THE TOPOGRAPHY OF EDEN
A. In Genesis 2, we learn that “Eden” was made up of at least three distinct but interrelated areas: 1) the region of Eden; 2) the Garden of Eden; and 3) the mountain of Eden. In Genesis 2 it is not explicitly stated that there was a mountain called Eden. However, we can infer from Genesis 2 that there was some sort of elevated terrain to the west of the Garden also called Eden, from which water flowed downward into the Garden. Other parts of Scripture do explicitly make clear that there was a very special and holy mountain in Eden.
Genesis 2:8-10 (NIV)
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden (Garden of Eden) in the east , in Eden (the region in which the Garden was planted); and there (in the Garden of Eden) he put the man he had formed. 9 And 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. 10 A river ( downward movement from higher elevation) watering the garden flowed from Eden (Eden also a high place to the west of the Garden, a mountain); from there it was separated into four headwaters.
B. Ezekiel 28 states explicitly that there was a mountain in Eden. This was called the “holy mountain of God.” Near or on this mountain were stones of fire. Satan walked among these stones before he was expelled from the mountain. I am sure it was a mountain of unimaginable beauty and splendor, full of God’s fire, light, and glory. I believe this mountain was where God’s earthly throne was located.
Ezekiel 28:11-19 (ESV)
11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre (anti-Christ – king over Tyre and ten other nations in the last days – possessed by Satan and under Satan’s control, cf. Is. 13-22, Ezek. 25-30, Dan. 7, Rev. 12-13; to speak to one is to speak to the other), and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire,emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you (ESV alternative “banished you”),O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. 18 By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. 19All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever”(cf. Rev. 19-20).
C. God had a nice mountain top view of the Garden. Sometimes I just love watching my children play in the living room while I sit on my recliner – my “throne.” Watching them brings me great joy (most of the time). From this mountain, God would have enjoyed watching His children Adam and Eve tend, care for, and receive the enjoyments of the Garden. But He couldn’t stay up on the mountain too long. His desire for closeness to His image bearers brought Him down the mountain for regular walks with His children.
Genesis 3:8 (NIV)
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…
D. Was this mountain taken up into the heavens sometime after the Fall? Perhaps. This might be a logical inference from Revelation 21.
Revelation 21:10-11 (ESV)
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
E. A friend of mine shared with me once his view that the tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple were built according to a pattern that similarly existed in Eden. This makes sense to me in light of the three-fold structure of the tabernacle and temple, and the three-fold structure of the Garden. In the temple, you had three main sections: the outer courts, the holy place, and the holy of holies, where God sat enthroned between the cherubim and seraphim. In Eden, you had the broader region of Eden, the Garden of Eden, and the mountain of Eden, where God’s throne was located. Both the temple and the Garden had an eastward orientation in their design. Also, both were the place where God’s fiery and glorious presence was visible, accessible, and manifest in a special way.
Exodus 25:21-22 (NIV)
21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. 22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.
2 Samuel 6:1-2 (ESV)
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim (NIV – “who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark”).
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (NIV)
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord.
Genesis 4:13-14 (NIV)
13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land (the region of Eden), and I will be hidden from your presence (the Garden complex of Eden where the mountain of God could be seen); I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
Diagram 2: The Edenic Temple Complex