[b-hebrew] Eden

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Sun Oct 9 19:27:45 EDT 2005

RE: [b-hebrew] Edenok, let's treat the issue at some length.

The reading of mkdm in 2:8 as "eastward" is open to doubt. The regular sense of kdm is "front," thus "in front of." That reading makes sense: the writer clarifies the garden was marked out in the front of Eden.

The same mikedem in Gen3:24, "at the east of the garden," is meaningless. The angel was placed at the entrance to prevent the man from reentering. 

In Ex14:21, God pushed the Red Sea by kadim, supposedly east wind. That wind, however, would have blown straight in the face of Israelites, and bring the water upon them. West wind would make water shallow at the shore, but still impassible a bit further. North wind would blow the masses of water into the gulf. The only way to rend ("break") the waters was to blow from north, pushing water from the gulf into the sea. Kadim, thus, means "front wind," wind from the (Mediterranean) sea.

The location of Eden is clearly indicated: at the point close to where one large river becomes four. Ptolemaic map (http://www.mbarron.net/Nile/polmap.jpg) shows Nile becoming four rivers. Gen2:8, however, is explicit: one river is split into four, while, on the contrary, four rivers converge in Nile. The reason for that error is clear: Nile is the only river in the world that flows from south to north. Ancient cartographers incorrectly assumed that Nile flows from north to south and becomes split "like four heads" rather than "joined like four tales." No comparable one-to-four river system exists for Tigris and Euphrates. 

Gihon and Pishon branches of the river of Eden cannot circle the lands of Cush and Havilah, as commonly mistranslated; rivers do not flow in circles. Rather, Gihon and Pishon wind through the lands. 

Eden must be located around the 3rd cataract in Nubia, a region washed from both sides by Nile on the Ptolemaic map. Egyptians correctly assumed in their myths that their ancestors came from south. The region has plenty of high-quality gold, mentioned in Gen2:12; translation of the other two commodities as bdellium and onyx are tentative. The land of Cush (Gen2:13) is universally identified with Nubia.

On this note I would drop the topic, at least in its on-list version.

Vadim Cherny

  Although we don't know for certainty what the rivers Gihon and Pishon
  were we do have a rather large clue. We are told that the river Gihon
  encircled the entire land of Cush. So what is this land Cush? Both LXX
  and Vulgate translate as Ethiopia. Now even by a long stretch of the
  imagination could there be a river issuing from babel which become the
  Tigris and the Euphrates and then another that split off down past Egypt
  and around Ethiopia.
  As for the Pishon we are told that it encircles a land with good gold,
  bdellium gum and onyx. Can these presious goods be found naturally in
  the near East?

  -----Original Message-----
  From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org on behalf of Vadim Cherny
  Sent: Sun 10/9/2005 8:16 PM
  To: Yigal Levin; b-hebrew
  Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Eden

  > 2. Vs. 8 clearly states that the garden was "eastward" (miqqedem).

  Not so clear to me. To say "eastward" without reference point is odd, though
  The same mikedem in Gen3:24, "at the east of the garden," is totally
  ludicrous. The angel was, of course, placed at the entrance. The same sense,
  "entrance, front" is in Gen2:8: the garden was in the front of the territory
  named Eden.

  > Assuming that Genesis was written by an Israelite (Moses or otherwise),
  > this would NOT refer to the sources of the Nile.

  I'm very far from defending the Nile hypothesis; it is only my own
  conviction, and I'm not an expert in ancient geography.
  However, Genesis might be written well before Israel arrived in the land of

  > 3. Of the four rivers mentioned, the only two that are known are the
  > Tigris and the Euphrates.

  Russian controversial (and often wrong) historian Fomenko had a chapter in
  one of his books discussing ancient place name correlations. Quite often,
  the same name referred to different places. Sort of New York.
  By the way, I don't know, perhaps you do: when are the names Tigris and
  Euphrates first attested in local sources?

  > Whatever one thinks that "head" means, this refers to Mesopotamia.

  This is strange reasoning, isn't it?

  > The Gihon and the Pishon are not known.

  More importantly, no reasonable candidates exist. It is not that we don't
  know the landscape of the area, rather we know it well enough to assert that
  no rivers comparable to Tigris and Euphrates exist there.

  > Identifying them with the White and Blue Nile is pure conjecture.

  Yes, but it fits the known facts.

  > 4. The end of ch. 3 makes it clear, that after man was banished from the
  > garden, God made it unfindable

  Sounds like a volcano to me, "flaming sword," nothing about unfindable.

  > and guarded it with a cherub and a flaiming sword. Anyone who takes the
  > biblical story literally enough to search for the garden in "real"
  > geography, should take this litearlly as well. In my opinion, what the
  > book is saying, is that the garden is NOT in our "real world", so don't
  > bother to look for it.

  But the book is just about the real world, parting of the Red Sea included.

  > 5. Once again, those who take the story literally, should remember that
  > there was a great flood which probably wiped out most landmarks, anyway.

  Not the riverbeds.

  > Just my 6 cents worth.

  And my five

  Vadim Cherny

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