The Time of CreationThe Time of Creation: Chapter 11 - The Beginning of the Garden (Genesis 2:8-17)
A Biblical Study Book of Genesis 1:1 - 2:25 From

One of the books in the "Let's Study God's Word Together" series with: Frank L. Hoffman

The Time of Creation - A Biblical Study Book of Genesis 1:1 - 2:25
Chapter 11 - The Beginning of the Garden (Genesis 2:8-17)

Let's continue in our study of The Beginnings of Man, Woman, and the Garden, and specifically on the Beginning of the Garden. Note the further establishment of a personal relationship between God and humans, as we read the following Scripture verses, Genesis 2:8-17, and as usual compare them with other translations.

8. And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.

9. And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided and became four rivers.

11. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.

12. And the gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there.

13. And the name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush.

14. And the name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15. Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

16. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;

17. but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."

As we look at verse 8, we see that God goes another step further in causing the plants to grow. He plants a garden.

The garden was planted in Eden, which means "delight".

And as further proof that God's creation was man or human directed, He placed the man in the garden which He Himself planted.

God did not even initially require the man to till the ground as stated in verse 5. He caused the plants to grow (verse 9).  It is also important to note that this plant life was the only food being presented for man (verse 9).

Here also in verse 9, we see the introduction of two specific trees of obvious importance to God:

The tree of life.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Note specifically, that it is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and not the tree of good and evil. God did not make evil. He made everything for good. Whatever this tree has within its fruit or upon it, it imparted a knowledge of the difference between good and evil, or how to use what God had made for good, and that any other use would be for evil.)

Here, we also need to remember that in verse 9, God didn't say that the tree of life or that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were fruit trees, but only that they grew in the midst of the garden along with the fruit trees.

This is also the setting up of the first test of man's free will obedience toward God.  It is part of the "nature" of creation that God must have previously related to Adam.

God could have created us as robots, but He gave us a free will.  He gave us the ability to choose.  He gave us the ability to obey.  His full reason for this has not been revealed to us as yet, but will be one day in heaven, I believe.

In verse 10, we see what could be considered by some as a discrepancy. "A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden."  If there was no rain and water always flows down hill.  Even ground water needs a higher source of water before it can flow to the surface.  So where did the waters of the river come from?  The answer is in our Bible.  This is not a discrepancy. Let's take a closer look at it.

In verse 5 it states, "the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth".

In verse 6 it states, "But a mist used to rise from the earth to water the whole surface of the ground".

Now in verse 10 it states, "a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden". These verses all seem to say something different. Which one is true? The answer is that they all are true!

The mist is a source of the water, and both the mist and the river water the whole surface of the ground.  But there is something even more peculiar about the river.

We also see here that the river that flowed out of Eden became four rivers. This is the reverse of a normal river. When rain falls and accumulates, it runs along small drainage streams. These come together and become a larger stream. The larger streams come together and form a small river, which in turn it gets bigger and bigger as it flows toward the ocean, for it collects flows from other streams and rivers. This river in verse 10 does the opposite.

For an understanding of where this river comes from, see the source of a future river prophesied be Ezekiel in 47:1-12.

1. Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar.

2. And he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.

3. When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles.

4. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins.

5. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.

6. And he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?"   Then he brought me back to the bank of the river.

7. Now when I had returned, behold, on the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

8. Then he said to me, "These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh.

9. "And it will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there, and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.

10. "And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many.

11. "But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt.

12. "And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing."

And in the days following this prophecy, humanity will come to realize that they do not need to harm or eat the fish, for they will eat of the fruit and plants created by God, and they will be truly healed.

This river started with a trickle (verse 2), and ended as a mighty river (verse 5). It also started within a building, the temple, where there could be no rain. It is a God created river.  It also may be a symbolic spiritual river of life, but that is a subject of discussion for another time.  What is important is for us to understand is that God can cause anything to occur, even if it doesn't have a "logical" answer in this physical world.  The logical conclusion for the source of the Eden river is that it is a creation of God.  And the purpose of the story is not to get us to doubt, but to open our minds to perceive the spiritual realm.

Also see Revelation 22: 1-2.

1. And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,

2. in the middle of the street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for healing of the nations.

This is also obviously a river of God's origin.

