi rebellion against Enlil of Nippur. That is to say Man's REBELLIOUSNESS to a god is because he has in his body the REBELLIOUS SPIRIT of the slain Igigi god. The Hebrews are REFUTING this notion, portraying Adam as REBELLING against Eden's God as an act of freewill, by eating the forbidden fruit. For the Mesopotamians MAN IS THE VICTIM OF THE GODS. For the Hebrews GOD IS THE VICTIM of a rebellious ungrateful mankind whom he wishes to shower with love and fellowship.
Genesis has man (Adam) created and placed in a God's garden to care for it; he rebels and is removed from the garden of Eden. I understand this a later RECAST of the Mesopotamian story regarding man's creation. The Igigi gods REBEL against the god Enlil, refusing to work in his city garden at Nippur. They are REMOVED FROM THE GOD'S GARDEN FOR REBELLION. Man is created to work in their place. The Mesopotamians HAD NO CONCEPT OF A GOD REMOVING MAN FROM HIS GARDEN FOR AN ACT OF REBELLION. THE GODS _NEEDED MAN_ TO WORK THEIR GARDENS, IF MAN WAS EXPELLED, THE GODS WOULD HAVE TO HOE THEIR GARDEN THEMSELVES, A TASK THEY ABHORED, HENCE THE REASON THEY MADE MAN AND PLACED HIM IN THEIR GARDEN. The Hebrews then, in having God EXPELL MAN FROM HIS GARDEN are _REFUTING_ the Mesopotamian concepts regarding why man was created and placed in a god's garden (at Nippur and Eridu). For the Mesopotamians life working in a god's garden was a back-breaking hell. Genesis REFUTES this notion portraying Adam as enjoying an idyllic life caring for God's garden in Eden.
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 BC: "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 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)
Below is the ORIGINAL Article from 2001 (with later "revisions"):
There are a wide variety of proposals for Eden's location, made by professional Bible scholars as well as enthusiastic amateurs. We will look at some of the problems which must be surmounted in identifying Eden's location and explain how and why these problems have stymied attempts to locate Eden. There is today no scholarly consensus on Eden's location. Some claim it is a myth, others that it is, or was, a real place.
Everyone brings presuppositions and biases to their research and I am no different. It is my understanding that Eden is a myth, but that the writers of the Bible believed it really existed and that it could be located. The pinpointing of Eden's location has to be based on the geographical information provided in the Bible.
As above noted, I understand that Eden is a mythical place, it never existed; its based on a later Hebraic re-working and transformation of very ancient Mesopotamian myths and legends concerned with how mankind came to to be created, what is purpose in life was, how he came to loose out on a chance to obtain immortality, and why his demise was later sought in a universal Flood, said motifs being preserved in several different compositions: "Adapa and the South Wind", the "Atrahasis Epic", the "Epic of Gilgamesh", and the "Enki and Ninhursag myth" (in Dilmun) and others.
Some Conservative, bible-believing scholars, who believe Eden really existed, understand that any attempt to locate this place is an "excercise in futility" because they understand that Noah's Flood destroyed the Edenic world and its river systems (Protestants tend to date Noah's flood to ca. 2345 BC while Catholics date the Flood to ca. 2950 BC). Hence many Conservative Christian Scholars understand that attempts to find Eden using today's river courses is a flawed methodology.
Secular Humanist scholars (so-called "Liberal Scholars") understand there was _NO_ Noah's flood covering the whole world, this is a borrowing and re-working of ancient Mesopotamian Flood myths preserved in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis Epic. In those epics the "Mesopotamian Noah" (called variously Ziusudra, Atrahasis or Utnapishtim) is a king living in Shuruppak in Lower Mesopotamia. His god Enki/Ea warns him of a flood to be sent by the gods, he builds a great boat and saves family and animals. Archaeologists have found Shruppak and excavated it. They found the silt deposits of the "Mesopotamian Noah's" flood (deposited ca. 2900 BCE). When inspected under powerful microscopes the silts were determined to have been freshwater laid deposits from a flooding Euphrates river (Shuruppak in antiquity was near this river). Many -but not all- of the details are so similar in the biblical and Mesopotamian accounts that many Liberal scholars understand the Hebrew account is a later re-interpreted and transformed Shuruppak flood.
Most Geologists, contra the claims of bible-believing "creationists" like Morris and Whitcomb (cf. Henry M. Morris & John C. Whitcomb Jr. The Genesis Flood, the Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications. Philadelphia. Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co. 1969) have found NO geological evidence of a flood engulfing the world of Sumer and Babylonia or of the Ancient Near East (Syria, Canaan, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Persia, Elam). They have found only the freshwater laid flood deposits of the 4th-3rd millenniums BCE near Shurrupak and Ur of the Chaldees (where Terah and Abraham lived). Hence, a search for Eden's rivers is viable, they being the river systems of today's world and the world of the 3rd millennium BCE when the Shuruppak flood occurred (the Euphrates has flooded innummerable times, even as late as the 20th century CE).
An Important Note about Methodologies:
A commonly committed error by many modern scholars -in my opinion- both professional and amateur, is that they "insist" that "modern geographical knowledge" of the Earth's features must be used in determining Eden's location. They therefore either seek flowing rivers or the beds of ancient dried-up rivers, called wadis in Arabic, to locate Eden. They fail to take into account ancient man's imperfect geographical knowledge, and the realm of myth and error which existed in ancient geographical understanding. No success can be had in identifying Eden if one does not first study how ancient man understood his world, a world full of impossible geographical features by today's geographical standards.
Before attempting to identify Eden and its rivers we will first take a glimpse into the archaic notions man had about his world and its geography.
Archaic Notions about the World's Rivers and their Sources
(3rd millenium BCE through 1st century CE):
It is my understanding that the Eden Myth is a transformation of the 3rd millenium BCE Sumerian Dilmun myth. Dilmun was an island in the marshes of Lower Mesopotamia, located at "the mouths of the rivers," i.e. the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates, where lived a god and his wife by the name of Enki and Ninhursag. I understand Dilmun is modern-day Tel el Lahm to the east of Eridu. A number of stories are told about Enki by the Sumerians that are reminiscent of stories later told about the Hebrew God, Yahweh-Elohim in Genesis. I suspect like other scholars that Sumerian myths have been "re-worked" by the Hebrews and underlie some of the "strange notions" about Eden and its rivers. One myth has the Mesopotamian survivor of the world-wide Flood, Utnapishtim and wife, placed in Dilmun, an island "located at the mouths of the rivers," evidently the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates. The Arabs have traditions that Qurnah, where the mouth of the Euphrates meets the mouth of the Tigris, to form one river, the Shatt al Arab, is the location of the Garden of Eden, but in antiquity, the 3rd millennium BCE, the rivers' mouths were at Eridu, Ur and Lagash to the west of Qurnah.
The Pre-Biblical Sumerian concepts:
Kramer informs us that the Sumerians understood that the source of all rivers was a place called the Abzu or Apsu, a subterranean freshwater ocean lying under the earth. They believed that entry into this ocean was via an opening under the temple of Enki located at the town of Eridu. Sumerian writings claim Eridu was on the shore of the sea, called Tiamat. The Marshlands were called Tamtu, or "the Sealands." Enki dwells in his Abzu house in the watery depths, but comes up to the earth from time to time to visit Eridu, Dilmun and the marshes. He is portrayed as having two streams of water with fishes in them erupting from his shoulders, to show he is the source of the freshwater rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates.
Kramer notes that the Sumerian ideogram for the earth was called ki meaning "earth". This sign represented the totality of their world which they knew. I suspect that this ideogram represents in schematic form the world of the Sumerians. They lived in Lower Mesoptamia between two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, which they called the Buranum and the Idiglat. I thus interpret the two long curving lines rather like elipses to be the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The parallel lines between "the rivers" symbolize for me, the irrigation canals which provided food for the Sumerians. I thus understand that their world was the world between the rivers (Mesopotamia in Greek means "Land between the rivers").
I suspect, that the Hebrews, building upon archaic notions of the Sumerians, of a world being surrounded by rivers, expanded the Sumerian world to include Cush (Ethiopia) and SW Arabia (the Yemen and Dhofar, Genesis' Sephar). Thus they had four rivers embracing their world, two on the east, the Euphrates and Tigris (biblical Hiddekel), and two on the West, the Gihon and the Pishon.
The Sumerians also understood that in the beginning there was only water or sea and that there was a freshwater sea and a saltwater sea. The gods created land, which floated upon and above the freshwater ocean (in one myth Enki creates the land and founds Eridu directly over his Abzu house). They understood that two seas existed, the male was called Apsu/Abzu and was freshwater while the female was called Tiamat and was salty. From the union of these two the gods were born.
So, according to Kramer, the Sumerians did not understand that the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates were the far-off mountains of Armenia and Turkey, as understood by modern Eden searchers, but the god who dwelt in the Abzu located under the temple in Eridu was the source of their rivers !
Kramer (Emphasis mine) :
"This composition furnishes us with a detailed account of the activities of THE WATER-GOD ENKI, the Sumerian god of wisdom, in organizing the earth...Enki goes to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. HE FILLS THEM WITH SPARKLING WATER and appoints the god Enbilulu, the 'knower' of rivers, in charge." (pp. 59, 61."Myths of Origins." Samuel Noah Kramer. Sumerian Mythology, A Spiritual and Literary Achievement in the Third Millenium B.C. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania Press. , 1972, 1997. ISBN 0-8122-1047-6)
The Sumerians and Babylonians evidently understood that in the beginning there was an ocean, from the depths of this ocean a freshwater stream emerged, land was formed over this stream, and Eridu was built by the god Enki who dwelt in the depths of the Apsu/Abzu. Enki is portrayed as filling rivers with water, two streams gush forth with fish in them from his shoulders. The throne he sits upon has pots of two streams of freshwater gushing from them to show he is the source of the freshwater rivers. So, it is quite clear that the Sumerians and Babylonians understood that freshwater rivers originated from a freshwater stream in the depths of the salty ocean. Even today, along the eastern coastline of Arabia between the Shatt al-Arab, the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates where they form a single stream that empties into the Persian Gulf, and Bahrain, one encounters numerous freshwater streams erupting to the surface of salty Gulf. No doubt, ancient man observing this geographical phenomena, posited that freshwater streams arose from the salty sea.
