Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner


Ó copyrights 2022



Where Is the Garden of Eden?




  1. The End of Chapter One



We move today to the study of Noah’s Second commandment, ADULTERY, as presented in the story of the Garden of Eden.


Although it is printed in our Bibles as Chapters 2-4,

in the Torah’s scroll it is written as a continuation of Chapter One,

complementing the story of the creation of Adam on the Sixth Day.

So here is the end of Chapter One, before the story of Eden:


And ELoKim said let us make Adam in our form and our image…
And ELoKiM blessed them saying be fruitful and multiply…
And EloKiM said behold, I have given you all the grass…
And ELoHiM saw everything that He had done and behold, it was
VERY GOOD (Tov Meod) 
and it was evening, and it was morning,

Y   om (Day)
H   a Shishi, (Sixth) (Genesis 1:31)

…………………………the Sabbath ………………………….

V  aYechulu (and they ended)
H  aShamyim (the Heaves)And the Earth, VeHaaretz, and all their hosts, and ELoHiM finished all the work he had done,And ELoHiM finished on the Seventh Day His work which He had done,
And He abstained on the Seventh Day from all His work which He had done 

 (Genesis 2: 1-2)



Thus, at the last part of the Sixth Day, ELKM, the All-Mighty Judge, saw that Adam – with his free will and bad desires – would not withstand ELKM’s  harsh Judgment at the End of the Days.  To give Adam a chance, ELKM “ invited” another Attribute of the One CREATOR, namely the Merciful YHVH, to “join” Him in the Heavenly Court and rule our world together. (Rashi).


The text above shows  the Attribute YHVH “penetrating” our world from the Sabbath, where “She” rules alone.  We speak here on the Eternal Sabbath, the next Day of CREATION.  It will be like no other Day, since ELKM would abstain from creating

and Judging (Shabbat in Hebrew means abstained, not rested.)  In the diagram of the text above, YHVH is seen as “divided” into YH and VH.  The YH (pronounced Yah) lies in our Sixth Day, while VH is still in the Sabbath.  Hence YHVH acts like a bridge that connect our world to the Sabbath. Her presence in our world – as Yah – anchors our world to the Sabbath so that the world would not faulter but travel straight in time to the shores of the Sabbath.










  1. The Garden of Eden




As we’ve said, the story of Eden is a direct continuation of Chapter One.   Let’s read the first verse that introduces Eden:


This is the history of Heavens and Earth

when they were re-created 

om the Day that YHVH ELoKiM 

 made Earth and Heaven” (Genesis 2: 4)



The first thing we notice here is the two Attributes, YHVH and ELKM, appearing together SIDE BY SIDE – as YHVH ELKM – the first time ever.


Whereas in Chapter One,

ELHM appears alone 32 times, and

YHVH appears alone once, as a hidden acronym,

here in the story of Eden the Attributes appears together.


In fact, they appear “glued together” 20 times in the story of Eden,

and then in no other place.

Let’s make this clear:

In the rest of the Torah, you’d find either ELKM alone or YHVH alone,

or the expression YHVH your ELKM, with a word separating them,

but never again as YHVH ELKM.


It means – as Rashi says – that we are at the story a moment after YHVH has penetrated our world on the Sixth Day by ELKM’s invitation. The two Attributes , like two cherubs in love, held Wing against Wing  like two Cherubs in love, as Moses depicted them on the Holy Ark, and  together they ‘flew’ over the Sixth Days to consolidate the world by their Oneness.


The verse above actually describes that ‘flight’ as it says:


This is the history of Heavens and Earth

when they were re-created 

om the Day that YHVH ELoKiM

 made Earth and Heaven” (Genesis 2: 4)


The verse says that the two Attributes YHVH ELKM, in Oneness (you see that point  of Oneness clearly in the Hebrew) re-created the world, flying over it from “Earth to Heavens,” in the opposite direction of Genesis Chapter One, where ELKM created the Heavens and the Earth, first Heavens and then Earth.


Why did they fly over CREATION? To “consolidate” it by their Oneness, so that it would not fault.  This is in fact also the content of the ‘song of the day” that the Levite choir used to chant every Friday in the holy Temple.  As you know, they selected a psalm song for each day of the week, that describes the events of CREATION that took place on that Day.  On the sixth day of the week, they chanted:


“YHVH has reigned…

even the world was consolidated, so that it would not fault.”



This “consolidation” of the world by YHVH ELKM took place BEFORE the making of Adam.  Adam would be born into a world already controlled by the Heavenly Court of YHVH ELKM.


