The Garden of Eden



Dr. John Hoole – November 17, 2013




Over the last several Sundays, our lessons have addressed what the Bible says concerning the future 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ, commonly called the Millennium.  Two of the passages we looked at last week describe the earth during this time as being restored back to what it was like in the Garden of Eden.  Let’s look at those two passages again.


Isaiah 51:3 NKJV


3       For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.


Ezekiel 36:34-35 NKJV


34     The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by.

35     So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.'


Today, we are going to step aside from learning about the Millennium to explore what the Bible says about the Garden of Eden.


Imagine hearing the news in February of 1959, when Christianity Today magazine stated in a story, “Danish Archaeologists working in the British Protectorate of Bahrain claimed to have found the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden.”  Then consider 40 years later when the Jerusalem Report” broke the story titled, Paradise Found.  which stated that the Garden of Eden was found in a lush valley beneath an extinct volcano in the Zargros Mountains of Northern Iran, in a place called Adji Chay.


Many biblical scholars believe it is futile to try to pinpoint the location of the Garden of Eden because the area was altered greatly, first by God’s curse upon the earth, and then by the great flood of Noah.  Then why would or should we study the subject of the Garden of Eden?


There are several reasons to study the Garden of Eden:


         1.  The Garden of Eden actually existed.

         2.  Moses wrote about the Garden of Eden in about 1450 B.C., about a thousand years after the flood.

         3.  We are told that Satan was in Eden at some point prior to his rebellion (Ezekiel 28:13).

         4.  Some of what happened there affect us today.


I agree with those saying the topography of the earth after the flood was probably very different from what the topography was prior to the flood.  2 Peter 3:6 says, “The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”  The Hebrew word translated, “perished,”  means to “mar” or to “destroy completely.”  The flood, as described in Genesis 6 – 9, would have totally restructured the surface of the earth.  It would have done what major floods do – erode the land surface in one area, and redeposit those sediments elsewhere.  Biblically, the Flood covered the planet with processes operating at rates and intensities far beyond those possible today.  No place on earth could have survived untouched.  And, because of this, it might be impossible to located Eden in the world we have now.  But that has not kept many from trying to identify where Eden might have been.


An example of the destruction of water movement can be seen in the ancient biblical city of Ephesus.  Here is a photo of the uncovered ruins of Ephesus.  Ephesus used to be a port city on the Aegean Sea, but today, because of the erosion of a very small river, the Aegean Sea is some 5 to 6 miles away.


Suggested Locations for the Garden of Eden:


•  Some think the Garden of Eden was not a geographical place, but a time period. (1956 Emil Kraeling and 1984 Alan Millard).


•  Mormons locate the Garden in Jackson Country Missouri.


•  Muslims locate the Garden of Eden in Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka.


•  Hindus locate the Garden in Slu-Tibet.


•  Some locate it in Africa.


•  Some Christians locate the Garden of Eden under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Jimmy DeYoung).


•  Some locate the Garden under the waters of the northern Persian Gulf (1983, Juris Zarins).


Today, we are going to begin our investigation of the Garden of Eden from Genesis, chapter 2Genesis two recounts the special care, that the LORD God took in man’s creation.  He personally fashioning the body of the man with his own hands, and breathing mouth to nostrils into the man the ‘breath of life.’  In the same way, we see the personal Divine attention in the preparation of the appointed home of the first man, for God himself planted for him a garden to dwell in.  Let’s read  several verses from Genesis 2.


Genesis 2:7-15 NKJV


7       And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

8       The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

9       And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10     Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.

11     The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.

12     And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there.

13     The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush.

14     The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

15     Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.


It seems that the final authority about the Garden of Eden resides in the written Word of God.  It is part of the biblical theology of creation, which is multi-faceted, where Eden is only a part of the entire story.


We are going to spend most of this lesson in Verse 8.   So, let’s read it once again.


Genesis 2:8 NKJV


8       The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.


As we look at Genesis 2, we need to be reminded of the biblical theology of creation.


