The Garden of Eden (Hebrew גַּן עֵדֶן, Gan ʿEdhen) is the biblical "garden of God", described most notably in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 2-3), but also mentioned, directly or indirectly, in Ezekiel, Isaiah and elsewhere in the Old Testament. In the past, the favoured derivation of the name "Eden" was from the Akkadian edinnu, itself derived from a Sumerian word meaning "plain" or "steppe", but it is now believed to be more closely related to an Aramaic root meaning "fruitful, well-watered."
The Eden of Genesis has been variously located at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates in northern Iraq, in Africa, and in the Persian Gulf. The Eden in Ezekiel, however, is unequivocally located in Lebanon. For many medieval writers, the image of the Garden of Eden also creates a location for human love and sexuality, often associated with the classic and medieval trope of the locus amoenus.
Genesis 2:4-3:24 
The second part of the Genesis creation narrative opens with God creating the first human, whom he places in a garden "in the east, in Eden". God tasks the man to tend the garden, but forbids him to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God then forms a woman from a rib of the man to be a companion to the man. The first man and woman break God's command and eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, and God expels them from the garden to prevent them from eating of a second tree, the tree of life, and living forever. God then placed cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth on the east side of the Garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.
Ezekiel and elsewhere 
In Ezekiel (the "son of man") sets down God's word against the king of Tyre: the king was the "seal of perfection", adorned with precious stones from the day of his creation, placed by God in the garden of Eden on the holy mountain as a guardian cherub. But the king sinned through wickedness and violence, and so he was driven out of the garden and thrown to the earth, where now he is consumed by God's fire: "All the nations who knew you are appalled at you, you have come to a horrible end and will be no more."the prophet
The "garden of God" is mentioned in Genesis 14, and the trees of the garden are mentioned in Ezekiel 31, and scattered passages from Ezekiel, Zechariah and the Psalms refer to trees and water in relation to the Temple without explicitly mentioning Eden.
Assyrian-Babylonian and Sumerian parallels 
Genesis 2-3 locates the garden with reference to four rivers and the regions they flow through:
"A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates."—
"Kush" is often incorrectly translated as Ethiopia, which was also known as Cush, but in this case thought to be referring to Cossaea, a Greek name for the Kassite lands north of Elam, immediately to the east of ancient Babylon, which, unlike Ethiopia, does lie within the region being described. In Antiquities of the Jews by the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, he identifies the Pishon as what "the Greeks called Ganges," and the Geon as the Nile.
Ezekiel 31 appears to identify Eden with Lebanon. "[I]t appears that the Lebanon is an alternative placement in Phoenician myth (as in Ez 28,13, III.48) of the Garden of Eden", and there are connections between paradise, the garden of Eden and the forests of Lebanon (possibly used symbolically) within prophetic writings. Edward Lipinski and Peter Kyle McCarter have suggested that the Garden of the gods (Sumerian paradise), the oldest Sumerian version of the Garden of Eden, relates to a mountain sanctuary in the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges.
Iran (Tabriz) 
David M. Rohl (British Egyptologist and former director of the Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences) posits a location for the legendary Garden of Eden in Iranian Azerbaijan, in the vicinity of Tabriz upon which the Genesis tradition was based. According to Rohl, the Garden of Eden was then located in a long valley to the north of Sahand volcano, near Tabriz. He cites several geographical similarities and toponyms which he believes match the biblical description. These similarities include the nearby headwaters of the four rivers of Edin, the Tigris (Heb. Hiddekel, Akk. Idiqlat), Euphrates (Heb. Perath, Akk. Purattu), Gaihun-Aras (Heb., Gihon), and Uizun (Heb. Pishon)
Jackson County, Missouri, North America 
Sri Lanka 
Sri Pada is named after a footprint-like formation found near the summit of a conical mountain in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist tradition deems it to be the footprint of the Buddha, the Hindu tradition considers it that of Shiva, and in Muslim and Christian tradition the footprint is that of Adam. Moreover, there are four rivers starting from this mountain.
From Eden to Paradise 
After c.500 BC the Persian term "paradise" (Hebrew פרדס, pardes), meaning a royal garden or hunting-park, gradually became a synonym for Eden. The word "pardes" 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 (pardes) of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard"; Ecclesiastes 2. 5: "I made me gardens and orchards (pardes), 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 (pardes), 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." In these examples pardes clearly means "orchard" or "park", but in the apocalyptic literature and in the Talmud, "paradise" gains its associations with the Garden of Eden and its heavenly prototype, and in the New Testament "paradise" becomes the realm of the blessed (as opposed to the realm of the cursed) among those who have already died, with literary Hellenistic influences.
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 at top). 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.
Jewish eschatology 
In the Talmud and the Jewish Kabbalah, the scholars agree that there are two types of spiritual places called "Garden in Eden". The first is rather terrestrial, of abundant fertility and luxuriant vegetation, known as the "lower Gan Eden". The second is envisioned as being celestial, the habitation of righteous, Jewish and non-Jewish, immortal souls, known as the "higher Gan Eden". The Rabbanim differentiate between Gan and Eden. Adam is said to have dwelt only in the Gan, whereas Eden is said never to be witnessed by any mortal eye.
