The Deeper Hebrew Meaning of the ‘Garden of Eden’


In the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, there appears for the first time
a reference about the ‘Garden of Eden.’  Let’s have a look:

“And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.” (Genesis 2:8-11)

The etymological origins of the Hebrew word ‘Eden’ {עדן} – pronounced as ‘Eeden’ in Hebrew – are not completely clear.  This is why there are a couple of different speculations with regard to the actual meaning of this well-known Hebrew term.

The Hebrew root ‘A-D-N’ {ע-ד-נ}, from which the word ‘Eden’ is derived can be found in other references in the Hebrew Bible, such as in the story of Sarah when she heard the news about Isaac:

“So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
There the original Hebrew word for ‘pleasure’ is ‘Ednah’ {עדנה} – which comes from the same root as ‘Eden.’  If we will compare this to what is written in Psalms:

“They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” (Psalm 36:8)

There the original Hebrew word for ‘delights’ is ‘Ada’necha’ {עדניך} which derives from the same root as well. Therefore, it would be safe to assume that the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘Eden’ has something to do with ‘pleasure’or ‘delight.’

Moreover, the Hebrew word for ‘delicate’ is ‘Me’udan’ {מעודן} – which comes from the same root as well.  The initial Latin meaning of ‘delicate’ (‘delicatus’ in Latin) is ‘something that gives pleasure’ (compare with ‘delicious’ – food that is so tasty it gives one pleasure).

This is why it is no surprise to discover the Hebrew term for ‘Heaven’ or ‘Paradise’ is in fact ‘Gan Eden’ {גן עדן} – meaning the Garden of Eden…