"Eridu, the good city...was to the Babylonians, as a garden of Eden, wherein grew a glorious tree, to all appearance a vine..." (p.71, Theophilus G. Pinches. The Old Testament in Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia. London. Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1908, 3rd edition)
"The connection of the stream which was the path of Ea with Eridu, seems to have been very close, for in the bilingual story of the creation, the flowing of the stream is made the immediate precursor of the building of Eridu and Esagila, the lofty temple within it..."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," In this Babylonian creation-story it is a question of a stream and two rivers. In Genesis it is a question of a river and four branches. The parallelism is sufficiently close to be noteworthy and to show, beyond a doubt, that the Babylonians had the same accounts of the creation..." (p.73, Pinches)
"...the tree of life...from beneath it flows the water that irrigates the whole earth, parting thence into four streams..." (p.37, "Adam," Louis Ginzberg. Legends of the Bible. Philadelphia. The Jewish Publication Society. 1992)
"Ea was not a marine deity. His proper domain was the Apsu- in other words that stretch of freshwater which surrounded the earth and which at the same time the earth floated. The springs which gushed forth from the earth, the great rivers which watered the Chaldean plain came from the Apsu. We have seen how, during creation, the fertilizing waters of the Apsu encountered the salty and tumuluous waves of the sea. In the same way the Greeks distinguished between River Oceanus and the sterile sea. While the waters of the Apsu spread abundance and happiness over the earth they were also the source of all knowledge and wisdom." (p.56, F. Guirand, "Assyro-Babylonian Mythology," New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. London. Paul Hamlyn. 1970)
I suspect that the Hebrew notion that there is one source for the five rivers of Paradise is a reflex of the ancient Sumerian notion that the god who fills rivers with water dwelt in Eridu, in Lower Mesopotamia in his Abzu house, the source of all freshwaters.
Archaic Babylonian concepts about the world-
The Babylonians understood that THE WORLD WAS SURROUNDED BY A MYTHICAL RIVER which they called the Nar Marratum, meaning "the Bitter River," and it exists on a clay tablet dated to the 7th or 6th century BCE. The bitterness was an allusion to the saltiness of the sea. They knew of the salty sea we call the Persian Gulf and they knew of the salty Mediterranean sea on the shores of Syria, but they chose to render these two seas as a part of "ONE-GREAT-WORLD-ENCIRCLING-RIVER." Babylon is shown as lying in the center of this world. Note that the Euphrates appears on the map as beginning and ending in the Nar Marratum (p.43, "Babylonian World Map." Emil G. Kraeling. Rand McNally Bible Atlas. New York. Rand McNally & Co., 1966)
Hastings (note: the Hebrew Hiddekel is understood to be derived from idigla):
"The statement of Genesis, that the river which went out of Eden was parted into four heads, is explained by the fact that the Persian Gulf was held to be a river by the Babylonians, and was called by them nar marratum, 'the bitter river.' In the 2nd millenium BC, not only the Tigris and Euphrates flowed into it; but the tide, which carried the salt water a long way up their channels, made it possible to speak of their mouths as 'heads.' The Tigris was called Idigla and Idigna, 'the encircling', in Sumerian, and id signified 'a river.' (p.643, Vol. 1. "Eden." James Hastings, Editor. A Dictionary of the Bible. Peabody, Massachusetts. Hendrickson, Publishers. , reprint 1988. ISBN 0-943575-07-9 hdbk)
The tidal action of the Persian Gulf today, still sends a wall of sea-water surging up the 172 kilometer long Shat al Arab into the marshes of Lower Mesopotamia at Qurnah. This wall of water almost tore Thor Heyerdahl's reed boat free of its moorings, which would have destroyed it in the evening tidal surge ! Could the "river of Eden" be a reflex or echo of Sumerian id, meaning "river" ?
The Archaic Egyptian Notions :
Like the Babylonians, the Egyptians possessed archaic notions about a great river encircling the world which they called "the Great Curve." Their myths portrayed the Nile river as arising from the world ocean called Nu or Nun. The Nile returned to Nu at the mouth of the Delta to begin the journey all over again.
"...the Ocean (literally "the Great Green")...is identified with Nuu, the god of the abyss. Originally the latter represented not only the dark, unfathomable waters which flow under the earth and can be reached in the south, i.e., at the source of the Nile, but also their continuation which surrounds the world as the all-encircling ocean...In Egypt the ocean's representative was the Nile, which was, accordingly, largely identified with Nuu." (pp.46-7, W. Max Muller. The Mythology of All Races, Egyptian. Vol.12., Boston. Marshall Jones & Co. 1918)
"When Osiris thus becomes identical with the Nile, this applies especially to its subterranean portion, so that Osiris is identified with the abyss, and even with the ocean." (p.95, Muller)
"Side by side with these applications of the myth of the Nile or to its source, i.e., the local ocean of the Egyptians..." (p.106, Muller)
"If the sky was a sea upon which the sun and the heavenly lights sailed westward everyday, there must then be a waterway by which they could return; so there was beneath the earth another Nile, flowing through a long dark passage with successive caverns, through which the celestial barque took its way at night, to appear again in the east at early morning. This subterranean stream was connected with the Nile at the first cataract, and thence issued from two caverns, the waters of their life-giving river. It will be seen that for the people among whom this myth arose, the world ended at the first cataract; all that they knew was a vast sea. This was connected to the Nile in the south, and the river returned to it in the north, for this sea, which they called the Great Circle, surrounded their earth. It is the sea inherited by the Greeks, who called the sea Okeanos or Ocean." (pp.55-6, James Henry Breasted. A History of Egypt. New York. Charles Scribner & Son. 1912)
Yahuda on two subterranean caverns or "spring-holes" being the source of the Nile:
"This interpretation is best illustrated by the conception which the Egyptians held of the origin of the Nile...In a mysterious way that river reached the surface of the earth [from heaven], and through two spring-holes below the first cataract between Elephantine and Philae and emerged as the Nile. This idea is pictorially represented in a relief in a small island near Philae, at the first cataract. Under a lofty mass of rocks, the god of the Nile, Haapi, protected by a serpent, is poring the two sources of the Nile. Thus the Nile was merely the earthly prolongation of the heavenly "river" (itru) and the two spring-holes beneath the cataract only marked the place where it came to the surface." (p. 165. A. S. Yahuda. The Accuracy of the Bible, the Stories of Joseph, the Exodus and Genesis Confirmed and Illustrated by Egyptian Monuments and Language. London. William Heinemann, Ltd. 1934) Please click here for a picture of Hapi holding two vases on an island near Philae and Aswan.
The Archaic Greek Notions :
Homer (8th/7th century BCE) tells us that a great freshwater river surrounds the whole world, called "River Okeanos" (Ocean), and he identifies this river as encircling the land of Ethiopia, a land the gods frequently visit to enjoy repasts of food and the company of the righteous Ethiopians. Herodotus writing his History ca. 450-425 BCE tells us that in his day some thought that the annual rising and flooding of the Nile was because it was a branch of "River Okeanos." I suspect the Greeks are referring to the Egyptian notion that the Nile comes forth from Nu or Nun, their word for Greek Okeanos/Ocean. The Greeks were in Egypt since 640 BCE serving the Saitic Pharaohs as mercenaries and they lived at Naucratus, Daphnae (biblical Tahpanhes), and Memphis. The Greeks may have picked up the notion of River Okeanos being a freshwater river from the Egyptians !
Pherecydes writing ca. 6th century BCE calls Okeanos, Ogenos, perhaps preserving a more archaic form of Okeanos ? Some have sought Greek Ogenos in the Akkadian-Babylonian word ugina, meaning a "shallow bowl or saucer," suggesting that the Mesopotamians saw their world as an ocean in that form with land in a pancake form floating atop the waters and surrounded by these waters.
"The second view...that the Nile behaves this way because it flows from Ocean and that Ocean flows around the entire earth...But I am not aware of the existence of any River Ocean, and I think Homer or one of the other early poets invented the name and introduced it in his work." (p.53, "Herodotus looks at Egypt." Truesdell S. Brown, Editor. Ancient Greece: Sources in Western Civilization. New York. The Free Press. 1965. pbk )
Diodoros Siculus, a Greek historian of Sicily, ca. 54 BCE. visited Egypt and states that the Egyptian priests believed the Nile was born of "River Okeanos."
"For instance, the priests of Egypt say the Nile originates in the world-encircling ocean..."
(p.48, Edwin Murphy. The Antiquities of Egypt, A Translation, with Notes of Book I of the Library of History of Diodoros Siculus.New Brunswick, U.S.A., & London. Transaction Publishers. 1990. ISBN 0-88738-303-3)
"Now the primitive Egyptians, they say, named the moist element oceane [okeane], which translates as 'nourishing mother,' though some Greeks understand it to mean the Oceanus of whom the poet says:
"Oceanus, source of the gods and Thethys too, their mother" (Homer. Iliad. 14.302)
For the Egyptians hold Oceanus to be their river Nile, from whence they derive the origins of their gods." (p. 16. Edwin Murphy. The Antiquities of Egypt, A Translation, with Notes of Book I of the Library of History of Diodoros Siculus.New Brunswick, U.S.A., & London. Transaction Publishers. 1990. ISBN 0-88738-303-3)
"in the earliest days the river had the name Oceane [okeane], which in Greek is Oceanus [Okeanos]; next they say, because of the occurence of this flood it was called Aetus or Eagle; later it was renamed Eygptus after one of the kings of the country." (p. 24. Edwin Murphy. The Antiquities of Egypt, A Translation, with Notes of Book I of the Library of History of Diodoros Siculus.New Brunswick, U.S.A., & London. Transaction Publishers. 1990. ISBN 0-88738-303-3)
Modern Classical scholars have observed that the Greeks understood that ALL THE RIVERS of the earth were branches of the River Ocean which surrounded the known world-
"Oceanus (mythological)...The Homeric Oceanus is the river encircling the whole world, from which through subterranean connections issue all other rivers." (p.1058, "Oceanus [Mythological]," Simon Hornblower & Antony Spawforth, Editors. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3rd edition. Oxford & New York. Oxford University Press. 1996. ISBN 0-19-866172-X pp.1640)
Archaic Jewish notions of the origins of rivers in the 1st century CE-
"Now the garden was watered by one river which ran about the whole earth, and was parted into four parts..." (Josephus, Antiquities 18.104.22.168)
"Josephus seems to imply that all four of these rivers originate in the waters of the Ocean, which he describes as the one river which encircles the earth, and that this one river (Ocean) originates in the Garden of Eden..." (p.980, Vol.2. Philip S. Alexander, "Geography and the Bible (Early Jewish)," David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. 6 Volumes. New York. Doubleday. 1992)
4th -20th century notions (preserving earlier archaic concepts)-
Targum paraphrases :
"The name of the first is Phishon; that is it which compasseth all the land of Hindiki [India], where there is gold. And the gold of that land is choice. There is the bedlicha, and the precious stones of byrils. And the name of the second river is Gichon; that is it which compasseth all the land of Koosh [Cush]. And the third is Diglath; that is it which goeth to the east of Athoor [Asshur or Assyria]. And the fourth river is Pherath [Euphrates]." (p.162, J.W. Etheridge. The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Pentaeuch With Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum from the Chaldee- Genesis and Exodus. New York. KTVA Publishing House.1968)
"And the Mizraee followed after them, and came upon them as they were encamped by the sea, gathering of pearls and goodly stones, which the river Pishon had carried from the Garden of Eden into the Gihon, and the Gihon had carried to the sea of Suph, and the sea of Suph had cast upon its bank." (p.486, Etheridge)
The Jewish scholar A.S. Yahuda:
"The fact that the Tigris and Euphrates, two of the four rivers, were then the greatest streams known in one part of the world, suggests that the remaining two, Pishon and Gihon, must equally refer to other great world rivers in some other parts of the earth. On this assumption the choice of the Nile as one of them was perfectly right. Nevertheless, opinions differed as to whether the Nile was the Pishon or the Gihon." (p.173, A.S. Yahuda. The Accuracy of the Bible. London. William Heinemann. 1934)
"As already stated, the text of the Paradise story does not say a single word which suggests that the four rivers were within the paradise; it expressly states that one river only ran through paradise to water the garden. The Hebrew text of Gen. 2:10 does not mean that the division of the one river into four was effected within the area of paradise. What it means to convey is that those rivers came forth from that one river after it had left the garden." (p.168, Yahuda)
"...the Hebrew writer...entertained the idea that all the great rivers of the world known in his time originated in one paradise river." (p.171, Yahuda)
Another Jewish scholar Nahum Sarna:
"A single river issues from Eden. Its source appears to be outside the garden...beyond the confines of the garden the single river separates into four branches that probably represent the four quarters of the inhabited world. In other words, the river of Eden also nourishes the rest of the world with its life-giving waters. While the Tigris and Euphrates are of course well known, the other two names defy positive identification. They may stand for another great river civilization corresponding to that of the Mesopotamian plain, perhaps the Nile valley." (p.19, Nahum M. Sarna, Editor. The Jewish Society's Torah Commentary-Genesis. The Jewish Publication Society. New York. 1989)
The French scholars who compiled a history of Egypt and their findings under the patronage of Napoleon Bonaparte observed that the Coptic Boharic recension of the Septuagint renders Greek Geon as Pi-Keon (p.45, Description de l'Egypte. Paris. 1813), and that Moses of Chorene rendered Gihon as Kehon in his work (p.45, Description de l'Egypte).
Egyptian texts suggest the Nile could be called Khnum:
"...But if the prayers of men are granted when he rises, and if he makes himself to be called Khnum for them, when he goes up, then the earth shouts for joy, every belly makes glad..." (p. 31, Alexandre Moret. The Nile And Egyptian Civilization. London. Routledge & Kegan Paul. , reprint 1972)
The Egyptian Pharaoh Zoser in an inscription found near Aswan, is portrayed as stating that he prayed to the god Khnum to end a 7 year famine in Egypt. Khnum answered his prayer by causing the Nile to rise and flood its banks.
"...Khnemu appeared before him, and said, I am Khnemu the creator...I am he who created himself. I am the primeval watery abyss, and I am the Nile who riseth at his will..." (p.53, Vol.2, E.A. Wallis Budge. The Gods of the Egyptians. New York. Dover Publications., reprint 1969)
Septuagint, LXX (3rd century BCE) :
"And the name of the second river is Geon, this it is which encircles the whole land of Ethiopia."
According to some scholars the ancient Egyptians called ancient Nubia Ta-kens, meaning "the Bend Land" or the "Land of the Bow." There are two great "bends" in the Nile between Meroe and Buhen (the 2nd cataract).
"Even the origin of the name Nubia is obscure. Strabo, quoting Eratosthenes, writes: "On the left of the course of the Nile live Nubae in Libya, a populous nation. They begin from Meroe, and extend as far as the bends [of the river]...Among the many names by which the ancient Egyptians referred to Nubia the most commonly used was Ta-kens, "The Bend Land" or the "Land of the Bow." But this was only a general term, and they distinguished between Lower and Upper Nubia by calling the northern area, between the first and second cataracts, Wawat, and the second cataract, Kush." (p.4, Walter B. Emery. Lost Land Emerging. New York. Charles Scribner and Son. 1967)
I note that the Nile does actually form two great bends, could these bends of the Nile account for the land being called Ta-kens ? Did the Egyptians call the Nile "Ken," alluding to its great bends in Cush ?
The Jewish Publication Society understands the Gihon as "winding" through Cush-
"The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land of Cush." (Genesis 2:13, TANAKH, The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia. The Jewish Publication Society. 1988).
"A river issues from Eden to water the garden, and it then divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon, the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where the gold is...The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, the one that flows east of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates." (Genesis 2:10-14, TANAKH)
Egyptian terms regarding the Nile :
kh[i] to rise (of the Nile, p.525, Vol. 1. E.A. Wallis Budge. An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary. New York. Dover Publications. reprint 1978, 2 Volumes)
Khi , "to rise," (of the Nile) (p.536, Vol.1)
khent, "to rise" (of the Nile) ( p.558, Vol.1)
qen, "a water flood" (p.576, Vol.1)
Kek "the dark water" (p.798, Vol.2)
Kek, a title of the Nile god (p.798, Vol. 2)
The Gihon :
The Gihon, Greek Geon, Boharic Coptic Pi-keon, may be the Hebrew rendering of a foreign name. If that is so, the possibility exists of a mis-pronunciation of the foreign word, perhaps it was "heard wrong" in another language, allowing Q=G=K in transliterations between Egyptian and Semitic tongues. The Boharic Egyptian dialect transforms the LXX Geon to Pi-keon (Moses of Khorene rendering Geon as Keon), the original form might have Kihon/Keon/Kek-on (-on being a Hebrew sufformative ?) ?. As the Gihon is identified with the Nile by the Hasmoneans no later than ca. 160-140 BCE, it is quite possible that it may be a title of the Nile, or some characteristic it possesses that accounts for its name. It was called Hapi by the Egyptians. But we are looking for the name in Cush (the modern Sudan). Emery noted that the Egyptians COMMONLY SPOKE OF KUSH as TA-KENS, 'The Bend-Land," as the Nile does possess two prominent bends in Cush, it may well be that Keon/Geon is a derivative of Egyptian Kens ? Other possibilities are the Egyptian words, khent, "to rise," (of the Nile), or qen "a water flood," (the Nile floods annually the Delta), or Kek, "the dark water," possibly related to the Hebrew root (Strong #1521), Giychown, ghee-khone or Gichown, ghee-khone from (Strong #1518), giyach, ghee-akh, or goach, go-akh, "to rush forth." The Hebrew meaning of the word may _not_ have been the foreign meaning, just like Hebrew Moses is derived from "to draw out"(alluding to his being drawn from the Nile) whereas in Egyptian it means "to give birth,' as in Thoth-moses, "Toth is born."
Yahuda understood Pishon meant "overflowing" or the "inundating one," and identified it with the Nile extending from northwards from Egypt's border with Cush or Nubia, the modern Sudan near modern Aswan (cf. pp. 174-175. Yahuda. 1934). He translated Gihon to mean "great burster" or "great leaper" an adjective describing the Nile's "gushing forth" over cataracts, and had it extending south of Egypt's border with Cush (cf. p. 175).
Siculus (ca. 55 BCE) on the Nile as the Astapus in Ethiopia:
"But those who dwell near the island of Meroe whom one might be most likely to trust (since the live nearest the places in question and are the least inclined to sophistical speculations of plausibility) possess so little definite information on these matters that they have even called the river Astapus; which, translated into Greek, means 'water from darkness'. These folk, then, have given the Nile a name consonant with their lack of knowledge about these places and in keeping with their own ignorance; but to us the most truthful explanation seems to be the one most free of fabrication." (p. 48. Edwin Murphy. The Antiquities of Egypt, A Translation, with Notes of Book I of the Library of History of Diodoros Siculus.New Brunswick, U.S.A., & London. Transaction Publishers. 1990. ISBN 0-88738-303-3)
The Roman scholar Pliny "the Elder" (ca. 60 AD/CE) on the Ethiopian Nile being called the Astapus in his day (Perhaps he had access to Siculus' World History ?):
"The Nile separates Africa from Ethiopia...where it cuts through the middle of Ethiopia it is called Astapus, which in the local language means 'water from the shades.' (Pliny. Natural History. Book 5. chapter 53.)
The River of Eden :
I suspect that the river of Eden as "a surface river" might be the Gulf of Aden, the port of Aden preserving Eden. Hastings pointed out that the Neo-Babylonians understood that the Persian Gulf was a great world-encircling river which they called the Nar Marratum or "Bitter River." The Persian Gulf is flanked by land, Arabia to the west and Persia to the east, rather like a river has two land banks containing it. The Persian Gulf opens into the Indian Ocean and to the West along the Arabian shore one eventually encounters the Gulf of Aden. This Gulf, like the Persian Gulf is flanked on two sides by land forms just like a river, to the north lies Arabia and to the south lies the Horn of Africa. From the straits of Bab el Mandeb to the end of the Horn of Africa the "River of Eden" possesses "a bank on either side" extending for almost 600 miles.
No doubt, Josephus' description of the River of Eden as encircling the world and breaking up into four branches is owing to archaic Homeric Greek notions about the freshwater River Ocean, which is the source of all the world's rivers (Josephus wrote in Greek his History of the Jews, a paraphrase of the Hebrew Bible, for a Hellenistic world so his decription of the Edenic river would be "consonant" with Greek notions about the mythical freshwater River Ocean being the source of all the world's rivers). I have noted that the Egyptian priests understood as late as Diodoros Siculus' days, ca. 55 BCE, that their inherited traditions maintained that the source of the Nile river was the Ocean, called Nuu in Egyptian. Breasted has informed us that the Nile returned to the Ocean and began its journey all over again, circling the known world and was called "the Great Curve."
It would appear then that in the book of Genesis the Hebrews (Jews ?) were drawing upon geographical myths of both the Mesopotamians and Egyptians and perhaps the Greeks (8th-6th century BCE) about the sources of rivers being the Ocean (Persian Gulf and Gulf of Aden). Most scholars are NOT aware of these archaic notions of rivers arising from a world encircling freshwater river that we today know as an ocean.
Many modern Eden "seekers" are searching for either flowing rivers feeding _into_ the Tigris and Euphrates or seeking some ancient dried up bed of a great river that drained into the area of Lower Mesopotamia some 4000 years ago, when they believe Eden existed. For these "seekers" realize with their modern maps before them, that there is no great freshwater river that extends from Mesopotamia to Ethiopia/Cush. They posit that the ancient interpreters of the Bible, the Jews as well as Christians, were mistaken, Cush is not Ethiopia, it is the region called by the Greeks Cossea, today's Khuzistan, a province lying to the east of the Shatt el Arab in Iran !
Yahuda suggested that the Pishon and Gihon in Africa (both being the Lower and Upper Nile) was connected to the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia in the ancient imagination via underground streams. This notion of rivers being the earthly manifestation of underground streams is attested in Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek myths. It would explain a Gihon/Nile in Cush (Sudan), and a Pishon in SW Arabia (I favor the Pishon to be wadi Bishah in SW Arabia) and the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia, all fed from one underground stream, which would be the Apsu/Abzu stream at Eridu where dwelt the god of freshwaters, the Sumerian Enki (Akkadian Ea, meaning "House of Water" according to some scholars). As I have noted earlier, many modern Eden searchers are _unaware_ of ancient man's "wierd notions" regarding the "origins" of rivers from subterranean channels.
Eden "in the East":
We will now move on to note additional clues to the locating of Eden. We are told Eden lies "in the East." The Bible mentions a number of places as lying "in the East". We are told Haran (modern Harran), from whence Abraham allegedly migrated was "in the East," suggesting that Mesopotamia could be associated as being "in the East":
Ge 29:1,4 RSV
"Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the people of the east...Jacob said to them, My brothers, where do you come from ? They said, We are from Haran."
Certain nomadic Arab tribes are described as the "children of the East," suggesting that Arabia could be conceived of as being "in the East"-
Judges 6:3 RSV
"For whenever the Israelites put in seed the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up and attack them..."
In describing the border of certain Arab tribes, the descendants of Joktan, their eastern border is given as Sephar, which is said to be a country "of the East"-
Genesis 10:30, RSV
"The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the East."
Genesis 10:30, KJV
"And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east."
I understand that Sephar is modern Dhofar/Zufar in Oman. This area is famous for its trees which produce frankincense which was exported via the kingdom of Sheba to Solomon's Israel.
"As the district assigned to those 12 sons of Joktan is distinctly specified in the Bible (Gen 10:30) as extending from Mesa or Mesha (Musa) to Sephar the ancient Sapphara, the more recent Dhafar, Dhofar near Mirbat in the Land of Incense, the present Isfor, a mount of the east, the lofty range now known as the mountains of Incense, the term is perfectly intelligible to us at this day." (p.96, Vol. 1, Carl Ritter. The Comparative Geography of Palestine and the Sinaitic Peninsula. New York. Haskell House Publishers.  reprint 1969, 4 Vols.)
If Ritter is correct, and I suspect that he is, then Genesis' narrator identified Sephar/Dhofar/Zufar as lying IN THE EAST. This area, famed for its mountains whose trees produce frankincense, lies ON THE SOUTHWEST COAST OF ARABIA JUST EAST OF ADEN, which I have identified as being Eden-in-the-East.
The earliest extra-biblical source for identifying Eden's location is a work called The Book of Jubilees, believed to have been composed sometime between 160-140 BCE (cf. pp.43-44, O.S. Wintermute, "Jubilees," James Charlesworth, Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. New York. Doubleday. 1985). This is the period of the Hasmonean kingdom of Judah, when Jewish literature flourished once again. Fragments in Hebrew have been found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls in the wilderness of Judah (pp.43-4, Wintermute). The work was translated into Greek and preserved in its entirety only in Ethiopia. The book tells us that Moses is the author. He is sitting on Mount Sinai and facing south with the Nile to his right. He describes the boundaries of the nations as ordained by God. He gives great attention to the western border of Shem which is marked by the Gihon/Nile. We are informed that the west side of the Gihon/Nile is Ham's patrimony. What is most remarkable is that we are told that the Garden of Eden lies near Shem's western border, and that the Nile/Gihon comes forth from the Garden of Eden to the SOUTHEAST of Egypt. It is explained that after following the Gihon/Nile SOUTHWARDS, it turns to the EAST and takes one to Eden.
The Nubians had relocated their capital at Napata to Meroe by the 3rd century BCE. As Jubilees was composed ca. 160-140 BCE, the Hasmoneans may have known that the Nile possessed tributaries from the east, the Atbara and further to the south, near Khartoum, the Al Azraq or Blue Nile (note: the Atbara dries up in places seasonally, only the Azraq flows all year long). The source of these rivers was probably not known at this time, only that they came from somewhere "in the east." For Jubilee's narrator, one of these eastern tributaries (the Atbara or Azraq) will take one to the Garden of Eden. Just east of the source of the Blue Nile in Lake Tana, Ethiopia, is the port of Aden and the Gulf of Aden. I suspect Aden may have preserved Eden. Josephus also knew that the Gihon/Nile arose in the east.
"And it [the border] goes on toward the west of Afra [Africa]. And it goes on until it draws near the water of the river Gihon, and toward the south of the water of Gihon, toward the shore of that river. And it goes on toward the east until it draws near to the garden of Eden towards its south, to the south and east of all the land of Eden, and to all of the east...And Noah rejoiced because this portion was assigned to Shem and for his sons... and he knew that the garden of Eden was the Holy of Holies and the dwelling of the Lord. And mount Sinai was in the midst of the desert and mount Zion was in the navel of the earth...And he blessed God...and he knew that a blessed portion and blessing had reached Shem and his sons for eternal generations; all the land of Eden, all the land of the Red Sea, all the land of the east..." (p.72, Vol.2, O.S. Wintermute, "The Book of Jubilees," in James Charlesworth, Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. New York. Doubleday. 1985)
Wintermute on Jubilees:
"The early geographers were uninformed about the sources of the Nile. For them, it apparently flowed southward beyond the borders of Egypt and then flowed sharply eastward. In asmuch as our writer identifies it with the Gihon, one of the four river flowing out of the garden of Eden, it was obvious to him it must have flowed eastward so that one could reach Eden by following it." (p.72, Note n, Wintermute)
"And to Ham was assigned the second portion toward the other side of the Gihon, toward the south on the right of the garden [of Eden]. And it goes on toward the south, and it goes along all the mountains of fire. And his portion goes on toward the west, to the Atel sea [Atlantic Ocean]. And it goes on westward until it draws near the Mauk sea, to which nothing descends without perishing. And it goes forth in the north to the end of Gadir [Cadiz, Spain]. And it goes forth along the edge of the water of the sea into the waters of the Great Sea until it approaches the river Gihon. And it goes on along the Gihon river until it approaches the right side of the garden of Eden. And this is the land that went forth to Ham as a portion which he will possess forever for himself and for his children for their generations forever." (p.73, Vol.2, Wintermute)
The author is Moses on Mt. Sinai, facing south, he describes the Gihon Nile as "on the right" of the Garden of Eden, meaning the Nile is to the west of Eden (cf. p.52, Wintermute's notes)
Josephus on the Gihon/Geon:
"...Geon runs through Egypt, and denotes what arises from the east, which the Greeks call Nile." (Antiquities 1.1.3)
Enoch informs us that he crossed the Red Sea (Erythraean Sea) to get to Eden. Please note that in antiquity this sea was portrayed as extending from Egypt to Persia and Mesopotamia, whereas on modern maps it is only to the west of Arabia. First Enoch is dated between the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE (p. 5, Vol.1, E. Isaac, "1st Enoch, Ethiopic Apocalypse of," in James Charlesworth, Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. New York. Doubleday. 1985)
"I then passed over the Erythraean sea...And I came to the garden of righteousness and saw beyond those trees many large ones growing there...and the tree of wisdom, of which one eats and knows great wisdom..." (p.28, Vol.1, E. Isaac, "First Enoch," James Charlesworth, Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. New York. Doubleday. 1985)
Eden's Spices and Incense ( 2nd century BCE through 6th century CE):
Other Jewish apocrypha affirm that the garden of Eden was where frankincense and spices originated, and that when God expelled Adam, he allowed him to take from the garden some of these plants to offer up to God a pleasing scent. In antiquity, since the days of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires, there was only one place that spices and frankincense were obtained from, South West Arabia and the land of Sheba, as noted in the Bible when the Queen of Sheba brought spices to Solomon's court-
Frankincense was offered up to God (Exodus 30:34; Lev. 2:1)
The Life of Adam and Eve (An Apocalypse), is believed to have been composed between 100 BC and 200 AD (p.252, Charlesworth) :
"And they came to God and said...command that fragrant incenses from paradise be given Adam. And God ordered Adam to come that he might take aromatic fragrances out of paradise...he gathered crocus, nard, reed, cinnamon...And he took these and went out of paradise." (p.285, Vol.2, M.D. Johnson, "Life of Adam & Eve," James H. Charlesworth, Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Garden City, New York. 1985)
Enoch describes the fragrances of Eden (believed to have been composed between the 2nd century BCE and the 1st century CE):
"And among them was one tree such as I have never smelled at all: there was not a single one among those or other trees which is like it: among all the fragrances nothing could be so fragrant; its leaves , its flowers, and its wood would never wither forever; its fruit is beautiful and resembled the clustered fruits of a palm tree... as for this fragrant tree, not a single human being has the authority to touch it until the great judgement...This is for the righteous and pious. And the elect will be presented with its fruit for life...and they shall enter into the holy place; its fragrance shall penetrate their bones, long life will they live on earth..." (p. 26, Vol.1. E. Isaac. "1 Enoch." James H. Charlesworth. Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Garden City, New York. 1985)
The Greeks describe the fragrances of Eudaemon Arabia, Aden and vicinity (Scholars have noted that the Greeks were deceived, there are no frankincense trees near Aden/Eudaemon, they are at Dhofar/Zufar/Sephar, Aden was simply a transhipment point for spices and incense to the Mediterranean world). Note the similar language found in Enoch's description of the fragrances of Eden:
"...the Sabaeans...inhabit the region called Eudaemon Arabia (Fortunate Arabia) which bears most of the products considered valuable by us...A natural sweet smell pervades the whole country because almost all plants which are pre-eminent for their fragrance grow unceasingly...in the interior there are dense forests in which there are large frankincense and myrrh trees and in addition palm trees, calamus, and cinnamon trees and others which have a fragrance similar to these. It is not possible to enumerate the peculiarities and characteristics of each because of the amount and overwhelming impact of combined fragrance from all the trees. For the fragrance appears as something divine and greater than the power of speech to describe as it strikes and stimulates the senses of everyone...As for persons sailing along the coast...when there is an offshore breeze, it happens that the fragrance which is given off...penetrates to the most delicate parts of the senses...so that individuals, who partake of its special quality, think that they have enjoyed the mythical ambrosia because they are unable to discover another appellation that is appropriate to the extraordinary character of its fragrance." (p. 9, "Agatharchides of Cnidus. On the Erythraean Sea." 2nd century BCE, in Micheal McKinnon. Arabia: Sand, Sea and Sky. London. BBC Books. 1990)
"Whither do all these winds go ? It is taught that they go out from under the wings of the cherubim and fall on the orb of the sun, as it is written, 'Southward goes the wind, then it turns to the north; it turns and turns again; back then to its circling goes the wind.' For he it is who formed the mountains created the wind...from towns and cities they go round and fall upon the garden, and from the garden they go and fall upon Eden, as it is written, 'He walked in the garden at the time of the daily wind.' in the midst of the garden they mingle and blow from one side to the other. They become fragrant from the perfumes in the garden and from the spices of Eden, until scattering, saturated with the scent of pure perfume, they bring the scent of spices of the garden and the perfumes of Eden before the righteous and godly who shall inherit the garden of eden and the tree of life in time to come, as it is written, 'Awake north wind, come, wind from the south! Breathe over my garden, to spread its sweet smell around, let my beloved come into his garden, let him taste its rarest fruit." (p. 308, Vol. 1. P. Alexander. "Appendix to 3rd Enoch." James H. Charlesworth. Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Garden City, New York. 1985)
Herodotus, on Arabia being the sole source of certain incenses and spices :
"The most southerly country is Arabia; and Arabia is the only place that produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon and the gum called ledanon...the whole country exhales a more than earthly fragrance," (p.80, "Arabia and the Incense Routes," Nigel H. H. Sitwell. The World the Romans Knew. London. Hamish Hamilton. 1984, citing in footnote 1, Herodotus 3.106-113)
1 Kings 10:10
"Then she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and a very great quantity of spices, and precious stones; never again came such an abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave Solomon."
