Quest for pinpointing exact location of the Biblical Garden of Eden and the four rivers almost rivals quest for location of fabled Atlantis. Theories that abound are almost as numerous as interpretations of the seven days of Genesis. Tackling this question reviews what is written in Bible Genesis about four rivers: And a river went out of Eden to water garden, and from there it parted, and became 4 heads. The name of the first is Pison: which compassed whole land of Havilah, Saudi Arabia) where there is gold; The gold of the land is good (including liquid gold oil): there is bdellium and the onyx stone. Name of second river is Gihon it compassed the whole land of Ethiopia in East Africa. In Ancient Bibles described as Cush or Abyssinia from Abyss lowest point on earth gorge in Ethiopia. Then 3 river Hiddekel goes toward east Assyria. 4th river Euphrates in Genesis 2:10-14.
The Bible says that a single river flowed “out” of Eden and then does something that most rivers DO NOT do; specifically, split into four separate “heads” or rivers that flowed downstream, all fed from a common single river source. Almost all rivers start from a single source or are fed by multiple sources (tributaries). For example, the Ohio River actually begins where two rivers (the Monongahela and Allegheny) flow together at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The Ohio River terminates when it flows into the Mississippi river as one of that river’s many tributaries. So the names of rivers are an arbitrary thing, usually denoting only a portion of a greater complex stream system, with one stream flowing into another, which in-turn, may flow into yet another. This pattern of rivers, as observed in nature, is opposite of what the Bible describes as river of Eden for that reason, nobody has been able to look at modern maps of the regions mentioned in Genesis and figure out exactly where the Garden of Eden was, at least by the present topography of the lands of the Middle East. Only one river of four, the Euphrates, is known by same name in modern times. Presently originates in mountains of Turkey and terminates by merging with Tigris River near Iraq / Kuwait border region. Many speculate Tigris is the river Hiddekel.
This led to speculation Garden of Eden was located somewhere in Turkey. This is assumed because present headwaters of Euphrates River originate in Turkey, as do headwaters of the Tigris. Others have proposed that the other end of the Euphrates River, where it meets the Tigris, may be the true location. This requires interpreting the Tigris river as one of the other three (the Hiddekel), then interpreting a tributary confluence of rivers as a river head, and locating at least two more rivers (or old river beds) as the other missing two. Having done so, they then claim that the Garden of Eden was near present day Kuwait. This is convenient solution, not supported by literal wording of Bible or geological and geographical realities of river “head” means, i.e. headwaters source origin.
Notice that the present day headwaters of Tigris and Euphrates rivers originate in Tuekey very close to each other in mountainous terrain. Logically, one would assume that if two of the rivers started there, the other two must have done so, as well, if Turkey was location of Eden. Neither the Pison nor Gihon rivers are ever mentioned again in the Bible. However, the Hiddekel River is: “And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river Hiddekel in Daniel 10:4. Reference by the prophet Daniel comes from a vision he had while with children of Israel living in Babylonian Captivity. By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion in Psalm 137 : 1 puts Daniel somewhere in the area of present-day Iraq and makes present-day Tigris good candidate for “Hiddekel” river spoken of by the prophet, as it is the only other great river known in that region today. But the Bible says that this river “that is it which goeth toward east of Assyria” and a historical map of the location of Assyria, shows that the Tigris actually goes southeastward.Keep in mind that the geographical area known as “Assyria” is not so easy to pin down. Though Assyrian Empire centered near Nineveh, actual empire extended into the present-day Syria and Palestine. However, lacking a better candidate, and knowing that prophet Daniel was in that geographical area at time of his visions, Tigris is the best possible modern-day candidate for Hiddekel River. We must search out probable locations of other two rivers. It is here theories that the Garden of Eden was either in Turkey or Kuwait starts to lose credibility. First lets identify the geographical region of Pison river. The Bible says: “Pison compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold” and gives 2 good clues. Recently discovered Fossil River from western mountain of Saudi Arabia to Kuwait. This old river course is now nothing more than a dry riverbed. It was detected by satellite imaging. Many have speculated that this may be the ancient Pison, as it has been dry about 3,500 to 2,000 BC. Although Saudi Arabia could marginally qualify for the land of Havilah, fossil riverbed flows across it had origin in the mountains bordering the eastern side of the present day Red Sea, south of Israel
It should be pointed out the mountains mirrored by other range of mountains on the western side of the Red Sea. The Red Sea tectonic spreading zone and part of Great Rift system runs from northward in Turkey, down through the Dead Sea, down through Red Sea and southward deep into African continent. Obviously, when mountain range was split by Rift source waters of proposed Pison river would have dried up. But this proposed river path may be somewhat of a “red-herring” because does not seem to naturally “fit” the overall pattern. An even better fit may be for the river to have flowed down what today is the Gulf of Aden south of present day Yemen (southern tip of Arabia). Yemen has both gold and onyx and the eastward trending fault branch from Afar triangle would have been a natural riverbed in the days prior to Noah’s flood when sea levels were lower than today.
