Genesis 2:10–14 lists the names of the rivers that flowed out of the Garden of Eden. Do these verses give us information about the location of the Garden of Eden?
We notice that there are two names in this passage—Ethiopia and the Euphrates River—with which we are familiar today. Ethiopia is in Africa, and the Euphrates River runs through what is now Iraq. Ancient Assyrian monuments identify the Hiddekel River as being the Tigris River.
The region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was known in ancient times as Mesopotamia, meaning “The Land Between the Rivers.” This region is also known as “the Cradle of Civilization” because this is the area in which modern civilization began. This is the region where writing, social systems, laws, and legal codes (such as the Code of Hammurabi) were first developed. It is here that non-nomadic, agricultural societies began.
This land between the Tigris and Euphrates River is highly fertile. The climate is very warm year-round, and there is ample water for irrigation. Some of the oldest societies in the world were established in this area. This is the area of Ubaid, Sumer, Akad, Assyria, and Babylon.
Of course, not all scholars agree that this area is the Cradle of Civilization. Some would say that civilization began in the region along the Nile River in Egypt, or in the Indus River Valley in South Asia, or along the Yangtze River in China. Certainly, the Scripture in this passage is not speaking about the Indus River Valley or about China. It is describing an area in the Middle East.
Do you think the Garden of Eden was located in what is now Iraq, or perhaps Kuwait? After all, Abraham came out of Ur of the Chaldees, which is probably modern Kuwait.
There are a couple of anomalies in this passage, things that do not seem to agree with the geography of the region as we know it today. For one thing, Genesis 2:13 says that the Gihon River encircles the land of Ethiopia. There is no river today that encircles the land of Ethiopia.
Moreover, Genesis 2:14 says that the Hiddekel River, which we have said can be identified as the modern Tigris River, flows in an easterly direction. If you look at a modern map of the region, the Tigris flows in a more south southeasterly direction.
However, we need to remember that the Flood of Noah ravaged the land and changed the topography of the area. Second Peter 3:6 says “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” So, there is a high likelihood that the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East, perhaps in the region of Iraq or Kuwait.