Eden, Garden of

According to the book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible, the Garden of Eden was an earthly paradise that was home to Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. The Bible says that God created the garden, planting in it "every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food." Eden was a well-watered, fertile place from which four rivers flowed out into the world.

After creating Adam, God placed him in the garden so that he could take care of it. God told Adam that he could eat the fruit from any tree except one: the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God then created animals and birds and gave Adam the task of naming them. Realizing that Adam needed a companion, God caused him to fall asleep, then took one of his ribs and created Eve from it.

Shortly afterward, the serpent—the most cunning of all the animals—approached Eve and asked if God had forbidden her to eat from any of the trees. Eve replied that she and Adam were not allowed to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The serpent told her that God knew that if they ate from the tree of knowledge they would become like gods. He persuaded Eve to eat the fruit of that tree, and Eve convinced Adam to take a bite as well. After they ate, their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil. They realized they were naked and sewed together fig leaves to cover themselves.

Soon they heard God walking through the garden and, ashamed of their nakedness, they hid themselves. God called out to them and when Adam replied that he was hiding because he was naked, God knew that he had eaten the forbidden fruit. Adam admitted that Eve had given him the fruit to eat. When God asked Eve why she had done this, she told him that the serpent had tempted her. God then expelled them from the garden and punished them by causing women to bear children in pain and forcing men to work and sweat for the food they need to live.

The story of the Garden of Eden is an allegory. It explains how humans fell from a state of innocence to one in which they must suffer during life and eventually die.

allegory literary and artistic device in which characters represent an idea or a religious or moral principle

The peoples of ancient Mesopotamia* also believed in an earthly paradise named Eden, located somewhere in the east. According to some ancient sources, the four main rivers of the ancient Near East—the Tigris, Euphrates, Halys, and Araxes—flowed out of the garden. Scholars today debate the origin of the word Eden. Some believe it comes from a Sumerian* word meaning "plain." Others say it is from the Persian word heden, meaning "garden."

See also Adam and Eve ; First Man and First Woman ; Serpents and Snakes ; Trees in Mythology .

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

User Contributions:

Walter R. Mattfeld
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 23, 2019 @ 2:14 pm
Sumerian Edin is uncultivated wilderness land. Ancient Sumer lies in Iraq today and its cities were watered by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The Sumerian gods in the early myths had fleshly bodies. They could kill each other and wind up in the underworld, which was also called Edin, among other names. The underworld Edin had a muddy river which the gods drank from, just as the upper world's Edin (Iraq) had a river (the Euphrates). The Hebrew word 'Eden means "Delight." Apparently the Hebrews _misheard_ the Sumerian word Edin, and mispronouncing it, and mistranslating it, they mistakenly equated it with Hebrew 'Eden, meaning "Delight." Hence the Bible portrays "Eden as being a "delightful place." In Sumerian, Edin was desert-like wilderness, punctuated by occasional pools of water and the two rivers, the Euphrates (Sumerian Buranum) and Tigris (Sumerian Id-Diqlat, Biblical Hiddekel). Sumerian art forms show ancient man to have been made at first, a naked, hairy, animal, or beast, with no knowledge of good and evil, wandering EDIN with other animals, he no sense of shame about being naked. Later, the gods decide to make man their agricultural slave, he will care for their gardens (fruit trees like dates, figs, apples) associated with the cities the gods made to dwell in. The Uruk city vase shows a procession of naked men presenting to a goddess, baskets of fruit, harvested from the gods' garden of Edin at Uruk. Every Sumerian city had a god and goddess and their city-garden, sometimes in city walls, sometimes outside of city walls, was cared for by naked mankind. At times Naked man is shown watering date palm seedlings in a vase before a seated god or goddess, indicating man's purpose in life, to care for the Sumerian gods' gardens, surrounded by the uncultivated wilderness, the EDIN. The Hebrews are denying and refuting the Sumerian explanation of why man was made and where. Instead of man being made a wild, hairy animal to wander EDIN in a state of nakedness and then caring for the gods' gardens in EDin in a naked state, the Hebrews have Adam and Eve naked and unaware it is wrong to be naked. Eventually the gods teach man it is wrong to be naked, and clothe him. The Hebrews deny that the Gods created man to be at first a dumb wild beast, then later, a gardening slave, he is the pinnacle of God's creation and is to rule the earth. By making man to care for their fruit tree gardens the gods alleviated themselves of the toil in caring for the gardens to provide food to eat for themselves. Man would feed the gods, twice a day, at the temple, a morning and evening meal, just as the Hebrews, in the Bible, feed god twice a day, morning and evening. I have written two books on the subject, available at Amazon.com in 2010, (1) The Garden of Eden Myth: Its Pre-biblical Origin in Mesopotamian Myths, and (2) Eden's Serpent: Its Mesopotamian Origin.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: