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The Garden of Eden was a place prepared by God for mankind in its first man, Adam [1], during the Creation week. It became the place where the first man and woman would enjoy the presence of God Himself, serving as the model for the tabernacle, the temple and the final "New Jerusalem".

Apparently destroyed on the earth during the Great Flood, the Garden had been guarded by heavenly messengers from God — cherubim — with a "sword of fire" that barred entrance "turned every way" [2].

History

Prepared by the Creator

During the Creation, God prepared the Garden of Eden as a place in which humanity and, in particular the first man, Adam, would dwell [1]. On the third day of Creation, God had created vegetation that would bear fruit [3], watering it with a mist (possibly a heavy dew), for there was no rain to water the plants [4]. Then, God planted a garden home for the Adam in which to learn skills needed to fulfill his duty to "subdue the earth [5]." To assist in the cultivation of the earth, God caused a great river to flow out from Eden [6], which separated into four rivers to cover the whole world.

In the middle of the garden, God had planted two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The latter bore a forbidden fruit, and avoidance of the tree was the first law established by God.[7]. Apart from that one tree, all manner of plants and their fruit were provided as food for the man, his wife and the animals [8].

Adam was then placed in the Garden and delegated to care for it [9]. God then commanded Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil [7]. After having all manner of animals come to Adam, no suitable helper was found. Consequently, God created a woman to be his mate [10].

Protected by Cherubim

Adam and Eve "fell" when they sinned against God. Satan in the form of a serpent, tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge [11]. And when they fell for the serpent's lies, they were banned from the garden. Cherubim were set up at the gate of Eden with swords of fire to prevent re-entry of mankind into the garden [12].

With the location of the garden being in the center of things (see below), and the eastern one gate being mentioned, the "sword of fire" that "turned every way" [2] appears to leave a back entrance to the garden. The terrain is not evident, but it was at most hilly with four river valleys running away from it. The "flaming sword" is a translation of root words meaning a burning wasteland. If this was the case, the beautiful paradise was protected by an impassable "no man's land."

Geography

God planted Eden (i.e., "Pleasant place") near to the place where he had created Adam. From later uses of the word qadam, this was in the direction of sunrise [13]. Ever since the expulsion from the eastern gate [2], the directions for His people were reckoned facing towards the east.

Being east of the finished creation (man), the garden was probably in the center of the land mass of the earth. Situated at the "top" of the world, all creation lay before mankind when God gave his command to fill and subdue it [5]. Out from Eden, at least an elevated plane, if not a mountain, there flowed a large river that branched into four lesser rivers[6].

These rivers were the Pishon river which winded through the entire area of the gold-rich [14] Havilah [15], the Gihon which flowed through the region of Cush [16], the Tigris which flowed through the eastern Ashur and the great Euphrates [17]. The lands mentioned for the first two rivers, Havilah and Cush, are to the south of what would become Canaan. The Hiddekel (Tigris) flowed through the area to the east, while the Euphrates had headwaters to the north.

Since the Great Flood radically changed the face of the earth, the location of Eden is cannot be known. After the flood, mankind may well have ended up near where it all began, subsequently naming the two rivers on either side of the "plain of Shinar" after the greatest rivers known in the records handed down from Noah. This region of the earth, by the providence of God, is very near the center of the land mass of the earth.

Legacy

The Tabernacle

When God determined to commune once again with His people, He instructed them to build a portable "dwelling place" in which He would make Himself known. This large tent would house include an inner chamber decorated with things pertaining to Eden.

Most evident of these symbols of Eden were the golden cherubim in and around the innermost room of the compound. On the thick blue curtains were embroidered two angels facing one another. Two smaller golden angels faced each other on the cover of the ark of the covenant [18].

The Cherubim are reminiscent of the ones that guarded the garden, and especially the trees within it. Inside the Ark of the Covenant was stored the Ten Commandments, God's confirmation of the "knowledge of good and evil." Though these commandments were known to all, the tablets and the box holding them, were not to be touched.

Outside the veil, but not open to the public, were two more symbols: the lampstand and the table for the bread of the presence. The lamps were always to be burning a symbol of eternal life, a reminder of the tree of life.

The Temple

Almost five hundred years later, the tabernacle was replaced with the Temple. Though David had built a tent to house the ark, it was his son Solomon who built the Temple that would serve for about 500 more years before it was destroyed, and then rebuilt to last about as long in different stages of majesty.

Though bigger, the Temple had all the elements of the Tabernacle. However, in the inner sanctuary — the Holy of Holies — containing oversized statues of two cherubim standing with outstretched wings facing east. This was a close representation of the cherubim that had stood guard at the east gate of Eden. In addition, the paneled walls of the temple had carvings of cherubim and palm trees. This was a reminder of the tropical beauty of the original garden [19].

Heaven and the New Jerusalem

Once the earthly Jerusalem had been destroyed the second time, the glory of God was removed from the earth to reside for the duration of "the last days" [20] in heaven. It was there that the archetypical "tree of life" and ark of the covenant would remain safe from invading armies [21].

However, at the end of days, when the final judgment day has come, all the people of God will live where He lives. In what is an incredibly beautiful, and huge, reproduction of the "Holy of Holies" a perfect cube to be called "the City of God," or "the New Jerusalem" will have the eternal dwelling of Yahweh among his people. Where there had been deep oceans, there will be a river running through the land without a sea. The tree of life will become at least twelve trees [22].

Gallery

Verses

  1. 1.0 1.1 Genesis 2:8
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Genesis 3:24
  3. Genesis 1:11-12 (Link)
  4. Genesis 2:5-6 (Link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Genesis 1:28
  6. 6.0 6.1 Genesis 2:10
  7. 7.0 7.1 Genesis 2:17
  8. Genesis 1:30, 2:16 (Link)
  9. Genesis 1:26, 2:15 (Link)
  10. Genesis 2:18-25 (Link)
  11. Genesis 3:1-5 (Link)
  12. Genesis 3:22-24 (Link)
  13. Num. 34:11 (Link)
  14. Genesis 2:12 (Link)
  15. Genesis 2:11 (Link)
  16. Genesis 2:13 (Link)
  17. Genesis 2:14 (Link)
  18. Exodus 25:18-20; 26:31 (Link)
  19. I Kings 6:23-35 (Link)
  20. Micah 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:2; 2 Peter 3:3 (Link)
  21. Revelation 11:19 (Link)
  22. Revelation 3:12; 21:16-22:6 (Link)

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