In his book, the Antiquities of the Jews, Roman-Jewish scholar Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD),  in his description of the four rivers of the Bible, the Pishon, Gihon, the Tigris and the Euphrates, stated that the unidentified river Pishon was either the Indus river or the Ganges, while the Gihon was the Nile. 

Though it is often assumed that the Garden and Eden are the same place, many rabbis hold the view that the verse which states ,”.. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden. From there it divided and became four major rivers” suggests that the garden and Eden are two different places.

The Genesis further states in Verse 2:11, “…The name of the first is Pishon, the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where the gold is. And the gold of that land is good. There is bdellium and the onyx stone. The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel, the one that flows east of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Perat.”

Josephus interpretation is quoted here, ” Now the garden was watered by one river, which ran round about the whole earth, and was parted into four parts. And Phison, which denotes a multitude, running into India, makes its exit into the sea, and is by the Greeks called Ganges…. And Geon runs through Egypt, and denotes what arises from the east, which the Greeks call Nile”.

In his book Atlantis the Final Solution: A Scientific History of Humanity, author Zia Abbas states, ” … the most important point about the above verse is that it tells that in Havilah, onyx stone was found, onyx is a marble like stone which is only found in present day Pakistan … Also the Indian subcontinent …has been known for thousands of years, as a place where good quality gold is found. Many invaders and conquerors had only attacked India for the gold…”. 

On the Indus, close to Haripur stands a town by the name Havelian which some say may be the Havilah that the Genesis refers to. The bdellium mentioned in the verse is the guggul tree which grows commonly in the Indian sub-continent.

Steven J. Gold states in his book ‘Yoga and Judaism‘, “…There’s an opinion that the one (river) called Pishon, was the Ganges. These are not far-out New Age interpretations, this is coming from traditional Jewish commentators. The Pishon/Ganges surrounded the land of Havilah, believed to be a reference to India. Another fascinating description in the same section referring to the Pishon/Ganges and Havilah/India, refers to Havilah as land of good gold, ‘bedolach’ and ‘shoham’ stone. Jumping ahead to Exodus …..  there is a lot of detail about the vestments of the High priests. Part of the vestments was a breast plate…. There were many items on the breast plate including stones representing each of the twelve tribes, and a stone for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The same shoham stones mentioned as coming from the land of Havilah/India in Genesis were included on the breast plate and the two shoulder straps attached to it…”.

The priest’s breast plate was not only ornamental,  it was functional. It served as an oracle and would spell out the answers that the priest could gauge by studying the manner in which the Indian shoham stones on the breast plate would light up.

Steven Gold links the word ‘shoham’ to the Sanskrit ‘soham’ and links it to the soham mantra which means , “That I am,  I am that.” He says, “Shoham certainly sounds like soham.  In fact in Biblical Hebrew, the same consonants would be used for the two words, with the only difference being the placement of a dot above the first letter… “.

The Abarim Publications site, which has published thousands of articles on Bible study from all kinds of angles but mostly from a scientific point of view states, “Many enthusiasts have wondered where the Garden of Eden might have been located, and since the Bible mentions that two of its rivers were the mighty Tigris of Assyria and Euphrates of Babylon (Genesis 2:14), it was at some point concluded that Paradise must have been in Mesopotamia. But this assumption is obviously based on an error, because one of the other two Paradisal rivers (even the first or oldest two) flows through Africa, namely the Gihon, which flows around the whole land of Cush, which is Nubia (Genesis 2:13). The fourth (or rather the first or oldest) is the Pishon, which flows around Havilah. Where Havilah might have been is unclear, but the Pishon may very well have been the Indus River“.

There is no known etymology of Pishon, though in Hebrew the name Pishon could be derived from פוש (push) meaning to spring about or to be scattered. In Sanskrit the closest cognates are Ishan (इषन्) meaning ‘pouring out’. The name Pishon is interpreted as “the great effusion”, the river is described as a “reminder of God’s abounding grace”. In Sanskrit, a cognate of Pishon is ‘poshin’ (पोषिन्) which means ‘nurturing’ which is the equivalent of ‘God’s abounding grace’.

About the location of Havilah, Tse Tsan-tai (1872-1938) one of the earliest Chinese revolutionaries of the late Qing Dynasty wrote in his book named ‘The Creation, the Garden of Eden and the Origin of the Chinese’, published in 1914 that based on the geographical description in the Bible it is evident that the Garden of Eden was located in China and that Havilah was India. Here is a map from his book: .

According to Chinese scholar Tse Tsan-tai the land of Havilah is India

And there is much truth in what Tse Tsan-tai claimed.                                                                                          …… continued here.

Suggested Readings:

1. Judaism and Yoga by Steven J. Gold
2. Abarim Publications


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