a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Jewish Geography Project: Bereshit

Posted on: October 3, 2013

Last June I started the Jewish Geography Project and it sort of fizzled away. This year, I am committed to working on it and, well, damn I’m already a parasha (Torah portion) behind.

I realized, going back, that I forgot a few key identifiers in the first go around so decided to start fresh with the rivers named in Chapter 2 of Genesis. This week’s parasha is Noah, which I’ll post before Friday and then we’ll be back on track.

Not the kind you’re thinking of.  Real geography.  Go take out a map of the world and a copy of the Tanakh and let’s play!

Without further adieu, Bereshit:

Chapter 2

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden. From there it divided and became four major rivers.
Venahar yotse me’Eden lehashkot et-hagan umisham yipared vehayah le-arba’ah rashim.

The name of the first is Pishon. It surrounds the entire land of Havilah where gold is found.
Shem ha’echad Pishon hu hasovev et kol-erets haChavilah asher-sham hazahav.
The gold of that land is [especially] good. Also found there are pearls and precious stones.
Uzahav ha’arets hahi tov sham habedolach ve’even hashoham.

The name of the second river is Gihon. It surrounds the land of Cush.
Veshem hanahar hasheni Gichon hu hasovev et kol-erets Kush.
The name of the third river is the Tigris which flows to the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
Veshem hanahar hashlishi Chidekel hu haholech kidemat Ashur vehanahar ha revi’i hu Ferat.

“The Eden of Genesis has been variously located at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates in northern Iraq, in Africa, and in the Persian Gulf. The Eden in Ezekiel appears to be located in Lebanon.”

“…This has led to speculation that the Garden of Eden was located somewhere in Turkey. This is assumed because the present headwaters of the Euphrates River originate in Turkey, as do the headwaters of the Tigris.

Others have proposed that the other end of the Euphrates River, where it meets the Tigris, may be the true location. This requires interpreting the Tigris river as one of the other three (the Hiddekel), then interpreting a tributary confluence of rivers as a river head, and then locating at least two more rivers (or old river beds) as the other missing two. Having done so, they then claim that the Garden of Eden was near present day Kuwait. This is a convenient solution, but not one supported by the literal wording of the Bible or the geological and geographical realities of what river “head” means, i.e. headwaters or source of origin.”-Website

Chapter 3

And Cain went out from the presence of HaShem, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch.
And unto Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael; and Mehujael begot Methushael; and Methushael begot Lamech.

“The evidence suggests that Cain’s father-in-law Enoch lived in what is today northeastern Nigeria. Not surprisingly there are places in Nigeria that reference both Kain and Nok.  Kano is a major city and Nok is both a prehistoric site and a recognized cultural sphere of influence. The Nok civilization is dated to about 1200 years ago but has earlier antecedents as evidenced by discoveries in an “increasingly larger area” of Nok influence that includes the Middle Niger Valley and the Lower Benue Valley.”- Just Genisis


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