|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:8-14 The place fixed upon for Adam to dwell in, was not a palace, but a garden. The better we take up with plain things, and the less we seek things to gratify pride and luxury, the nearer we approach to innocency. Nature is content with a little, and that which is most natural; grace with less; but lust craves every thing, and is content with nothing. No delights can be satisfying to the soul, but those which God himself has provided and appointed for it. Eden signifies delight and pleasure. Wherever it was, it had all desirable conveniences, without any inconvenience, though no other house or garden on earth ever was so. It was adorned with every tree pleasant to the sight, and enriched with every tree that yielded fruit grateful to the taste and good for food. God, as a tender Father, desired not only Adam's profit, but his pleasure; for there is pleasure with innocency, nay there is true pleasure only in innocency. When Providence puts us in a place of plenty and pleasure, we ought to serve God with gladness of heart in the good things he gives us. Eden had two trees peculiar to itself. 1. There was the tree of life in the midst of the garden. Of this man might eat and live. Christ is now to us the Tree of life, Re 2:7; 22:2; and the Bread of life, Joh 6:48,51. 2. There was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so called because there was a positive revelation of the will of God about this tree, so that by it man might know moral good and evil. What is good? It is good not to eat of this tree. What is evil? It is evil to eat of this tree. In these two trees God set before Adam good and evil, the blessing and the curse.
Verse 13. - And the name of the second is the Gihon, or "the bursting," from גֵּיחַ, to break forth. "Deep-flowing," T. Lewis renders it, connecting it with ὡκεανός, and identifying it with Homer's βαθυῥῤόος Ωκεανός. The same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia (Cush). Under the impression that the African Cush was meant, the Alexandrine Jews discovered the Gihon in the Nile - an opinion in which they have been followed by Schulthess, Gesenius, Furst, Bertheau, Kalisch, and others. But Cush, it is now known, describes the entire region between Arabia and the Nile, and in particular the southern district of the former lying between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Hence Tayler Lewis finds the Gihon in the ocean water sweeping round the south coast of Arabia. Murphy detects the name Kush in the words Caucasus and Caspian, and, looking for the site of Eden about the sources of the Euphrates and the Tigris in Armenia, thinks the Gihon may have been the leading stream flowing into the Caspian. Delitzsch advocates the claim of the Araxis to be this river.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the name of the second river is Gihon,.... There was one of this name in the land of Israel, which, or a branch of it, flowed near Jerusalem, 1 Kings 1:33 this Aben Ezra suggests is here meant, and which favours the notion of the above learned man, that the garden of Eden was in the land of Israel. Josephus (h) takes it to be the river Nile, as do many others; it seems to have been a branch of the river Euphrates or Tigris, on the eastern side, as Phison was on the west; and so Aben Ezra says it came from the south east. The learned Reland (i) will have it to be the river Araxes: it has its name, according to Jarchi, from the force it goes with, and the noise it makes. And it seems to have its name from which signifies to come forth with great force, as this river is said to do, when it pours itself into the Baltic sea.
The same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia; either Ethiopia above Egypt; and this favours the notion of those who take Gihon to be the Nile: for Pausanias (k) says, that it was commonly reported that the Nile was Euphrates, which disappearing in a marsh, rose up above Ethiopia, and became the Nile, and so washed that country, and is thought to agree very well with the Mosaic account: or else that Cush or Ethiopia, which bordered on Midian, and was a part of Arabia, and may be called Arabia Chusea, often meant by Cush in Scripture. Reland (l) thinks the country of the Cossaeans or Cussaeans, a people bordering on Media, the country of Kuhestan, a province of Persia, is intended. (After the global destruction of Noah's flood, it is doubtful that the location of these rivers could be determined with any degree of certainty today. Ed.)
(h) Antiqu, l. 1. c. 1. sect. 3. Philostorg. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 10. p. 482. (i) De situ Paradisi, p. 32. (k) Corinthiaca sive, l. 2. p. 94. (l) Ut supra, (De situ Paradisi) p. 38.
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