Q&A: Four Rivers and the Location of Eden
Four rivers come together in Eden? The text says a river flowing through Eden became four heads. You look for the source [of the river], not the effluent. In addition, there is no reason for putting Eden in Mesopotamia except human tradition, which is almost always wrong. Please read the text. There is a place where four rivers rise: Turkish Armenia….Euphrates and Tigris, Aras and Uizhon are very near one another and surround a very fertile area. Comments?
Thank you for your question, Jon. The Genesis 2 text describes the places from which the four rivers flow out. The Tigris and Euphrates flow out from Asshur, the Pishon out from the mountains of Havilah (where there is gold), and the Gihon out from the region of Cush. Asshur is indeed in Mesopotamia. The mountains of Havilah are located in west central Arabia, a region that contains gold, though the rest of the Middle East does not. Today we associate Cush with the horn of Africa. However, during the end of the last ice age the Red Sea was largely dry, which means the region of Cush would have extended into the mountains at the southwest tip of the present Arabian Peninsula.
Satellite imagery reveals the dry beds of two large rivers that once flowed from central and southern Arabia into the southwest region of the present Persian Gulf. Melting snow and ice on the mountains of Havilah and Cush at the end of the last ice age would have made the Pishon and Gihon as mighty as the Tigris and Euphrates. Since most of the Persian Gulf was dry land at that time, the four rivers would have come together in what is now the southeastern portion of the Persian Gulf. From those “headwaters” the rivers would separate and continue to flow toward and empty into the Indian Ocean.
Such a warm, lush location explains why Adam and Eve did not need clothes (Armenia, by contrast, would have been quite cold). Since a large aquifer exists under the Persian Gulf, it also explains the springs mentioned in Genesis 2:6.
Also, researchers recently discovered the Karun and Wadi Al-Bāṭin riverbeds flowing into the Persian Gulf. Though it is not necessary to identify these rivers with the Pishon and Gihon, they are clear evidence that, not too long ago, more major rivers than just the Tigris and Euphrates flowed into the Persian Gulf.
For more on this subject in the context of new archeological discoveries, see my latest book, Navigating Genesis.