Garden of Eden


General Information

{ ee' - den }

In the Bible, the Garden of Eden was the original home of Adam and Eve. It was a well-watered garden with beautiful trees. Also called Paradise, Eden symbolized the unbroken harmony between God and humankind before the first sin, after which, according to Genesis 3, Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden.


General Information

According to the Bible, Eve was the first woman--the mother of Cain, Abel, and Seth. God created her from the rib of Adam to be his wife. She and Adam lived in the Garden of Eden until they were expelled for eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2-4).


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Eden: delight. (1.) The garden in which our first parents dewlt (Gen. 2: 8-17). No geographical question has been so much discussed as that bearing on its site. It has been placed in Armenia, in the region west of the Caspian Sea, in Media, near Damascus, in Palestine, in Southern Arabia, and in Babylonia. The site must undoubtedly be sought for somewhere along the course of the great streams the tigris and the Euphrates of Western Asia, in "the land of Shinar" or Babylonia. The region from about lat. 33 degrees 30' to lat. 31 degrees, which is a very rich and fertile tract, has been by the most competent authorities agreed on as the probable site of Eden. "It is a region where streams abound, where they divide and re-unite, where alone in the Mesopotamian tract can be found the phenomenon of a single river parting into four arms, each of which is or has been a river of consequence." Among almost all nations there are traditions of the primitive innocence of our race in the garden of Eden.

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This was the "golden age" to which the Greeks looked back. Men then lived a "life free from care, and without labour and sorrow. Old age was unknown; the body never lost its vigour; existence was a perpetual feast without a taint of evil. The earth brought forth spontaneously all things that were good in profuse abundance." (2.) One of the markets whence the merchants of Tyre obtained richly embroidered stuffs (Ezek. 27:23); the same, probably, as that mentioned in 2 Kings 19:12, and Isa. 37:12, as the name of a region conquered by the Assyrians. (3.) Son of Joah, and one of the Levites who assisted in reforming the public worship of the sanctuary in the time of Hezekiah (2 Chr. 29:12).

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

Garden of Eden

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From: Home Bible Study Commentary by James M. Gray

Genesis Chapter 2

The Garden Located

vv. 8-14. What name is given to the locality of the garden? In which section of that locality was it planted? What expression in verse 9 shows God's consideration for beauty as well as utility? What two trees of life planted? What geographical feature of verse 10 accentuates the historical character of this narrative? Observe how this is further impressed by the facts which follow, viz: the names of the rivers, the countries through which they flow, and even the mineral deposits of the latter. Note: (a) the use of the present tense in this description, showing that the readers of Moses' period knew the location; (b) it must have been an elevated district, as the source of mighty rivers; (c) it could not have been a very luxuriant or fruitful locality, else why the need of planting a garden, and where could there have been any serious hardship in the subsequent expulsion of Adam and Eve?

It used to be thought that "Eden" was a Hebrew word meaning pleasure, but recent explorations in Assyria indicate that it may have been of Accadian origin meaning a plain, not a fertile plain as in a valley, but an elevated and sterile plain as a steppe or mountain desert. Putting these things together, the place that would come before the mind of an Oriental was the region of Armenia where the Euphrates and the Tigris (or Hiddekel) take their rise. There are two other rivers taking their rise in that region, the Kur and the Araxes, thence uniting and flowing into the Caspian Sea, but whether these are identical with the Pison and Gihon of the lesson can not yet be determined. Science now corroborates this location of Eden in so far as it teaches (a) that the human race has sprung from a common centre, and (b) that this centre is the table-land of central Asia.

Terrestrial Paradise

Catholic Information

(paradeisos, Paradisus).

The name popularly given in Christian tradition to the scriptural Garden of Eden, the home of our first parents (Genesis 2). The word paradise is probably of Persian origin and signified originally a royal park or pleasure ground. The term does not occur in the Latin of the Classic period nor in the Greek writers prior to the time of Xenophon. In the Old Testament it is found only in the later Hebrew writings in the form (Pardês), having been borrowed doubtless from the Persian. An instructive illustration of the origin and primary meaning of the term appears in II Esdras (ii, 8) where "Asaph the keeper of the king's forest" (happerdês) is the custodian of the royal park of the Persian ruler. The association of the term with the abode of our first parents does not occur in the Old-Testament Hebrew. It originated in the fact that the word paradeisos was adopted, though not exclusively, by the translators of the Septuagint to render the Hebrew for the Garden of Eden described in the second chapter of Genesis. It is likewise used in diverse other passages of the Septuagint where the Hebrew generally has "garden", especially if the idea of wondrous beauty is to be conveyed. Thus in Gen., xiii, 10, the "country about the Jordan" is described as a "paradise of the Lord" (rendering followed by the Vulgate). Cf. Numbers, xxiv, 6 (Greek) where the reference is to the beautiful array of the tents of Israel, also Isaias, i, 30; Ezechiel, xxxi, 8, 9 etc. Those interested in speculation as to the probable location of the Scriptural Garden of Eden, the primeval home of mankind, are referred to the scholarly work of Friedrich Delitsch, "Wo lag das Paradies?" (Berlin, 1881). In the New Testament period the word paradise appears with a new and more exalted meaning. In the development of Jewish eschatology which marks the post-Exilic epoch the word paradise or "Garden of God", hitherto mainly associated with the original dwelling-place of our first parents, was transferred to signify the future abode of rest and enjoyment which was to be the reward of the righteous after death. The term occurs only three times in the New Testament, though the idea which it represents is frequently expressed in other terms, v.g. "Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22). The signification of the word in these remarkably few passages can be determined only from the context and by reference to the eschatological notions current among the Jews of that period. These views are gathered chiefly from the Rabbinical literature, the works of Josephus, and from the apocryphal writings, notably the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Apocalypse of Baruch, etc. An inspection of these sources reveals a great confusion of ideas and many contradictions regarding the future paradise as also concerning the original Garden of Eden and the condition of our first parents. The scanty references to Sheol which embody the vague eschatological beliefs of the Hebrews as expressed in the earlier Old Testament writings give place in these later treatises to elaborate theories worked out with detailed descriptions and speculations often of a most fanciful character. As a sample of these may be noted the one found in the Talmudic tract "Jalkut Schim., Bereschith, 20". According to this description the entrance to paradise is made through two gates of rubies beside which stand sixty myriads of holy angels with countenances radiant with heavenly splendor. When a righteous man enters, the vestures of death are removed from him; he is clad in eight robes of the clouds of glory; two crowns are placed upon his head, one of pearls and precious stones, the other of gold; eight myrtles are placed in his hands and he is welcomed with great applause, etc. Some of the Rabbinical authorities appear to identify the paradise of the future with the primeval Garden of Eden which is supposed to be still in existence and located somewhere in the far-distant East. According to some it was an earthly abode, sometimes said to have been created before the rest of the world (IV Esdras iii, 7, cf. viii, 52); others make it an adjunct of the subterranean Sheol, while still others place it in or near heaven. It was believed that there are in paradise different degrees of blessedness. Seven ranks or orders of the righteous were said to exist within it, and definitions were given both of those to whom these different positions belong and of the glories pertaining to each ("Baba bathra", 75 a, quoted by Salmond, Hastings, "Dict. of the Bible", s.v. "Paradise"). The uncertainty and confusion of the current Jewish ideas concerning paradise may explain the paucity of reference to it in the New Testament. The first mention of the word occurs in Luke, xxiii, 43, where Jesus on the cross says to the penitent thief: "Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise". According to the prevailing interpretation of Catholic theologians and commentators, paradise in this instance is used as a synonym for the heaven of the blessed to which the thief would accompany the Saviour, together with the souls of the righteous of the Old Law who were awaiting the coming of the Redeemer. In II Corinthians (xii, 4) St. Paul describing one of his ecstasies tells his readers that he was "caught up into paradise". Here the term seems to indicate plainly the heavenly state or abode of the blessed implying possibly a glimpse of the beatific vision. The reference cannot be to any form of terrestrial paradise, especially when we consider the parallel expression in verse 2, where relating a similar experience he says he was "caught up to the third heaven". The third and last mention of paradise in the New Testament occurs in the Apocalypse (ii, 7), where St. John, receiving in vision a Divine message for the "angel of the church of Ephesus", hears these words: "To him that overcometh, I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of my God." In this passage the word is plainly used to designate the heavenly kingdom, though the imagery is borrowed from the description of the primeval Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis.