Frankincense and Dhofar/Zufar/Sephar:
"The drier mountain slopes of the Dhofar range provide the source of that much sought after resin, frankincense. Its tree, Boswellia sacra, is common here, but rare elsewhere. To obtain frankincense the bark is peeled back and the resin oozes out of the trunk. When the precious beadlets have hardened they are collected and the tree may be rested for several years before a new harvest is gathered. Local lore states that the best frankincense is found on trees growing close to the desert and in these areas the resin actually falls to the ground around the tree from where it is collected. In ancient times, Mediterranean peoples had a seemingly insatiable desire for incense." (p.117. Michael McKinnon. Arabia: Sand, Sea Sky. London. BBC Books. 1990)
"Wadi Hadramaut...was the center of a great spice trade: aromatic frankincense was much in demand from the Dhofar region where it is still collected in the traditional manner today, from trees of the Boswellia." (p.195. McKinnon)
"And he made for them garments of skin and he dressed them and sent them from the garden of Eden. And on that day when Adam went out from the garden of Eden, he offered a sweet-smelling sacrifice- frankincense, galbanum, stacte, and spices- in the morning with the rising of the sun from the day he covered his shame...And he sent from the garden of Eden all of the flesh which was in the garden of Eden and all flesh was scattered...Adam and his wife went out from the garden of Eden..." (p. 44. Vol. 2. Wintermute. "The Book of Jubilees")
Enoch, being righteous, was "taken by God," he did not see death (Genesis 5:24). Jubilees has Enoch living in Eden, which was spared by God, for Enoch's sake, and not destroyed by Noah's Flood. Having identified Eden with Aden, I will attempt to identify certain places mentioned in the text with modern place names.
"And because of him [righteous Enoch] none of the water of the Flood came upon the whole land of Eden, for he was put there for a sign and so that he might bear witness against all of the children of men so that he might relate all of the deeds of the generations until the day of judgement. And he offered the incense which is acceptable before the Lord in the evening at Qadami on Mount Qater. For the Lord has four sacred places upon the earth; the garden of Eden and the mountain of the East and this mountain which you are upon today, Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion, which will be sanctified in the new creation for the sanctification of the earth." (p. 63. Vol. 2. O.S. Wintermute. "The Book of Jubilees")
Wintermute (footnote m, p.63) notes that the Ethiopic text renders Maqadas as 'holy place' but believes it is a corruption of Qadami as preserved in a Syrian text. He further notes (note n, p.63) that Qater is derived from the root qtr, describing the burning of incense.
"Mount Qater is undoubtedly to be identified with the mountain of the East in verse 26. The Syrian text uses the same word in both places, and its presence in both places proves that some designation of the mountain should be retained in verse 25." (p. 63. note n. Wintermute)
I understand that Enoch is being portrayed as offering incense to God at Qadami on Mount Qater, a mountain of the East. Perhaps Qater (qtr) is preserved in a region today called Bait Kathir, the house of Kathir tribe, a region in the mountains of Dhofar where incense (qtr) is still gathered today. K and Q are interchangeable consonants, I have seen older maps render the Gulf of Aqabah as Akaba, so Kathir may be Qathir or qtr, the mountain of incense, the tribe taking its name from being responsible for the harvesting of the incense in antiquity ? Qadami might be the village of Khadam near Bait Kathir (cf. Bartholomew's map titled The Middle East. Edinburgh, Scotland. 1:4,000,000. 1991)
Genesis 10:30 (KJV)
"And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east."
It is understandable that the Jews would associate spices and incense with the garden of God at Eden. The ancient world understood that Southwest Arabia was the source of these products. If God enjoyed strolls in the garden and its fragrances, perhaps the burning of incense in the Temple at Jerusalem was perceived as calling to God's mind his garden in Eden as he inhaled the sacred fragrance ?
"...on the third day he did as he said to the waters...and dry land appeared...on that day he created...the garden of Eden in Eden..."(p.56, Vol.2, Wintermute)
"And after forty days were completed for Adam in the land where he was created, we brought him into the garden of Eden so that he might work it..."(p.59, Vol.2, Wintermute)
"Eden...is more holy than any land."(p.59, Vol.2, Wintermute)
"And on that day when Adam went out from the garden of Eden, he offered a sweet-smelling sacrifice- frankincense, galbanum, stacte and spices...Adam and his wife went out from the garden of Eden and dwelt in the land of Elda, in the land of their creation."(p.60, Vol. 2, Wintermute)
I note that to the west of Aden lies a village called Am `Illdidiya, to the east of Aden lies Bir Aldiyin, could either of these sites be the land of Elda ? (cf. map titled Little Aden. ND 38-14, series K502 Army Map Service, Washington D.C. 1:250,000 scale. 1961)
Eden in Sheba:
Some scholars have noted that the Jewish Massoretic Text rendering suggests Eden is in Sheba (Ezekiel 27:23). I note that Jewish traditions make Eden the source of frankincense and spices. The Pishon is portrayed flowing through a land possessing gold and precious stones in the Septuagint version, products associated with Sheba. Others have thought there is a confusion here and that Haran suggests the location is northern Syria, not Sheba. Whether or not they may be right, it still remains, that at some point in time, during the transmission of the text, that someone thought Eden was in Sheba ! Yemeni Jewish traditions associated Eden with the land of Aden (the Yemen).
Ezekiel 27:22-3, TANAKH,
"The merchants of Sheba and Raamah were your merchants; they bartered for your wares all the finest spices, all kinds of precious stones, and gold. Haran, Canneh and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Assyria, and Chilmad traded with you."
Profesor May, on the basis of Ezekiel 27:22-23, has drawn up a map showing Eden to be Aden (cf. p.8, map titled "Israel and Ancient Trade Routes," Herbert G. May, Editor. Oxford Bible Atlas. 2nd edition. London & New York. Oxford University Press. 1962, 1974, 1983. ISBN 0-19211556-1)
Havilah and the Pishon river :
The first river enumerated in Genesis is the Pishon. Later Jewish traditions found in the Targums, claimed that the Pishon flowed into the Gihon/Nile, which emptied on the shores of Yam Suph, i.e., the Red Sea near Suez. The only period this could happen in is after 519 BCE when Darius completed Necho's canal from the Nile to the Red Sea.
The Jews of the Middle Ages became confused, and thought that the land of Havilah (Hebrew: Hawilah) was Abyssinia/Ethiopia, and that the Pishon was a headwater of the Nile (there exists today a province in Ethiopia/Abyssinia called Welo). The clues to unraveling the mystery of Havilah's location, are the genealogy of Havilah and the land's products found in Genesis.
We are informed that Joktan is the father of several Arab tribes, descendants of Shem: Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, SHEBA, OPHIR, HAVILAH, and Jobab, and that they dwelt from Mesha to Sephar in the hillcountry of the east (Ge 10:26-30). Some scholars (Carl Ritter) identify Sephar with modern Dhofar/Zufar and I am in agreement. Sheba is Greek Saba in the Yemen. Hazarmaveth is the area called Hadramaut today, in the Yemen (Classical Greek: Hadramyta/Adramitae or Chatramotitae ?). I thus understand that the other tribal names should be in the same general area, Southwest Arabia.
Some scholars have suggested that Havilah, Hebrew Hawilah (rendered in the Targum as Chavilah) is modern Khaulan/Khawlan, a region lying to the northwest of Sana`a in the Yemen, and I concur. In the nearby mountains exists two wadies called Baish and Bishah. The former being a border between Saudi Arabia and the Yemen at one time. Some scholars have speculated that the Pishon is a conflation of these two wadies and I agree. The Baish is distinguished as a perennial stream, while the Bishah periodically flows with water after heavy rains in the mountians of Asir where lie its headwaters. Any stream with flowing water would be a remarkable geographical curiosity and amazement in Arabia ! The wadi Bishah is over 300 miles in length from its headwaters in the mountains of the province of Asir (present-day Saudi Arabia) and the main caravan route from Jerusalem to the lands of Khawlan, Sheba and Hadramaut crossed wadi Bishah near Qal'at Bishah (another great river enumerated in the Bible which is a seasonally wet/dry wadi is wadi el Arish understood by some scholars to be "the river of Egypt," Judah's southwesternmost border). Please click here for a map of Wadi Bishah.
Muller (emphasis mine in italics and capitals):
"Havilah. The rich land surrounded by the river Pishon according to the story of the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:11). Its richness derives from the GOLD, RESIN BDELLIUM and ONYX STONES present there. ALL THREE OF THESE PRODUCTS POINT TO SOUTH ARABIA AS THE LOCATION OF HAVILAH, since South Arabia is the homeland of valuable resins and precious stones. According to Pliny (Natural History 12.23), the tree which yields bdellium also grows in Arabia, and the resin from Commiphora mukul, Arabic muql, is up to now a Yemenite product...Onyx (Arabic gaz) is found at all times in various places in Yemen; and among the sorts which were usually named after the places where they are found, there was also a 'Khaulanite onyx' (al-Hamadani 1884:202-3). Among the gold mines of the Arabian peninsula, the mine of `Asam in the region of the Quda`a is attested, the gold of which is red and excellent; also attested are the mines of al-Qufa`a in the land of Khaulan, which yeild gold of superior quality (cf. al-Hamadani 1968 :138-41). J. Halevy reports that, as an eyewitness in1870 in Sirwah in Khaulan, he saw Arabs washing gold and noted that gold was found in small grains of sand and in the river bed (1872:54).
