The Garden of Eden
During the creation process, God performed actions we as humans are not able to perform. He spoke things into existence, and he formed man from dust and blew life into his nostrils. We now find God planting a garden, the Garden of Eden. This is a new verb used in the creation story. When we plant a garden, we begin by tilling the soil, planting the seeds, and then watering the seeds. It involves getting our hands dirty. It’s a completely hands-on involvement in the process.
This Garden of Eden or Paradise story is found in many different religions and cultures. Some of the commonalities found in the story include abundant food, animals not fearing man, a God living among or walking with man, and no idea of death. This paradise garden is widely known and believed. The idea that this garden can no longer be found is also a common element of the story.
When examining the story’s moral, it becomes clear how the numerous garden tales differ from one another. The narrative in Genesis sets out the justification for why man was cut off from God. While some religions and civilizations interpret the tale to extol the virtue of toil, others use it to decry social class inequality.
Many people have tried to figure out where the garden of Eden was originally located. David Livingstone believed it to be near the Nile River. Others have searched in Armenia and the Middle East. No searches for this original garden paradise have proven to be fruitful.
RIVERS IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
This river has not been clearly located or identified. It’s not clear if the name of the river was changed at some point in history or if the river dried up. If the name was changed, some speculations are that it is now called the Ganges or the Nile, or possibly a mountain stream called Phasis.
Our next river of study has about as many theories as the previous river. Since Genesis describes this river as encircling the land of Cush, Ethiopians believe this river to be the Blue Nile.
Islamic tradition holds that this river is now known as Amu Darya, which to Biblical writers would have been Jihon, which is very close to the pronunciation of Gihon.
The creation of this river extends back to one of the earliest religions in the region of Mesopotamia. The Tigris River is mentioned twice in the Bible. The first is in the creation account we are studying, and the second appearance is in the book of Daniel.
There is archaeological information regarding the Euphrates River being the source of the earliest forms of irrigation for farming (watering the garden) within Mesopotamia. This information also coincides with the time period most Christians agree with the beginning of all life forms in the world, approximately the 6th Millenium BC. However, this dating system doesn’t account for pottery found along the Euphrates dating to the 7th Millenium BC or the oldest human remains (Homo Erectus), also found along this river dating to 450,000 years old.
TREES IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Besides the rivers being found in the garden, we also learn about some very interesting trees. The first is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Some believe this tree represented rules or the law. If Adam and Eve had not eaten from this tree, they could have sinned against God without knowing it, and yet, still not have been punished for doing so. Maybe ignorance is bliss.
Others believe the existence of these trees gave people the option, or free will, to choose to be in a relationship with God. If there was only a choice to make, why not just offer the Tree of Life? Anyone desiring a relationship with God could eat from that tree. Wouldn’t that be enough to demonstrate free will? If it’s God’s desire for all people to have free will, then why place a tree in the garden that will lead to death? Then, do we really have free will at all?
When my boys were young, they believed the “fruit” on this tree must have been onions! That was the worst possible thing they could think of that could have been offered on this tree. Some believe that whatever the fruit was, it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s as lost to us as the garden.
ANIMALS NAMED IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
It is to this garden that God brought all of the wild animals and birds to Adam to be named, and all of this happened before the woman was created. If we allow a mere one second for God to bring the animal before Adam and give it a name, it would take about 20 days to name them all. And let’s be honest, that amount of time is unrealistic.
It’s not until Adam has named all of the animals that he realizes there is not a single match for himself. Apparently, he was in need of a suitable helper to help with something – cooking, cleaning, naming animals (oh, wait, that was apparently already done), or raising children. He’s only been on the planet for a day, and he is already a wreck without a woman. This got me wondering about the scientific discoveries surrounding the origins of male and female.
Geneticists have found that all mammal embryos begin life as a female. During the second month of the embryo’s growth (when it enters the fetal stage), the final sex is determined by the number of androgens (male) versus estrogens (female) in the embryo. All males have remnants of their beginnings as a female – clitoris, and nipples. According to science, it is far more likely that women were present on Earth before men.
TALKING ANIMAL IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Within this garden, we also find a talking serpent. Was this a commonplace thing in the garden? There doesn’t seem to be any questioning about how a serpent is talking to them. Aren’t they at all suspicious about a serpent telling them something contrary to what God has told them? There are no serpents on earth that are able to talk.
For whatever reason, this serpent may have felt jealousy towards Adam and Eve for their relationship with God, and chose to deceive them in order to interfere with that relationship. Because of the serpent’s success in tricking Eve to eat from the tree, they all found themselves cursed in one way or another. The beginning phase of the curse was to be expelled from this paradise garden.