The Garden of Eden (Hebrew "pleasure" גַּן עֵדֶן Arabic: جنات عدن,) is described in the Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. This garden forms part of the creation myth and theodicy of the Abrahamic religions. The creation story in Genesis relates the geographical location of both Eden and the garden to four rivers (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates), and three regions (Havilah, Assyria, and Cush [often translated as Ethiopia]).
Eden's location remains the subject of controversy and speculation among some Christians. There are hypotheses that locate Eden at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates, in Iraq (Mesopotamia), Africa, and the Persian Gulf, among others though some Christians see it as metaphorical. Some Christians even believe that Eden existed on North America before the separation of the continents.
In the Garden of Eden story of the Biblical book of Genesis God molds Adam from the dust of the Earth, then forms Eve from Adam's "side" (rib in the King James Version), and places them both in the garden, eastward in Eden. "Male and female he created them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, ... " (Genesis 5:2) It may be allegorical, in as much as "Adam" may be a general term, like "Man" and refers to the whole of humankind.
God charges Adam to tend the garden in which they live, and specifically commands Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve is quizzed by the serpent why she avoids eating off this tree. In the dialogue between the two, Eve elaborates on the commandment not to eat of its fruit. She says that even if she touches the tree she will die. The serpent responds that she will not die, rather she would become like a god, knowing good and evil and persuades Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil then Adam eats from it too. Then they become aware. God finds them, confronts them, and judges them for disobeying; it is also widely believed that the snake was the devil in disguise.
It is at this point that 'God expels them from Eden', to keep Adam and Eve from partaking of the Tree of Life. The story says that God placed cherubim with an omnidirectional "flaming sword" to guard against any future entrance into the garden.
In the account, the garden is planted "eastward, in Eden," and accordingly "Eden" properly denotes the larger territory which contains the garden, rather than being the name of the garden itself: it is, thus, the garden located in Eden. The Talmud also states (Brachos 34b) that the Garden is distinct from Eden.
The Book of Genesis is the primary source of Scriptural speculation with regards to geography, but still contains little information on the garden itself. It was home to both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as well as an abundance of other vegetation that could feed Adam and Eve.
The garden region according to Genesis 2 was close to a sizable body of water (the mandate to rule fish of the sea), supported a variety of grasses, herbs, shrubs, and fruit trees, had a variety of animals, was in a region generally dry (no rain had fallen), experienced seasonal flooding, enjoyed warm climate with cool evenings or mornings, and was dusty with thorns but suitable for flocks. On its east, Nod was conducive to livestock and yielded ores of iron, copper, and tin or zinc. The cities and proper names linked with Eden in various Biblical narratives signify locations in Syria, Assyria, and Babylonia (except Sheba in southern Arabia). Eden being east of Canaan points to Assyria or Babylonia. The etymology of the Hebrew "eden" (20 instances in the Old Testament) indicates that Eden may signify either a place (steppe or fertile plain) or pleasure, or both. Concerning the rivers in Genesis 2, Pishon wound through Havilah ("land of sand"), which points to northern Arabia east of Edom and Moab, based on Scriptural evidence beyond Genesis. Havilah's natural resources agree with Arabia in general. The second river Gihon wound around Cush, a namesake of various centers in Arabia, Babylonia and Assyria, again indicating an Arabian-Mesopotamian context. The Kerhkha and Karun rivers from Kassite country in the Zagros mountains are possibilities. The remaining rivers are the well-recognized Tigris and Euphrates. These considerations point to Babylonia for the garden location. From other details, the garden might have been located in the land of the Ubaidians, a pre-Sumerian culture, near the ancient city of Ur. The garden could have existed above or below the present datum, given seaward extension of the Tigris-Euphrates delta and submerged shorelines from past variations in sea level.
Satellite photos reveal two dry riverbeds flowing toward the Persian Gulf near where the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia also terminate. This would account for four easterly flowing rivers. Archaeologist Juris Zarins claimed that the Garden of Eden was situated at the head of the Persian Gulf, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers run into the sea at , from his research on this area using information from many different sources, including Landsat images from space. In this theory, the Bible’s Gihon River would correspond with the Al-Qurnah in Iraq, and the Pishon River would correspond to the Wadi Al-Batin river system (also now called the Kuwait River) that 2,500-3000 years ago drained the now dry, but once quite fertile central part of the Arabian Peninsula from the Hijaz mountains 600 miles to the South West.
There is also a Sumerian story about a mountainous kingdom accessible from Sumer by river called Aratta. Recent excavations of the Jiroft civilization in the southeast highlands of Iran have led prominent Iranian archaeologists to suggest that Jiroft was Aratta, although this location is not connected with Sumer by river.
