Genesis 2:11

11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

Genesis 2:11 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 2:11

The name of the first is Pison
Not the river Nile in Egypt, as Jarchi, who thinks it is derived from "Pashah", which signifies to increase, expand, and diffuse, as that does at certain times, and spreads itself over the land of Egypt, or from "Pishten", linen, which grows there, ( Isaiah 19:9 ) nor the river Ganges in India, as Josephus F13, and others; for the country where it is afterwards said to run agrees with neither Egypt nor India: rather it seems to be the same river, which is the Phasis of Pliny F14, and Strabo F15, and the Physcus of Xenophon F16, and the Hyphasis of Philostorgius F17, a river in Armenia, and about Colchis; and which is sometimes called Pasitigris, being a branch of that river, and mixed with, or arising from channels, drawn from Tigris, Euphrates, and other waters F18 that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where
there is gold;
this country had its name from Havilah, one of the sons of Cush, ( Genesis 10:7 ) who very probably seated himself near his brother Seba, from whom came the Sabeans, who inhabited one part of Arabia; and Havilah, it is plain, was before Egypt, in the way to Assyria, and bordered upon the Ishmaelites, who inhabited Arabia Deserta, ( Genesis 25:16-18 ) ( 1 Samuel 15:7 ) . So that it seems to be a country in Arabia, near unto, or a part of Cush or Arabia Cusea, and near to Seba or Arabia Felix: and so Strabo, among the nations of the Arabians, and along with the Nabatheans, places the Chaulotaeans F19, who seem to be no other than the posterity of Havilah: according to the learned Reland F20, it is the same with Colchis, a part of Scythia, and Phasis is well known to be a river of Colchis; and which runs into Pontus, as appears from Pliny F21 and includes Scythia, as Justin F23 says; and then it must have its name from Havilah, the son of Joktan, ( Genesis 10:29 ) and in either of these countries there was gold, and an abundance of it, and of the best, as follows:

(After the global destruction of Noah's flood, it is doubtful that the location of these rivers could be determined with any degree of certainty today. Ed.)


F13 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 1. sect. 3.
F14 Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 4. 17.
F15 Geograph. l. 11. p. 343, 345, 364.
F16 Cyr. Minor. l. 2.
F17 Hist. Ecclesiast. l. 3. c. 10.
F18 Curtius, l. 5. c. 3. Strabo. Geograph. l. 15. p. 501.
F19 Ib. p. 528.
F20 De Paradiso, p. 16
F21 Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 4. 17.)
F23 E Trogo, l. 2. c. 2.

Genesis 2:11 In-Context

9 Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches.
11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.
13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush.