#5. Is the river Gihon in Ethiopia OR the outskirts of Jerusalem? (Gen 2:13 vs 2 Chr 32:30)


Two of the four named rivers of the mythic Eden—the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon, and Gihon—are well known. Pishon, however, cannot be identified and Gihon, whose name means “gusher,” is given two very different geographical locations in the Bible. On the one hand, Genesis 2:13 informs us that Gihon circles the land of Cush, which is Ethiopia (Gen 10:6). 2 Chronicles 32:30, however, informs us that it was a river spring near Jerusalem which supplied the city with its water, and that “it was Hezekiah who stopped up the spring of water of upper Gihon, leading it downward west of the city of David.”

Some scholars, however, have argued that the use of the term Cush not only identifies the land of Ethiopia, a Hebrew homonym, but also the country of the Kassites in Mesopotamia, pronounced Kushshu in the Nuzi documents. The Mesopotamian country of the Kassites is, nevertheless, still quite some distance from Jerusalem. And Hezekiah certainly did not draw water from Mesopotamia during the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 702 BC, which is the historical context for 2 Chronicles 32:30. At any rate, and congruent with Near Eastern literary parallels, the biblical Eden is an ideal geography, and its four rivers symbolic for the life-giving fertility that flows out to the rest of the world from this mythic paradise.

This is not the only occurrence of a biblical author making a geographical error. We will encounter other examples of this sort.

18 thoughts on “#5. Is the river Gihon in Ethiopia OR the outskirts of Jerusalem? (Gen 2:13 vs 2 Chr 32:30)

  1. The Gihon river flowed to Etheopia before the great flood, but when the earth’s plates shifted, and the underground cisterns were broken up, an ocean of water and steam flowed out, seperating Ethiopia from Arabia, creating the red sea and likely the medeterranian sea as well. Certainly, those who crossed the Red Sea understood that this sea did not exist before the flood. It’s only unbelievers who did not know about the shifting of contenents until the 20th century AD.

  2. No! I believe in Yahushuwa Hamasiach and his grace. And every man and woman, boy and girl who takes up their stake and follow him will be saved, Jesus Christ as I recall is a European creation exploited for military purposes. He has nothing to do with the son of the living God in the bible. UNDERSTAND.

  3. If you look at the globe you can see the broken puzzle. Isaiah 55: 8,9 sums up everything. With all due love and respect my friend. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Receive His Gift of pardon and you will be saved from eternal fire.

  4. The Talmud in Berachos, 10b, talks about the river Gichon and the great, Jewish scholar, Rashi, comments there that there were two Gichons, one smaller and one larger. Please check your facts before making outlandish claims.

  5. Yes I actually think the Israels today aren’t the old ones, they could be those tanned. Queen Sheba doesn’t use to only rule Ethiopia; Yemen and so was hers and she went to Israel met with King Solomon then got admired by her beauty and so then had a son; King Menelik 1. I think the Israels could be those brown skins like Ethiopians (they had pretty strong relationship I’m King Solom days) haha not too sure. And they were Jews lived in Ethiopia since anged they still live and called Felashas.

    About The Garden of Eden, no one could ever know about it. Its confusing and also since 2 Gihons are mentioned (I’m guessing, but I know for sure about the Gihon that sourrounds the land of Kush).

  6. Nowhere in the KJV bible is the word spring used re the Gihon. What you must remember is that there are about 50 versions of the Christian bible all written to generate confusion to hide the fact that the Hebrew people are Africans and that Israel in the bible is not the Israel of today. And to hide the origin of the Ashkenazi Khazars who call themselves Jews but are East Europeans who had to travel up the Gihon to Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia) to study Geez in order to identify where to put the vowels points in the modern day Hebrew they invented to replace there Yiddish.

  7. And in the bible it’s said that main river created to water the garden was created from the east; spring of Gihon (Jerusallems) isn’t in the east, but Gihon river is (Ethiopia is located in the east) the other 3 rivers, do anyone know where they start from? The only clear message I see from the bible is the word ‘Gihon that surrounds the Kushs land, and that Gihon the only river that’s surrounds that part is the Blue Nile now. Probably Eden is found somewhere in the middle of Kushs land :L

  8. A reminder, if the Gihon river is to be said that its a flow from the main river that God created, then it’s wrong because Gihon (So called Blue Nile now) is not a flow from anywhere it starts from Ethiopia and goes up to Kushs land (which is now little bit of Ethiopia and Sudan on the map) and so on.

  9. I absolutely agree Terry Knez. At the end of the day, all the ants and the multiple voices expressing and postulating their views will be gone. Too many voices in this world. The Bible text will stand.

    1. And yet, this is exactly what the Bible (a 2nd century AD creation) is—multiple voices expressing multiple, varying, and even competing and contradictory views. Indeed, let’s start being honest to this collection of ancient texts and their voices—not that homogenous voice which is implied and imposed by this centuries-later label “the Book”!