If this was indeed the Pison River, one of four that flowed out of main one rising in Garden of Eden, does not correspond with the present-day headwater source of Euphrates or Tigris up in Turkey. The geography of the last remaining river, the Gihon, further complicates problem. The Gihon is spoken of as: “Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia” which is the African land area west of Red Sea, southward. The political boundaries of Ethiopia different in the Biblical times, but the general area is correct. And if a river formerly flowed down Red Sea basin and southward into Africa at Afar Triangle, it fits description of river “compassing the whole land of Ethiopia in Genesis 2:13. If we correctly identified all four rivers, we now have 2 rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) originating in Turkey another running down what was is now the Red Sea south of Israel and deep into Africa, following the path of the present-day Great Rift system. For the moment, the previously discussed “fossil river” running through Saudi Arabia. The river lines cross Saudi Arabia Haviland parts of the four rivers proposed from what discussed so far. So note natural routes traced the Euphrates and Tigris rivers to present-day source. Terminates close to Great Rift fault zone line continues original path of “Gihon” beyond the top of Red Sea, terminates at “Pison” at Great Rift fault zone line. And all 4 rivers have one connection to Great Rift system. This is the mystery 2 rivers presently originating out of Turkey into north 2 fossil rivers flow south of Israel. Geographical “center” of these 4 points flow neither Turkey or Kuwait; center is near general region of present day Israel and Jordan. Bible lends further credence to Israel as location of Garden of Eden. “Eden” search in Bible reference provide insightful clue: “Behold, Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches and shadowing shroud of high stature, top was among thick boughs. These waters made him great, the deep set him up on high and her rivers run roundabout her plants, and so sent out her little rivers unto all trees of the field. Height exalted above all trees of field bough multiplied, and his branches became long because of multitude of waters, he shot forth. The fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. He is fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters. Cedars in garden of God could not hide fir trees not like his boughs, chesnut trees not like branches; nor any tree in garden of God like him in his beauty. I made him fair by multitude of branches, all trees of Eden in garden of God envied him in Ezekiel 31:3-9 KJV.In this passage the Bible says Assyrian was in Lebanon. Spiritually speaking, the “trees” in this passage refer to men and leaders. Cedar trees are mentioned in the Bible as references to Lebanon in Judges 9:15, Psalms 29:5 & 104:16, Song of Solomon 5:15, Isaiah 2:13, Jeremiah 22:23 and more. Notice in last passage the Spirit associates trees with “Eden” that “were in Garden of God.” Lebanon, although not a part of modern political Israel, was a part of the Biblical lands ruled by the Kings of Israel in times past. From this we infer Garden and source of rivers of Garden was close to land of Lebanon. If postulation correct that the source of the 4 rivers was near Lebanon interconnecting river systems would need to be like map below. It emerges 4 rivers connected to trace of Great Rift fault system is complex river network emerging from a common point of origin flows both north and south. North and south extension splits into 2 separate of 4 rivers adds up to 4separate heads. Of course, to propose a reconstruction one assume present day Tigris, Euphrates not source headwaters in ancient times.It is possible that there could have been older main tributaries previously flowing from Lebanon which were, at that time, main headwaters of those 2 rivers. The so-called Kuwait River, proposed as the lost river Pison, does not seem to match common denominator of others, that is Great Rift and branching fault systems. Based on the description of its path in the Bible which says, “compasseth the whole land of Havilah” and knowing from the geology of present day Yemen that onyx