Eden in the Old Testament
Eden means "delight. Paradise = the Septuagint translation of "garden," a park and pleasure ground. From the Zendic pairidaeza, a hedging round. In N.W. Mesopotamia an Eden is mentioned near the Tigris (2 Kings 19:12; Isa. 37:12; Ezek. 27:23).
Another, in Coelosyria, near Damascus (Amos 1:5). The primitive Eden was somewhere in the locality containing the conjoined Euphrates and the Tigris (= Hiddekel) which branch off northward into those two rivers, and southward branch into two channels again below Bassera, before failing into the sea, Gihon the E. channel, and Pison the W. Havilah, near the W. channel, would thus be N.E. Arabia; and Cush (= Ethiopia), near the E. channel, would be Kissia, Chuzestan, or Susiana. The united livers are called the Shat-el-Arab.
Eden, was but a temporary nursery for the human family: from there people, if they had remained innocent, would have spread out in every direction until the whole earth became "the garden of the Lord." God's purpose, though deferred, will, in His own time, be realized by the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus from heaven.
The rivers are named as they were after the flood, which must have altered the face of the ancient Eden. The four took their rise in it, as their center, which is not true of the present Tigris (= "arrow") and Euphrates (= "the good and fertile"). Armenia's highlands are the traditional cradle of the race; thence probably, from Eden as their source, flowed the two eastern rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, and the two western ones through the regions answering to Arabia and Egypt.
Man was to dress and keep the garden, for without human culture, grain and other plants will degenerate. As nature was made for man, his calling was to ennoble it, and to make paradise, which though so lovely, was susceptible of development, a transparent mirror of the Creator's glory. It was designed also as the scene of man's own spiritual development by its two trees, of life and of knowledge.
Here also the "beasts of the field," i.e. that live on its produce (game and tame cattle, as distinguished from "beasts of the earth"), were brought to him to develop that intellect which constitutes his lordship and superiority to the brutes. His inner thought in observing their natures found expression in names appropriate.
The Paradise regained can never be lost by those who overcome through the Lord Jesus (Rev. 2:7; 22:14). The traditions of almost all nations have preserved the truth, in some form, that there was an original abode of man's innocence; the Greek and Latin garden of the Hesperides; the Hindu golden Mount Meru; the Chinese enchanted gardens; the Medo-Persian Ormuzd's mountain Albordj (compare Ezek. 28:13; Joel 2:3).
The Hindus' tradition tells of a "first age of the world when justice, in the form of a bull, kept herself firm on her four feet, virtue reigned, man free from disease saw all his wishes accomplished, and attained an age of 400 years." In the Teutonic Edda, Fab. 7, etc., corruption is represented as suddenly produced by strange women's blandishments who deprived men of their pristine integrity.
In the Tibetan, Mongolian, and Singhalese traditions, a covetous temper works the sad change. The Babylonians, Egyptians, and Chinese had the tradition of man's life once reaching thousands of years. The Greeks and Romans made it from 800 to 1,000 years.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).