Genesis 2:10-15

The first creation story spent much energy working on water. It’s slipperiness scootches here and there. Like a flash flood, it is dangerous and chaotic. Taming is in order. The waters are separated above and below and then pushed aside or gathered together.

Here the waters have been tamed. Though their geographic location cannot be calculated back to the source of a mysterious Eden-to-the-East, a cacophonous big-bang, they give us pictures of resource-rich regions.

Confusion continues with one river that splits into four rivers, unlike a watershed where many rivers join into one. This four-fold river flows out from Eden to water the garden (writ large as Earth), which garden is located in Eden. Such circularity reminds us not to get tied to any rational or linear understanding. A tree of knowledge, of any kind, might be envisioned on an island surrounded by Rivers (one and four) rather than Seas. Living between rivers is a much more human-sized space than between waters above and waters below.

The River Pishon leads to Havilah where there is gold (precious metals), bdellium (aromatic resin, like myrrh), and lapis lazuli (precious stones). A question arises about the value of these materials if a “living creature” is in an Edenic setting (a utopia?). Each of these materials, later symbols of wealth and power, seem out of place for a singular one designed to till and watch (over?) Eden. To flaunt such before there is someone to impress speaks to an inherent sense of vanity within androgenous ’adam. It is as though humans are pre-loaded with a yearning for and distractability by such shiny objects.

The Pishon and Gihon rivers are unknown to us. Suggestions have ranged from the Blue Nile to the Ganges. Since I live on the Mississippi, I’ll claim that is is the correct spelling of an Edenic river. You may have another to suggest and to work at keeping clean.

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