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THE Geography of the Bible may be said to begin with the origin of the human race. No sooner do we read of the creation of man, than we find the place mentioned in which his abode was fixed. A number of circumstances are particularly stated, as if to direct our minds to the very spot where our first parents had their probation, the scene of man's first disobedience. There they fell, and sin entered into the world, so that of all the human race, there has been none righteous, no, not one, Rom. ii. 10. But still more interesting is the Garden of Eden, as the place where the promise of a Saviour was first given; the promise of the Seed of the woman, who should bruise the serpent's head, Gen. iii. 15. So that "we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Rom. v. 11, 12, 18, 19. Let us remember that Eden is only of importance for the transactions which are recorded as having there taken place.
It must be acknowledged, in the outset, that our knowledge of the countries which occur in the antediluvian history is very small; while, at the same time, we may be assured that nothing has been withheld in
the inspired records, which is necessary or important to be known. If entire satisfaction cannot be attained upon these subjects, it is because no great practical advantage could result from more minute descriptions. Many pious and learned men have diligently examined all the existing sources of information, yet the opinions of commentators and geographers are still various, and often contradictory.
The residence of our first parents, in their state of innocence and bliss, was called Eden, or Delight. In seeking the spot where this garden was planted, we must first determine upon those marks which are certainly given in the word of God.
1. We are informed (Gen. ii. 8.) that Eden was eastward; that is, eastward from the country of the Israelites, or the land in which Moses wrote. This term is very general in its signification, and may apply to any of the countries upon the river Euphrates, for they all lie to the east of Palestine.
2. We have the name of a river, Euphrates, which flowed out of Eden, and which has retained almost the original name, until the present day. Upon this river, then, in some part of its extensive course, we may, with certainty, place the garden of Eden.
3. We have a second river mentioned, namely, the Hiddekel, which almost all historians acknowledge to be the Tigris. The eastern names of the Tigris_are mere abbreviations of the ancient word, as Degil, Diklath, Diklat, and Degola. Besides this, the prophet Daniel tells that he had the vision "of the latter days," in Babylonia, by the side of "the great river, which is Hiddekel," Dan. x. 4. The only great river of which he could speak, is the Euphrates, or Tigris; and we are certain that it was not the former. We have thus arrived at the conclusion, that the eastern region in which Eden was situated, lay in some country where the Tigris and the Euphrates approach one another.
4. We find Eden mentioned in other parts of Scripture; and from the countries with which it is named,
we may form some idea of its situation. In 2 Kings xix. 12, we read of "Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar." Gozan was in Media, Haran and Rezeph in Mesopotamia. Again, in Ezekiel xxvii. 23, we read of "Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad." Canneh was upon the Tigris, in ancient Parthia, (see page 20,) and Asshur, or Assyria, lay along the upper part of the same river. Hence the land of Eden could not be, as some suppose, in Babylonia, but further north in Media, Armenia, or Mesopotamia.
It remains then to be determined, in what part of these rivers we are to place the garden of Eden; whether at their source, in their middle course, or near their junction.
The Euphrates has its source in the central mountains of Armenia, near the lake Van, or Arsissa. It is formed by two streams, which first flow west; after their junction near Hebban in Mount Taurus, the river bends to the south-west, and joining a smaller stream,pursues a course as if to reach the Mediterranean; but being turned by the mountains of Caucasus, changes its direction to south-east; joins the Tigris at Korna, forming the Shatel-Arab, which falls into the Persian Gulf by several mouths. Near the fountains of the Euphrates, we find those of the Hiddekel.
The Tigris rises near the head of the Euphrates; "that is it which goeth eastward to Assyria;" (see the margin, Gen. ii. 14;) or, as many critics translate it, before Assyria. This great river divided Assyria from Mesopotamia, and is, as has been said, the Hiddekel of the Scriptures.
The Pison (Gen. ii. 11) is not so easily discovered, but is generally supposed to be the Phasis, or Absarus, of the ancients. The Havilah, which is compassed by this river, is different from the country of this name, which is in Arabia, and which will be mentioned hereafter. It may readily be taken for Colchis, between
the Black Sea and the Caspian. The river Phasis flows through Mingrelia, and falls into the Black Sea. The country through which it passes was celebrated among the ancients for its gold.
The Gihon (Gen. ii. 13) is said to compass the whole land of Ethiopia. The Hebrew word, which we translate Ethiopia, is Cush, a term used to denote various regions, both in Asia and Africa. Now, as no one will contend that the river Gihon encircled either Ethiopia Proper, or the part of Arabia so called, we have to seek for some other land to which the word Cush may be applied. It is thought by many that the first settlement of Cush, the son of Ham, was made in Susiana: (see ELAM.) Upon this supposition we may take the Gihon to be the river Kerah, which the Greeks called Gyndes, apparently a corruption of the Hebrew name. This river "encompasses" the eastern border of Susiana. The opinion, however, most commonly received is, that this is the river Oxus, which is even now called by the Arabs Jihon, and which falls into the Sea of Aral.
Unsatisfactory as all our investigations must be concerning a country which, doubtless, was desolated, and even had its locality affected by the universal deluge, we may still, it is thought, be safe in placing the garden of Eden in or near Armenia. Faber supposes that the lake Arsissa covers the site of Eden; and that the change which carried the heads of the rivers to a greater distance from it, was occasioned by the deluge. "But this change," says a recent author, "considering that the courses of all the streams remain unaltered by that event, might have taken place at man's expulsion from the garden; when God may have chosen to obliterate this fair portion of his works, unfitted for any thing but the residence of innocence; and to blot at once from the face of the earth, like the guilty cities of the plain, both the site and the memorial of man's transgression-an awful event; which would add tenfold horrors to the punishment.
The Land of Nod, to which Cain went, after the