Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of Genesis 2:10

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

10. And a river went out ] The description of the river in this verse is as follows: (1) it took its rise in the land of Eden; (2) it flowed through the garden, and irrigated it; (3) after passing through the garden, it separated into four branches, or, as they are here called, “heads.”

to water ] The same word as in Gen 2:6, “a mist watered the whole face of the ground.”

The account which follows (11 14) is irreconcilable with scientific geography. But the locality of a garden planted by the Lord God, containing two wonder-working trees, is evidently not to be looked for on maps. In the description of the four rivers, we must remember that the Israelites possessed only a very vague knowledge of distant lands. They depended upon the reports of travellers who possessed no means of accurate survey. Mediaeval maps often present the most fantastic and arbitrary arrangement of rivers and seas to meet the conjectures of the cartographist. We need not be surprised, if the early traditions of the Hebrews claimed that the four greatest known rivers of the world had branched off from the parent stream, which, rising in Eden, had passed through the garden of the Lord God. The four rivers here mentioned are referred to in the order of Pishon, Tigris, Euphrates, and Gihon in Sir 24:25-27 .

“Alexander the Great believed he had found the sources of the Nile in the Indus, because of the crocodiles and beans he saw there (Arrian, vi. i. 2 ff.; Str. xv. i. 25) Pausanias records the tradition that ‘the same Nile is the river Euphrates, which was lost in a lake, and reemerged as the Nile in the remote part of Ethiopia’ ” (Gordon, p. 278). When such views of geography were held by the most enlightened Greeks, we need wonder at nothing in the primitive traditions of Palestine.

Fuente: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

10 14. A Geographical Description of the Garden

This is very probably a later insertion. It interrupts the sequence of thought.

Fuente: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Verse 10. A river went out of Eden, c.] It would astonish an ordinary reader, who should be obliged to consult different commentators and critics on the situation of the terrestrial Paradise, to see the vast variety of opinions by which they are divided. Some place it in the third heaven, others in the fourth some within the orbit of the moon, others in the moon itself; some in the middle regions of the air, or beyond the earth’s attraction; some on the earth, others under the earth, and others within the earth; some have fixed it at the north pole, others at the south; some in Tartary, some in China; some on the borders of the Ganges, some in the island of Ceylon; some in Armenia, others in Africa, under the equator; some in Mesopotamia, others in Syria, Persia, Arabia, Babylon, Assyria, and in Palestine; some have condescended to place it in Europe, and others have contended it either exists not, or is invisible, or is merely of a spiritual nature, and that the whole account is to be spiritually understood! That there was such a place once there is no reason to doubt; the description given by Moses is too particular and circumstantial to be capable of being understood in any spiritual or allegorical way. As well might we contend that the persons of Adam and Eve were allegorical, as that the place of their residence was such.

The most probable account of its situation is that given by Hadrian Reland. He supposes it to have been in Armenia, near the sources of the great rivers Euphrates, Tigris, Phasis, and Araxes. He thinks Pison was the Phasis, a river of Colchis, emptying itself into the Euxine Sea, where there is a city called Chabala, the pronunciation of which is nearly the same with that of Havilah, or Chavilah, according to the Hebrew, the vau being changed in Greek to beta . This country was famous for gold, whence the fable of the Golden Fleece, attempted to be carried away from that country by the heroes of Greece. The Gihon he thinks to be the Araxes, which runs into the Caspian Sea, both the words having the same signification, viz., a rapid motion. The land of Cush, washed by the river, he supposes to be the country of the Cussaei of the ancients. The Hiddekel all agree to be the Tigris, and the other river Phrat, or Perath, to be the Euphrates. All these rivers rise in the same tract of mountainous country, though they do not arise from one head.

Fuente: Adam Clarke’s Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

A river, or, rivers, by a common enallage.

Eden, the country in which Paradise was; where those rivers either arose from one spring, or met together in one channel.