According to Catholic theology based on the Biblical account, the original condition of our first parents was one of perfect innocence and integrity. By the latter is meant that they were endowed with many prerogatives which, while pertaining to the natural order, were not due to human nature as such--hence they are sometimes termed preternatural. Principal among these were a high degree of infused knowledge, bodily immortality and freedom from pain, and immunity from evil impulses or inclinations. In other words, the lower or animal nature in man was perfectly subjected to the control of reason and the will. Besides this, our first parents were also endowed with sanctifying grace by which they were elevated to the supernatural order. But all these gratuitous endowments were forfeited through the disobedience of Adam "in whom all have sinned", and who was "a figure of Him who was to come" (Romans 5) and restore fallen man, not to an earthly, but to a heavenly paradise.

According to Josephus (Ant. Jud., I, i, 3), the Nile is one of the four great rivers of paradise (Genesis 2:10 sqq.). This view, which has been adopted by many commentators, is based chiefly on the connection described between Gehon, one of the yet unidentified rivers, and the land of Cush, which, at least in later times, was identified with Ethiopia or modern Abyssinia (cf. Vulgate, Genesis 2:13). Modern scholars, however, are inclined to regard this African Cush as simply a colony settled by tribes migrating from an original Asiatic province of the same name, located by Fried. Delitsch (op. cit., 71) in Babylonia, and by Hommel ("Ancient Hebrew Tradition", 314 sqq.) in Central Arabia.

Publication information Written by James F. Driscoll. Transcribed by Robert B. Olson. Offered to Almighty God for David and Patricia Guin & Family The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


HURTER, Theologioe Dogmaticoe Compendium, II (Innsbruck, 1893), 264-83; VON HUMMELAUER, Comment. in Genesim (Paris, 1895): Comment. in Cap. ii; VIGOUROUX, Dict. de la Bible, s.v.; GIGOT, Special Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament, Pt. I, 168 sqq. (New York, 1901).


Catholic Information

(Hebrew hawwah).

The name of the first woman, the wife of Adam, the mother of Cain, Abel, and Seth. The name occurs only five times in the Bible. In Gen., iii, 20, it is connected etymologically with the verb meaning "to live": "And Adam called the name of his wife Eve [hawwah]: because she was the mother of all the living". The Septuagint rendering in this passage is Zoe (=life, or life-giver), which is a translation; in two other passages (Genesis 4:1 and 25) the name is transliterated Eua. The Biblical data concerning Eve are confined almost exclusively to the second, third, and fourth chapters of Genesis (see ADAM).

The first account of the creation (Gen. i, "P") sets forth the creation of mankind in general, and states simply that they were created male and female. The second narrative (Genesis 2: "J") is more explicit and detailed. God is represented as forming an individual man from the slime of the earth, and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. In like manner the creation of the first woman and her relation to man is described with picturesque and significant imagery. In this account, in which the plants and animals appear on the scene only after the creation of man, the loneliness of the latter (Genesis 2:18), and his failure to find a suitable companion among the animals (Genesis 2:20), are set forth as the reason why God determines to create for man a companion like unto himself. He causes a deep sleep to fall upon him, and taking out one of the ribs, forms it into a woman, who, when she is brought to him, is recognized at once as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. A discussion of the arguments in favor of the historical, or the more or less allegorical character of this narrative would be beyond the scope of the present notice. Suffice it to say that the biblical account has always been looked upon by pious commentators as embodying, besides the fact of man's origin, a deep, practical and many-sided significance, bearing on the mutual relationship established between the sexes by the Creator.

