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    The Garden of Eden – B’reshit

    “The Garden of Eden” by Thomas Cole, c.1828

    The opening chapters of B’reshit see the creation of the first man and woman with God planting a garden for them to inhabit (Gen 2:8).

    The text says, “God planted a garden in Eden”, indicating that Eden was a place. The name means “delight”. Its situation seems to be near the beginning of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

    It is not certain what is meant by the garden being there mikedem. The Hebrew could mean “from of old”, which is the interpretation of the Targum based on the Midrash. Ibn Ezra says that God planted the garden there before creating man.

    Another possibility is that it means “in the east”, which suggests that Eden was somewhere to the east of Eretz Yisra’el.

    In Jewish theology “Garden of Eden” is one of the names of the World to Come, indicating that after the storm and stress of earthly living the soul will find eternal pleasure in the presence of God.

    Of course this is poetic language which does not literally mean physical delight but spiritual perfection.

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