1.  It was God who created everything including a place called “Eden.”  This is the very first and most important part of the doctrine of creation.  All that exists in the universe – literally everything – came into being as a creative act of God.


2.  Secondly, God “formed” the man (Hebrew: “Adam”) from the “dust of the ground”   He then breathed into the man’s nostrils and he becomes a living being.


3.  Thirdly, God planted a garden in Eden.  This act appears to occur after the man is created.  He then placed the man He created in the Garden He had planted.


Keeping these concepts in mind, let’s begin investigating what God tells us about the garden He created.  There are some very beautiful place on planet earth today.  But often a so-called natural disaster, such as an earthquake, tornado, or hurricane, will turn a potential paradise into a disaster area.


Before earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and human destruction of earth’s environment could ever begin, there was a beautiful place , unlike anything our eyes have ever see.  It was called “a garden,” and was located in a place called “Eden.”




The word “Eden” in Hebrew has the meaning of “pleasure, delight, delicate.”  The place where God first placed humanity was an absolutely delightful place.  Because of this word and its meaning, some have tried to make “Eden” symbolic or allegorical.  However, God adds the term “eastward,” showing the garden has a locality.


It is important to remember that Jesus Christ accepted the literal account of Genesis 1 & 2.


Also, as you read further in Genesis 2, other recognizable places are mentioned.  Ethiopia, Assyria, and four different rivers, two of which are known today, although possibly not in the same location as they were prior to the Flood..


We will come back to the place called Eden in a moment.  But, now we need to look at the garden.  I know that the name, “Garden of Eden” is used when referring to this garden.  And I have no problem with that, since Genesis 3:23 uses that name.  But it needs to be mentioned that the garden is not to be taken as synonymous with Eden.  Verse 8 tells us God planted a garden in a place called Eden.  Eden is larger than the garden.  It could have been much, much larger.


God planted a garden eastward in Eden.  See how it is stated in the NIV translation.


Genesis 2:8 NIV


8       Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.


The Hebrew word for “garden” is “GAN.”  In Hebrew, this word describes something enclosed, fenced off, or protected.  The garden was surrounded by something, either trees, natural land boundaries, or some kind of fence.


When the Old Testament was translated into Greek – the Septuagint - about 200 years before Christ, the word they used for “garden” was “paradeisos.”  This Greek word is the origin of our English word, paradise.


The next thing we are told in Genesis 2:8, is that God formed a man from the dust.  The Hebrew word is YATSAR, which means: to mold or squeeze.  After all of God’s creativity and effort to make the earth rich in a variety of resources, He made his masterpiece – Man.  Everything prior to that was preparing for God’s final project, Adam, formed from the dust of the ground, like a potter with clay.  “We are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand (Isaiah 64:8).


After God formed Adam, God placed him in the garden.  From that statement, several questions or comments could be pondered.




Yes! – Adam was not created in the garden, but was placed there by God after he was created.  Genesis 2:8 states, or at least implies, that the garden lay to the east of where Adam had been formed.  Another question to ponder could be: Did Adam observe God as He prepared this beautiful garden?  We are not given the answer to this question.  But Adam was alive prior to being placed in the garden.


Neither are we told how long Adam lived before God placed Him in the garden.  I think we can conclude that is was very short duration – probably a few hours.  Eve was created after Adam was placed in the garden (Genesis 2:21-25).  She knew nothing of what it was like to live outside the garden of Eden.  And yet both were created on the sixth day, according to Genesis 1:27.


Let me list for you what I think was the order of events which occurred on the sixth day of creation.


1.  God created the land animals (cattle, creeping things, beasts).

2.  God forms Adam from the dust of the ground.

3.  God plants the garden in Eden.

4.  Adam is told he may freely eat of all trees except one.

5.  Adam names all the animals

6.  God causes Adam to sleep.

7.  Eve is created from a rib taken from Adam.

8.  Eve is brought by God to Adam.


We are not told how Adam was transported by God from where he was into the garden.  It just say, And there he put the man whom He had formed.  I don’t believe that sounds like Adam walked to the garden.


