The Garden of Eden

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers” (Gen. 2:10).

- Genesis 2:10-14

Each year, at the end of November, the people of the United States of America celebrate Thanksgiving. On this national holiday, families and friends gather together for the express purpose of thanking God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us.

While it is certainly commendable that such a holiday exists, we should remember God’s gracious provision every day of the year. However, each of us may recall times of ingratitude toward the Lord. We either take His gifts and graces for granted, or we arrogantly demand more from His hand.

Indeed, it is hard to be content with what the Lord has given (Heb. 13:5). Next month we will see how Adam and Eve were not satisfied with the Lord’s supply and consequently fell from grace. Today, we examine Eden in order to appreciate the tragedy that occurred when our first parents spurned God’s blessings.

In today’s passage, Moses gives us the location of Eden, the land in which God planted the garden and which served as Adam’s first home (Gen. 2:8, 15). Because it is currently impossible to be certain of the identity of the rivers Pishon (v. 11) and Gihon (v. 13), we cannot determine Eden’s exact geographical position. Our best guess is it was somewhere east of Palestine and north of the Persian Gulf due to Moses’ reference to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (v. 14).

Though we cannot be sure of Eden’s precise whereabouts, it is clear that the garden God planted was evidence of His benevolence. First of all, the Lord, and not man, planted the garden (v. 8). To be sure, Adam was commanded to tend the garden (v. 15). However, this was a garden where God caused the increase (v. 9), as it was free from weeds since the ground had not yet been cursed (see 3:17–19). Secondly, God did not finish His work of creation before fulfilling Adam’s need for a fit helper (2:18–24). Other ancient Near Eastern religions believed the gods created man to take over their job of irrigating the earth, among other tasks, so that the gods could rest. But in the Bible, God works to provide for humanity and does not rest until He has met all of the needs of His people.

Coram Deo

John Calvin comments on Genesis 2:8 that Adam “had been bountifully enriched by the Lord with innumerable benefits, from the enjoyment of which he might infer the paternal benevolence of God.” Are you living a life of gratitude for the numerous spiritual and material blessings in your life? Make a list of seven of the most important things God has provided for you and spend time thanking Him for them today.

Passages for Further Study

Num. 11
Ps. 84
Matt. 6:30
1 Thess. 5:18
1 Tim. 6:17

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