can be found there, then this part of the verse, “where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone” suggests an alternate path for River Pison, south of Yemen, gives path indicated by blue yellow markings on next graphic.When all factors are considered (Bible text and geology, I believe the paths indicated by the red, yellow, green, pink lines on large map are probably where those rivers flowed. Southern path around Yemen puts fourth river squarely into the basin of the Great Rift system, flowing east from the Afar Triangle.The paths of the 4 rivers geographically meets requirements of the Biblical text because the single river water source, originating from high ground in or near present day Israel, hits the Rift Valley so flowed both north and south along these paths of the Rift zone, with both north and south forks splitting a second time intercepting other fault zones. Keep in mind that the course of rivers around and through the vicinity of the Great Rift fault system may have changed or dried up because of block faulting all along the Rift zone. Certainly Horst and Graben faulting along the Rift could, and would, change the surface topography. Horst and Graben faulting is defined as “elongate fault blocks of the Earth’s crust that have been raised and lowered, relative to surrounding areas as direct effect of faulting. Horsts, Grabens range size of blocks of few centimeters wide to tens of meters wide in a vertical movement to several thousand feet.”
But when did this happen? Most likely time frame years immediately following Noah’s Flood. Keep in mind the Bible says there was a significant geologic event that happened 101 years after Noah’s Flood – The “Earth was divided” (see: Genesis 10:25 & 1 Chronicles 1:19). Bible describes tectonic/volcanic activity in the Rift valley in Abraham’s days (the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19:28). Imaging of the Dead Sea indicates that, at one time, the river bed of what is now the Jordan River once flowed across the land surface that is now at the bottom of the Dead Sea. This suggests that there was Horst and Graben faulting at the southern end of the present Dead Sea, which abruptly terminated the former flow of that river southward. That stream was probably the feeder channel to the ancient Gihon River, which ran down the floor of what is now the Red Sea into Ethiopia and through the Rift basin south from the Afar Triangle. Supporting coincidental evidence for this is the fact that fish species down in the African Rift valley river and lake systems are very similar to those found in the Jordan River system. The 4 Eden rivers match the origin of the History of Israel from garden of Eden in Canaan, into Egypt, back to Canaan land, migration in many directions globally as shown in these two maps below.The aquatic life of African lakes, rivers belongs in the Ethiopian geographical region. According to Annandale, the explanation of the Ethiopian affinity of the fish fauna of the Jordan is that the Jordan formed at one time merely part of a river system that ran down Great Rift Valley. Jordan was one branch of these 4 huge river system, chain of lakes in East Africa represents the other; and together they opened into the Indian Ocean. R. Washbourn, Percy Sladen Expedition to Lake Huleh, 1935, Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statements, (1936), p. 209, website The Great Rift and Jordan). Returning to the general area of Lebanon as Biblical location of The Garden of Eden and the water source for the four rivers, let us take a look at the present-day geology and topography of that area. This map shows a great deal of block faulting in area of Lebanon just north of modern day Israel. Satellite image of the entire area note from the topographical relief, had waters once flowing out of this area, so they would naturally flow northward Euphrates Fault system river basin. At the time of the Garden of Eden the main headwaters of the Euphrates could have come from that direction. If the water flow at that time continued northward along the path of the Great Rift, it intersects the present-day Tigris river basin. Dead Sea Rift Valley, Israel and Jordan 1984. It has altitude of 190 nautical miles 350 meters.
