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Michaelis, again, holds that the Araxes represents the Pison, the Oxus the Gihon, a district to the west of the Caspian the land of Havilah, and Cath on the Oxus the land of Cush, while Armenia is held by him to be the true land of Eden. Several of these guesses may seem wide enough of the mark; but what shall we say to those that follow ? Eden, says Schultness, lies beyond the ocean which surrounds the earth, the stream issuing out of it is that ocean, and Pison is the Indus. The love of country comes in to warp the judgment of the commentator, and its influence is as much seen in this question as it was in the case of the Spaniard who exclaimed, after reading that part of the temptation of our Lord, in which Satan is represented showing him all the kingdoms of the world, “He must not have shown him Spain.” Raumer holds that an island formed by the Irtish, Dwina, and Volga was the land of Eden. Harduin is sure that it was in Galilee, that the stream issuing from it was the Jordan, and that Pison is represented by a river in Arabia (Flumen Achanum). Hasse believes that Eden was on the coast of Prussia, and Hartmann is as sure it was in the valley of Cashmere. When Josephus comes to speak of these geographical questions, he has as little difficulty as the moderns in regard to them. The stream out of Eden is, in his estimate, a river which runs round the earth, the Pison is to be found in the Ganges, the Gihon in the Nile, while India is the true Havilah, and the land of Egypt, without any doubt, is Cush. It is no doubt true in regard to these speculations, that there are certain facts in geography which tell directly against them. But in such questions, facts are seldom rigidly inquired into. Men are, for the most part, ready to put theories first. Had they, however, but looked into an Atlas of geography, they would have saved themselves much labour, and their readers more time. After a careful study and comparison of the various theories regarding the site of Eden, I am led to prefer that of Colonel Chesney (“Euphrates Expedition,” vol. i., p. 266). After stating the difficulties in the way of a satisfactory conclusion, Colonel Chesney says—“Under such discouraging circumstances, any attempt to elucidate the geography of Eden, might have been deemed hopeless, if it were not that many indications afforded by the character and natural productions of the country presented themselves to me during the progress of my rather extensive researches in that part of the world. From these, and from the fact that the sources of the Euphrates and Tigris, and of two other great rivers, exist within a very circumscribed space in Armenia, I have been led to infer that the rivers known by the comparatively
modern names of Halys and Araxes, are those which in the book of Genesis have the names of Pison and Gihon; and that the country within the former is the land of Havilah, while that which borders upon the latter is the still more remarkable territory of Cush.” Fondly cherished traditions of Eden, still to be met with in the valleys of Central Armenia, point to the peculiarly fertile tract of country which embraces the northern division of the present páshálik of Mosul, and extends to the north of Erz-Rum; its western extremity being near Tbkát, in the direction of the Halys, and its eastern boundary being in part in the district beyond lake Van. Within its limits are the mountain ranges of Ararat and Nimrúd. Local traditions are strengthened by the geography of the country. Within a circle, with a radius of ninety miles, four great rivers have their sources. These flow into different seas, and two of them are associated in the Bible with the land of Eden. “Whatever doubts may be entertained about the first and second streams mentioned in the book of Genesis, there can be little regarding the third, which flows at present, and did in the time of Moses, towards the east of Ashur or Assyria, bearing, in the Chaldean language, the name of Hiddekel, Dekel, Dijel, or Diglath, and Tigris, from its well known swiftness”—Tigris in the Median tongue signifying arrow. “Still less can there be any uncertainty about the fourth, which was evidently too well known to require more than the brief but expressive sentence—' And the fourth river is Euphrates.'” With what rivers then can the Pison and Gihon be identified? The valleys in which the Halys, Araxes, Tigris, and Euphrates have their sources, strike out from the highest mountain range known before the flood. They are, moreover, luxuriantly beautiful, fertile in the highest degree even still, and regarded as one great region. “The variety of its surface, climate, and temperature, is adapted for the growth of almost every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” The tracts bordering on the sources of the Euphrates, on the slopes of Ararat, are, to the present time, noted for their beauty and fertility. There are the Jághi Tágh, or “Mountain of flowers;” the plain of Erz-Rum rich in grain; the well-watered plains of Terján and Erzingán, with their fields yielding abundant crops, and their gardens the favoured sites for the grape and the melon; and other plains yielding cotton, and wine, and vegetable oils in abundance. In all of them, the horse, the mule, the ox, and the sheep are reared in great numbers. In the country to the west of the Euphrates, as far as the Halys, are the peculiarly rich plains and fertile valleys of Lesser Armenia. The
tract lying to the east of the Euphrates, embraces numerous productive valleys and slopes. The shores of Lake Ván“ are covered with poplar, tamarisk, myrtles, and oleanders, whilst numerous verdant islands scattered over its placid lawn offer a prospect altogether enchanting.” “ Between the Euphrates and Lake Ván lie the verdant plains of the Tigris; these, except where open spaces are left for the growth of maize, melons, gourds, and cucumbers, are covered with groves of plum, apricot, and peach trees, rising above dense clusters of the fig and pomegranate, which are themselves half hid beneath clustering vines.” “The territory of Urumiyah forms the south-eastern portion of the supposed limits of paradise.” Like the others, its fertility is as remarkable as its beauty. So, too, is it with the tract bordering on the Araxes, “which for striking mountain scenery, interspersed with rich valleys, can scarcely be equalled; this district accords, therefore, in every respect with the best notions we can form of the cradle of the human race. Here, say the Armenians, was the vale of Eden. On the summit of Mount Ararat, at no great distance from hence, the Ark rested; and, here also, the vine was first cultivated by Noah. Here are forests of oak, ash, walnut, and the finest fruit trees; whilst rice, barley, wheat, hemp, and flax, are reared in the neighbouring plains almost without culture.”
