Where was the Cradle of the Earth?

Print

True Bible Teaching - About You and God and Your Hope of Salvation

Where was the Cradle of the Earth?

Where was the Cradle of the Earth?

Of the various theories put forth regarding the whereabouts of the Biblical Garden of Eden only two are credible because they are based on the source of the history – the Bible.

The popularized theory fixes Eden in Iraq – Babylonia – near the mouth of the Euphrates.

This traditional site, embedded in the minds of man and child over the ages, is generally accepted as a truth not open to question. However a recent theory, set forth by geologist/author Gaines R. Johnson, declares with certainty deduced from the topology, that Adam and Eve and the centre of the Garden of Eden were somewhere at or very near geographical Jerusalem.1 Two conflicting theories that locate Eden either in Babylon or in Jerusalem – both based on identical scripture – need investigation.

Eastward in Eden

In the beginning God planted a Garden ‘Eastward in Eden’ (KJV). In the NIV:

“He planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed” (Genesis 2:8).

In this garden were many trees, including the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of Life, both integral to the destiny of man. After the fall, Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, ‘lest they take of the tree of Life, and eat, and live forever’ (Genesis 3:22), the promise of immortality thus being withheld until God’s kingdom comes. A river flowed out of Eden parting into four headwaters: Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates, the latter two extant to this day.

The Cradle of the Earth - Where was it?This description does not tell us much. Is Eden due east of the Mediterranean Sea, or does it lie further east in Mesopotamia, near the mouth of the Euphrates? The Bible will support both interpretations. Historians and scholars have traditionally taken the latter view, locating the Garden in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) – ancient Babylonia. However, they base their conclusion on evidence that does not take into account the disruptions of the great flood that enveloped and devastated the whole known world some 1600 years after creation.

The deluge transformed everything, generating awesome geological changes. Simultaneously the fountains of the great deep were broken up, coming up out of the earth, and the windows of heaven opened (Genesis 7:11). Heavy, steady rain continued forty days and forty nights, the waters ever increasing until both hills and mountains were covered. Waters continued for five months so that every living thing was destroyed from the face of the earth, vastly altering the geological landscape.

It’s possible – yes probable – that the courses of the Tigris and Euphrates were re-routed in the topographical upheaval. In Genesis we note that the Tigris flowed from Eden toward the east (Genesis 2:14).

Today it takes a southerly route, so we know that at least one of these rivers did change course after the Flood.

Two Other Rivers

It is said that the Pison and Gihon rivers disappeared completely, but is this true? Did they dry up or go underground for centuries? This may be the fate of the Pison, but not the Gihon, mentioned several times in the Old Testament. The scriptures tell of King Hezekiah (741–726 BC) consulting his military officers about blocking up all the springs in the land to thwart the coming invasion by Sennacherib, the Assyrian, causing the ‘upper Gihon’ to flow westward to the City of David (2 Chronicles 32:30). Also King Solomon’s anointing took place at Gihon, described as a ‘spring in east Jerusalem’, indicating a sign of life (1 Kings 1:38).The Pool of Siloam

These two references support the Genesis record. The Gihon was indeed in Jerusalem, fully recognized by Israel’s inhabitants, despite the horrendous event of the Flood which contributed to its supposed disappearance.

This may well be when the Pison morphed into one of the many springs flowing outside the city, or possibly the ‘brook’ that ran through the midst of the land (1 Chronicles 32:4).

Was it Jerusalem?

Let’s consider the idea that the Garden was planted 37 miles east of the Mediterranean coast, in Jerusalem, a city destined for God’s future blessing when:

“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” (Isaiah 51:3).

Once you consider the idea that Eden was where Jerusalem is now located, it’s easy to envisage the possibility that it was here that God first communicated with mankind, here the Lord Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God and here he will rule as King over that Kingdom (Isaiah 2:3).

It was in Eden that God explained two key things which are not open to challenge: that man is mortal and that God offers the gift of immortality (Gen. 3:24). In the very place where Adam and Eve fell from grace the Lord Jesus Christ died to turn the curse of death into the blessed hope of eternal life, hence the promise:

To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7).

The City of Jerusalem or Zion

Paradise Restored

The first Messianic prophecy appears in Genesis, when God said that there would be perpetual enmity between the serpent (which becomes a symbol of sin) and the seed of the woman – Jesus (Genesis 3:15).

So it was that Jesus was bruised upon the cross and sin was destroyed. And Jerusalem is the place which God said that He would choose, as Moses said:

“When you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide” (Deuteronomy 12:10–11).

That place was Jerusalem and it remains a city which is central in God’s plan and purpose for the earth. If we begin to view the ancient city as the place where God first established His garden, we can understand God’s affinity for “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns” (Isaiah 62:1).

Which Garden?

When Christ walked the earth he preached the good news of the Kingdom of God, explaining that those who believe in him will be granted a place in the everlasting Kingdom which is to come. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane, just across the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem, where the Lord struggled against his natural feelings and was totally submissive to his Father’s will. It seems that in this locality Adam had long before faced his moment of truth and had failed and here Jesus triumphed over his nature, in total submission.

Here the first man sinned and fell from grace; here Christ (the last Adam) was crucified just outside the city gates, in a sacrifice instituted by God for the redemption of mankind. How fitting all that is, and how appropriate that all this should have happened in Jerusalem rather than in Babylon.

It would have been near this spot that the disciples of Christ were walking with their Lord, asking him about the coming Kingdom: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). His followers were looking for the fulfilment of God’s promises made so long before, and the true Christian’s prayer should be for God’s Kingdom to come and His will then to be done on earth.

Does it Matter?

As citizens of the 21st century we might be so far removed from God’s Word that we might wonder if these ideas make any difference to us. Three reasons come immediately to mind to suggest they really matter:

➊This real and living hope centred in Jesus gives life a new direction. We are led away from error and a misunderstanding of God’s message to man; we no longer view the Bible as fable, make-believe or fantasy.

➋If we accept that Eden was created by God in Jerusalem, we can better appreciate the basic concept of the categorical imperative in the lives of men, called ‘a sense of place’, a euphemism for Home. The Bible satisfies that need that all people have. By faith, Abraham, the tent dweller, looked for a city that has foundations whose architect was God (Hebrews 11:10).

Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, but he has not yet received the promise (Hebrews 11:39-40).

He will find a place in which to dwell when he is raised from the dead to become part of the New Jerusalem community which forms God’s Kingdom on earth (Revelation 21:1-4).

➌Most telling of all the arguments are the prophecies made about Babylon (where it is commonly thought that Eden was located) and those about Jerusalem, the city of the great King.

Babylon

The Gates of Ishtar in BabylonThis is what the prophet said:

“O Lord, You have spoken against this place to cut it off, so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever.’ Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. Then you shall say, ‘Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary” (Jeremiah 51:62–64).

Jerusalem

This is what the prophet Joel said of the city where King Jesus will reign: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls” (Joel 2:31–32).

By Marian Canoles

1 Johnson, Gaines R. “The Bible, Genesis and Geology”, 2nd edition, 2013. Website: http://www.kjvbible.org.

Glad Tidings Magazine of the Kingdom of God on Earth