Nobody knows where the Garden of Eden was located. Nobody has found the Garden of Eden. Any report that claims otherwise is simply bogus.
We read about the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:8-14:
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The first problem in locating the Garden is “in the east.” East of what? East from where? The phrase is too vague to give us any good information. Probably east of Israel, but how far east? Is that the eastern part of Israel? Is that somewhere in Jordan? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? India? Nobody knows.
We do have more clues, though. A river flowed out of the Garden. We don’t know the name or location of that river, but we do know that it broke into four different rivers or streams after leaving the Garden:
- The Pishon
- The Gihon
- The Tigris
- The Euphrates
The Pishon has never been identified. Some have suggested that it wasn’t a large river, but a smaller stream. We do know that it wound through the entire land of Havilah, so it couldn’t have been very small. Unfortunately, we don’t know where Havilah was, either.
The Gihon has never been identified. Was it big? Small? We don’t know. We know where Cush is: today it’s known as Ethiopia. Many Ethiopians believe that the Gihon is the Abay River, also known as the Blue Nile. If they’re right, that information might be helpful. Of course, Ethiopia is a long, long way south from Israel.
We can locate a modern-day river known as the Tigris. It originates in Turkey, flows between Turkey and Syria, and into Iraq. Modern-day Baghdad sits next to the Tigris. Now, it’s possible that the modern-day Tigris and the ancient Tigris are the same river, but it’s not something we can simply assume to be true. Why? Because of the Great Flood. The land may have changed during the flood. If so, today’s Tigris may not be the one mentioned in Genesis 2.
Another clue is that the Tigris is mentioned one more time in the Bible: in Daniel 10:4:
On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
Daniel’s vision occurred while he was standing next to the Tigris. Where was Daniel at the time? He was a captive in Babylon, which is in modern-day Iraq.
As with the Tigris, we also have a modern-day Euphrates. It seems likely that it’s the same as the ancient river, but it may not be. Today’s Euphrates, like the Tigris, flows from eastern Turkey through Syria and Iraq.
While we’re pretty certain that the Garden of Eden was in the middle east, probably somewhere east of Israel and probably in northern Iraq or in Turkey, that’s about as close as we can get. Tracking the exact location of the Garden is virtually impossible. We have no idea how large the Garden was, so we can only suggest an approximate location in a large area. Was the garden hundreds of miles across? Was it the size of a football field? Was it shaped like a square, or was it long and skinny like many towns located along rivers? We simply don’t have that information.
Thanks for the question, Lee!