Africa, the Garden of Eden
Christians who are looking for the remaining remnants of the Garden of Eden need look no further than the continent of Africa. According to the Original African Heritage Study Bible the ancestral home of man, that is Adam humanity’s common ancestor, was somewhere in Africa. Using biblical evidence, supportive academic references, and common sense the Original African Heritage Study Bible shows that Africa is the land associated with the beginnings of Eden in the Bible. Readers today, however, must understand that in biblical times “Africa” included much of what is now called the Middle East and that the word means “land of the Afri”, a group of people that lived near the ancient Roman city of Carthage in what is now the country of Tunisia.
To prove that the Garden of Eden was on the continent of Africa we must consider these three main points:
First, we must consider the maps of ancient biblical lands. The Bible never mentions once the lands of either England or Germany. However, African nations are mentioned again and again. The Old Testament alone contains over forty references to Ethiopia and over one hundred references to Egypt. Even ancient sources, biblical and non-biblical, mention both Ethiopia and Egypt together long before either country was on any map.
Second, the Bible provides extensive evidence that the earliest people were located in Africa. The Garden of Eden account, found in Genesis 2:8-14, indicates that the first two rivers of Eden were in ancient Cush, the term the Greeks would later transpose as “Aithiops” or Ethiopia, which literally means “burnt face people”. Genesis 2:11-12 connects the Pishon River with Havilah, a direct descendant of Cush (Genesis 10:7). The Gihon River is cited in Genesis 2:13 as the second river in Eden surrounding the whole land of Cush/Ethiopia. Clearly, wherever else “Eden” extended at least a part of Eden lay in Africa.
Third, the ancient land of Canaan was but an extension of the African land mass. In biblical times African people frequently migrated from the continent proper through Canaan/Palestine to the east toward the so-called “Fertile Crescent” of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers of ancient Mesopotamia. This helps us to appreciate the term Afro-Asiatic as correctly identifying the mixed stock of people who populated the ancient Near East. Although Europeans (Greeks and Romans) appear in the more recent biblical narratives of the New Testament, the fact remains that the earliest biblical people, at least by modern Western standards of race, would have been Black–they were of African descent and possessed African physical features.
Genesis 2:10-14 clearly identifies the location of four key rivers. The first two rivers are the Pishon and the Gihon, both of which were closely associated with the ancient land the Hebrews called Cush and the Greeks later called Ethiopia. The Hiddikal (Tigris) and the Euphrates are the second pair of rivers, which originate in southeastern Turkey and flow through present-day Syria and Iraq. The Tigris and Euphrates ran parallel through ancient Mesopotamia and comprised much of the area known as the Fertile Crescent. Biblically, it is identified as “the garden planted eastward in Eden.” The important thing to note here is that there are two very distinct land areas identified in the naming of these rivers, namely northeastern Africa and the Middle East. However, up until the nineteenth century these two land areas were connected. The completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 introduced a manmade separation that has affected not only the land but its cultural and social fabric as well. World War II correspondents popularized the term “Middle East” for the portion of land separated from the main portion of the African continent. Prior to these events, much of this area was known as northeast Africa or the Near East.
We also see in Genesis that the garden was planted “eastward in Eden” between the Nile and the Euphrates. This means that the whole region, of which this garden was only a part, was called Eden. In Hebrew Eden means “pleasure” or “delight”-in other words “paradise”. It stands to reason that if the region from which the biblical Garden of Eden extends was known then as northeast Africa, then no one should have any problem accepting Africa as the cradle of civilization. Eden, “land of pleasure and delight”, was a place of special joy to its Creator. In a portion of this delightful place God placed humankind, God’s ultimate creation, Adam, made in God’s own image and likeness.