Genesis 2:12

12 and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.

Genesis 2:12 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 2:12

And the gold of that land is good
Arabia was famous for gold: Diodorus Siculus F24 speaks of gold in Arabia, called "apyrus", which is not melted by fire out of small filings, as other; but as soon as dug is said to be pure gold, and that in the size of chestnuts, and of such a flaming colour, that the most precious stones are set in it by artificers for ornament: and in Colchis and Scythia, as Strabo F25 relates, there are rivers which produce gold; and from whence came the fable of the golden fleece, the Argonauts went to Colchis for:

there is the bdellium, and the onyx stone;
the first of these is either an aromatic gum; the tree, according to Pliny F26, is black, and is of the size of an olive tree, has the leaf of an oak, and its fruit is like capers; it is found in Arabia, India, Media, and Babylon; but the best, according to him, is in Bactriana, and, next to that, the bdellium of Arabia: or else it is a precious stone, and which the Jewish writers F1 commonly take to be crystal; and, according to Solinus F2, the best crystal is in Scythia. Bochart F3 would have it that the pearl is meant, because of its whiteness and roundness, for which the manna is compared to it, ( Numbers 11:7 ) and the rather because of the pearl fishery at Catipha, taking Havilah to be that part of Arabia which lies upon the Persian gulf. The latter, the onyx, is a precious stone, which has its name from its being of the colour of a man's nail; and, according to Pliny F4, the onyx marble is found in the mountains of Arabia, and the ancients thought it was nowhere else; and he speaks elsewhere of the Arabian onyx precious stone, and of the sardonyx, as in the same country F5; and some think that is here meant; though the word is sometimes by the Septuagint rendered the emerald; and the best of these, according to Solinus F6 and Pliny F7, were in Scythia.

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


F24 Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 133.
F25 Geograph. l. 1. p. 31. & l. 11. p. 344.
F26 Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 9.
F1 Jarchi in Numb. xi. 7. David de Pomis Tzemach David, fol. 8. 3.
F2 Polyhistor. c. 25.
F3 Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 5. p. 675
F4 Nat. Hist. l. 36. c. 7.
F5 lb. l. 37. c. 6.
F6 Polyhistor. ut supra. (c. 25)
F7 Ut supra, (Nat. Hist. l. 36.) c. 5.

Genesis 2:12 In-Context

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.
14 The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.