Where is the Garden of Eden?
It should be a simple enough question. Find where the Tigris, Euphrates, Gihon and Pishon rivers meet, and there you will find Eden (Genesis 2:10-14).
The problem comes when you look at a map.
The Tigris and Euphrates have separate sources in Turkey. Pishon is near Havilah in Egypt (Genesis 2:11; 25:18; 1 Samuel 15:7). Gihon’s river flows in Cush which is normally Ethiopia (2 Kings 19:9). The Gihon itself elsewhere only appears as the sickly little stream outside Jerusalem (1 Kings 1:33-34).
But there may be more to this mystery.
God tells us that the one river comes out of Eden and splits into four rivers. The Pishon has gold, bdellium and onyx. The tree of life is there, guarded by Cherubs.
All those details remind us of the Tabernacle. Cherubs are on the veil and elsewhere. Gold covers nearly everything. Manna in the ark looks like Bdellium (Numbers 11:7), and the High Priest has an onyx stone (Genesis 2:12; Exodus 35:9).
Moreover, when Solomon builds the Temple, all those features remain, but the images of trees are added and fruit (1 Kings 6:29). The same is true of Ezekiel’s temple vision (Ezekiel 41:18), and Herod’s temple in Jesus’ day.
The land of Israel itself is teasingly like the Garden of Eden (Genesis 13:10; see too Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 36:35), and the Euphrates and Nile form two of the borders of the Eden-like Promised Land (Genesis 15:18).
Later, the Bible connects a special river with Ezekiel’s temple (Ezekiel 47:1-12). Living waters from that river even make the Dead Sea alive.
Zechariah tells of a river flowing from Jerusalem which one day will split and flow both east and west (14:8). Aren’t we looking for a river that splits? Sons of Korah tell us that God’s city has a river (Psalm 46:4) even though earthly Jerusalem has no such river. Joel sees those waters from Jerusalem flowing beyond the Dead Sea into Abel Shittim beyond the Jordan (Joel 3:18).
Revelation 22:1 orients all these things to heavenly Jerusalem which will be restored to earth. The River of Life is there as is the Tree of Life (22:2). Ezekiel’s trees in 47:12 become in fact the Tree of Life in Revelation 22:2. Furthermore, heavenly Jerusalem is a cube, just like the Holy of Holies (Revelation 21:16; 1 Kings 6:20).
Jesus has restored the Garden of Eden. When He died, the veil in the Temple was ripped in two. John promises that Eden’s river in heavenly Jerusalem will come down to earth. The Garden of Eden will then become the city of God, the true land flowing with milk and honey.
May God hasten that day!
For more suggestions, see:
- Answers in Genesis. Here is Ken Hamm’s article on the location of Eden.
- Institute for Creation Research. Here is John Morris’s article on the location of Eden.
- Was Eden a Temple? Collection of some current secondary sources discussing Eden as Tabernacle/Temple.
- American Scientific Affiliation. Here is Carol Hill’s article on the location of Eden.
- Creation Ministries International. This is from ChristianAnswers.Net and their take on the location of Eden.