SPECIAL TOPIC: EDEN (BDB 727)
Eden is a geographical location (i.e., in Sumerian, "steppe" or "flatland"; in Ugaritic, "a plain") in Genesis 2-3, which contained a special garden planted and prepared by God (cf. Gen. 2:8) for His highest creation, mankind (i.e., created in the image and likeness, cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6). The special garden is alluded to in Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 28:13; 31:9,16,18 (twice); 36:35; and Joel 2:3.
Apparently the word means "abundance" from an Aramaic root. In Hebrew (BDB 727 III, KB 792 II) the root means "delight" or "pleasure" (lit). After Genesis the term becomes a metaphor for a well watered, fruitful place.
The Garden of Eden came to represent the time of perfect fellowship between God and mankind. It, therefore, becomes imagery used of heaven (cf. Revelation 21-22).
For me, I have come to believe the creation of humanity and Eden were recent (i.e., 40,000-15,000 b.c.), not initial. This is called "progressive creationism." At this point in my life, it is a way to allow the Bible to assert the "Who" and Why" of creation and allow modern science to inform me of the "how" and "when." I am not offended by "evolution," but by "naturalism"!
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