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Eden, Garden of

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 serpentthe most cunning of all the animalsapproached 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 Eastthe Tigris, Euphrates, Halys, and Araxesflowed 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.

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Eden

Eden the place (more fully, the Garden of Eden) where Adam and Eve lived in the biblical account of the Creation, from which they were expelled for disobediently eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

The name comes from late Latin (Vulgate), Greek Ēdēn (Septuagint), and Hebrew ῾Ēḏen, perhaps related to Akkadian edinu, from Sumerian eden ‘plain, desert’, but believed to be related to Hebrew ῾ēḏen ‘delight’.

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Eden, Garden of

Garden of Eden, in the Bible, first home to humankind. In it were the trees of life and of the knowledge of good and evil. Having eaten the forbidden fruit of the latter tree, Adam and Eve were banished from the garden and God's presence. Eden, often called Paradise, is symbolic of eschatological fertility and bounty. It is also mentioned in the Qur'an.

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Eden, Garden of

Eden, Garden of In Genesis 2, garden created by God as the home of Adam and Eve. They lived in the garden and enjoyed its fruits without toil, until they were banished for eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. The Garden of Eden is mentioned in the Koran and is equated with paradise.

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Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden: see EDEN.

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Eden, Garden of

EDEN, GARDEN OF

Term used for paradise in the story of man's creation and fall as told in Gn 2.83.24 (see primeval age in the bible). The exact term is really "a garden in Eden" (Heb gan-be ēden: 2.8). The author of the account, therefore, evidently thought of Eden as a certain region "in the East" (miqeddem ), i.e., in mesopotamia, where "the Lord God planted a garden and put the

man whom he had formed" (2.8); see also 2.10 ("a river rose in Eden"). The Hebrew word ēden is probably connected with the Akkadian word edinu, itself a loanword from the Sumerian edin meaning "steppe." The same local significance is attached to the Hebrew term gan-ēden (garden of Eden) in Gn 2.15; 2.2324; see also Gn 4.16, where Cain is said to have "dwelt in the land of Nod to the east of Eden (ēden )." The Israelites, however, would naturally connect the term with the native Hebrew word ēden, meaning "luxury," "delight." Hence, the Septuagint translated gan-ēden in Gn3.2324 as παράδεισος τ[symbol omitted]ς τρυφ[symbol omitted]ς (park of luxury; hence the word paradise). Similarly, in Is 51.3; Ez 28.13;31.89, 16, 18, Eden (ēden ) becomes synonymous with "Yahweh's garden" or "God's garden," and in Ez 36.35; Jl 2.3 gan-ēden (garden of Eden) means simply a luxuriant field.

Of quite a different meaning is the Hebrew word ēden in the term benê-eden (sons of Eden) in 2 Kgs 19.12; Is 37.12. This term designates the Edenites, the inhabitants of the region that is called Eden (eden ) in Ez 27.23 and more fully as Beth-Eden (bêt-eden ) in Am 1.5, which is the region known in Akkadian as Bit-Adini, on the Euphrates south of Haran.

Bibliography: Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 620. o. schilling, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 3:657. e. a. speiser, Genesis (Anchor Bible I; Garden City, N.Y. 1964) 1620. h. renckens, Israel's Concept of the Beginning, tr. c. napier (New York 1964) 193213.

[i. hunt]

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Eden, Garden of

Eden, Garden of

Nationality/Culture

Judeo-Christian

Pronunciation

GARD-n uhv EED-n

Alternate Names

None

Appears In

The Old Testament, the Talmud

Myth Overview

According to the book of Genesis in 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 Garden of Eden in Context

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.”

Key Themes and Symbols

The story of the Garden of Eden is an allegory, which means the characters and events are symbolic and represent other things, usually to drive home a message or moral. The serpent in the garden symbolizes temptation, while the fruit symbolizes sin. The main theme of the myth is mankind's fall from grace or perfection. The myth also serves as a warning to resist temptation.

The Garden of Eden in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

The myth of the Garden of Eden has been a popular subject for artists, especially during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Depictions of the Garden of Eden have been painted by artists such as Michelangelo, Peter Paul Rubens, Masaccio, Albrecht Durer, and Lucas Cranach. One of the most famous depictions of the Garden of Eden is found in the Garden of Earthly Delights altarpiece by Hieronymus Bosch, painted around 1504.

In modern usage, the term “Garden of Eden” is often used to describe any place that appears to be a natural paradise untouched by the progress of humans—specifically, a place with lush vegetation, wildlife, and a plentiful water supply.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

The Garden of Eden is described as a place of unspoiled natural beauty. In our modern world, places of unspoiled natural beauty are being destroyed at an alarming rate in the name of progress. Do you think humankind would be better served by returning to a more natural environment instead of developing new industries and technologies, or by moving forward with the hope that technological progress will result in more efficient and less harmful uses for our natural resources? What sacrifices might be required to accomplish each of these goals?