Now the Torah moves on to describe the Garden of Eden.

At first, the verse describes when and where was Eden formed:


“And there was no shrub of the field yet on Earth,
And the grass of the field had not yet grown,

for YHVH ELoKiM had not yet showered rain on Earth
and there was no Adam to till the ground,

but mist went up from the ground
and watered the whole face of the Earth…” (Genesis



What Day was Eden formed? The verse says that there was not yet any life on Earth, not even vegetation, not even rain.  There were only Dry Land and the Ocean.

The Talmud therefore says:

It must have been the THIRD DAY of CREATION,

before ELHM seeded any life forms on Earth!


So, let’s summarize it.  Before making Adam on the Sixth Day,

YHVH ELKM formed the Heavenly Court,

and flew over the Six Days “backwards” – from the Sixth, to the Fifth, to the Fourth, the Third, the Second and the First Day, consolidating the Days under their new Court.


Then, it says, YHVH ELKM  ‘formed’ the Garden of Eden on the THIRD Day, before there was any life on real Earth, and they put there an Adam.

The key to understand all this lies in the Hebrew word “to form.”  It differs from “to create” and  “to make.”




Any endeavor must pass through these three phases:

The phase of CREATING (Be-riah)

The phase of FORMING (Ye-tzirah)

The phase of MAKING (Aa-siah)


For instance:

First – when I plan to build for me a house, I’d first think about its purpose – residential or commercial?  Would it be country-like or contemporary?   Large or small?   This phase is the stage of PLANNING, CREATING the project on my mind.


Secondly – I would contact an architect who would hear my desires and translate them into a Blue Print, a written plan. This would be the stage of FORMING the house on the paper (or on a computer screen.)


Thirdly- I would hire a builder who would translate the Blue Print into a real house on the ground.  This is the phase of BUILDING or MAKING the house.


Thus, since the term “formed” is the only one used in the story of Eden, we must say  that the Garden of Eden was in “The World of FORMING,”  as a  Blue Print plan,  or a plan placed on the Computer Screen – a VIRTUAL GARDEN.


The Rabbis in the Middle Ages, like Rabeinu Bachyee, perceived the Garden of Eden as a “bubble” hovering over the Holy Land.


But to us, in the 21th century, the story makes sense as it is, since it resembles a modern architect who places the planned house first on the screen to study how it would function.  If the computer program is sophisticated enough, he would also place on the screen humanoid images to see how they adapt to the house, and so forth.



Thus a ‘moment’ before making Adam on Earth, while YHVH ELKM were flying backwards over the Six Days, they “stopped” on the THIRD DAY and FORMED a virtual Garden,  before there was any life on Earth, not even rain, and placed in that virtual Garden  a virtual (FORMED) Adam to examine how he would behave there.



Why they did it, you may ask?


The answer is simple and self-evidenced.    The Garden of Eden offered Adam an alternative path to arrive at the Sabbath, without ever experiencing the harsh life on real Earth.  Had Adam and his Wife not sinned in Eden, they would have lived there peacefully under the Tree of Life, without knowing “evil,” then reaching the Eternal Sabbath from there.


You may say that this option was offered to Adam by the advent of the Merciful YHVH in the Heavenly Court.  Before that, while ELKM was creating the world alone, His plan was to place Adam right away on Earth and put him in a tough trial right away.  Adam would have certainly failed that trial.  But with the Advent of YHVH in the Court, Adam was given an opportunity to win his trial easily – just keeping one or two commandments in Eden – and be able to enter the Sabbath from there.



A hint for that Midday Trial of the THIRD Day, is given in the Six Days story in Genesis Chapter One.  On DAY THREE, just following the separation of Dry Land from the Ocean, it is said:

And ELKM saw that it was good.”

This was an unusual midday trial, since on all other Days (besides the Sixth Day) ELKM would pass a judgment only at the end of the Day.  Here, on DAY THREE, He passed a ‘premature’ judgment while the Day was in progress, to decide whether or not to PLANT LIFE ON REAL EARTH.

The outcome of the trial of Eden ‘helped Him’ to decide whether or not to put life on Earth.  If Adam would fail that trial in Eden, Adam would then be born on Earth.  It  means that  ELKM would start the Evolution – the Six Days – ending up with Adam – us – on real Earth on the Sixth Day.


So don’t look for Eden under the sands of ancient Mesopotamia.

Eden – of the Torah – was a virtual  garden in the “world of forming,” in the stage of planning , on the computer screen of he CREATOR, before MAKING Adam on the real ground of real Earth.


What would Adam learn in Eden? On that we’ll see next class.