In Genesis 25:18, hawila, which by the Isrealites might have been connected with Hebrew hol, 'sand,' designates presumably the SE desert border of the region where the Ishmaelites settled. From this fact and from the reference to the Chaulotaioi by Eratosthenes (Strabo Geog. 16.4.2), H. Wissman (1970: 905-80, esp. 947-54) concluded there must have existed a colonial Sabean Khaulan in NW Arabia along the incense road before or during the Minean period in the oasis of Dedan. Probably this N Arabian hawila is to be distinguished from the S Arabian Khaulan and perhaps to be compared with the tribe hwlt, which is repeatedly mentioned in the Safaitic inscriptions and identified with the Avalitae of Pliny (HN 6.157) and the later Arabian tribe of Hawila." (p. 82, Vol. 3. W. W. Muller. "Havilah." in David Noel Freedman. Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday-Anchor. 1992)
Muller on the Pishon river (note the Targum renders Havilah as Chavilah) :
"The first of the four rivers into which the stream that springs from the Garden of Eden is divided (Gen 2:11). The Pishon surrounds the land of Havilah, where there is gold. Several proposals have been made to identify this country and its river. If, however, Havilah is to be equated with the large and old tribal federation of Khaulan in SW Arabia, the Pishon likewise is to be localized in that region...A. Springer (1875: 49) was the first who compared the biblical Pishon with the Wadi Baish in the SW of the Arabian peninsula. Al-Hamadi (1884:73) nevertheless writes that the Wadi Baish is fed from tributaries from the north of the land of Khaulan before it flows into the Red Sea. As was probable already in antiquity, in the 10th century the wadi Baish, abounding in water, formed the north boundary of the densely populated and terraced mountainous region of Khaulan (and until 1934 it was the border between the kingdom of Yemen and Saudi Arabia). Moreover, it is quite possible that the names of the rivers Baish and Bisha are contained in the name Pishon, since both rise not far from each other in the mountains of `Asir." (p.374, Vol. 5, W. W. Muller, "Pishon," Anchor Bible Dictionary)
Muller notes that there is disagreement amongst scholars over the linguistic equation of Baish and Bisha (Bishah) with Hebrew Pishon. It may be that the Hebrews did not "hear correctly" the sound of an Arabic word ? Thus Bisha/Bishah became to their ears Pishon (-on being a Hebrew sufformative). The Arabs for their part have difficulty pronouncing Greek P, rendering it sometimes as B, as in the Classical Greek site of Paneas at the head of the Jordan river becoming Baniyas in Arabic.
Wadi Bishah from its headwaters (near Jebal Abu Hasan to the south of Abha in the Asir mountains) to its empting into the sands of Nafud ad Dahy is approximately 300 miles in length. When one considers that the Jordan river is only 100 miles in length from Baniyas to the Dead Sea, one can see why Wadi Bishah, _if it is the Pishon_, was described as a "great" river ! Several caravan tracks heading north from Sheba in the Yemen would cross the Khaulan region and Wadi Bishah, it would a "well-known" river, or "landmark" to the caravans bringing GOLD, PRECIOUS STONES, INCENSE and SPICES from SHEBA to Solomon's court at Jerusalem. If traveling south from Jerusalem, the Jews would encounter Wadi Bishah (the Pishon ?) before the Khawalan region which lies NW of San'a in the Yemen. So, in reality the Bishah/Pishon does not really "encompass" Havilah/Khawlan," it, however, must be "crossed" before the latter area is reached as one heads south for the kigdom of Sheba and its Queen who presented Solomon GOLD, INCENSE (resins), SPICES AND PRECIOUS STONES, items Havilah was famed for in Genesis. If the Pishon is a conflation of Wadi Baish with the Bishah the formers' location is somewhat closer to the Khawlan than Wadi Bishah.
1 Kings 10:1-2 RSV
"Now when the queen of SHEBA heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels BEARING _SPICES_, AND VERY MUCH _GOLD_, AND _PRECIOUS STONES_..."
I understand that Bdellium would have qualified as a "spice" or precious "herb" of sorts:
Genesis 2:10-12 RSV
"A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is _GOLD_; and the GOLD of that land is good; _BDELLIUM_ and _ONYX STONE_ are there."
The Greeks raved about the gold of Arabia claiming it was the finest in the world. It was found in the form of nuggets and was so pure that it did not need to be passed through fire to melt it down and turn it into useable gold, hence they called this gold apyros gold, meaning "fireless gold." The Greeks understood that the gold was in a region near the kingdom of Saba, biblical Sheba and near a mountainous area. The only working gold mine today in Arabia is at Mahd edh Dahab, "the cradle of gold," just to the east of Mecca. This mine was worked in antiquity but forgotten until re-discovered in a geological survey by American geologists hired by the Saudi government to assess the hidden geological wealth of the country.
Job alludes to the gold of Ophir as being stones or pebbles found in a streambed as opposed to gold dust-
Job 22:24, RSV,
"...if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent bed, and if the Almighty is your gold..."
"The most probable view is that Ophir was situated in Arabia...this is indicated by the biblical reference in Genesis 1:29...For the view which prefers the west coast of Arabia...there are a number of references in the ancient authors to the rich gold of the southwestern coast of Arabia. According to Agatharchides, these mines contained pieces of gold as large as walnuts...It is hardly probable that Solomon and Hiram would have sent their ships past Yemen to fetch gold from the Gulf of Persia, which was much further away." (pp.406-7, Vol.9, "Ophir," Isidore Singer, Editor. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York. KATV Publishing House. 1901-06, 12 volumes)
"The opinions of the most eminent Jewish authorities point to the location of Eden in Arabia," (p.38, Vol.3, "Eden," Isidore Singer, Editor. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York. KTVA Publishing House. 1901-06, 12 volumes)
8th Century BCE
Homer understands a freshwater "River Ocean" encircles the world and is THE ONE SOURCE OF ALL THE WORLD'S RIVERS via underground streams which re-emerge in faraway lands.
Nubian (Greek: Ethiopian) kings conquer Egypt, act as allies for Hezekiah, and fight Assyrians in Canaan, perhaps Jews know of Cush/Ethiopia and the Gihon through these contacts ? Please note that modern Ethiopia/Abyssinia was not Cush/Ethiopia ca. the 10th-5th centuries BCE. The name transferred from Cush/Nubia to Abyssinia in the 3rd century BCE. The Cush of the Bible is the modern Sudan.
7th Century BCE:
A Babylonian map of the world on a clay tablet portrays a river encircling the world it being called the Nar Marratum or "Bitter River," on modern maps this river is called the Persian Gulf as noted by Hastings in 1898.
Some Liberal Scholars think the Torah scroll found in the Temple of Solomon in king Josiah's days (ca. 640-610 BCE) is the historical kernel behind the Primary History (Genesis- 2 Kings written ca. 560 BCE).
Perhaps Ionian, Carian or Lydian "Greek" mercenaries from Egypt occupying Judah ca. 640-610 BCE for the Saitic Pharaohs pass on to the Jews the notion of ONE RIVER (Homer's River Ocean) being the source of ALL THE WORLD"S RIVERS ? Alternately, Josiah may have hired Greek Mercenaries, who passed this information on to the Jews at Jerusalem ?
A pottery sherd mentioning "gold of Ophir," is found in Judah, as well as objects bearing South Arabian inscriptions confirming trade contact with South Arabia,
6th Century BCE:
The Atbara is the northernmost eastern tributary of the Gihon/Nile. It rises in the mountains east of Lake Tana in Ethiopia.
2 Kings 25:27 ends the Primary History (Genesis- 2 Kings) with the release of the Jewish king Jehoiachin in 560 BCE (The Babylonian King, Evil Merodach reigning 562-560 BCE) suggesting for me that this when the Primary History, Genesis-2Kings was composed as a national history of Israel and Judah.
Some Jews flee to Egypt ca 582 BCE, some may have become mercenaries, being stationed at Elephantine/Aswan on the frontiers of Cush and pass on info of Cush's river to contacts in Judah ?
5th Century BCE:
Herodotus ca. 450-425 BCE observes that some believe the rise and fall of the Nile is because it is a branch of the freshwater river called River Ocean, suspecting that Homer is the source of this notion.
Ezra appears at Jerusalem ca. 458 BCE with a copy of the Torah and Persian backing of its implementation.
3rd Century BCE:
In this century the Nubian capital is shifted from Napata, further south to Meroe, near modern Khartoum, where the Blue (Bahr Al Azraq) and White Niles (Bahr Al Abyad) meet each other to form the Nile of Egypt.
Jews create a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, called the Septuaginta (LXX), Cush is identified with Ethiopia (the modern Sudan) by the Jewish translators at Alexandria, Egypt, associating the Gihon/Geon with the Nile passing through that land.
2nd Century BCE
The Book of Jubilees composed ca 160-140 BCE, ALSO identifies the Gihon with the Nile, Eden is just to the east of the eastern bend of the Nile according to this book (the Atbara/Astaboras arising near Lake Tana or the Azraq/Abwai arising from Lake Tana ?).
1st Century BCE
Diodoros Siculus mentions that Egyptian priests declare the Nile's source is the Ocean and he claims that the Egyptians called the Nile Okeane which the Greeks render Okeanos (rather like Herodotus' observation)
1st Century CE
The Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus, writing in Greek for a gentile audience his History of the Jews, in part a paraphrase of the Hebrew Bible, mirrors Homeric Greek notions about a great freshwater world river called River Ocean, encircling the world being the source of all rivers via subterranean channels, so describes the River of Eden and its four branches, the Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel/Tigris and Euphrates.
Josephus states that the Gihon is called the Nile by the Greeks and that it originates in the east. The Nile does have two "eastern" tributaries both arising in Ethiopia, the Classical Astaboras and Astapus, it also has a tributary arising in the west (the Bahr al Arab which flows into the Bahr al Ghazul south of Khartoum) as noted by Herodotus circa 425 BCE.
(Note: The Greek word Nile may be a rendering of the Semitic nahr or nahl meaning "river," the Egyptians not having an "r" would render nahr as nahl; Egyptologists have documented the borrowing by the Egyptians of many Semeitic words, as they ruled over Canaan, Syria and Phoenicia for almost 450 years, 1580-1130 BCE).
Early Christians, the so-called "Fathers of the Church," accepted the Jewish identification of the Nile with the Gihon and Cush (Sudan) being Ethiopia, based on the Septuaginta's identification of the Gihon with the Nile (the Septuaginta being Early Christianity's "first" Bible).
19th - 21st centuries AD/CE:
Many "Eden Seekers," with their "modern maps" before them seek for flowing rivers or ancient dried up wadis on the earth's suirface to discover Eden's rivers, realizing that no freshwater river appears on their maps connecting Cush/Ethiopia south of Egypt, with Mesopotamia and the Tigris and Euphrates; they posit that the Jews and Christians were "mis-informed", Cush must be Greek Cossae, modern Khuzistan, near ancient Elam; the 3rd century BCE Septuaginta's notion that the Gihon is the Nile in Cush (Sudan) south of Egypt, is denied on the basis of modern maps, and that the Gihon is probably the Rud-e Kharkhe flowing from the area of ancient Susa, to connect with the Shatt al Arab. Meanwhile, Conservative Christians shake their heads, don't these "Eden searchers" realize Noah's Flood ca. 2345 BC (Ussher's chronology in many Protestant Bibles) destroyed the river courses of Eden's world ? Eden will never be found ! Yet, archaeologists and geologists shake their heads at the foolishness of these Christians, Noah's Flood does not exist. Settlements as early as the 10th millennium BCE have been excavated in the Ancient Near East and there is no evidence anywhere of Noah's Flood. Archaeologists have determined that Noah's Flood is most likely a later Hebrew re-working or recasting of the ca. 2900 BCE Shuruppak Flood described in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis, said city having been excavated and found to have been flooded by the Euphrates river.