Thus, the primitive institution of monogamy is implied in the fact that one woman is created for one man. Eve, as well as Adam, is made the object of a special creative act, a circumstance which indicates her natural equality with him, while on the other hand her being taken from his side implies not only her secondary rôle in the conjugal state (1 Corinthians 11:9), but also emphasizes the intimate union between husband and wife, and the dependence of the latter on the former "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh." The innocence of the newly created couple is clearly indicated in the following verse, but the narrator immediately proceeds to relate how they soon acquired, through actual transgression, the knowledge of good and evil, and with the sense of shame which had been previously unknown to them. In the story of the Fall, the original cause of evil is the serpent, which in later Jewish tradition is identified with Satan (Wisdom 2:24). He tempts Eve presumably as the weaker of the two, and she in turn tempts Adam, who yields to her seduction. Immediately their eyes are opened, but in an unexpected manner. Shame and remorse take possession of them, and they seek to hide from the face of the Lord.

For her share in the transgression, Eve (and womankind after her) is sentenced to a life of sorrow and travail, and to be under the power of her husband. Doubtless this last did not imply that the woman's essential condition of equality with man was altered, but the sentence expresses what, in the nature of things, was bound to follow in a world dominated by sin and its consequences. The natural dependence and subjection of the weaker party was destined inevitably to become something little short of slavery. But if woman was the occasion of man's transgression and fall, it was also decreed in the Divine counsels, that she was to be instrumental in the scheme of restoration which God already promises while in the act of pronouncing sentence upon the serpent. The woman has suffered defeat, and infinitely painful are its consequences, but henceforth there will be enmity between her and the serpent, between his seed and her seed, until through the latter in the person of the future Redeemer, who will crush the serpent's head, she will again be victorious.

Of the subsequent history of Eve the Bible gives little information. In Gen., iv, 1, we read that she bore a son whom she named Cain, because she got him (literally, "acquired" or "possessed") through God--this at least is the most plausible interpretation of this obscure passage. Later she gave birth to Abel, and the narrative does not record the birth of another child until after the slaying of Abel by his older brother, when she bore a son and called his name Seth; saying: "God hath given me [literally, "put" or "appointed"] another seed, for Abel whom Cain slew".

Eve is mentioned in the Book of Tobias (viii, 8; Sept., viii, 6) where it is simply affirmed that she was given to Adam for a helper; in II Cor., xi, 3, where reference is made to her seduction by the serpent, and in I Tim., ii, 13, where the Apostle enjoins submission and silence upon women, arguing that "Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not seduced, but the woman being seduced, was in the transgression".

As in the case of the other Old Testament personages, many rabbinical legends have been connected with the name of Eve. They may be found in the "Jewish Encyclopedia", s.v. (see also, ADAM), and in Vigouroux, "Dictionnaire de la Bible", I, art. "Adam". They are, for the most part, puerile and fantastic, and devoid of historical value, unless in so far as they serve to illustrate the mentality of the later Jewish writers, and the unreliability of the "traditions" derived from such sources, though they are sometimes appealed to in critical discussions.

Publication information Written by James F. Driscoll. Transcribed by Dennis McCarthy. For my godmother, Eva Maria (Wolf) Gomezplata The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York


PALIS in VIGOUROUX, Dictionnaire de la Bible, II, 2118; BENNETT in HASTINGS, Dict. of the Bible, s. v.; Encyclopedia Biblica, s. v. Adam and Eve; GIGOT, Special Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament, Part I, p. 162; Jewish Encyclopedia, s. v., V, 275.

