Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Original Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden in Bahrain

Ever since our wonderful stay at the Garden of Eden Resort in Panama, the original garden and all its ramifications have been topics of conversation in our household.  The first thing I did upon my return home was reread Genesis.  The second, was to dig out my old slides from a memorable trip we took to the island country of Bahrain back in the 1980's.

A river rose in Eden watering the garden, and from there, it separated into four branches.  The name of the first is Phison, which encircles all the land of Hevila where there is gold.  And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx are there.  The name of the second river is Gihon, which encircles all the land of Chus.  The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assur.  And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

It seems likely that there really was a place called the Garden of Eden and that it was somewhere in the Middle East.  When we were in Bahrain, we toured the above site and were told that the entire island used to look like this 8,000 years ago.  Nearby Saudi Arabia used to be much more wet, as well, with many more rivers and springs flowing through it.

Many scholars believe that the stories from Genesis were adopted from ancient Mesopotamian myths and the Garden of Eden myth comes from one of the oldest poems known to man.  The poem was found on a clay tablet in Iraq, near the Euphrates River, and it describes a sacred island paradise called Dilmun, where death and sickness do not exist.

In 2005, the ancient harbor and capital of Dilmun in Bahrain became a World Heritage Site.
The Dilmun Tell

It's an amazing archaeological site with layers upon layers of ruins that continue to be excavated.  They are discovering that the culture of ancient Mesopotamia was far more advanced than previously thought.  Dilmun was an important trading center and had a continuous human population from 2300 BC through the 16th century.  The uncovering of residential, public, commercial, religious and military buildings reveals its importance to the world at that time.  Anyone traveling from the Indus Valley to Mesopotamia would have stopped here and what a paradise it must have been!  A gorgeous city surrounded by gardens.  Its wonder was carried throughout the world and a myth of creation was born.
If you google the Garden of Eden, you will get one hundred different theories as to its origin.  This is just one of many, but it makes sense to me.  In the end, the Garden of Eden is a place to rest, a pit stop for weary travelers, a place to heal, quench thirst and mend wounds before continuing a journey through a more inhospitable world.  It appears to be so then and continues to be so today.

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