July 15, 2004  (STAR) LIVING ALIVE By Dero Pedero  -  I recently got a forwarded e-mail from a college buddy, Onie Mayo, that got me really intrigued. It was entitled "Iraq – Very Interesting – Did you know?" I bet this piece has been doing the rounds of the Internet especially during the height of the "shock and awe" US-Iraq war. The message claims that:

"The Garden of Eden was in Iraq. Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, was the cradle of civilization! Noah built the ark in Iraq. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq! Isaac’s wife Rebekah was from Nahor, which is in Iraq. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq. Jonah preached in Nineveh – which is in Iraq. Assyria, which is in Iraq, conquered the 10 tribes of Israel. Amos cried out in Iraq! Babylon (Iraq) destroyed Jerusalem.

"Daniel was in the lion’s den in Iraq! The three Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq. Belshazzar, King of Babylon, saw the "writing on the wall" in Iraq. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried Jews captive into Iraq. Ezekiel preached in Iraq. The wise men were from Iraq. Peter preached in Iraq. The "Empire of Man" described in Revelation is called Babylon (Iraq)! Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible and Iraq is second.

"However, the names used in the Bible to refer to Iraq include Babylon, Land of Shinar, Mesopotamia, and Assyria. Mesopotamia means between two rivers, i.e., the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Iraq means country with deep roots. Iraq is indeed a country with deep roots and very significant in the Bible. Here’s why!

"Eden was in Iraq – Genesis 2:10-14. Adam and Eve were created in Iraq – Genesis 2:7-8. Satan made his first recorded appearance in Iraq – Genesis 3:1-6. Nimrod established Babylon, and the Tower of Babel was built in Iraq – Genesis 10:8-97& 11:1-4. The confusion of the languages took place in Iraq – Genesis 11:5-11. Abraham came from a city in Iraq – Genesis 11:31& Acts 7:2-4. Isaac’s bride came from Iraq – Genesis 24:3-4 & 10. Jacob spent 20 years in Iraq – Genesis 27:42-45 & 31:38.

"The first world Empire was in Iraq – Daniel 1:1-2& 2:36-38. The greatest revival in history was in a city in Iraq – Jonah 3. The events in the book of Esther took place in Iraq – Esther. The book of Nahum was a prophecy against a city in Iraq – Nahum. The book of Revelation prophesied against Babylon (Iraq) – Revelation 17-18. No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy than Iraq.

And here’s the clincher – "America is typically represented by an eagle. Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages. The following verse is from the Qur’an, the Islamic Bible, (9:11): For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair, still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace. (Note the verse number 9:11!)"

The Garden Of Eden

I must confess that I know the back of my hands better than I know the Bible so I did a little bit of research. About the location of Eden, Genesis 2 (10-15) was very specific:

"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good: There is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

The word Eden in Hebrew means delight, luxury, pleasure, as well as paradise. A similar word in Sumerian E.DIN and in Akkadian Edinu means plain such as the flat area between two rivers.

The fourth river mentioned in Genesis, Euphrates, is easy to identify; so is Hiddekel. Hid means river and Idikla (thus Hiddekel) was another name for the Tigris, and its location was so clearly specified as going toward the east of Assyria (old name of Iraq). This is why most people believe that Eden was located in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley or somewhere in present day Iraq.

But identifying the rivers of Pison and Gihon has puzzled researchers for many years. Pison is supposed to encompass the gold rich land of Havilah, and Gihon is supposed to run through the whole of Ethiopia (the Nile?).

There is no consensus on the exact geographical location of the Garden of Eden, but several sites have been suggested. Archaeologist David Rohl claims to have located the site in a "lush valley beneath an extinct volcano in Iran." Others have suggested it lies under the waters of the Persian Gulf, and Latter-Day Saints Apostle John A. Widtsoe wrote that the Garden of Eden was actually in Jackson County, Missouri, USA!

So Where Was Eden?

No one really knows for sure where the Garden of Eden was (or is, now). After the Great Deluge, there were tremendous upheavals and down drafts. Riverbeds shifted and enormous deposits of silt, rocks, uprooted trees and flood debris changed the geography of the area. It is possible that the rivers Pison and Gihon could have disappeared after the flood.

The four specific geographical landmarks mentioned by the Bible are: Ethiopia, Hiddekel (Tigris), Euphrates and Assyria. All of these point to the location of Eden as being near the Tigris-Euphrates area. If ever the Garden of Eden was indeed in Iraq’s territory, it would today be buried deep under the huge land deposits left by the great flood.

The Cradle Of Civilization

Most of what the e-message claims seems to be supported by the Bible – about Noah, the Tower of Babel, Isaac, Nimrod, Esther, etc. I didn’t check all the claims for they were too numerous. But this I found out– much of the pre-flood events in the Bible indeed happened in Babylon, Land of Shinar, Mesopotamia, and Assyria – the old names of Iraq!

The Ancient Middle East was the cradle of civilization as we know it. Between 4,000-3,000 BC, the Sumerians created the first known civilization in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley. The Fertile Crescent stretching from the Tigris-Euphrates in the east to the Mediterranean in the West became the Crossroads of the World: It commanded access to three continents – Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Mesopotamia was the name given by the Greeks to the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates while Babylonia referred to the southern portion of the neck of the two rivers. The highly developed Sumerian city states were Ur, Erech and Kish. They had cuneiform, papyrus and clay tablet writings.

Sumerian architecture used the arch, the dome or vault, and built sewers beneath their buildings. They had ziggurats or temples constructed on man-made hills. They developed algebra and had a numerical system based on the number 60 (360 degrees, 1 degree, also 1 hour = 60 minutes, 1 minute = 60 seconds) which we still use today. They practiced divination and astrology, and their religion was polytheistic.

The great city of Babylon was built on the Euphrates in 1800 BC. They had a stern sense of justice enforced by the Hammurabi’s Law Code of 282 laws, had fair treatment of women, and established an advanced business society.

In 1,100 BC, the Assyrians rose to power in Mesopotamia. They constructed Nineveh, the city of splendor, on the Tigris River. They built the Assurbanipal, a great library containing thousands of clay tablets both Assyrian and Babylonian (these documents have enabled scholars to accurately reconstruct life in the Ancient Middle East).

In 616 BC, the Chaldeans built the Second Babylonian Empire. King Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens for one his wives, Cyaxare – daughter of the Median King. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. And he also built the ziggurat near his palace, believed by many to be the biblical Tower of Babel.

The Clincher About The Eagle

In case you receive a similar e-mail about "the wrath of the Eagle cleansing the lands of Allah," be advised that there is nothing remotely like that "quotation" in the Qur’an. In fact, the words "eagle" and "Arabia" do not appear anywhere in the Qur’an in any of the three translations (Yusufali, Pickthal, and Shakir).

The full context of Qur’an 9:11 is: "Surah 9. Repentance, Dispensation 11. But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practice regular charity, they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do we explain the Signs in detail, for those who understand."

So that clincher is another tall story, another urban legend.

Satan In Iraq?

According to the e-message, Satan made his first recorded appearance in Iraq (Genesis 3:1-6). A few days after my school buddy, Onie, sent the e-mail, another friend, Sam Santamaria from New York, replied with this comment: "Yeah, and he never left!" He was referring of course to Saddam Hussein.

I remember visiting the Ancient Civilization section of the Metropolitan Museum of New York with its Assyrian and Babylonian monuments of winged lions, bearded and bejeweled kings and priests, and clay tablets of intriguing cuneiform. Having learned a little more about the Ancient Middle East made me appreciate those artifacts more.

The biblical account of the pre-flood history of the world mostly happened in the Ancient Middle East, specifically in Iraq. Four thousand years before Christ until Noah’s great deluge, the Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Chaldean and Babylonian had prosperous civilizations on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. They built magnificent palaces, ziggurats, hanging gardens, astronomical observatories as well as the ambitious Tower of Babel.

So, add the glorious history of the Ancient Middle East to the fabulous swashbuckling tales of the Thief of Baghdad (Baghdad is the capital of Iraq!) and the oil-rich deposits under Iraq’s desert soil, and you have enough to make Saddam Hussein a megalomaniac. Can you blame the guy?

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Have A Light Moment

While reading up on the Garden of Eden, I found out some interesting details:

There were actually two forbidden trees in midst of the Garden of Eden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the fruit of which Adam and Eve partook); and the tree of life (anyone who eats of it lives forever!)

The fruit Adam and Eve ate was not an apple as we commonly think! Nowhere in early Genesis was the word "apple" mentioned.

God always spoke in the plural form when he referred to Himself. Genesis 1:26 ˆ "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." Was He referring to the Holy Trinity or was He actually more than one?

The most intriguing lines are those of Genesis 6:1 and 2 – "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." The daughters of men were of course human women. Who were the sons of God who took them wives? Angels? But angels are spirits and supposedly asexual; how can they make wives of human women? (Just to tickle your imagination. Go read your Bible!)

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For your comments, e-mail DeroSeminar@yahoo.com. Should you wish to forward this article to your friends, please acknowledge the author and The Philippine Star.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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