peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Oct 10 06:47:31 EDT 2005
On 08/10/2005 23:13, Yigal Levin wrote:
>3. Of the four rivers mentioned, the only two that are known are the Tigris
>and the Euphrates. Whatever one thinks that "head" means, this refers to
>Mesopotamia. The Gihon and the Pishon are not known. Identifying them with
>the White and Blue Nile is pure conjecture.
The name "Gihon" should not be so mysterious. It is clearly equivalent
to the Arabic name "Jeyhun" which has at different times been given to
the rivers Araxes=Araz and Oxus=Amu Darya. The Araz, which now forms the
southern border of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the northern border of
western Iran, seems a likely candidate, for its sources are in the same
region as those of the Euphrates and Tigris. It is also associated with
Cush if understood as the land of the Kassites, as suggested in Harold's
quotation from "HAL", presumably (the English version of) Koehler and
Baumgartner's Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.
As for the Pishon, it has been suggested that this is the river Kizil
Uzan on north-west Iran, which also rises in the same region. The areea
through which it winds rather a lot could well have been called Havilah,
and I think there is gold there - I don't know about bdellium and onyx.
This would point to a location for Eden between the headwaters of these
rivers and so in the region of Lake Urmia.
>4. The end of ch. 3 makes it clear, that after man was banished from the
>garden, God made it 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.
The flaming sword could also be a real phenomenon, a natural flame from
a gas vent. These occur now in the general region, for example near
Baku, Azerbaijan. Possibly the author had in mind a geographical
location, real or imaginary, which was inaccessible because of such a
flame blocking the only access e.g. to a valley. Of course that may have
been a very ancient tradition or legend.
>5. Once again, those who take the story literally, should remember that
>there was a great flood which probably wiped out most landmarks, anyway.
>6. For those who don't take the story literally, the only "historical"
>question is not where the garden was, but what ancient traditions influenced
>the author when he composed his story.
There is something more which can be answered by those who don't take
the story literally. The author clearly set his story in specific
geographic location. He didn't have to say anything about where Eden
was. But he chose to give this rather detailed description. This
suggests, to me at least, that he had in mind not a totally fictional
setting but some real place, which he believed to have been the original
home of humanity, or perhaps which he considered to be a suitable
setting for a fictional account. Of course he was very likely influenced
by ancient traditions, but there remains a real question of what place
those ancient traditions were pointing to.
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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