For example, Tiglath-Pileser I, who ruled the Assyrian Empire from 1114–1046 BC, wrote in his annals, “I brought cedars, boxwood, and allakanish-trees from the countries which I have subdued, trees the like of which none of the kings, my ancient fathers, had ever planted, and I planted them in the gardens of my land. I took rare garden plants, which were not found in my own land, and caused them to flourish in the gardens of Assyria.”
Its branching into four streams suggests completeness and universality, for the text mentions not only the Tigris and Euphrates of Mesopotamia, but also the Nile of North Africa and the Indus of Asia.
Scholars debate the exact location of these headwaters, with some favoring the mountains of Armenia and others the Persian Gulf.
Since the portrayal in Genesis conforms to the ANE view of land sitting upon subterranean waters (Ps 24:1–2), Moses applied a cosmic motif—with the rivers flowing from Eden bringing life-giving water to the world—rather than a scientific description.
Furthermore, the 18th century BC palace of Zimri-Lim in modern day Syria depicts the concept of four streams flowing from a temple to water the four corners of the earth. A fresco shows two goddesses holding jars with four streams of water flowing from each of them in different directions.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Read Gen 2:8-14. What did God provide for Adam? How did Eden resemble a temple? What effect should living with God as the center of our existence have upon us?
[Click here to go to Chapter 5: A View from the Ground (Genesis 2:4–25)]
 Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 2:14.
Walton, Genesis, 166.
Parks and Gardens UK: Knowledge, Inspiration, Conservation, “Tiglath-Pileser I and the Passion He Shared with William Robinson,” https://parksandgardensuk.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/tiglath-pileser-i-the-passion-he-shared-with-william-robinson/. This site has some good photos of Assyrian reliefs.
Tiglath-Pileser I, “Prism Inscription (History of First Five Years of Reign” in ARAB, 1:72–91, section 254, 87, https://archive.org/stream/LuckenbillAncientRecordsAssyria01/Luckenbill_Ancient_Records_Assyria01#page/n101/mode/2up.
 Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “tāwek,” BDB, 1063, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/1062/mode/2up.
 Walton, Genesis, 193.
 Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3, 83–4.
James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt (ARE), 5 Vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1906), Sections 215–20, 4:121–3, https://archive.org/details/BreastedJ.H.AncientRecordsEgyptAll5Vols1906.
Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, 76.
Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 64–5.
 Hamilton, Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 168.
Lifsa Schachter, “The Garden of Eden as God’s First Sanctuary,” JBQ 41, no. 2 (2013): 73–7, 74, https://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+garden+of+Eden+as+god’s+first+sanctuary.-a0323259066.
Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 66.
Walton, Genesis, 126.
Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 66.
Walton, Genesis, 167–8.
“Poems About Baal and Anath,” in ANET, 4:20–2, 133, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n157/mode/2up.
Walton, Genesis, 169.
Wikimedia Commons, “File: Investiture Zimri Lim Louvre Diagram TT.” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Investiture_Zimri_Lim_Louvre_diagram_TT.JPG. You can view the photo from which this diagram was created at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mari_fresco_Investiture_Zimri_Lim_0209.jpg.