According to Jewish eschatology, the higher Gan Eden is called the "Garden of Righteousness". It has been created since the beginning of the world, and will appear gloriously at the end of time. The righteous dwelling there will enjoy the sight of the heavenly chayot carrying the throne of God. Each of the righteous will walk with God, who will lead them in a dance. Its Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants are "clothed with garments of light and eternal life, and eat of the tree of life" (Enoch 58,3) near to God and His anointed ones. This Jewish rabbinical concept of a higher Gan Eden is opposed by the Hebrew terms gehinnom and sheol, figurative names for the place of spiritual purification for the wicked dead in Judaism, a place envisioned as being at the greatest possible distance from heaven.
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 scene at the Garden of Eden in the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
See also 
- Cohen 2011, pp. 228–229
- Curtius 1953, p. 200,n.31
- Luttikhuizen 1999, p. 37
- Cohen 2011, p. 229
- Speiser, 1994.
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews. Book I, Chapter 1, Section 3.
- Stordalen 2000, p. 164
- Brown 2001, p. 138
- Swarup 2006, p. 185
- Smith 2009, p. 61
- Cline, Eric H. (2007). From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible. National Geographic. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4262-0084-7.
- Bruce A. Van Orden, “I Have a Question: What do we know about the location of the Garden of Eden?”, Ensign, Jan. 1994, 54–55
- Gibson, Walter S. Hieronymus Bosch. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1973. p. 26. ISBN 0-500-20134-X
- "End of Days". End of Days. Aish. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Gan Eden - JewishEncyclopedia; 02-22-2010.
- Gan Eden - JewishEncyclopedia; 02-22-2010.
- Olam Ha-Ba - The Afterlife - JewFAQ.org; 02-22-2010.
- Eshatology - JewishEncyclopedia; 02-22-2010.
- Eshatology - JewishEncyclopedia; 02-22-2010.
- "Gehinnom is the Hebrew name; Gehenna is Yiddish." Gehinnom - Judaism 101 websourced 02-10-2010.
- "Gan Eden and Gehinnom". Jewfaq.org. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- Brown, John Pairman (2001). Israel and Hellas, Volume 3. Walter de Gruyter.
- Carr, David M. (2011). "The Garden of Eden Story". An Introduction to the Old Testament. John Wiley & Sons.
- Cline, Eric H. (2009). Biblical archaeology. Oxford University Press.
- Cohen, Chaim (2011). "Eden". In Berlin, Adele; Grossman, Maxine. The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion. Oxford University Press.
- Curtius, Ernst Robert; [trans. Willard R. Trask, 1990] (1953). European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Princeton UP. ISBN 978-0-691-01899-7.
- Marlowe, W. Creighton (2000). "Eden". In Freedman, David Noel. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Amsterdam University Press.
- Noort, Ed (1999). "Gan-Eden in the context of the mythology of the Hebrew bible". In Luttikhuizen, Gerard P. Paradise interpreted: representations of biblical paradise in Judaism and Christianity. Brill.
- Smith, Mark S. (2009). "Introduction". In Pitard, Wayne T. The Ugaritic Baal Cycle, volume II. BRILL.
- Speiser, E.A. (1994). "The Rivers of Paradise". In Tsumura, D.T.; Hess, R.S. I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood. Eisenbrauns.
- Stordalen, Terje (2000). Echoes of Eden. Peeters.
- Swarup, Paul (2006). The self-understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls Community. Continuum.
- Tigghelaar, Eibert J.C. (1999). "Eden and Paradise". In Luttikhuizen, Gerard P. Paradise interpreted: representations of biblical paradise in Judaism and Christianity. Brill.
- Tsumura, D.T (1994). "Genesis and ancient near eastern stories of flood and creation". In Tsumura, D.T.; Hess, R.S. I studied inscriptions from before the flood. Eisenbrauns.
- Walton, John H.; Matthews, Victor H.; Chavalas, Mark W., eds. (2000). The IVP Bible background commentary: Old Testament. InterVarsity Press.
- Walton, John H. (2006). Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible. Baker Academic. ISBN 0-8010-2750-0.
- Welch, John Woodland (2009). The Sermon on the Mount in the light of the Temple. Ashgate.
- Wright, J. Edward (2002). The Early History of Heaven. Oxford University Press.
- Wright, J. Edward (2004). "Whither Elijah?". In Chazon, Esther G.; Clements, Ruth. Things revealed: studies in early Jewish and Christian literature in honor of Michael E. Stone. Brill.
- Wyatt, Nick (2001). Space and Time in the Religious Life of the Near East. Sheffield University Press.
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- Smithsonian article on the geography of the Tigris-Euphrates region
- Many translations of II Kings 19:12