Verse 15 is a continuation of verse 8.  Together they read:


8.  And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.


15. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.


There is another phrase that is sometimes used to identify the Garden of Eden.  It is, “The garden of the Lord.” or “The garden of God.”  We find this phrase in one of the verses we read at the beginning of this lesson, stating that the Millennium will be like the Eden.


Isaiah 51:3 NKJV


3       For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.


When Abraham and Lot came to a parting of their ways, Abraham gave Lot the choice of where he would live and raise his family and their flocks.


In Genesis 13:10 (NKJV), we read:


10     And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.


I don’t know what concept Lot had of the Garden of Eden, but, whatever it was, he describes the plains of Jordan like it – well watered and lush in growth.


Let’s now continue with Verse 9.


Genesis 2:9 NKJV


9       And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


God “made to grow” (Hebrew: “tsamach”) the trees that appeared in the earth and in the garden.  These trees God planted in the Garden were designed especially for man’s enjoyment.  The trees were “pleasant” (Hebrew: Chamad) meaning “delightful, desirable, enjoyable.  But also they were good for food.


Two of the trees were given names by God.


         1.  Tree of Life


         2.  Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.


It is not my intent to make this lesson about the fall of man, as important as that is to this very day.  I want us to learn what were the characteristics of the Garden of Eden.  There are at least 3 striking things we learn from Scripture about the Garden of Eden.


First, it was a very beautiful place.


This is evident throughout the narrative.  It is explicit in the way the trees are described, in that they were, “pleasing to the eye” (Vs. 9).  I really think this is an understatement.  Throughout the account of creation in the first chapter, God is shown making both beautiful and useful things.  This is seen in the repeated pronouncement that the creation of each day was “good.”


What I am saying is that outside the Garden of Eden – in all of God’s creation – there was great beauty.  And yet, here in the place He was preparing as the dwelling place of mankind, his highest creation, God poured out beauty in a very special measure – breathtakingly beautiful.  The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, had nothing on the beauty of the Garden of Eden.


It kind of reminds me of the place now being prepared for those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.


1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV


9       But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."


         This is a quotation, in part, of Isaiah 64:4.


Second, it was a useful place.


It had a utilitarian value to it.  We are told that the trees were not only pleasing to the eye, but also “GOOD FOR FOOD.”  God had created delicious and healthy food for Adam and Eve.  They were offered trees both for beauty and sustenance.


Third, it was perfectly suited to the nature and responsibility of Adam.


Verse 7 says:


God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.


By his very nature, man was related both to the ground, from which he was made, and to God, whose breath have him both life and a God-consciousness.  Every day of his life Adam would be reminded of his origin, being a tender of the ground, and at the same time, be reminded of his responsibility, for he would know that he was working the ground at the direction of God and for God’s glory.


Earlier, I mentioned that the word “garden” in Genesis is translated into Greek, the Greek word, “PARADEISOS” is used.  The Garden of Eden is a paradise.  And the future Millennium will be a paradise for all who inhabit the earth at that time.


The word, “paradise,” is found in the New Testament 3 times.


The first time is found in a promise Jesus gave to one of the two thieves on the cross.  “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).


The second time the word is used is by Paul, describing his being caught up to heaven.  In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul describes being caught up to the third heaven, which, in verse 4, he calls paradise.


The third time the word is used is in Revelation 2:7, where God promises the Tree of Life in the paradise of God, to those who overcome in this life.


From these references, it can be concluded that Paradise is:


         1.  A place where Christ is – You will be with me in Paradise.


         2.  A place at this time that is in heaven – Caught up to the third heaven.


         3.  A place promised to the righteous – To him who overcomes.


         4.  A place where people will live forever – Eat of the Tree of life.


         5.  It is a gift of God through Christ – I will grant.


God will keep His Word, as promised by the prophets and by Christ Himself.  The place Christ has prepared for us is so wonderful that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered the heart of man, the things God has prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).