Michael Sanders, director of expeditions for the Mysteries of the Bible Research Foundation, in Irvine, California, says that the Garden of Eden is in eastern Turkey, because the Tigris and Euphrates take their source in the mountains there. Sanders identifies the 4 rivers of Eden as the Murat River, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the north fork of the Euphrates. In support of this, Sanders cites a satellite image showing that "a river rises out of Eden and divides into four". This is centred at approximately
In Assyrian records, there is mention of a "Beth Eden" (House of Eden), a small Aramaean state, located on the bend of the Euphrates River just south of Carchemish, in the vicinity of Urfa and Harran (Turkey) at approximately . Excavations in Göbekli Tepe and other sites in the Beth Eden area have yielded evidence of a sophisticated pre-agricultural semi-nomadic society that lived there up to about 8,000 BC, and then transitioned to a sedentary lifestyle based on agriculture in the Neolithic Revolution.
In Jerusalem, there is a water spring called Gihon. This is said to be a part of an underground river (though this claim has been disputed), which would link this spring to the Gihon River of Eden.
Eden is also tied with Jerusalem by the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 28:13-14, he recorded, "You were in Eden, the garden of God;" ... "You were on the holy mount of God." In most Jewish and Christian traditions, "the holy mount of God" is Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (see , e.g.). Furthermore, Ezekiel records a vision of a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem with a river flowing from under its threshold (47:1-12) towards the Dead Sea, bringing life to that which is dead. Because of its supernatural nature, this river has been associated with the "river of life in Eden (the river which watered and flowed from Eden). Revelation 21:1-22:5 in Christian scripture records a similar vision of a "river of life" and "trees of life" that heal in a new Jerusalem, just as there was a river of life and tree of life in Eden.
Finally, Jewish and Christian tradition see symbolism within the Temple, which once stood in Jerusalem and can only be rebuilt in Jerusalem, which connects it to Eden; the menorah as the tree of life, for example.
In the footnotes of the Pearl of Great Price that are published by the Church, it is claimed that there were lands and rivers that were given names later attached to other lands and rivers as in the Book of Genesis. The geographic descriptions of Eden in the Bible would therefore refer to entirely different lands and rivers than those carrying the same names today, whose names were transposed after the biblical flood to local lands and rivers in the Near East. By one account Joseph Smith taught that Noah built the ark near modern-day South Carolina. Thus, it is argued, the offspring of Noah populated the eastern hemisphere.
"Paradise" (Hebrew פרדס PaRDeS) used as a synonym for the Garden of Eden shares a number of characteristics with words for 'walled orchard garden' or 'enclosed hunting park' in an ancient Persian language. This word "paradise" occurs three times in the Old Testament, but always in contexts other than a connection with Eden: in the Song of Solomon iv. 13: "Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard"; Ecclesiastes 2. 5: "I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits"; and in Nehemiah ii. 8: "And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's orchard, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." In the Song of Solomon, it is clearly "garden;" in the second and third examples "park." In the post-Exilic apocalyptic literature and in the Talmud, "paradise" gains its associations with the Garden of Eden and its heavenly prototype. In the Pauline Christian New Testament, there is an association of "paradise" with the realm of the blessed (as opposed to the realm of the cursed) among those who have already died, with literary Hellenistic influences observed by numerous scholars. The Greek Garden of the Hesperides was somewhat similar to the Christian concept of the Garden of Eden, and by the 16th century a larger intellectual association was made in the Cranach painting (see illustration). In this painting, only the action that takes place there identifies the setting as distinct from the Garden of the Hesperides, with its golden fruit.
Alan Millard has hypothesized that the Garden of Eden does not represent a 'geographical' place, but rather represents 'cultural memory' of "simpler times", when man lived off God's bounty (as "primitive" hunters and gatherers still do) as opposed to toiling at agriculture (being "civilized"). Of course there is much dispute between Judeo-Christian and secular scholars as to the plausibility of this idea - the refuting claim being that cultivation and agricultural work were present both before and after the "Garden Life".
The Second Book of Enoch, of late but uncertain date, states that both Paradise and Hell are accommodated in the third sphere of heaven, Shehaqim, with Hell being located simply " on the northern side:" see Seventh Heaven.
Later, in Chapter 3, the "Fall of Man" is followed by the pronouncement of a curse. This curse contains references to the enmity between the Kingdom and its subjects—as had been described in 1:28—that would affect the kingdom unto the present day: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers."
Garden of Eden motifs most frequently portrayed in illuminated manuscripts and paintings are the "Sleep of Adam" ("Creation of Eve"), the "Temptation of Eve" by the Serpent, the "Fall of Man" where Adam takes the fruit, and the "Expulsion". The idyll of "Naming Day in Eden" was less often depicted. Much of Milton's Paradise Lost occurs in the Garden of Eden. Michelangelo depicted a Michelangelo Buonarroti 022.jpg at the Garden of Eden in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Also, in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Captain Spock has a painting hanging in his room he calls "Expulsion from Paradise", depicting Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden. He explains to a fellow member of the crew that it is a personal reminder that all things must end.