In verse 11, we see the dividing of this "river of God".  The first river is called Pishon, pronounced pee-shohn. Its name means "full flowing".

The actual location of the Pishon river is unknown.

We must remember that this river, the garden of Eden, and every other physical feature spoken of in this antediluvian period was altered with the flood.

We also see in this verse that the Pishon flowed around the whole land of Havilah.

The exact location of Havilah is also uncertain, but we do know certain things about it; for example, its name means "twist", or "whirl", thus it could be a "sandy land", as Leupold states.[1] Note as well what we shall see as we look at verse 12.

In verse 12 we see that Havilah has gold in it and that bdellium and onyx are there also.

Continuing with our thought from verse 11, on the location of Havilah, we should note Genesis 25:18, which indicates that it is east and north of Egypt.

18. And they settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria.; he settled in defiance of all his relatives.

Bdellium is a precious gum resin, according to the writings of Josephus, indigenous to India, Arabia, Babylon, and Bactriana.[2] This confirms our previous point that Havilah is to the East.  The Hebrew word used for bdellium is "b'doh-lawkh".

Onyx is a non-transparent variety of agate. The Hebrew word for onyx is "shoh-hawm".

The other precious commodity listed here is the gold, and note specifically the term used to define it. The gold is "good".

God uses this word "good" to describe His creation.  In those days it may have been as pure as that spoken of in Revelation 21:18 and 21.

18. And the material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

21. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each on of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

It also may be that Havilah may be east of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and as a result the Pishon would have flowed generally eastward. 

In verse 13 we see the second river, the Gihon, pronounced "Gee-khohn" in Hebrew.  The meaning of the name Gihon is "the bursting" from the verb meaning "to break forth". Therefore, we might assume that this river had a large amount of water in it, so much so, that it overflowed its banks.

Since Cush refers to Ethiopia, we would expect that the Gihon would have flowed south or southwestward, however, we have no absolute proof.

In verse 14 we see the remaining two of these four rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates.

These seem to be the least important of the four rivers, based of their order of presentation, yet they are very important today, and we cannot identify the other rivers, if they even exist today. And don't forget that today the Tigris and Euphrates are fed from rain fall occurring at the top of the fertile crescent.

The name to the Tigris River in Hebrew is, "Heh-deh-kehl", meaning "the darting", and probably named so for its fast flowing. The Tigris flows to the east of Assyria, but in a southerly direction.

The Euphrates, which flows in a generally parallel direction with the Tigris, is westward from it. The Hebrew name of the Euphrates is "P'rawt", meaning "the sweet".

There are many theories and speculations as to where the exact location of these rivers and regions were actually located. We also do not know for certain that the present locations of the Tigris and the Euphrates are as they were before the flood.

And remember, that none of these things are important to our salvation. The really only important thing to get from this type of study, is to know and understand that God did what He said He did.

There is, however, a very important "type" of the way God deals with us contained in this portion of our study.  These rivers flowed from God to water the land, which was for Man, as well as for the plants and animals.

In the same way, God's salvation, love, and compassion flows to us who were formerly spiritually dry, but once watered with God's living water, we bloom in the fullness of our new birth. There are many who are standing right beside this "living water", and are still reluctant to extend their roots to receive this free gift of eternal life, or to spread their branches to offer God's unlimited love and compassion to all of His creation.

In verse 15 we see that now, and only now, does God place the man in the garden, after it is already planted. God is showing us here that we will have rest in His work, when we freely submit ourselves to His will.

Remember that the garden was already planted by God (verse 9), and it was already watered (verse 6).  Verse 16 further emphasizes the point, in that man may freely eat.  This freely eating is a gift of God.  They even may eat of the tree of life.  See Matthew 11:28-30 in reference to our work with the Lord.

28. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

29. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.

30. "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."

In verse 17 we see that while God has given everything to the man, He places a limitation on man.  The limitation as stated in this verse is not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This is the physical side of this limitation, but the real limitation on man really has nothing to do with the tree itself.   It has to do with man's free will.  God wants our obedience.

In the next part we will see more of God's concern of us.


1. Leupold, H. C., Exposition of Genesis, (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House 1942), 142.

2. Spence, H. D. M. and Exell, Joseph S., editors, The Pulpit Commentary, (Grand Rapids, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), Genesis pg. 45.

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