Additional clues on Eden's location:
The Jews and Christians eventually came to forget the 2d-1st century BCE Jewish Hasmonean traditions about Eden's location in the Yemen or Aden (the so-called "Land of Aden"), with the passage of time. The Rabbis did not attempt to preserve the Jewish Apocyrpha or Deutero-canonical works which existed before 135 CE (AD), the last Jewish uprising against the Romans. Judaism would know only of Rabbinical discourses on the Hebrew Bible. The Christians who at first preserved these books, in later ages came to hold some them in less regard and their study waned. It was only far-off remote Ethiopia, cut-off from the Mediterranean world by the Moslem invasion and conquest of Egypt in the 7th century CE, who preserved in its entirety the Book of Jubilees, written originally ca. 160-100 BCE (Before the Common Era = BC or "Before Christ").
There was one other nation though, who also preserved the memory of Eden being the "Land of Aden" and the Yemen, the Jews of that area kept these associations alive until recent times, passing them on to the local Arabs. The Italian Rabbi da Bertinoro of Italy (15th century AD/CE), who lived for a time at Jerusalem, noted that in his days Jews from the Yemen had arrived in a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and they stated according to the ancient traditions of their forefathers, that the land of Eden was the Yemen, but they confessed that no one knew just exactly where the garden of Eden lay.
Rabbi da Bertinoro (1487-1490 CE) :
"Jews have come here from Aden. Aden is said to be the site of the garden of Eden; it lies southeast of Ethiopia, but the Red Sea separates them. These Jews say that in their country there are many large Jewish communities. The king is an Arab and is kindly disposed to the Jews, and that the country is very large and beautiful, bearing many splendid fruits which are not to be found among us. Where paradise was actually situated they do not know..." (p. 246, "The Letters of Obadiah Jare da Bertinoro," in Elkan Nathan Adler, Editor. Jewish Travelers in the Middle Ages, 19 Firsthand Accounts. New York. Dover Publications.  reprint 1987)
The Jewish Talmud claimed that "if" Eden was in Arabia, then its entrance was Beth-Gerem (p.383, A. Cohen. Everyman's Talmud. New York. Schocken Books.  reprint 1975). The Talmud is believed to be a finished work by the 8th century CE (p.314, Vol. 6, Gary G. Porton, "Talmud," David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992, 6 Volumes)
I suspect that Beth-Gerem is modern village called Jarim/Yarim/Yerim, in the Yemen, on the road north from Aden to Ibb and then Jarim.
Eden's fabled fertility and the Yemen :
In the popular imagination the Garden of Eden is believed to be an area of abundant and lush plant life. The Yemen has been described as the most favored area of all Arabia, for its rivers and rainfall and wide variety of flora.
"In agricultural and climatic terms Yemen is the most favored area of the peninsula and has therefore been known from antiquity as Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia)...Yemen sits astride the major mountain range of the southern Arabian peninsula; its highest peak, Jabal nabi Shu`ayb (12,336 ft.) Is the highest on the peninsula. The numerous ridges and valleys of this range have given Yemen hundred of microclimates and made it possible to raise an incredible variety of tropical and temperate zone crops. The north is agriculturally rich and diverse due to its many areas of fertile soil and to the mountains and their effect upon the Indian Ocean monsoons (which provide regular rainfall in most of the country, often more than 35 inches per year. Less than 2% of the south is arable, with most agricultural activity and resources concentrated in the Hadramawt valley in the northeast...Many types of flora found in Yemen are unique..." (pp.324-5, Vol. 20, "Yemen," Academic American Encyclopedia. Danbury, Connecticut. Grolier Inc. 1992)
Aden's Sterility and Eden's Fertility :
The Jewish scholar Jacob Sappir visited Aden in 1865 to investigate for himself the Yemenite Jews' claims that this was where the Garden of Eden was to be located. His description of Aden in his "Eben Sappir" noted it to be sandy and barren, and he thus stated that he could not possibly endorse the idea of connecting Aden with the Eden of Genesis (p. 38, Vol.3, "Eden, Garden of," in Rabbinical Literature," Isidore Singer, Editor. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York. KTVA Publishing House. 1901-1906, 12 Volumes)
The Aden peninsula is a barren and rocky mass. Its climate is hot and dry with temperatures ranging from 68-101 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall in the area averages no more than 3 inches annually (pp. 90-91, "Aden," Collier's Encyclopedia. New York. P.F. Collier & Son. 1955). How does one reconcile this geographical reality with Genesis' fertile Garden of Eden ?
The Yemen's abundant fertility is found in the heights of the mountains above Aden, that receive the rainfall from the monsoons coming off the Indian Ocean. Yemen has been described as the most fertile part of Arabia. The Greeks falsely understood great forests of frankincense trees were to be found in the neighborhood of Aden (which they called Eudaemon Arabia), but they were at Dhofar to the east of Aden. So, the "Land of Eden" is indeed fertile and blessed with abundant rainfall, Jacob was simply looking in the wrong place !
The Green Yemen, Al Yaman Al Akhdar :
"Ibb is known as 'the fertile province' because it gathers most of the rains brought to Yemen by southern winds, five to ten times more than Marib...Nicknames like 'the Green Land of Arabia' do not exaggerate...with water available throughout the year, the fields are harvested three or four times annually. Every imaginable crop, from dates and grain to coffee and qat, can be cultivated somewhere in this province which serves as the granary of Yemen." (p.165, "Ibb Province," Pertti Harnalainan. Yemen: A Travel Survival Kit. Hawthorn, Australia. Lonely Planet Publishers. 1991)
"The area about Ibb, famous for its fertility, is called Al Yaman Al Akhdar, or "The Green Yemen." (p.250, Joachim Chwaszcza. Insight Guides: Yemen. London. APA Publications. 1992)
"Yarim, in the fertile Yarim basin, is the northernmost town in the province of Ibb. At 25,550 metres above sea level, it is the highest standing town in Yemen...The Yarim and Dhamar basins are in the most volcanically active area of northern Yemen. There are hot springs, with bathhouses built around them." (p.171, "Yarim," Pertti Harnalainan. Yemen: A Travel Survival Kit. Hawthorn, Australia. Lonely Planet Publishers. 1991)
I have identified the Talmud's Gerim with Jerim/Yerim/Yarim in the Yemen, as the Talmudic "entrance" to paradise and the garden of Eden in some Jewish traditions. The fertility of Ibb province bears out the fertility ascribed to the Garden of Eden.
Eden is Arabic Adn:
"The Arabic word for Eden is Adn, which according to the commentators and lexicographers, means, "fixed residence," i.e., the everlasting abode of the faithful. Adn, preceeded by "Jannat" (Gardens) occurs ten times in the Koran...the Moslem commentators agree in calling it Jannat Adn (the Garden of Eden)." (pp.38-39, Vol. 3, "Eden," Isidore Singer, Editor. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York. KTAV Publishing House. 1901-1906, 12 volumes)
In Hebrew the word Eden means delight or "pleasure" (cf. p.643, Vol.1, "Eden," James Hastings, Editor. A Dictionary of the Bible. 1898). A Manassite who deserted Saul for David (1 Chron 12:20) is called Adnah. Smith translates the name as meaning pleasure. The wife of Raguel (Tobit 7:2, 8:14,16) bore the name Edna, which is again translated as meaning "pleasure." Thus we have from the scriptures two dialectal forms of Eden as personal names, Adnah and Edna (p.7, "Adnah, and p.84, "Edna" in Smith's Bible Dictionary. A.J. Holman Publishing Co., Philadelphia. No date, ca. 1950's ?)
The Arabs at Aden preserve a legend or tradition that claims that the graves of Abel and Cain, the sons of Adam and Eve are in Aden:
"Legenden ranken sich um die prasenz biblischer personen auf gebiet des Jemen. So sollen die Graber von Kain und Abel in Aden sein." (p.75, "Geschichte," Gerd Simper & Petra Brixel. Jemen Reisehandbuch, Reisen und Wanderen in Arabia Felix.. 1992. ISBN 3-921497-62-0.)
A Jewish scholar, Professor Cassuto, suggested that Eden derived its name from a Canaanite root `dn, meaning "a place well-watered" (cf. Vol 1. pp. 107-108. Umberto Cassuto. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Jerusalem. The Hebrew University. The Magnes Press. , 1986). The marshes of lower Mesopotamia certainly qualify for "well-watered," and the monsoon rain-drenched mountains of the Yemen also qualify for 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.
I find myself disagreeing "somewhat" with Cassuto. He is probably correct that the Hebrew Eden is derived from the Ugaritic or North Syrian `dn, or :moisture," or "watering," but I understand that the Sumerian edin (steppe or plain) was probably via assonance ("word similarity in sound"), transformed by the Arameans into `dn, perhaps because the Sumerian edin or desert-like steppe or plain did become a place "well-watered" via man's creation of irrigation ditches and canals for the gods' garden at Eridu Uruk and Nippur.
Radau noted that cuneiform texts at Nippur mentioned an id-edin "river of edin," (p. 25 & 26 note 3) and a an-edin, ki-edin and arali-edin (pp. 2, 17, 29. Radau), he rendering Sumerian edin/edin-na as "desert" (the uncultivated desert-like steppe or plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where shepherds grazed their flocks). I "suspect" accordingly that the Sumerians may have had "three" edins, a heavenly edin (an-edin), an earthly edin (ki-edin) and an underworld edin (arali-edin). Inanna has been translated to mean "lady of heaven," and she is also called nin-edin "lady of edin" (p. 42. Note 6. Radau), perhaps she is the lady of all three edins as she dwelt in heaven as 'the lady of heaven", married Dumuzi the shepherd of the earthly edin and was a prisoner of the underworld (arali-edin) until Dumuzi as her surrogate effected her release ? (cf. Hugo Radau. Sumerian Hymns and Prayers to the god Dumu-zi or Babylonian Lenten Songs from the Temple Library of Nippur. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1913)
From the above texts it appears that Inanna, who ate of Cedar and Cypress trees to acquire knowledge about love-making to perform her duties as Dumuzi's bride, was also associated with an earthly Eden, ki-edin, a desert-plain/steppe (Sumerian edin, edinnu, edin-na). To the degree that Eve eats of a tree in Genesis, in a garden _located_in_ Eden, and Inanna bears the epithet or title "Inanna of edin" or "nin (lady) of edin" as a wife of the "lord of edin" (mulu edin) Dumuzi, could these Mesopotamian concepts have been "recast" as a Adam and Eve, a man and wife in Eden ? That is to say Inanna, the "lady of edin" is a possible prototype of the biblical Eve, a lady in Eden, both having eaten of a tree inorder to acquire knowledge.
