Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Creation and Its Records by B.H. Baden-Powell

Part 4 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

mountain or highlands from which its waters are collected, and these
volumes of water found vent from the overcharged mother-channel by
escape, not only through the side channels, just spoken of, but also by
other important branches on the other side. Every one who has seen one
of the great rivers of Northern India will at once realize the changes
that take place where a river liable to floods has its bed at a high
level. It is almost a matter of certainty that, in the course of years,
the branches and channels of rivers so constituted will change, and old
ones be left dry and deserted. These essential topographical conditions
have always to be remembered in interpreting the narrative of Genesis

In fact, they furnish us with points which help us in the problem at the
outset. (1) There is a part of the Euphrates, just above Babylon, where
the river naturally furnished abundant irrigation for a Garden planted
eastward of it, by means of natural irrigation channels flowing from the
high level down to the lower valley of the Tigris; and (2) there is also
a point from which the Euphrates did branch out, and several important
arms anciently existed.

Nor is the locality, in point of verdure and fertility, unsuitable. Not
only do the ancient histories make frequent mention of the canals and
streams flowing from the Euphrates which I have alluded to, but they
speak of the palm groves, the vines and the verdure of the Babylonian or
Chaldean region. Herodotus, in his first book, has the most glowing
description of the scene; and the kings of Babylon had numerous enclosed
gardens or parks: these were imitated in Persia, and gave rise to the
Persian name "Firdaus," which Xenophon imported into Greek in the form
of [Greek: paradeisos] or "paradise"--the term which was adopted by the
Seventy translators.

The actual locality which Professor Delitzsch proposes as the most
probable site of the Garden of Eden is between the present Euphrates and
Tigris, just to the north of Babylon. The boundaries would be--roughly
and generally speaking--the two rivers for East and West; while for the
North and South boundaries we should draw parallel lines through Accad
on the North and Babylon on the South.

But granted that the general locality and the relations of the river
Euphrates and Tigris satisfy the requirements of the text by such a
location as this: how about the other two _and_ the countries which they
compass? The troubles of the earlier commentators will warn us, that we
need not be too ready to force names, and to identify one river, and
then, _because_ we have fixed that, make the country which the text
requires follow it!

It is, however, in this matter that Professor Delitzsch's work is so
satisfactory. He has pointed out, that there is historical evidence (and
also that the local traces are not wanting in the present day) to prove
that, just below Babylon, we _can_ find two prominently important
channels or branches of the Euphrates, which will at least supply the
place of Pison and Gihon. As to the first, it is known that in historic
times a great channel called by the Greeks Pallakopas (navigable for
ships) used to carry off the surplus water of the Euphrates when swollen
in the summer season by the melting snows of the Armenian mountains. It
branched off from the main river at a point somewhat north of Babylon,
and flowed into the Persian gulf. There is, indeed, no _direct_ evidence
to show that this branch bore a name resembling Pison. _Palgu_ is the
Assyrian whence the Greek Pallakopas was derived. It is remarkable,
however, that the word Pison closely resembles the cuneiform term
"pisana," or "pisanu," which is used for a water-reservoir, a canal or a
channel; and as this "Pallakopas" was _the_ channel _par excellence_, it
may very possibly have been called "pisana" or Pison, the (great)
channel. The identification of the channel called "Pallakopas" will be
found mentioned in Colonel Chesney's work, "An Expedition to the
Tigris." The name, however, of this channel is not the only means we
have of identifying it. The Scripture says that the Pison compasses the
land of _Havilah_. Now let us remember, that the Scripture tells of two
Havilahs: (1) The second son of Cush[1] and brother of Nimrod, and (2)
one of the great great grandsons of Shem (Gen. x. 29). One we may call
the Cushite Havilah, the other the Joktanite Havilah. The dwelling-place
of the brother of Nimrod is not mentioned, but it is stated that the
Joktanite Havilah dwelt in "Mesha." The tenth of Genesis is an important
chapter, as showing how the descendants of Noah branched out and spread
over the countries all round the Euphrates; some going north to Assyria
(Nineveh), others to the east and west, and others south, to Arabia and
Egypt. Now it so happens that the whole country west of the great
Pallakopas channel, was called by the Assyrians "Mashu." Professor
Delitzsch identifies this Mashu of the cuneiform inscriptions, with the
"Mesha" mentioned in Scriptures, as the home of Havilah. We have also in
Gen. xxv. 8,[2] mention of a land of Havila that is "before"--i.e.,
eastward of--"Egypt as thou goest toward Assyria," which would answer
very well to this locality, west of the Euphrates. It is also known
(from sources which it would take too long to detail) that this country
did yield gold-dust. Pliny also mentions "Bdellium," if that was the
substance known as "B'dolach." It is indeed uncertain what this was, but
Gesenius long ago rejected the idea that it was a stone, because there
is no prefix to it, as there is to "shoham," which follows, and
certainly is a precious stone. The manna in the wilderness is described
as being of the "colour of bdellium," and was also like hoar-frost;[3]
hence the idea that b'dolach was a crystal. But a fragrant and precious
gum-resin seems more likely. The Magi who came to worship the Infant
Saviour from near this locality, brought offerings of _gold_, and also
fragrant gums and myrrh. Was "bdellium" (as probably being a fragrant
gum) one of these offerings?

[Footnote 1: See Gen. x. 9.]

[Footnote 2: See also 1 Sam. xv. 7.]