SEE ALSO Adam and Eve; First Man and First Woman; Serpents and Snakes

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Garden of Eden

GARDEN OF EDEN

GARDEN OF EDEN (Heb. גַּן עֵדֶן), a garden planted by the Lord which was the first dwelling place of *Adam and Eve (Gen. 2–3). It is also referred to as the "garden in Eden" (Gen. 2:8, 10; 4:16), the "garden of yhwh" (Gen. 13:10; Isa. 51:3), and the "garden of God" (Ezek. 28:13; 31:8–9). It is referred to by Ben Sira 40:17 as "Eden of blessing." There existed in early times an Israelite tradition of a "garden of God" (i.e., a mythical garden in which God dwelt) that underlies the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2–3. Ezekiel (28:11–19; 31:8–9, 16–18) in his description introduces new and variant details not present in the Genesis narrative of the Garden of Eden. Thus, in Genesis there is no trace of the "holy mountain" of Ezekiel 28:14 and no mention of the "stones of fire" of Ezekiel 28:14, 16. While Genesis speaks only in general terms about the trees in the garden (2:9), Ezekiel describes them in detail (31:8–9, 18). The term "garden of yhwh" occurs in literary figures in a number of other passages in the Bible (Gen. 13:10; note Isa. 51:3: "He will make her wilderness (midbar) like Eden and her desert (arabah) like the garden of yhwh," Joel 2:3). The name Eden has been connected with Akkadian edinu. But this word, extremely rare in Akkadian, is borrowed from the Sumerian eden and means "plain," "steppe," "desert." In fact, one Akkadian synonym list equates edinu with şēru, semantically equivalent to Hebrew midbar, "desert." More likely is the connection with the Hebrew root ʿ dn, attested in such words as ma ʿ danim, "dainties," "luxury items" (Gen. 49:20; Lam. 4:5) ʿ ednah, "pleasure," (Gen. 18:12), ʿ adinah, "pampered woman" (Isa. 47:8); and in Old Aramaic m ʿ dn "provider of abundance," which would be a transparent etymology for the name of a divine garden. The Septuagint apparently derived Eden from ʿ dn, translating gan ʿ eden (Gen. 3:23–4) by ho paradeisos tēs truphēs, "the park of luxuries," whence English "paradise." Akkadian provides a semantic parallel in kiri nuhši, "garden of plenty" (McCarter apud Stager). Several references (Gen. 2:8 ("in Eden"), 10 ("from Eden)," 4:16 ("east of Eden)," indicate that Eden was a geographical designation. According to 4:10 a single river flowed out of Eden, watered the garden and then diverged into four rivers whose courses are described and themselves named. This datum encouraged scholars ancient (see below) and modern to attempt to locate the site of the garden of Eden intended by the author.

[S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]

In the Aggadah

The Garden of Eden appears in the aggadah in contradistinction to Gehinnom – "hell" (e.g., bt Sotah 22a). However, talmudic and midrashic sources know of two Gardens of Eden: the terrestrial, of abundant fertility and vegetation, and the celestial, which serves as the habitation of souls of the righteous. The location of the earthly Eden is traced by the boundaries delineated in Genesis 2:11–14. Resh Lakish declared, "If paradise is in the land of Israel, its gate is Beth-Shean; if it is in Arabia, its gate is Bet Gerem, and if it is between the rivers, its gate is Dumaskanin" (Er. 19a). In Tamid (32b) its location is given as the center of Africa. It is related that Alexander of Macedon finally located the door to the Garden, but he was not permitted to enter. The Midrash ha-Gadol (to Gen. 2:8) simply states that "Eden is a unique place on earth, but no creature is permitted to know its exact location. In the future, during the messianic period God will reveal to Israel the path to Eden." According to the Talmud, "Egypt is 400 parasangs by 400, and it is one-sixtieth of the size of Ethiopia; Ethiopia is one-sixtieth of the world, and the world is one-sixtieth of the Garden, and the Garden is one-sixtieth of Eden …" (Ta'an. 10a). The rabbis thus make a clear distinction between Eden and the Garden. Commenting upon the verse "Eye hath not seen, O God, beside Thee," R. Samuel b. Naḥamani states, "This is Eden, which has never been seen by the eye of any creature." Adam dwelt only in the Garden (Ber. 34b., cf., Isa. 64:3). The word le-ovedah ("to dress it"; Gen. 2:15) is taken to refer to spiritual, not physical, toil, and is interpreted to mean that Adam had to devote himself to the study of the Torah and the fulfillment of the commandments (Sif. Deut. 41). Although the eating of meat was forbidden him (Gen. 1:29), it is stated nevertheless that the angels brought him meat and wine and waited on him (Sanh. 59b; arn 1, 5).

The boundary line between the earthly and heavenly Garden of Eden is barely discernible in rabbinic literature. In fact, "The Garden of Eden and heaven were created by one word [of God], and the chambers of the Garden of Eden are constructed as those of heaven. Just as heaven is lined with rows of stars so the Garden of Eden is lined with rows of the righteous who shine like the stars" (Ag. Song 13:55).

bibliography:

in the bible: M.D. Cassuto, in: Studies in Memory of M. Schorr (1944), 248–53; idem, in: em, 2 (1954), 231–6; J.L. Mc-Kenzie, in: Theological Studies, 15 (1954), 541–72; E.A. Speiser, Genesis (1964), 14–20; idem, Oriental and Biblical Studies, ed. by J.J. Finkelstein and M. Greenberg (1967), 23–34; N.M. Sarna, Understanding Genesis (1966), 23–28. in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, index. add. bibliography: A. Millard, in: vt, 34 (1984), 103–6; J. Rosenberg, King and Kin: Political Allegory in the Hebrew Bible (1986), 2–12; J. Kennedy, in: jsot, 47 (1990), 3–14; H. Wallace, in: abd, 2:281–83; S.D. Sperling, The Orginal Torah (1998), 37–9; L. Stager, ErIsr, 26 (Cross Volume;1999), *183–*94.

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