Garden of Eden

Jewish Viewpoint Information

-Biblical Data:

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

Views of Delitzsch.

The writer of the Biblical story of Eden (Gen. ii.-iii.) is evidently describing some place which he conceives to be on the earth; hence the exact details: "God planted a garden eastward, in Eden," etc. Many attempts have been made to determine the precise geographical location. The most ancienttradition, going back to Josephus and followed by most of the Church Fathers, makes Havilah equivalent to India, and the Pison one of its rivers, while Cush is Ethiopia and the Gihon the Nile. A very popular theory places Eden in Babylonia. Calvin made the Shaṭṭal-'Arab-formed by the union of the Tigris and Euphrates-the river that "went out of the garden"; but it is now known that in ancient times the two rivers entered the Persian Gulf separately. Friedrich Delitzsch also places Eden in the country around Babylon and south of it, a country which was so beautiful in its luxuriant vegetation and abundant streams that it was known as "Kar-Duniash," or "garden of the god Duniash."

Rawlinson even tried to show the identity of the names "Gan-Eden" and "Kar-Duniash." This region is watered practically by the Euphrates alone, which is here on a higher level than the Tigris. The Pison and the Gihon are identified with two canals (they may originally have been river-beds) which branch out from the Euphrates just below Babylon. The former, to the west, is the Pallacopas, upon which Ur was situated, and Havilah is thus identified with the portion of the Syrian desert bordering on Babylonia, which is known to have been rich in gold. The latter, Gihon, is the Shaṭṭ al-Nil, which passes the ruins of the ancient Erech, while Cush is the Mat Kashshi, or the northern part of Babylonia proper. Curiously enough, this region was also called "Meluḥa," which name was afterward transferred to Ethiopia. Other Assyriologists (e.g.,Haupt, "Wo Lag das Paradies?" in "Ueber Land und Meer," 1894-95, No. 15) do not credit the Biblical writer with the definiteness of geographical knowledge which Delitzsch considers him to have had.

The Gilgamesh Epic

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

The El-Amarna Tablets

Though there is no one Babylonian legend of the Garden of Eden with which the Biblical story can be compared as in the case of the stories of the Creation and of the Flood, there are nevertheless points of relationship between it and Babylonian mythology. On one of the tablets found at Tell el-Amarna, now in the Berlin Museum, occurs the legend of Adapa. Adapa, the first man, is the son of the god Ea, by whom he has been endowed with wisdom, but not with everlasting life. He lives in Eridu, and cares for the sanctuary of the god. One day while fishing in a calm sea the south wind suddenly arises and overturns his boat. In his anger Adapa fights with the south wind and breaks his wings so that he can not blow for seven days. Anu, the god of heaven, hearing of this, summons Adapa before him. Ea gives his son instructions as to his behavior before Anu; among other things he tells him: "Bread of death will they offer thee: eat not of it. Water of death will they bring thee: drink not of it." Adapa does as he is told, but the bread and water Anu causes to be placed before him are of life, not of death. Thus Adapa loses his chance of eternal life. He puts on the garment, however, which is offered him, following Ea's instructions. In this story the bread of life is parallel to the tree of life in the Biblical story. It is probable that the water of life also formed a part of the original story, and that the river of Eden is a trace of it. In Ezek. xlvii. 6-12 and, with some variation, in Rev. xxii. 1, 2 mention is made of a "river of water of life, . . . and on either side of the river was there the tree of life," showing that the water of life was associated with the tree of life.