From the garden, it was divided into four principal rivers, concerning which there are now many disputes. But it is no wonder if the rise and situation of these rivers be not now certainly known, because of the great changes, which in so long time might happen in this as well as in other rivers, partly by earthquakes, and principally by the general deluge. And yet Euphrates and Tigris, the chief of these rivers, whereof the other two are branches, are discovered by some learned men to have one and the same original or spring, and that in a most pleasant part of Armenia, where they conceive Paradise was. See my Latin Synopsis.

Fuente: English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden,…. Before man was created, as Aben Ezra observes, this river went out of Eden and watered it on every side; but what river is here meant, is hard to say. It is more generally thought to be the river Euphrates, when that and the Tigris met, and became one stream or river, and as such entered and passed through Eden; and as it was parted into four rivers afterwards, in two of which they retained their names: the learned Reland k thinks, this river is now lost; but the learned writer before referred to thinks, as has been observed, that it is the river Jordan; see note on “Ge 2:8” and which, as Pliny l says, was a very pleasant river:

and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads; after it had passed through Eden, and the garden in it, watering it, it divided into four parts or heads of water, or four chief principal rivers, hereafter mentioned; and which circumstance the above writer thinks makes it the more probable to be the river Jordan, which and with the four rivers are spoken of together by the son of Sirach, in the Apocrypha:

“25 He filleth all things with his wisdom, as Phison and as Tigris in the time of the new fruits. 26 He maketh the understanding to abound like Euphrates, and as Jordan in the time of the harvest. 27 He maketh the doctrine of knowledge appear as the light, and as Geon in the time of vintage.” (Sirach 24)

of which in the following verses. This river may be an emblem of the everlasting love of God, that pure river of water of life, which springs from the throne of God, and of the Lamb, from divine sovereignty, and not from the faith, love, and obedience of man; that river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, and which water the garden, the church, revive its plants, and make it fruitful and delightful; the four heads or branches of which are eternal election of God, particular redemption by Christ, regeneration and sanctification by the Spirit, and eternal life and happiness, as the free gift of God through Christ; see Ps 46:4.

k Dissert. de Paradiso, p. 53. l Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 15.

Fuente: John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And there was a river going out of Eden, to water the garden; and from thence it divided itself, and became four heads;” i.e., the stream took its rise in Eden, flowed through the garden to water it, and on leaving the garden was divided into four heads or beginnings of rivers, that is, into four arms or separate streams. For this meaning of see Eze 16:25; Lam 2:19. Of the four rivers whose names are given to show the geographical situation of paradise, the last two are unquestionably Tigris and Euphrates. Hiddekel occurs in Dan 10:4 as the Hebrew name for Tigris; in the inscriptions of Darius it is called Tigra (or the arrow, according to Strabo, Pliny, and Curtius), from the Zendic tighra, pointed, sharp, from which probably the meaning stormy ( rapidus Tigris , Hor. Carm. 4, 14, 46) was derived. It flows before ( ), in front of, Assyria, not to the east of Assyria; for the province of Assyria, which must be intended here, was on the eastern side of the Tigris: moreover, neither the meaning, “to the east of,” nor the identity of and has been, or can be, established from Gen 4:16; 1Sa 13:5, or Eze 39:11, which are the only other passages in which the word occurs, as Ewald himself acknowledges. P’rath , which was not more minutely described because it was so generally known, is the Euphrates; in old Persian, Ufratu , according to Delitzsch, or the good and fertile stream; Ufratu , according to Spiegler, or the well-progressing stream. According to the present condition of the soil, the sources of the Euphrates and Tigris are not so closely connected that they could be regarded as the commencements of a common stream which has ceased to exist. The main sources of the Tigris, it is true, are only 2000 paces from the Euphrates, but they are to the north of Diarbekr, in a range of mountains which is skirted on three sides by the upper course of the Euphrates, and separates them from this river. We must also look in the same country, the highlands of Armenia, for the other two rivers, if the description of paradise actually rests upon an ancient tradition, and is to be regarded as something more than a mythical invention of the fancy. The name Phishon sounds like the Phasis of the ancients, with which Reland supposed it to be identical; and Chavilah like Cholchis, the well-known gold country of the ancients. But the ( Herod. 4, 37, 45) takes its rise in the Caucasus, and not in Armenia. A more probable conjecture, therefore, points to the Cyrus of the ancients, which rises in Armenia, flows northwards to a point not far from the eastern border of Colchis, and then turns eastward in Iberia, from which it flows in a south-easterly direction to the Caspian Sea. The expression, “ which compasseth the whole land of Chavilah,” would apply very well to the course of this river from the eastern border of Colchis; for does not necessarily signify to surround, but to pass through with different turns, or to skirt in a semi-circular form, and Chavilah may have been larger than modern Colchis. It is not a valid objection to this explanation, that in every other place Chavilah is a district of Southern Arabia. The identity of this Chavilah with the Chavilah of the Joktanites (Gen 10:29; Gen 25:18; 1Sa 15:7) or of the Cushites (Gen 10:7; 1Ch 1:9) is disproved not only by the article used here, which distinguishes it from the other, but also by the description of it as land where gold, bdolach, and the shohamstone are found; a description neither requisite nor suitable in the case of the Arabian Chavilah, since there productions are not to be met with there. This characteristic evidently shows that the Chavilah mentioned here was entirely distinct from the other, and a land altogether unknown to the Iraelites.

What we are to understand by is uncertain. There is no certain ground for the meaning “pearls,” given in Saad. and the later Rabbins, and adopted by Bochart and others. The rendering or , bdellium, a vegetable gum, of which Cioscorus says, , and Pliny, “ alii brochon appellant, alii malacham, alii maldacon ,” is favoured by the similarity in the name; but, on the other side, there is the fact that Pliny describes this gum as nigrum and hadrobolon , and Dioscorus as (blackish), which does not agree with Num 11:7, where the appearance of the white grains of the manna is compared to that of bdolach . – The stone shoham , according to most of the early versions, is probably the beryl, which is most likely the stone intended by the lxx ( , the leek-green stone), as Pliny, when speaking of beryls, describes those as probatissimi , qui viriditatem puri maris imitantur ; but according to others it is the onyx or sardonyx (vid., Ges. s.v.).

(Note: The two productions furnish no proof that the Phishon is to be sought for in India. The assertion that the name bdolach is Indian, is quite unfounded, for it cannot be proved that madalaka in Sanscrit is a vegetable gum; nor has this been proved of madara , which is possibly related to it (cf. Lassen’s indische Althk. 1, 290 note). Moreover, Pliny speaks of Bactriana as the land “ in qua Bdellium est nominatissimum ,” although he adds, “ nascitur et in Arabia Indiaque, et Media ac Babylone ;” and Isidorus says of the Bdella which comes from India, “ Sordida est et nigra et majori gleba ,” which, again, does not agree with Num 11:7. – The Shoham stone also is not necessarily associated with India; for although Pliny says of the beryls, “ India eos gignit, raro alibi repertos ,” he also observes, “ in nostro orbe aliquando circa Pontum inveniri putantur .”)

The Gihon (from to break forth) is the Araxes, which rises in the neighbourhood of the Euphrates, flows from west to east, joins the Cyrus, and falls with it into the Caspian Sea. The name corresponds to the Arabic Jaihun, a name given by the Arabians and Persians to several large rivers. The land of Cush cannot, of course, be the later Cush, or Ethiopia, but must be connected with the Asiatic , which reached to the Caucasus, and to which the Jews (of Shirwan) still give this name. But even though these four streams do not now spring from one source, but on the contrary their sources are separated by mountain ranges, this fact does not prove that the narrative before us is a myth. Along with or since the disappearance of paradise, that part of the earth may have undergone such changes that the precise locality can no longer be determined with certainty.

(Note: That the continents of our globe have undergone great changes since the creation of the human race, is a truth sustained by the facts of natural history and the earliest national traditions, and admitted by the most celebrated naturalists. (See the collection of proofs made by Keerl.) These changes must not be all attributed to the flood; many may have occurred before and many after, like the catastrophe in which the Dead Sea originated, without being recorded in history as this has been. Still less must we interpret Gen 11:1 (compared with Gen 10:25), as Fabri and Keerl have done, as indicating a complete revolution of the globe, or a geogonic process, by which the continents of the old world were divided, and assumed their present physignomy.)

Fuente: Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

10. And a river went out Moses says that one river flowed to water the garden, which afterwards would divide itself into four heads. It is sufficiently agreed among all, that two of these heads are the Euphrates and the Tigris; for no one disputes that הידקל ( Hiddekel) is the Tigris. But there is a great controversy respecting the other two. Many think, that Pison and Gihon are the Ganges and the Nile; the error, however, of these men is abundantly refuted by the distance of the positions of these rivers. Persons are not wanting who fly across even to the Danube; as if indeed the habitation of one man stretched itself from the most remote part of Asia to the extremity of Europe. But since many other celebrated rivers flow by the region of which we are speaking, there is greater probability in the opinion of those who believe that two of these rivers are pointed out, although their names are now obsolete. Be this as it may, the difficulty is not yet solved. For Moses divides the one river which flowed by the garden into four heads. Yet it appears, that the fountains of the Euphrates and the Tigris were far distant from each other. From this difficulty, some would free themselves by saying, that the surface of the globe may have been changed by the deluge; and, therefore, they imagine it might have happened that the courses of the rivers were disturbed and changed, and their springs transferred elsewhere; a solution which appears to me by no means to be accepted. For although I acknowledge that the earth, from the time that it was accursed, became reduced from its native beauty to a state of wretched defilement, and to a garb of mourning, and afterwards was further laid waste in many places by the deluge; still, I assert, it was the same earth which had been created in the beginning. Add to this, that Moses (in my judgment) accommodated his topography to the capacity of his age. Yet nothing is accomplished, unless we find that place where the Tigris and Euphrates proceed from one river. Observe, first, that no mention is made of a spring or fountain, but only that it is said, there was one river. But the four heads I understand to mean, both the beginnings from which the rivers are produced, and the mouths (125) by which they discharge themselves into the sea. Now the Euphrates was formerly so joined by confluence with the Tigris, that it might justly be said, one river was divided into four heads; especially if what is manifest to all be conceded, that Moses does not speak acutely, nor in a philosophical manner, but popularly, so that every one least informed may understand him. Thus, in the first chapter, he called the sun and moon two great luminaries; not because the moon exceeded other planets in magnitude, but because, to common observation, it seemed greater. Add further, that he seems to remove all doubt when he says, that the river had four heads, because it was divided from that place. What does this mean, except that the channels were divided, out of one confluent stream, either above or below Paradise? I will now submit a plan to view, that the readers may understand where I think Paradise was placed by Moses. (126)

Pliny indeed relates, in his Sixth Book, that the Euphrates was so stopped in its course by the Orcheni, that it could not flow into the sea, except through the Tigris. (127) And Pomponius Mela, in his Third Book, denies that it flowed by any given outlet, as other rivers, but says that it failed in its course. Nearchus, however, (whom Alexander had made commander of his fleet, and who, under his sanction, had navigated all these regions,) reckons the distance from the mouth of the Euphrates to Babylon, three thousand three hundred stadia. (128) But he places the mouths of the Tigris at the entrance of Susiana; in which region, returning from that long and memorable voyage, he met the king with his fleet, as Adrian relates in his Eighth Book of the Exploits of Alexander. This statement Strabo also confirms by his testimony in his Fifteenth Book. Nevertheless, wherever the Euphrates either submerges or mingles its stream, it is certain, that it and the Tigris, below the point of their confluence, are again divided. Adrian, however, in his Seventh Book, writes that not one channel only of the Euphrates runs into the Tigris, but also many rivers and ditches, because waters naturally descend from higher to lower ground. With respect to the confluence, which I have noted in the plate, the opinion of some was, that it had been effected be the labor of the Praefect Cobaris, lest the Euphrates, by its precipitate course, should injure Babylon. But he speaks of it as of a doubtful matter. It is more credible, that men, by art and industry, followed the guidance of Nature in forming ditches, when they saw the Euphrates any where flowing of its own accord from the higher ground into the Tigris. Moreover, if confidence is placed in Pomponius Mela, Semiramis conducted the Tigris and Euphrates into Mesopotamia, which was previously dry; a thing by no means credible. There is more truth in the statement of Strabo, — a diligent and attentive writer, — in his Eleventh Book, that at Babylon these two rivers unite: and then, that each is carried separately, in its own bed, into the Red Sea. (129) He understands that junction to have taken place above Babylon, not far from the town Massica, as we read in the Fifth Book of Pliny. Thence one river flows through Babylon, the other glides by Seleucia, two of the most celebrated and opulent cities. If we admit this confluence, by which the Euphrates was mixed with the Tigris, to have been natural, and to have existed from the beginning, all absurdity is removed. If there is anywhere under heaven a region preeminent in beauty, in the abundance of all kinds of fruit, in fertility, in delicacies, and in other gifts, that is the region which writers most celebrate. Wherefore, the eulogies with which Moses commends Paradise are such as properly belong to a tract of this description. And that the region of Eden was situated in those parts is probable from Isa 37:12 Eze 27:23. Moreover, when Moses declares that a river went forth, I understand him as speaking of the flowing of the stream; as if he had said, that Adam dwelt on the bank of the river, or in that land which was watered on both sides if you choose to take Paradise for both banks of the river. However, it makes no great difference whether Adam dwelt below the confluent stream towards Babylon and Seleucia, or in the higher part; it is enough that he occupied a well-watered country. How the river was divided into four heads is not difficult to understand. For there are two rivers which flow together into one, and then separate in different directions; thus, it is one at the point of confluence, but there are two heads (130) in its upper channels, and two towards the sea; afterwards, they again begin to be more widely separated.

The question remains concerning the names Pison and Gihon. For it does not seem consonant with reason, to assign a double name to each of the rivers. But it is nothing new for rivers to change their names in their course, especially where there is any special mark of distinction. The Tigris itself (by the authority of Pliny) is called Diglito near its source; but after it has formed many channels, and again coalesces, it takes the name of Pasitigris. There is, therefore, no absurdity in saying, that after its confluence it had different names. Further there is some such affinity between Pasin and Pison, as to render it not improbable, that the name Pasitigris is a vestige of the ancient appellation. In the Fifth Book of Quintus Curtius, concerning the Exploits of Alexander, where mention is made of Pasitigris, some copies read, that it was called by the inhabitants Pasin. Nor do the other circumstances, by which Moses describes three of these rivers, in accord with this supposition. Pison surrounds (131) the land of Havila, where gold is produced. Surrounding is rightly attributed to the Tigris, on account of its winding course below Mesopotamia. The land of Havila, in my judgment, is here taken for a region adjoining Persia. For subsequently, in the twenty-fifth chapter (Gen 25:1,) Moses relates, that the Ishmaelites dwelt from Havila unto Shur, which is contiguous to Egypt, and through which the road lies into Assyria. Havila, as one boundary, is opposed to Shur as another, and this boundary Moses places near Egypt, on the side which lies towards Assyria. Whence it follows, that Havila (the other boundary) extends towards Susia and Persia. For it is necessary that it should lie below Assyria towards the Persian Sea; besides, it is placed at a great distance from Egypt; because Moses enumerates many nations which dwelt between these boundaries. (132) Then it appears that the Nabathaeans, (133) of whom mention is there made, were neighbors to the Persian. Every thing which Moses asserts respecting gold and precious stones is most applicable to this district. (134)

The river Gihon still remains to be noticed, which, as Moses declares, waters the land of Chus. All interpreters translate this word Ethiopia; but the country of the Midianites, and the conterminous country of Arabia, are included under the same name by Moses; for which reason, his wife is elsewhere called an Ethiopian woman. Moreover, since the lower course of the Euphrates tends toward that region, I do not see why it should be deemed absurd, that it there receives the name of Gihon. And thus the simple meaning of Moses is, that the garden of which Adam was the possessor was well watered, the channel of a river passing that way, which was afterwards divided into four heads. (135)

(125) It appears that by the beginnings ( principia) and the mouths ( ostia) of the rivers, Calvin simply means the streams above, and the streams below, the site of the garden. — Ed.

(126) This is a facsimile from the Old English translation; and the same, with Latin and French names, are introduced in the early editions of each language. — Ed.

(127) “The Orcheni inhabiting a city name Orchoe, caused the diminution of the Euphrates, by derving it through their lands, which could not otherwise be watered.” — D’Anville’s Ancient Geography.

(128) About 420 miles.

(129) Mare Rubrum. By the Red Sea, in this place, is not meant the Gulf of Suez, which is called by that name in sacred history, and over which the Israelites passed in their journey from Egypt to Canaan; but the Indian Ocean, the Mare Erythraeum of the ancients, into which the Tigris and Euphrates flowed, through the Persian Gulf. — Ed.

(130) Or “principal streams.” “The river, or single channel, must be looked upon as a highway, crossing over a forest, and which may be said from thence to divide itself into four ways, whether the division be made above or below the forest.” — Well’s Geography of the Old and New Test., vol. 1, p. 19.

The reader is referred to the first chapter of that useful work, for an account agreeing in many points with Calvin, though differing from it in others. The principal difference in the two accounts lies in this, that Wells places the site of Paradise near the Persian Gulf into which the Tigris and Euphrates discharge themselves, while Calvin fixes it higher up the streams, in the vicinity of ancient Babylon. Wells derives his account mainly from the celebrated French Bishop, Peter Daniel Huet, who had been the intimate friend of the famous Protestant traveler Bochart. The following extract from a note in the Clavis Pentateuchi of Robertson is added for the reader’s satisfaction: — “ Eden est regio sen in Mesopotamio, sen non procul inde. Observandum est hancce sententiam Calvini, quam parum emendaverat clarissimus Huetis, verissimam omnium videri: Hoc demonstravit calrissimus Vitringa, qui paululum in quibusdam circumstantis etiam Huetium emendaverat.” — “Eden is a region either in Mesopotamia, or near it. It is to be observed, that this opinion of Calvin, which the celebrated Huet has slightly amended, seems to be the most true of all. The celebrated Vitringa has demonstrated this; who also, in some circumstances, has slightly amended Huet.” — Robertson’s Clavis, p. 177. — Ed.

(131) Circuit. It is observed, that the word surrounds, or “compasses,” conveys, to an English reader, more than is meant by the sacred writer. He only intends to say, that the river sweeps round in that direction, so as to embrace, by its winding, a part of the region of Havila. Flexuoso cursu alluit. — Johannes Clericus in loco. — Ed.

(132) That is, the nations peopled by the twelve sons of Ishmael. See Gen 25:13. — Ed.

(133) The descendants of Nebajoth, the eldest son of Ishmael. Yet, as they inhabited the western side of the great desert of Arabia, which lay between them and the Euphrates, they cannot, with much propriety, be called neighbors to the Persians. — Ed.

(134) “There is bdellium and the onyx-stone.” It is a question among the learned, whether bdellium is an aromatic gum of great value, or a pearl. Dathe, however, renders this word “crystal,” and the next, “emerald.” — Ed.

(135) It would be wrong to omit all mention of the work of Adrian Reland on this subject; who devoted to it the most profound learning and diligent investigation. An abstract of his description is given in Dr. Adam Clarke’s Commentary. He places Eden in Armenia, near the sources of the Euphrates and Tigris, which flow into the Persian Gulf, the Phasis ( Pison,) which empties itself into the Euxine, where Chabala, corresponding with Havila, is famous for its gold; and the Araxes, ( Gihon,) which runs into the Caspian. The objection to this locality is, that these rivers do not actually meet together; so that they cannot be said to divide into four heads, or principal streams in Eden. The learned reader may see Dathe’s Commentary on the Pentateuch, p. 23, note (k.) — Ed.

Fuente: Calvin’s Complete Commentary

(10) A river went out of Eden.Out of the large region of which the garden formed a part. The tenses, too, are present, as if the main features of the country remained unchanged: a river goeth forth from Eden, and thence outside of it is parted, and becometh four main streams. The idea is that of a stream rising in Eden, and flowing through the Paradise, and at some distance outside of it divided into four great rivers. This has made many suppose that the site of Paradise was in the Persian Gulf, in a region now submerged; and the Babylonian legends actually place it there, at Eridu, at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates. The two other rivers they suppose to have been the Indus and the Nile, represented by the two coasts of the Persian Gulf. Sir H. Rawlinson suggests the Babylonian province of Gan-duniyas, where four rivers may be found; but in neither case could the ark have floated against the current of the flood up to the highlands of Armenia. We must add that many authors of note have regarded the whole as symbolical, among whom is the famous Syriac writer, Bar-Hebraeus, who regards it as a description of the human body.

Fuente: Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

10. A river went out of Eden This river, like the trees just named, constituted a part of the perfection of the earthly paradise . Comp . Rev 22:1-2.

From thence From the garden . The verse clearly implies that the river had its source in the garden, and from that place, as a centre, divided itself off, was parted so as to become the fountain heads of four different streams . Hence by river we may understand river system, set of rivers, all identified as to their origin, but whether flowing from four neighboring fountains or from one may be left undecided . Some suppose the river flowed as one stream through the garden, and after leaving it became divided into four heads or beginnings of rivers .

Fuente: Whedon’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

‘And a river flowed out of Eden to water the plain, and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon, it is the one which flows round the whole land of Havilah where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good, and aromatic resin and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon, it is the one which flows around (or meanders through) the whole land of Cush, the name of the third river is Hiddekel (Hiddekel is the Tigris), which flows out of Assyria, and the fourth river is the Euphrates.’

The descriptions show that the author intended the place to be approximately identifiable, if not certain, and his description of Havilah suggests that he had a good knowledge of it. Gold was plentiful in the mountains of Armenia, and in Babylon. Bdellium (bedolach – aromatic resin?) and onyx stone (?) are not clearly identifiable. In Num 11:7 manna is said to look like bdellium and this has made some suggest it means pearls.

Havilah is elsewhere mentioned in connection with Arabia (Gen 25:18; 1Sa 15:7), which is associated with aromatic resins, but this may well be a different Havilah. In Genesis 10 Havilah is related to both Ham, through Cush (Gen 10:7) and Shem, through Yoktan Gen 10:29). The name may thus be connected with two differing tribes.

The river that waters the plain splits into four after it leaves the plain. The last two rivers are well known. They were the lifeblood of Mesopotamia. Thus all will know that the river that flows through the plain is a fruitful river. The other two rivers are unidentifiable to us. Rivers change their courses, and many cataclysms and floods have taken place which have changed the courses of rivers.

The attempts to make them rivers that encompass the world owe more to speculation than to exegesis. We have no reason to think that at this stage the rarely used number four (unlike three, seven and ten) meant anything other than that. The Cush mentioned in connection with the Gihon is not necessarily the Sudan or Ethiopia. It may refer to Kassite territory (Akkadian kassu), East of the Tigris, or indeed to a Cush unknown to us at all. In Genesis 10 Cush is the ‘father’ of Nimrod, who was connected with Babel, Erech and Archad in the land of Shinar (the Babylon area), and who built Nineveh (Gen 10:8-12). Havilah also is the name of a son of Cush, but we know nothing further about him, and it may be a coincidence and not significant. The place was, however, clearly significant to the writer. What is probable is that the descriptions indicate to us that Eden was in the Mesopotamian region, possibly in the Armenian mountains, which are the source of the great rivers.

