And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden
Or "had planted" F13, for this was not now done after the formation of man, but before; and so the word translated "eastward" may be rendered, as it is by some, "before" F14: for the plain meaning is, that God had planted a garden before he made man, even on the third day, when all herbs, and plants, and trees were produced out of the earth. The whole world was as a garden, in comparison of what it is now since the fall: what then must this spot of ground, this garden be, which was separated and distinguished from the rest, and the more immediate plantation of God, and therefore is called the garden of the Lord, ( Genesis 13:10 ) ( Ezekiel 28:13 ) and which Plato F15 calls (diov) (khpov) , "Jove's garden?" This garden was planted in the country of Eden, so called very probably from its being a very pleasant and delightful country; and though it is not certain, and cannot be said exactly where it was, yet it seems to be a part of Mesopotamia, since it is more than once mentioned with Haran, which was in that country, ( 2 Kings 19:12 ) ( Isaiah 37:12 ) ( Ezekiel 27:23 ) and since it was by the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, when they were become one stream, which ran through this country, and parted again at this garden; and the country there, as Herodotus F16 says, is the most fruitful he ever saw; and it seems to be much better to place it here than in Armenia, where the fountain of these rivers is said to be: so Tournefort F17 thinks it lay in the country, or plain of the three churches (or Ejmiadzit), in Armenia, about twenty French leagues distant from the heads of Euphrates and Araxes, and near as many from the Phasis, a country exceeding pleasant and fruitful. A very learned man F18 is of opinion, that the garden of Eden was in the land of Judea to the east, by the lake of Gennesaret or Tiberias, and the lake of Asphaltites, called the Dead sea, and takes in, in its compass, the famous valley, or the great plain, and the plains of Jericho, and great part of Galilee, and all that tract which Jordan flows by, from Gennesaret to the country of Sodom; and he takes the river Jordan to be (Nde ray) , "the river of Eden", from whence it has its name of Jordan; and Gennesaret he interprets as if it was (rv Ng) , "Gansar", the garden of the prince, that is, of Adam, the prince of all mankind. He argues from the situation of the place, and the pleasantness and fruitfulness of it, the balsam of Jericho, and other odoriferous plants that grew there, and what are called the apples of paradise: and it must be owned, that this country abounded with gardens and orchards: it is mentioned in the Jewish Misnah, where the commentators F19 say, it was a country in the land of Israel, in which were many gardens and orchards, that produced excellent fruit; and the fruits of Gennesaret are spoken of in the Talmud F20 as exceeding sweet: and with this agrees the account Josephus F21 gives of it, that it is
``wonderful in nature and goodness, and through its fertility refuses no plant; everything is set here; the temper of the air suits with different things; here grow nuts, and more winter fruit; and there palms, which are nourished with heat, and near them figs and olives, which require a softer air--not only it produces apples of different sorts, beyond belief, but long preserves them; and indeed the most excellent of fruit; grapes and figs it furnishes with for ten months, without intermission, and other fruit throughout the whole year, growing old, with them.''And it may be further observed, that it is asked by the Jewish Rabbins, why it is called Genesar? and the answer is, because (Myroyng) , "the gardens of princes"; these are the kings who have gardens in the midst of it: another reason is given, because it belonged to Naphtali, a portion in the midst of it, as it is said, and of "Naphtali a thousand princes", ( 1 Chronicles 12:34 ) . F23 And it is worthy of remark, that Strabo calls Jericho, which was within this tract, "the paradise of balsam" F24; and there, and hereabout, as Diodorus Siculus F25, and Justin F26 relate, grew this aromatic plant, and nowhere else; it was not to be found in any other part of the world. And it appears from Scripture, that if the plain of Jordan was not the garden of Eden, it is said to be, "as the garden of the Lord", ( Genesis 13:10 ) and if the "caph" or "as" is not a note of similitude, but of reality, as it sometimes is, it proves it to be the very place; and the above learned writer takes it to be not comparative, but illative, as giving a reason why it was so well watered, because it was the garden of the Lord: and the Jews have some notion of this, for they say, if that the garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, Bethshean is the door of it, or entrance into it; the gloss gives this reason, because the fruits were sweeter than any other F1; and this was near, at the entrance of the great plain before mentioned; and before which was this place, as Josephus says F2: and if the garden of Eden was in those parts, it may be observed, that where the first Adam first dwelt, and where he sinned and fell, Christ the second Adam frequently was; here he conversed much, taught his doctrines, wrought his miracles; and even here he appeared after his resurrection from the dead. But the opinions of men about this place are very many, and there is scarce any country in the whole world but one or another has placed the garden of Eden in it; nay, some have assigned a place for it out of the earth, in the eighth sphere. Such a garden undoubtedly there was somewhere, and it is said to be placed "eastward", either in the eastern part of the country of Eden, see ( Genesis 4:16 ) or to the east of the desert where Moses was when he wrote; or to the east of Judea, as Mesopotamia was: and if this garden was in Judea, the place assigned for it by the above learned person, it was in the eastern part of that country; see ( Numbers 32:19 ) . This garden was an emblem either of the church of Christ on earth, which is a garden enclosed, surrounded with divine power, and distinguished with divine grace; a small spot in comparison of the world; is of Jehovah's planting, and is his property; and is an Eden to his people, where they enjoy much spiritual pleasure and delight: or however of the place and state of the happiness of the saints in the other world, often called a paradise in allusion to this, ( Luke 23:43 ) ( 2 Corinthians 12:4 ) ( Revelation 2:7 ) and which is of God's planting, and therefore called the paradise of God, and is an Eden, where are pleasures for evermore: and this seems to be what the Jews mean when they say F3, that the garden of Eden, or paradise, was created before the world was; which is no other than what Christ says of it in other words, ( Matthew 25:34 )
and there he put the man whom he had formed;
not as soon as he had planted the garden, but as soon as he had made man; and from hence it is generally concluded, that man was made without the garden, and brought from the place where he was formed, and put into it; and which some say was near Damascus: but be it where it will, it is most probable that it was not far from the garden; though there seems no necessity for supposing him to be made out of it; for the putting him into it may signify the appointing and ordering him to be there, and fixing and settling him in it, for the ends and uses mentioned, see ( Genesis 2:15 ) ( 3:23 ) .
(After the global destruction of Noah's flood, it is doubtful that the location of the Garden of Eden could be determined with any degree of certainty today. Ed.)