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

Schrader ("K. A. T." ii. 1, 523) calls attention to the possibility of associating the name "Adam" with "Adapa." The "garden of God," situated on the mountain, in Ezek. xxviii. 13, 14, and the tall cedar in Ezek. xxxi. 3, may have some connection with the cedar-grove of Khumbaba in the Gilgamesh epic and with the high cedar in the midst of the grove. In this connection may be mentioned the attempt to associate Eden with the mountain in Iranian mythology, out of which rivers flow, or with the Indian mountain Maru with the four rivers (Lenormant). Jensen ("Keilschriftliche Bibliothek," vi.) places the "confluence of the streams" in the Far West, and associates the island with the Greek Elysium.

Snake and Cherubim.

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

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

-In Rabbinical Literature:

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

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

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

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

Identification of the Four Rivers.

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

Earthly and Heavenly Gan Eden.

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

-In Arabic Literature:

The Arabic word for Eden is "'Adn," which, according to the commentators and lexicographers, means "fixed residence," i.e., the everlasting abode of the faithful. "'Adn," preceded by "jannat" (gardens), occurs ten times in the Koran (suras ix. 73, xiii. 23, xvi. 33, xviii. 30, xix. 62, xx. 78, xxxv. 30, xxxviii. 50, xl. 8, xli. 12), but always as the abode of the righteous and never as the residence of Adam and Eve, which occurs in the Koran only under the name of "jannah" (garden), although the Moslem commentators agree in callingit "Jannat'Adn "(the Garden of Eden). In sura ii. 23 occur the words: "And we have said to Adam: 'Stay with thy wife in the garden ["fi al-jannah"],'" which Baiḍawi explains: "The garden here is the 'Dar al-Thawab' [The House of Recompense], which is the fourth of the eight heavens." According to the Koran, the gardens of Eden are in heaven, and form a part of the blissful abode of the believers. In sura ii. 23 it gives the command: "Announce that the believers will reside in delightful gardens," on which Baiḍawi remarks: "According to Ibn al-'Abbas, there are seven gardens, one of which is called 'Firdaus' [Paradise] and one "Adn' [Eden]." Hence there is a difficulty as to the Eden from which Adam was cast out.

Baidawi says on sura ii. 23: "Some people have thought that this Eden was situated in the country of the Philistines, or between Persia and Karman. God created it in order to put Adam to the test." Mohammed Ṭahir ("Majma' al-Biḥar, " p. 225), speaking of the tradition that the rivers Jaiḥun and Jaiḥan are rivers of the garden ("al-jannah"), says: "The terms are figurative, implying that faith extended to those regions and made them rivers of paradise." In another place (ib. p. 164) he says: "The four rivers, Siḥan [Jaxartes], Jaiḥan [Gihon], Furat [Euphrates], and Nil [Nile], are rivers of paradise." Abu Mohammed Mu'afa al-Shaibani, author of the "Uns al-Munḳaṭi'in," states the following tradition: "When God created the Garden of Eden, He created in it that which the eye had never seen before, that which the ear had never heard of before, and that which had never been desired before by man's heart." There is another tradition that God, having created the Garden of Eden, ordered it to speak. The garden pronounced the following words: "There is no God besides Allah." The garden was ordered to speak a second time, and it added: "The faithful will be happy." After a third order it said: "Misers or hypocrites will never enter me." Wahb ibn Munabbah says: "There is a tradition that the Garden of Eden has eight gates, the porters of which must not let anybody come in before those who despise earthly things and prefer those of heaven." According to one tradition the tree of life was a stalk of wheat-which in the days of Adam grew to the size of a tree-a vine, a fig-tree, or a "tree that whoever eats of it grows young again" (Baiḍawi, Commentary on Koran, sura ii. 33). Weil, in "Biblische Legenden der Propheten," gives some interesting traditions in regard to Eden and Satan.