[Footnote 3: Exod. xvi. 14; Numbers xi. 7: "The appearance (lit. "eye")
of it was as the appearance of bdellium" (R.V.).]

The "Onyx," or "Shoham," was most probably a pure red cornelian, and
this also was found in the Babylonian provinces, and was specially worn
by the Babylonian kings.

So the country west of the Euphrates answers very well to Havila without
any forcing, and without any placing it there _because_ of the river
rendering such a plan necessary.

As to the fourth river (Gihon), Delitzsch identifies it, still more
clearly, with a channel known as the "Shatt-en-nil," which branches off
from the Euphrates at Babylon itself, and passing the Scriptural city of
Erech, rejoins the main river lower down. A clay tablet has actually
been discovered, having the Euphrates, Tigris, and this Shatt-en-nil
channel _together_: the name of the latter is given as "K[=a]han de," or
"Gughande," a name which closely resembles Gihon. The channel is,
however, identified independently of the name. For the Gihon is
particularized in the narrative, by the fact that it "compasses" the
land of Cush. This (as already pointed out) is not the Ethiopian Cush.

Delitzsch states, that the whole country bounded by this branch was
anciently called Kash-shu, which he identifies with the Cush of Genesis
ii. The syllable "Kash" appears throughout this locality. In fact
Kash-du or Kal-du is the origin of the familiar name Chaldea. In the
Hebrew, Kush (Cush) is the name given to the father of Nimrod, who
"began" his kingdom about this very site--Erech, and Calneh, and Accad
(Gen. x. 8, 10). Hence it is not surprising that relics of the name
should be found all round this neighbourhood. Nor does the evidence end
here. The district immediately around Babylon was called "Kar-dunish-i,"
i.e., the "Garden of the god Dunish." Now Kar is the Turanian form of
the Semitic G[=a]n, or Gin[=a] (garden); and what is more likely than
that, as the true story was lost in the heathen traditions and mythology
that grew up, the "garden" was attributed to the god Dunish--whereas the
real original had been not "Gandunish," but "Gan'Eden?" This, though
only a conjecture, is the more probable, as one of the inscription-names
of Babylon itself was "Tintira," which, though a little obscure,
certainly means _either_ the "_grove_," or the _"fountain," of life._

We thus find, not only that four great branches of the river that "went
out," and watered the Garden can be traced, but that the two really do
"compass" tracts, that can, with the highest degree of probability, be
identified as C[=u]sh or Kash, and Havilah. The importance of Professor
Delitzsch's work may now be briefly glanced at. It may be objected, that
such a process of reasoning as that put forward, is not convincing to a
general reader who has not the means of criticizing or testing Professor
Delitzsch's conclusions: he therefore cannot be sure that, in selecting
two channels to represent the Pison and the Gihon, and in identifying
"Mashu" with Mesha of Havilah, and one of the Babylonian districts with
Kush, the Professor has at last hit off a solution of the problem which
will not in its turn be disproved, as all earlier solutions have been.
There is, however, this important conclusion to be safely drawn, viz.,
that a complete explanation in exact accord with the Hebrew text is
_possible_, and that hence nothing can be urged against the _narrative_,
on the ground (hitherto sneeringly taken) that the geography _was
impossible_ and so forth.

Next let me very briefly sum up what it is that Dr. Delitzsch has
done--marshalling the evidence, beginning from the broad end and
narrowing down till we arrive at the point.

(1) First, then, we are fixed by the narrative to some place between the
Euphrates and the Tigris.

(2) We find in the ancient inscriptions of the chief city of this
locality, constant allusions to a Garden, a primitive pair and a
temptation: one of these almost exactly reproduces the Bible story; it
is not of the earliest date and is a copy. But discovery is far from
being exhausted; all that we know is _consistent_ with the idea of an
original story, gradually corrupted by the addition of legends, and
introduction of mythological persons and heathen divinities. The true
belief in one God, who made Himself known by voice or vision to His true
worshippers, seems early to have been confined to a few of the Shemitic
families, while the others "invented" gods of their own.

(3) We find that the region about Babylon itself was called
Kar-dunishi--which easily recalls Kar or Gan-Eden. We also find the name
(Tintira) applied, indicating a "grove" or "fountain" of life; in the
locality where the direct legends most abound.

(4) We find from ancient authors that the district was one of rich
verdure--a land of gardens and irrigation.

(5) We find that some way above Babylon about Accad, the level of the
river bed Euphrates is so much higher than the valley of the Tigris
eastward, that numerous streams flow off from it, which would serve
admirably to irrigate a garden situated between the two, eastward of the

(6) We find that the Persian Gulf once extended more than one hundred
miles farther inland than it does now. That there was no joint outflow
of Tigris and Euphrates, but, though they did join their streams above,
they parted again and had still separate mouths--of the Tigris branch
one, of the Euphrates several.

(7) Lastly, Professor Delitzsch finds two channels which answer to Pison
and Gihon.

(8) He proves these two to be the right ones by considering the
countries which they "compass:" and actually finds the one that he
supposes to be the "Gaihun," called, in the cuneiform clay tablets,
"Kahan or Gaghan-de."

It is really only in (7) and (8) that there is any room for doubt and
for further inquiry.

At any rate, the credibility of the narrative, and a belief in its
purpose, as a topographically exact statement of fact, not an allegory
or legend, is established.

Book of the day: