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Originally titled "The Land of Eden Located" 1964
by David J. Gibson

Chapter Two

The Rivers Euphrates and Hiddekel

In our first chapter we noted a most important and significant fact, namely that the writer of Genesis was using recognized geographical names of his day in his description of Eden. If we ask just when this writer lived we meet varying replies. Those accepting the Mosaic authorship say he lived about 1500 or 1400 B.C. Others argue for a later date, perhaps 700 B.C. While we are amongst those who hold to the Mosaic authorship, let us, in examining the names of the four river-heads and the names of the countries affiliated therewith, consider names in use during the whole interval from 1500 B.C. or earlier down to 700 B.C., and, where necessary, trace them down to modern times.

In examining the four river-heads we feel we will make the best progress by taking the last first. We do this because there is less question or doubt about the last one. The text simply states:

"And the fourth river is Euphrates." Genesis 2:14.

There is no describing this river. No effort to tell the reader where it is. The writer knew all his readers would immediately recognize this river definitely by its name alone. And so it is to this very day. Everyone knows which river this is.

The River Euphrates
As archaeologists have dug into the ruins of the cities of Babylonia they have unearthed thousands of clay tablets in the cuneiform script. Great libraries have been unearthed and from these writings have come a tremendous wealth of knowledge. We know now that a very brilliant race, the Sumerians, lived there in earliest times. A part of Babylonia was called Sumer after their name, and this word "Sumer" when taken over into the Hebrew, and then transliterated into English appears as, "Shinar." The Sumerians appear to be related to the Chinese, Mongolians, and Basques by their language.

Before 3,000 BC the Sumerians called the Euphrates "Puranum" meaning, "Great water;" sometimes they called it "Pura," that is, "water." The Semitic people, including the Hebrews, called it "Purat." The Persians altered the "p" to "ph" or "f", and added an initial vowel, making it, "Ufratu." To the Greeks this became, "Euphrates." The Arabs today still call it "Furat." For over 5,000 years this important river has kept actually to one name, varying only in pronunciation from language to language.

Of the fourth river we feel there can be no doubt. Somewhere along that river, between its source and mouth, lay the Land of Eden.

The River Hiddekel
"The name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth to the east of Assyria." Genesis 2:14.
The third river-head is almost as easy to identify as the fourth. While not everyone reading English will immediately recognize the name "Hiddekel,'yet scholars are quite in agreement about it. It is the modern "Tigris."

Those ancient Sumerians called the Tigris, "Idikna" or "Idikla." The early Semitic people called it, "Idiklat" (in Hebrew,"Hiddekel,"), later shortened to "Diklat." The Persians pronounced it, "Tigra," from whence the classical Greek name came, "Tigris." Today, in
Arabic it is, "Dijla."

Once again, these are but variants of one name retained throughout all history. This identification is upon firm ground. To make the identification doubly sure, the Tigris is definitely the river of Assyria. The Assyrian capital city Nineveh stood upon that river's banks.

We now have two of the four river-heads positively identified. This is 50% success in this phase of our search for the real location of the Land of Eden. It brings us to an important point, as we can now begin to check our "treasure map" with reality. To do this, let us take our "treasure map" and place the names Euphrates and Tigris on the two central river-heads.

Map of Eden with two rivers named

A person might try placing these two names on the upper or northerly two river-heads, or on the lower, southerly two river-heads, but in either case such placing of the names would soon have to be abandoned in the light of what follows in the next two chapters. We are thus anticipating a little by placing these two names immediately upon the central river-heads.

As we shall presently see, Havilah lies to the south of the two central river-heads, while Cush is to the north, which drives the two identifications we are now sure of (Euphrates and Tigris) toward the center of our "treasure-map."

These two names on our "treasure-map" may be considered as only tentative for the moment. However, we believe the next two chapters will make the placing very certain.

We ask you now to compare our "treasure map" with any map of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

Satalite Map of Euphrates

Above: Satalite Image of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. They do not meet in the green area, but flow to either side of it, meeting only in the delta.

The land between the two central river-heads compares with Mesopotamia, "the land between the rivers," as the name means. It takes but a slight clockwise turn of our "treasure map" to bring the central rivers into approximation with the actual relative positions of the Euphrates and Tigris. Surely this is evidence we are on the right track in our search! Thus encouraged we turn now to the text and will study the first named river-head.

End of Chapter Two

 Chapter One  A Few Leading Clues
 Chapter Two  The Rivers Euphrates and Hiddekel
 Chapter Three  The River Pison
 Chapter Four  The River Gihon
 Chapter Five  The Changing River Courses
 Chapter Six  Eden in Relation to Geology
 Chapter Seven  Eden and Biblical Chronology
 Chapter Eight  Cain's City of Enoch
 Appendix A  Are the names in Genesis 2 Postdiluvial?
 Appendix B   Maps, sketches and notes

 David J. Gibson

The Land of Eden