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by Dr. John Thomas
To plant a garden is to fence in a certain piece of land, and to adorn it with fruit and ornamental trees and shrubs.
If unenclosed, and consequently unguarded, it is not a garden.
The name of the plantation implies that its surface was protected from the invasion of the animals, whose habits made them unfit tenants of a garden.
The place, then, was an enclosure, planted with "every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food".
Its situation, Moses says, was "eastward," having a river flowing through it to water it.
I suspect from this, that it lay somewhere between the Gulf of Persia, and the junction of the Euphrates and the Tigris.
The text reads, "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads"; which I should interpret thus: -- a river flowing out of Eden was caused to water the garden on its way to the sea; and from the garden northward, the river diverged into its branches, which terminated at four several heads.
The heads were not in the garden, but at remote distances from it.
The garden of Eden was watered by only one, and not by four rivers; as it is written, "a river went out to water it"; which certainly excludes the four from its enclosure.
In the Septuagint of this text, the word garden is expressed by paravdeiso," which is transferred into our language without translation.
Paradise is a Persian word adopted into the Greek, and expressed in Hebrew by parades or pardes.
It signifies a park, a forest, or preserve; a garden of trees of various kinds, a delightful grove, etc. It is found in these texts: "I made me gardens (paradises) and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits"; and, "A garden enclosed (a paradise) is my sister spouse etc.; thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates," etc. The latter text is part of a description of Solomon's vineyard, representative of that part of Eden over which he reigned; and metaphorical of its beauty, fertility, and glory, when the Heir of the vineyard, the "greater than Solomon," shall come to Zion, and "marry the land" of Eden, as defined in the everlasting covenant made with Abraham.
For so it is written, "Thy land, O Zion, shall no more be termed desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah (ie., my beloved is in her), and thy land Beulah (ie., married): for Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee".
When the marriage, or union, takes place between the sons of Zion, and their king, with the Land of Promise in Eden, it will again become the garden of the Lord, or Paradise, which His own right hand hath planted.
For "the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody".
"Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off".
At that time, "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle tree, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box together: that they (Israel) may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it".
These testimonies reveal a future state in regard to Eden, of which its primitive garden is a beautiful and appropriate representation.
Once the seat of a paradise on a small scale, it is destined to be transformed from its present desolation into "the Paradise of God".
The country of the four rivers, even to the west from sea to sea, is predetermined to shine forth as "the glory of all lands".
Paradise hath no other locality.