Emil G. Hirsch, Mary W. Montgomery, Solomon Schechter, Judah David Eisenstein, M. Seligsohn
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

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


Jewish Viewpoint Information

-Biblical Data:

The wife of Adam. According to Gen. iii. 20, Eve was so called because she was "the mother of all living" (R. V., margin, "Life" or "Living"). On the ground that it was not "good for man to be alone" God resolved to "make him an help meet for him" (ib. ii. 18), first creating, with this end in view, the beasts of the field and the fowl of the air and then bringing them unto Adam. When Adam did not find among these a helpmeet for himself, Yhwh caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and took one of his ribs, from which He made a woman, and brought her unto the man (ib. ii. 22). Upon seeing her, Adam welcomed her as "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" (ib. ii. 23), declaring that she should be called "ishshah" because she was taken out of "ish" (man.)

Dwelling in the Garden of Eden with Adam, Eve is approached and tempted by the serpent. She yields to the reptile's seductive arguments, and partakes of the forbidden fruit, giving thereof to her husband, who, like her, eats of it. Both discover their nakedness and make themselves aprons of figleaves. When God asks for an accounting Adam puts the blame on Eve. As a punishment, the sorrows of conception and childbirth are announced to her, as well as subjection to her husband (ib. iii. 16). Driven out of Eden, Eve gives birth to two sons, Cain and Abel; herself naming the elder in the obscure declaration "I have gotten a man with the help of Yhwh" (ib. iv. 1, R. V.). Later, after the murder of Abel, she bears another son, to whom she gives the name "Seth," saying that he is given to her by Yhwh as a compensation for Abel (ib. iv. 25).

-In Rabbinical Literature:

Eve was not created simultaneously with Adam because God foreknew that later she would be a source of complaint. He therefore delayed forming her until Adam should express a desire for her (Gen. R. xvii.). Eve was created from the thirteenth rib on Adam's right side and from the flesh of his heart (Targ. Pseudo-Jonathan to Gen. ii. 21; Pirḳe R. El. xii.). Together with Eve Satan was created (Gen. R. xvii.). God adorned Eve like a bride with all the jewelry mentioned in Isa. iii. He built the nuptial chamber for her (Gen. R. xviii.). According to Pirḳe R. El. xii., as soon as Adam beheld Eve he embraced and kissed her; her name , from , indicates that God () joined them together (see also Ab. R. N. xxxviii.). Ten gorgeous "ḥuppot" (originally, "bridal chambers"; now, "bridal canopies"), studded with gems and pearls and ornamented with gold, did God erect for Eve, whom He Himself gave away in marriage, and over whom He pronounced the blessing; while the angels danced and beat timbrels and stood guard over the bridal chamber (Pirḳe R. El. xii.).

Samael, prompted by jealousy, picked out the serpent to mislead Eve (Yalḳ., Gen. xxv.; comp. Josephus, "Ant." i. 1, § 4; Ab. R. N. i.), whom it approached, knowing that women could be more easily moved than men (Pirḳe R. El. xiii.). Or, according to another legend, the serpent was induced to lead Eve to sin by desire on its part to possess her (Soṭah 9; Gen. R. xviii.), and it cast into her the taint of lust (; Yeb. 103b; 'Ab. Zarah 22b; Shab. 146a; Yalḳ., Gen. 28, 130). Profiting by the absence of the two guardian angels (Ḥag. 16a; Ber. 60b), Satan, or the serpent, which then had almost the shape of a man (Gen. R. xix. 1), displayed great argumentative skill in explaining the selfish reasons which had prompted God's prohibition (Pirḳe R. El. l.c.; Gen. R. xix.; Tan., Bereshit, viii.), and convinced Eve by ocular proof that the tree could be touched (comp. Ab. R. N. i. 4) without entailing death. Eve thereupon laid hold of the tree, and at once beheld the angel of death coming toward her (Targ. Pseudo-Jon. to Gen. iii. 6). Then, reasoning that if she died and Adam continued to live he would take another wife, she made him share her own fate (Pirḳe R. El. xiii.; Gen. R. xix.); at the invitation of the serpent she had partaken of wine; and she now mixed it with Adam's drink (Num. R. x.). Nine curses together with death befell Eve in consequence of her disobedience (Pirḳe R. El. xiv.; Ab. R. N. ii. 42).

