Expulsion from the Garden of Eden by Cole Thomas
“A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. – Genesis 2:10-14 (NIV)
This verse has intrigued me as a hydrologist and geomorphologist for many years. It describes a somewhat strange thing — A river which splits into four parts. This is the opposite of what most rivers do. Most rivers have branches or tributaries that join to become larger rivers and have more branches near their headwaters than near their mouths. There are a few places where rivers do split, in particular braided rivers have many channels but they commonly rejoin each other and cannot be considered separate rivers. In Australia they have a form of river referred to as an “anabranching river” which does split into many channels that do not recombine, perhaps this is similar to what is being described here. There is one other way that four rivers could originate from one location and that is a large lake with four outlets, although rare this is possible. The only two rivers which appear to still exist of the original four rivers described are the Tigris and the Euphrates, both of which are located in present day Iraq. When examining this area in Google Earth it certainly looks like the most fertile area in the region and could have been the location where four rivers originated. There is even what appears to be evidence for a lake in the area, based on the fertile land and changes in color. As I read this description it appears to be describing Eden as existing somewhere in present day northeast Syria or northern Iraq (see image below).
Prayer: God grant me the wisdom to see and understand the meaning behind your choice of origin for your people.