The reference to gold and precious things demonstrated that man had every good thing available to him (he is not restricted to the garden). The mythical Eden mentioned by Ezekiel (Eze 28:13) had jewels in the trees, but here they are firmly rooted in nature and real. This is a real place.

Fuente: Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Gen 2:10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

Ver. 10. And a river went out. ] Pliny writeth, a that in the province of Babylon there is burning and smothering a certain lake or bog, about the size of an acre. And who knows, whether that be not a piece of Paradise now drowned and destroyed?

a Plin., l. ii., c. 106.

Fuente: John Trapp’s Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Gen 2:10-14

10Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. 11The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. 14The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

Gen 2:10 rivers These were branch streams (BDB 625).

Gen 2:11 Pishon Literally this is gush (BDB 810). This may refer to an ancient waterway or canal in southern Mesopotamia called Pisanu.

flows around This literally means winds through (BDB 685, KB 738, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE).

Havilah Literally this means sandy land (BDB 296). This is not the one located in Egypt but linked to Cush in Gen 10:7. The term is used again in Gen 10:29 for a sandy land in Arabia.

Gen 2:12 bdellium This is possibly an aromatic tree gum (BDB 95). The meaning for this term and the next one are uncertain. Some have suggested that this should be translated pearls (cf. Helen Spurrell and James Moffatt’s translation).

onyx All ancient terms for jewels are very uncertain (BDB 995). This stone was one of the twelve stones on the breastplate of the High Priest (cf. Exo 28:9; Exo 28:20). The jewels of Eden are used metaphorically in Eze 28:13.

Gen 2:13 Gihon Literally this is bubble (BDB 161). This may refer to an ancient waterway or canal in southern Mesopotamia called Guhana.

Cush This term is used in three ways in the OT: (1) here and Gen 10:6 ff to refer to Kassites to the east of the Tigris Valley; (2) Hab 3:7; 2Ch 14:9 ff; 2Ch 16:8; 2Ch 21:16 to refer to northern Arabia; and (3) usually used to refer to Ethiopia or Nubia in north Africa (BDB 468).

Gen 2:14 Tigris This is literally Hiddekel (BDB 293).


NRSV, TEVAssyria



The Term (BDB 78) can refer to (1) a people (e.g. Num 24:22; Num 24:24; Hos 12:1; Hos 14:3) or (2) a land (cf. Gen 2:14; Gen 10:11; Hos 5:13; Hos 7:11; Hos 8:9; Hos 9:3; Hos 10:6). In this context #2 fits best.

Euphrates Literally this is perath. It is often called The River (cf. Gen 15:18; 1Ki 4:21; 1Ki 4:24).

Fuente: You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series by Bob Utley

verses 8-14 Figure of speech Parecbasis. App-6.

river = the Persian Gulf, known as such to the Accadians, in which the river became four mouths (or heads) at spots where they flowed into the source which received and fed them.

Fuente: Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

a river: Psa 46:4, Rev 22:1

Eden: Eden denotes pleasure or delight; but was certainly the name of a place, and was, most probably, situated in Armenia, near the sources of the great rivers Euphrates, Tigris, Phasis, and Araxes.

Reciprocal: Gen 13:10 – the garden Psa 137:1 – the rivers Eze 47:7 – many

Fuente: The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Gen 2:10-14. A river went out of Eden This river, branching itself into four streams, contributed much both to the pleasantness and fertility of the garden. Hiddekel and Euphrates are rivers of Babylon: but we need not wonder that the rise and situation of all these rivers cannot now be perfectly ascertained, considering the great changes produced in the state of the earth, as well by earthquakes as by the general deluge. Havilah had gold, and spices, and precious stones: but Eden had that which was infinitely better, the tree of life, and communion with God. And to these blessings we may have access, although shut out of the literal Eden. Reader, dost thou desire them?

Fuente: Joseph Bensons Commentary on the Old and New Testaments