Genesis 2:8-25 - “10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates."
The existence of the Garden of Eden is controversial. Biblically, we know it exists, or at least existed. Many believe it existed until the Flood, when God allowed it to be destroyed. Identifying the location of the four rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:10-14 can at least help determine its possible location.
Four Rivers coming out of Eden
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden;
from there it was separated into four headwaters.
It is hard to know where the four rivers all flowed from. However, based on the terrain of the Middle East, a mountainous region seems likely. As shown in the Google Map below, this suggests somehwere within modern E. Turkey, N.W. Iran, or perhaps even N.E. Iraq.
11 The name of the first is the Pishon;
it winds through the entire land of Havilah,
where there is gold.
12 (The gold of that land is good;
aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)
Havilah is likely named for a person, but there are two people named Havilah in scripture. One is the son of Cush (Noah >> Ham >> Cush >> Havilah; Genesis 10:7). The other is the son of Joktan (Noah >> Shem >> Arphaxad >> Shelah >> Eber >> Joktan >> Havilah; Genesis 10:29).
Most of Cush's descendents settled along the west and southern coasts of Arabia (Saudi Arabia and Yemen today), along the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden respectively. This makes Cush's son an unlikely candidate for Havilah the place.
Joktan's family is associated with the Arabian desert, which matches the Ishmaelite borders mentioned in Genesis 25:18 and 1 Samuel 15:7. This pushes Pishon into the mountainous regions of N. E. Iraq, toward the Caspian Sea, which has several rivers emptying into it (see map to the left).
Also note the mention of gold in Genesis 2:11-12. Accoring to an informative Wikipedia article on the Pishon River...
"David Rohl identified Pishon with the Uizhun, placing Havilah to the northeast of Mesopotamia. The Uizhun is known locally as the Golden River. Rising near Mt. Sahand, it meanders between ancient gold mines and lodes of lapis lazuli before feeding the Caspian Sea. Such natural resources correspond to the ones associated with the land of Havilah in Genesis."
This narrows our choice down to the river located at the Caspian Sea's most south-west corner.
13 The name of the second river is the Gihon;
it winds through the entire land of Cush.
According to the Wikipedia article on the Gihon, "the name (Hebrew Giħôn) may be interpreted as 'Bursting Forth, Gushing'. As such, it can easily be identified with the Karkheh, that along with the Karun, share their deltaic marshlands with the Tigris and Euphrates in the Sumerian edin/Eden to the present day."
In modern days the Karkheh joins up with the Tigris and Euphrates as they approach the Persion Gulf, by the southern border between modern Iraq and Iran. In ancient times, its path somewhat paralleled the Tigris river, though it is not clear for how far. This suggests a potential region within the mountains toward Northern Iran, perhaps along the northern Iran/Iraq border.
The Tigris and the Euphrates
Find Carchemish on the map above. The river it is on is the Euphrates. Ninevah and Assur are on the Tigris. At their source, these rivers appear like they might have joined (or rather, split) somewhere near Ararat in Turkey. As they flow, both rivers approach and empty into the Persian Gulf.
So Where Might Eden Be?
In both maps, you can see two lakes West of the Caspian Sea. The lake on the left is Lake Van, and the Tigris and Euprates appear to embrace it to the West. The lake on the right is Lake Urmia, and our candiates for the Pishon and Gihon both point toward it from the south and the east.
Though reconstruction of the terrain from 4,000-5,000 BC is difficult, and rivers change their course dramatically over time, it does suggest a region that could have originally fed Lake Van and Lake Urmia, placing it somewhat north of Ubaid 3/4, which dates back to between 4,000-4,400 BC. With the GeoCreationist dating of Adam to 4,336 BC, this is conveniently consistent.
1/27/2012 - Tied in the prediction of NE Iraq with the prediction that Adam is connected to Ubaid 3/4
11/21/2012 - Corrected typo in Adam's birth; clarified maps