The mention of the River that flows out of the Garden of Eden has raised a lot of interest in identifying its location. Genesis 2:10 tells us, “A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.” One commentator makes this observation about the location of the Garden of Eden. He writes, “The Garden, however, is more than a symbol. The narrator spent a large amount of narrative time (Gen. 2:10–14) stating the location of the Garden with respect to four rivers and three countries. Paradise was on this earth. Two of the rivers are not known today but mention of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers in verse 14 indicates that the location of the Garden was in Mesopotamia, perhaps present-day Turkey or Iraq.”[1] Munday says, “The geography of Eden has never been known precisely. For most adherents of the view that the garden is mythical, the garden’s exact location has no meaning, and the geography indicates only the story’s cultural origin. For those believing there was a garden in fact, the Bible provides tantalizing and specific geographic clues to its location.”[2]

According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary one of the earliest attempts to locate the Garden of Eden was done by Josephus.  They suggest he might have gotten it right. It says,” Josephus (Ant 1.37–39) provides the only reasonably coherent post-biblical Jewish account of the rivers of paradise. He identifies the Pishon as the Ganges (the “land of Havilah” = India). The Giḥon is the Nile, presumably because the land of Cush, through which it flows, is taken in its normal biblical sense of Ethiopia. The other two rivers are the Tigris and the Euphrates. Josephus seems to imply that all four of these rivers originate in the waters of the Ocean…”[3] The major problem with this is that from the current geography it doesn’t look like it’s possible for the rivers mentioned, regardless of which ones they are, could ever be of one and the same source. However, Hugh Ross argues, “At that time Earth was experiencing its last ice age. Ocean levels were much lower, and the pressure of ice on the north latitude landmasses caused several seafloors to rise. That meant it was possible that at the time of Adam and Eve, the present Persian Gulf was dry ground. With Eden located in the southeastern part of the gulf, all four rivers could have easily come together.”[4] Then we have the strange doctrine that come to us from the Mormon Church, Decker has revealed this one: “In accord with the revelations given to the prophet Joseph Smith, we teach that the Garden of Eden was on the American continent located where the City Zion, or the New Jerusalem, will be built. When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, they eventually dwelt at a place called Adam-Ondi-Ahman, situated in what is now Davies County, Missouri” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 74).”[5]

The two rivers we know, the Tigress and the Euphrates seem to be the starting point for searching for the Garde of Eden. But what if those rivers were named after the rivers mentioned in the Bible instead of being the actual rivers. One source suggested that it was possible, “It could be that the modern rivers called the Tigris and Euphrates are simply named after those associated with Eden, in the same way that Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is named after the town in Judea.”[6] I think I’ll let my search for the location of the Garden go with the words of Warren Wiersbe, “Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to master ancient geography in order to understand the spiritual lessons of these early chapters in Genesis. In this beautiful Garden, God provided both bounty and beauty; Adam and Eve had food to eat and God’s lovely handiwork to enjoy. As yet, sin hadn’t entered the Garden; so their happiness wasn’t marred.”[7]

[1] Greidanus, Sidney. 2004. “Preaching Christ from the Narrative of the Fall.” Bibliotheca Sacra 161: 265.

[2] Munday, John C. Jr. 1996. “Eden’s Geography Erodes Flood Geology.” Westminster Theological Journal 58, no. 1: 125.

Ant Josephus, Jewish Antiquities (= Antiquitates Judaicae)

[3] Alexander, Philip S. 1992. “Geography and the Bible: Early Jewish Geography.” In The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 2:979–80. New York: Doubleday.

[4] Ross, Hugh. 2009. More than a Theory: Revealing a Testable Model for Creation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Decker, Ed. 1995. In Decker’s Complete Handbook on Mormonism, 27. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

[6] Got Questions Ministries. 2002–2013. Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] Wiersbe, Warren W. 1998. Be Basic. “Be” Commentary Series. Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.