After creating Adam, it notes that God planted a Garden1, “to the east, in Eden”. This doesn’t seem valuable for directions until we remember that there was only one continent back then. The Flood would later obliterate the the original continental borders, but at this time, there was only one continent. The garden was planted in the eastern quadrant.
And, God placed Adam into this Garden. We find out later in the chapter that Adam’s job was to cultivate and manage the Garden.
Next Adam mentions that every tree that is pleasing to sight and good for food. He notes two special trees here, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Back to the first sentence of this verse, we know that both of these special trees were “pleasing to the sight” and “good for food”.
Now, mentally jump ahead to Genesis three, where Adam and Eve sin and are cursed. Note that part of the Curse was to remove them from the Garden. This is important because God’s reason for removing them is so Man couldn’t eat of the tree of life as well as sin, “and live forever”.
Despite this being part of the curse, it’s also a blessing. Who would want to live forever in these sin-cursed bodies on a sin-cursed planet in a sin-cursed universe? Living forever would be a worse curse than dying. This is especially true when we remember that even then, God had a plan for redemption.
More about the Garden, it was watered by a river that flowed out of Eden, toward the Garden. There, it divided into four rivers, Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. Now, several objections have been raised about these rivers. The first is that rivers don’t divide, they join. However, larger rivers DO divide at their mouths. The Mississippi River delta covers 13,000 square miles2. At present several dozen “rivers” split off of the main river to form the delta.
A river delta is formed by fast-flowing water washing sediments downstream. At the mouth of the river, where the flood waters slow down, delta area builds up. As this happens, the delta naturally flattens out. The same kind of thing happens wherever a river runs through very flat land. It tends to cut a channel, but then as topography changes, the river changes course, leaving the older river behind. Water still flows, but the main path changes over time. So, far from being false, all the fact that one river splits into four means is that the land was flat.
The next objection is that, if the Flood changed the worlds topography completely, then the Tigris and Euphrates could not have existed before the Flood. That’s partially correct: the rivers we today call Tigris and Euphrates did not exist before the Flood.
That’s the objection, but there’s a very simple explanation: people named the current Tigris and Euphrates after the original rivers. London, Ontario, Canada was formed in 1793 by British General John Graves Simcoe3. He even named the river the town is built on the Thames.
There are Londons in Christmas Island, Finland, Nigeria, South Africa, and the United States (which has three cities and 14 unincorporated communities named London). So, naming places with the same names as one in the homeland is a long and storied tradition.
The other objection is that Assyria couldn’t have existed before the Flood, because it was formed by Nimrod after the Flood (Genesis 10:11). The same solution as for the rivers could apply here.
- I capitalized this because we now know this as THE “Garden of Eden”.