The prominent bodies of water along the Rift zone are the Dead Sea (bottom) and Sea of Galilee (top). They are connected by the Jordan River which flows south. Before the Earth was divided by the Rift, the mountainous land on both the Israeli and Jordanian sides were joined. You are looking at “ground zero” of what was once the Garden of Eden. Here is another important point to remember. The Bible says that the river flowed out of Eden, but Bible does not give geographical size for what constitutes actual area of Eden. The actual source of waters could have been south of Lebanon. Specifically, the waters could have originated in or near Jerusalem in present-day Israel, or even up welled from a massive spring under the sea of Tiberius. The Israel/Lebanon region as the location of Eden and the lost river finds considerable support in the Bible. Support for line of reasoning is found in the fact that God considers the land of Israel as His Holy land. It was upon one of the mountains in the “land of Moriah“in Genesis Abraham was told to sacrifice his son a type of the Lord’s sacrifice of Jesus. Solomon was told to build the Temple “at Jerusalem in mount Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3:1) and Jerusalem was where the Lord Jesus was actually crucified. By extension, we can assume when God sacrificed an animal to cover Adam and Eve with skin (Genesis 3:21), animal was a Lamb (Revelation 13:8). The typology of Adam and Eve and the center of the Garden of God, were somewhere at or very near geographical Jerusalem.Bible’s Spiritual realities location of the river of Eden in future Lord Jesus Christ establishes His Kingdom and Righteous Temple in Jerusalem, the Bible speaks of a river flowing from the Temple. Prophet Ezekiel spoke of seeing in vision that he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under threshold of house eastward: for the forefront of house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at south side of the altar. Then brought he me out of the way of gate northward, and led way without unto the utter gate by the way looketh eastward, behold, ran out waters on right side. And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, he brought me through waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured thousand, and brought me through; waters were to loins. Afterward he measured thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, moves, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to kinds, fish of great sea, exceeding many. But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit to his months because waters issued out of sanctuary: the fruit thereof shall be for meat and leaf for medicine in Ezekiel 47:1-12 KJV. He shewed me a pure river of water of life clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it on either side of the river, there is tree of life, which bare 12 fruits and yields her fruit every month and leaves of the tree were for healing of nations Revelation 22:1-2. Since original “Tree of Life” in Garden of Eden, does it not make sense that when the Lord makes all things new again the future “Tree of Life” would be restored to its proper place? And that place is in Israel, the same place upon mountains of Moriah (Jerusalem). The Bible tends to indicate that the river from the Garden of Eden originated in Judea and from there became these four heads. forensic study of the region’s geology tends to support theory of alternatively proposed locations of Turkey or Kuwait. What is not shown is a geologic model for source of the waters originating from the area of Jerusalem. Keep in Mind Jerusalem sits just west of the Great Rift Valley. It is quite possible the legendary river of Eden originated from a massive artesian aquifer, source of which has long since disrupted by block faulting along the Rift. We know for a scientific fact is a considerable amount of “fossil” water under Middle East in the deep-rock sandstone aquifers of the region such as Nubian sandstone aquifers equivalent formations. Keep in mind in the days of Adam and Eve a “mist” went up watered face of Earth within the Garden (Genesis 2:6). Fountains of waters (underground waters under pressure gushing upwards) would certainly be a logical source for the generation of such a mist and would be a logical feed-source for such a river. Certainly, we cannot exclude possibility. In summary, although the modern-day geology and topography of the Middle-East does not readily reveal the exact location of the Garden of Eden and the four rivers source, guidance by faith from the Holy Bible and a forensic study of the region’s geology reveals matter. The available data appears to suggest that present-day Israel was the central location of the Garden of Eden. Are you saved? Are you Sure? Accept the Gospel Truth for your SALVATION!
Reblogged and Updated