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.