Eve became pregnant, and bore Cain and Abel on the very day of (her creation and) expulsion from Eden (Gen. R. xii.). These were born full-grown, and each had a twin sister (ib.). Cain's real father was not Adam, but one of the demons (Pirḳe R. El. xxi., xxii.). Seth was Eve's first child by Adam. Eve died shortly after Adam, on the completion of the six days of mourning, and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah (Pirḳe R. El. xx.). Comp. Adam, Book of

-In Arabic Literature:

Eve is a fantastic figure taken from the Jewish Haggadah. In the Koran her name is not mentioned, although her person is alluded to in the command given by Allah to Adam and his "wife," to live in the garden, to eat whatever they desired, but not to approach "that tree" (suras ii. 33, vii. 18). According to Mohammedan tradition, Eve was created out of a rib of Adam's left side while he was asleep. Riḍwan, the guardian of paradise, conducted them to the garden, where theywere welcomed by all creatures as the father and mother of Mohammed.

Iblis, who had been forbidden to enter paradise and was jealous of Adam's prerogative, wished to entice him to sin. He asked the peacock to carry him under his wings, but, as the bird refused, he hid himself between the teeth of the serpent, and thus managed to come near Adam and Eve. He first persuaded Eve to eat of the fruit, which was a kind of wheat that grew on the most beautiful tree in the garden, and she gave some to Adam. Thereupon all their ornaments fell from their bodies, so that they stood naked. Then they were expelled from the garden. Adam was thrown to Serendib (Ceylon), and Eve to Jidda (near Mecca).

Although Adam and Eve could not see each other, they heard each other's lamentations; and their repentance restored to them God's compassion. God commanded Adam to follow a cloud which would lead him to a place opposite to the heavenly throne, where he should build a temple. The cloud guided him to Mount Arafa, near Mecca, where he found Eve. From this the mount derived its name. Eve died a year after Adam, and was buried outside Mecca, or, according to others, in India, or at Jerusalem.

Emil G. Hirsch, Solomon Schechter, Hartwig Hirschfeld
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

Weil, Biblische Legenden der Muselmänner.

-Critical View:

The account of the creation of woman-she is called "Eve" only after the curse-belongs to the J narrative. It reflects the naive speculations of the ancient Hebrews on the beginnings of the human race as introductory to the history of Israel. Its tone throughout is anthropomorphic. The story was current among the people long before it took on literary form (Gunkel, "Genesis," p. 2), and it may possibly have been an adaptation of a Babylonian myth (ib. p. 35). Similar accounts of the creation of woman from a part of man's body are found among many races (Tuch, "Genesis," notes on ch. ii.); for instance, in the myth of Pandora. That woman is the cause of evil is another wide-spread conceit. The etymology of "ishshah" from "ish" (Gen. ii. 23) is incorrect ( belongs to the root ), but exhibits all the characteristics of folk-etymology. The name , which Adam gives the woman in Gen. iii. 20, seems not to be of Hebrew origin. The similarity of sound with explains the popular etymology adduced in the explanatory gloss, though it is W. R. Smith's opinion ("Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia," p. 177) that Eve represents the bond of matriarchal kinship ("ḥayy"). Nöldeke ("Z. D. M. G." xlii. 487), following Philo ("De Agricultura Noe," § 21) and the Midrash Rabbah (ad loc.), explains the name as meaning "serpent," preserving thus the belief that all life sprang from a primeval serpent. The narrative forms part of a culture-myth attempting to account among other things for the pangs of childbirth, which are comparatively light among primitive peoples (compare Adam; Eden, Garden of; Fall of Man). As to whether this story inculcates the divine institution of Monogamy or not, see Gunkel, "Genesis," p. 11, and Dillmann's and Holzinger's commentaries on Gen. ii. 23-24.

Also, see:
Original Sin

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