  10. Gihon could have easily have flowed from Turkey, where the Tigris and Euphrates originate, followed the River Jordan past Jerusalem and down along were the Red Sea is by Ethiopia. The great flood could have then have resulted in the Red Sea we see today.

  11. Steven, Thank you for your response & information. I guess the best way to describe me right now is I have the audacity to question everything. At 18 I questioned how Jerusalem/Israel would ever become “A cup of trembling.” I was pumping gas at $0.25/gal regular, and $o.33/gal premium…and now today? I once read where a rather intelligent man said he didn’t mind criticism, as long as it allowed him to find the truth, and find that a rather appealing. To a large degree I see society looking at the “effect”, and thinking it’s the “cause.” So I’m reverting back to what I know works…Biblical principles.
    I’ve read your paper on the contradictions in the Bible. How does the fact that other cultures who wrote of similar events make the biblical account not true/mythical? How does the fact that archaelogical evidence says something conflicting make that document more valie?…who’s doing the interpretation, and how certain are we the “evidence” is valid? Couldn’t the writers of conflicting archaeological documents have the same bias you ascribe to the biblical authors? I guess I’m saying as with our current society, we tend to minimize those things that will make us look bad, and accentuate those that make us look good. e.g. Heen taught history years ago, I don’t recognize the same history as it’s being taught to my grand kids today. There is such a wide chasm between science & religion that I view any “findings” of either with a rather skeptically. That being said, how does one look at the findings of any ancient document and, with certainity conclude it’s true…particularly if the one who wrote it, as well as the one reviewing it has his/her own axe to grind in its content/interpretation? Hence, my audacity to challenge anything today.
    At 18, I concluded that we all could go our own way, and have a very amicable world…and did. Fifty years later, and much /world grief, have had to conclud “there is a way which seems right unto man…the end of which is destruction.” And that the general concepts presented in the Bible will offer a more gratifying life (on earth), as well as offer one in the hereafter.

  12. Have done a little study of the Eden river complex. Gihon could be both the spring @ Jerusalem, and have been the source of the “that flowed from it.” I read where Assyrian cuniform tablets describe their armies went to war with Egypt in ancient times, and fought at the Great Egyptian river. After they were successful they travelled west and fought another battle at the Nile. Would indicate that at one time the Great Egyptian River wasn’t the Nile. Somewhere east would place the first battle @ the area of the Red Sea…which is a natural channel caused by The Great Rift…extending from Syria on the north and going through the Red Sea, across the western African continent, and out into the ocean. About the middle of the Saudi Peninsula there seems to be a dry riverbed channel cutting accross easterly towards the Persian Gulf. If Gihon actually “gushed” in huge quantities at that time, water coming from it would run both north towards Syria, and south through the current Red Sea (along The Great Rift) and the water would have been fresh. Review some of the largest lakes in Africa (along the rift…they are fresh water). The quantity of water coming from any source had to be extremely large if it supplied the headwaters for 4 rivers. Large rivers normally don’t form headwaters for others, they are made up of many smaller tributaries. Read the accounts of the Flood and you will see that it not only rained 40 days/nights, but the fountains of the deep opened up, implying a huge water source there….maybe from Gihon Spring and others.
    I don’t subscribe to the notion that the Garden of Eden was just north of the Persian Gulf. Genesis says the river flowed from the Garden and became the headwaters of 4 rivers. Looking at the Tigris & Euphrates in relation to a river eminating from a garden located in that area, to flow from the garden and include those rivers these rivers would have to have reversed their course…flowing north instead of their current southeastern flow. Further in the northern hemisphere rivers flow generally south…like these do now. I believe the Garden was somewhere near the Temple Mount of today and the Gihon Spring was at one time gushing huge quantities of water, like the account of the flood indicated some of the fountains of the deep were able to provide. Gihon would not only provided waters for the 4 rivers of Eden’s time, but still be an intermittent spring of David’s time…about 1000 years later.

    1. Terry, thanks for the contribution. As I noted to another reader, there may have been some confusion about Gihon’s location or indeed there may have been two Gihon’s. But what I find particularly disturbing in your response is that it is all predicated on a faulty, and erroneous, modern assumption—namely that the biblical scribes, here as elsewhere, were recording historical fact. Nothing could be further from the truth, and further from a knowledge of ancient literature on a broader scale. The garden of Eden story is a myth, and more so the biblical story is adopted from a literary genre that is also found in other ancient Near Eastern cultures. Ditto for the flood narratives—plural—in Genesis. See contradiction #14-18. When modern readers try to rationalize these accounts by historicing them, they become negligent of the authors’ own cultural and literary worlds and in the end are guilty of imposing modern misconceptions onto these ancient narratives.

      You might also be interested in How we know that the biblical scribes were NOT written history.

    1. Indeed. And some of these early contradictions may be tenuous or trivial — my attempt at being thorough. More interesting and theologically vexing are on their way….

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