Where is Genesis' Garden _in_ Eden?
The CONTRADICTING Mesopotamian myths reveal man was created in three cities, Eridu, Nippur and Babylon by the gods Enki (Ea), Enlil (Ellil) and Marduk (biblical Merodach). One myth, the Eridu Genesis myth (translated by Thorkild Jacobsen, 1981) states that man wanders a steppe (edin) in a state of nakedness with wild animals eating grass and lapping water at waterholes, before the goddess Nintur takes him from this place of desolation and has him build cities for the gods and care for their city gardens. The reality, dear reader is that "many Mesopotamian locations or sites" are bound up in Yahweh-Elohim's "Garden _in_ Eden" account from differing myths involving different characters. No single site possesses "all" the motifs appearing in Genesis' garden in Eden account. The associations or parallels are scattered in several different locations in the Mesopotamian myths.
However, _if_ "hardpressed" by my readership to choose only ONE PRIMARY location for Genesis' Garden _in_ Eden (Sumerian Edin), it would have to be Eridu. Why? It has the _MOST_ ASSOCIATIONS !
(1) Eridu is the "first named" location when land is first formed over the apsu freshwater stream that emerges from the salty sea and Enki builds his shrine there. Eden is the "first named" location in Genesis upon land being formed (As Leick has correctly noted Eridu is the Mesopotamian equivalent of the Garden of Eden, where CREATION BEGAN).
(2) Sumerian texts speak of the "edin of Eridu," (as noted by Langdon) thus edin (a semiarid desertlike plain or steppe) as EDEN _is specifically associated with_ Eridu.
(3) Adapa at Eridu obtains forbidden wisdom from Ea (Enki) but is denied immortality by him. Adam obtains forbidden wisdom and is denied immortality.
(4) Ea (Enki) Adapa's patron-god, _warns_him_in_ Eridu_ NOT TO EAT the "bread of death" or drink "the water of death" which will be offered him by Anu in heaven or he will die. This for me has been recast as Yahweh warning Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil or he will die.
(5) Ea of Eridu "tricks" Adapa, he is offered bread of life and water of life by Anu, and obeying his god, he refuses to eat, and loses out on a chance for immortality for himself and mankind. Anu orders his two gate guards, Ningishzida and Dumuzi to return Adapa to "his earth" (Eridu) after he refuses the proffered bread and water. This is for me, the Mesopotamian prototype behind the Cherubim driving Adam and Eve from the Garden in Eden.
(6) Ea as the Sumerian Enki bears the Sumerian epithet ushumgal "great serpent-dragon" (a mythical beast that walks upon four legs). And Enki is famed for his "trickery" of the gods and man and he is considered to be the god of wisdom and knowledge. I suspect Ea the walking, talking serpent-dragon in the fruit-tree garden at Eridu is one of several Mesopotamian prototypes behind Genesis' Serpent that prevented man from obtaining immortality according to Christian traditions.
(7) Enki the ushumgal is famous for his wonderous Mes-tree, which towers over all other trees and is famed for its bountiful harvest of fruits. I understand that Genesis' Serpent and its association with fruit trees is a recast of the Enki the walking, talking humanlike god who bore the epithet ushumgal who planted the Mes-tree in Eridu's city garden.
(8) Ea (Enki) of Eridu (he has shrines at Shuruppak and at Ur of the Chaldees where dwelt Terah and Abraham) warns ONE man, Utnapishtim of Shuruppak (also called Atrahasis or Ziusudra) of the Flood which will destroy mankind, he is to build a great boat and enter it with the seed of mankind (himself and family) and animals, and he does so. Yahweh, the God of the Garden _in_ Eden warns ONE man, Noah of the Flood. Ea (Enki) is one of several prototypes behind Yahweh-Elohim. Enlil of Nippur who instigated the Flood is another Yahweh prototype.
(9) Enki (Ea) out of envy and spite of his brother-god Enlil of Nippur, changes the one language of the world into a babel of languages. I agree with Professor Kramer that the Hebrews have recast this motif as Yahweh creating a babel of languages in Genesis.
(10) Archaeologists have unearthed at Eridu clay snakes, and naked male and female figurines, which for me, somewaht recalls a naked Adam and Eve and a Serpent.
(11) Enki at Eridu creates man of clay to work in his fruit-tree city garden, relieving the Igigi gods of that task. Yahweh creates Adam and places him in his garden _in_ Eden. Clay figurines of snakes and naked men and women exist at Eridu.
(12) Yahweh-Elohim is a later recast of several gods in different myths. In Eridu's city garden and its wonderous Mes-tree is Enki/Ea possessing a humanform, he is thus capable of walking and talking with man his creation. Enki also bears the Sumerian epithet ushumgal, "great serpent-dragon." And his crafty word is famed as being like "serpent venom" entrapping sinners. He is famed for his wisdom and trickery with the gods and man. That is to say, Yahweh-Elohim and Satan as Eden's Serpent are nothingmore than "alter-egos" of Enki/Ea the Ushumgal of Eridu who created man of clay to work in his city garden, allowed him (as Adapa) access to forbidden knowledge and denied him immortality.
So, to sum all this up in a nutshell (07 June 2006):
The garden_in_Eden was _ORIGINALLY_ derived from Mesopotamian myths. Man in these myths is made _contradictorily_ at three different locations: (1) At Nippur by Enki to serve in Enlil's city-garden relieving the Igigi gods of their toil _and_ (2) man is made at Eridu by Enki to relieve the Igigi gods of their toil in his city-garden; (3) Man is made at Babylon by the god Marduk to relieve the gods of earthly toil. All three cities lie in edin, the Sumerian word for a desert-like plain or steppe, usually uncultivated land where herds are grazed between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. But when irrigated this desert-like steppe/plain environment becomes the city-gardens of the gods.
Apparently the Hasmoneans in the 2d century BCE in their Book of Jubilees, transferred Eden's location to Southwest Arabia and the Yemen, the land of Sheba and the region called the Khawlan (Havilah/Chavilah of the Targums), the wadies Bishah and or Baish being possibly identified with the Pishon. Perhaps they settled on this region BECAUSE THE FIRST RIVER mentioned in association with the garden in Eden IS THE PISHON; the Khawlan (Havilah) was here, so too the gold, bdellium and precious stones. So then, the Hasmoneans, using "clues from Genesis" and their knowledge (or traditions) of trade relations between the Queen of Sheba and Solomon (her bringing him gold, spices and precious stones), concluded that the garden of Eden's location was somewhere in Southwest Arabia. These Hasmonean traditions were apparently maintained by the Yemeni Jews down through the ages to the present day.
As noted by a number of Jewish scholars (A. S. Yahudah and Nahum Sarna), the Jews may have wanted to set a "boundary" to THEIR WORLD, that boundary would be rivers. Their world in the east would be bounded by the Euphrates and Hiddekel (Tigris), while the western boundary was Cush (the modern Sudan) and SW Arabia (the modern Yemen) and their rivers the Gihon/Nile and Pishon/Bishah/Baish. The Bishah as the Pishon in SW Arabia would be associated with Genesis 10:26-30 descendants of Joktan (Arabic Kahtan), Sheba, Havilah and Hazarmaveth/Hadrawmaut. Beyond the Yemen lies the Indian ocean, an appropriate border for Judah's world ca. 560 BCE when I understand Genesis was composed. My research suggests that Abraham was of Ur of the Chaldees (Tel Muqqayar between Nippur and Eridu) and that Sumerian motifs underlie many of Genesis' concepts. The Sumerian world bounded by rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates was recast as rivers demarking Judah's world-knowledge, SW Arabia and Cush in the west and the Tigris and Euphrates in the east.
Professor Kramer noted a strange-looking ideogram representing the Sumerian's world consisting of two opposing arcs with several vertical lines between them. It is my understanding that the arcs represent the Euphrates and Idiglat (Hidekkel) rivers and the verticle lines represent canals or irrigation ditches which made possible the world of Sumer and its irrigated city-gardens that man was made by the gods to tend and till. So, I suspect that the Jews are ultimately _recasting_ the Sumerian concept of a world bordered by two rivers into a much larger world bordered by four rivers.
The notion that all these rivers were branches of one stream leaving the garden _in_ Eden (Edin) is indebted I suspect to the 7th century BCE Greek mercenaries (Ionian, Carian and Lydian) serving in Judah under either the Saitic Pharaohs who slew Josiah and carried off Jehoahaz in bonds to Egypt appointing Eliakim in his stead under the throne name of Jehoiakim (2Kings 23:29-35). The Homeric notion of ONE GREAT RIVER CALLED OCEAN being the source of ALL THE WORLD"S RIVERS made possible the notion that rivers in Cush, Southwest Arabia and Mesopotamia could all emanate from one stream. ALTERNATELY, Yahuda might be right, that ancient man understood rivers were simply manifestations of streams flowing under the earth, hence an underground stream from Eden (Eridu in Sumer) subdivided under the earth and arose in Mesopotamia, Cush (Sudan) and SW Arabia.
Please click here for my article explaining that Japheth of Noah's Flood is Japetos (Iapetos) of Deucalion's Flood in Greek myths, ERRONEOUSLY assimilated by the 7th century BCE Jews (via Greek mercenaries stationed in Judah) to the ca. 2900 BCE Shuruppak Flood of Mesopotamia. This article also explains how the Jews in ERROR used Greek myths about the Medes (Hebrew Madai of Genesis 10:1-2) being the descendants of Japheth via his descendant Medus of Athens, Medus' mother being Medea of Cholchis in the epic tale of Jason and the Argonauts.
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Carl Ritter. The Comparative Geography of Palestine and the Sinaitic Peninsula. New York. Haskell House Publishers.  reprint 1969, 4 Vols.
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Isidore Singer, Editor. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York. KTVA Publishing House. 1901-06, 12 volumes.
Gerd Simper & Petra Brixel. Jemen Reisehandbuch, Reisen und Wanderen in Arabia Felix.. 1992. ISBN 3-921497-62-0.
Nigel H. H. Sitwell. The World the Romans Knew. London. Hamish Hamilton. 1984.
Smith's Bible Dictionary. A.J. Holman Publishing Co., Philadelphia. No date, ca. 1950's ?
TANAKH, The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia. The Jewish Publication Society. 1988.
William Whiston. The Life And Works of Flavius Josephus. New York. Holt, Rinehart & Winston.( No publication date given perhaps ca. 1970 ?).
A.S. Yahuda. The Accuracy of the Bible. London. William Heinemann. 1934.
Map titled "Little Aden," ND 38-14, series K502 Army Map Service, Washington D.C. 1:250,000 scale. 1961.
Bartholomew's map titled The Middle East. Edinburgh, Scotland. 1:4,000,000. 1991.