The Halys, now named the Kizil-Irmák, is supposed to be the Pison of Moses.
Rising not far from the sources of the Euphrates, the Aras flows through Armenia into the Caspian sea. Is this the Gihon of Scripture ? Several things make it likely. “The name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia," or Cush. An Armenian historian (without any reference to the present subject) says, that south-west of Erivan, Araxmais, son of Armenac, built a city of hewn stones in the plain of Aragaz, near the left bank of the river called Gihon, whose name was then changed to Arast, or Araxes, after his son. The tract lying between the Euphrates and Halys, or Kizil-Irmák, is rich in metals. The Cush of Scripture is represented by the region which extends along the banks of the Aras, or Gihon, as far as the shores of the Caspian. Havilah included the whole of the ancient Colchis, and a large tract of country besides. It may be presumed to be represented by the modern pashaliks of Sivás and Tarábuzún. In ancient times it was noted for its gold, as may be learned from many references in the literature of Greece, and especially from the well-known story of the “golden fleece,” to recover which the celebrated Argonautic expedition was undertaken, led, in the words of Dante, by Jason
Silver, copper, and precious stones were also abundant in the same region. The words of Moses are—“And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx-stone” (ver. 12). "Few words,” says Chesney, “have given rise to more discussion than 'bdellium.' Some writers considered it to signify the gum which is described under that name by Pliny; while others, apparently with greater reason, have referred it to some more precious substance. The learned Reland, for example, thought that schoham, or emerald, was the bdellium of Moses; also Eugubinus and Jerome were of the same opinion. But Beroaldus, Kimchi, and Benjamin of Tudela, with more probability, have fixed upon the pearl; and it is remarkable that in the same sentence the last designates this precious stone by the words bdellium and lulú. This opinion has since received the powerful support of Bochart, and is strengthened by finding the pearl fishery expressly mentioned in the “ Periplus” as existing on the coast of Colchis; which, says Diodorus Siculus, abounds in gold, smaragds, and crystals. It may be added that the gum supposed to be here indicated, as well as turquoise, beryls, and the onyx, is found there in still greater quantity. Therefore, whether the Hebrew word really meant a gum, a stone, or a pearl, the locality in question is equally proper, since they are all to be found there."
In the inspired description of the Gihon it is said—“The same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia" (ver. 13).—literally, “the whole land of Cush.” It seems scarcely to admit of a doubt that the territory “ compassed” on the north by the Aras or Araxes was the original country of the Cushites. “The word remains almost unchanged in Kush, Shus, Sus, and Kushasdan, the Land of the Sun, and the Land of the Magi.” “ This territory was the abode of the posterity of Nimrud, up to the time of Josephus, who says of the sons of Ham,
Time has not at all affected the name of Chus; for the Ethiopians over whom he reigned are to this day, both by themselves and by all the men of Asia, called Chusites. The word Ethiopian is derived from aitho, I burn, and ops, a face: a person with a burnt, black, or very dark face, such as are the Kurds and other mountaineers of these parts, though they live in a temperate climate.” From such considerations as the above, and from the almost unanimous testimony of the oldest historians, Colonel Chesney concludes “that the geography of Asiatic Cush may be said to be determined with a reasonable degree of certainty." Though it appears to me that the proofs corroborative of this theory regarding the site of Eden, are much stronger than those adduced in support of any of the others to which we have referred, yet it would be unfair not to acknowledge that there is one strong objection to it in the language used by Moses. At verse 10 we are told that “a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads." To obviate this difficulty, it has been alleged that the word rendered river has also a plural signification, even when used, as here, in the singular. But though many Hebrew words are of this nature, I am not aware of any passage in the writings of Moses in which it is thus used. Where it occurs in the plural, one or another of its three forms of the plural is used. The only way of removing the difficulty, while a meaning is still retained in harmony with the genius of the original language, would be to regard the expression as equivalent to a mass of waters, not in the sense of a sea or of a lake, but the result of the dew of verse 6. There the whole face of the ground is represented as being watered. The moisture would then assume the form of one stream and another, and the whole would be regarded as giving rise to the four heads spoken of in verse 10. Does this view appear far-fetched? There are, however, peculiarities in the verse itself which warrant such a construction. For example, the river is said to go "out of Eden to water the garden,” and yet we know that the garden was in it. Here, then, the words must mean that the water was collected from the territory of which the garden formed a part. Thus, too, singular terms are frequently used to indicate more than one. “And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden” (Genesis iv. 15, 16); but in the next verse we find that his wife was with him. Again, in Genesis x. 11, when information is given of the migration of a tribe or family under the leadership of the founder of one of the greatest cities of those early times, the narrative runs in simple grandeur thus :“Out of that land went forth Asshur and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth and Calah.” It would thus appear that there is no overstraining of this passage in putting such a construction on it as would strengthen the conclusion to which Colonel Chesney has come, as I think, on good grounds, regarding the supposed site of the blessed garden. But perhaps the old poet, whose simple lays