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The Fertile Crescent (1)

Victor M. Eskew


            After God created man, he placed him into a garden.  “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed” (Gen. 2:8).  In Genesis 2:10, we are told:  “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.”  The names of the four heads were Pison (Gen. 2:11); Gihon (Gen. 2:13), Hiddekel (Gen. 2:14), and Euphrates (Gen. 2:14).  The Pison and Gihon are no longer in the region.  The Hiddekel is also known as the Tigris River.  It, along with the Euphrates, continues to flow into the Persian Gulf to this day.

            The Garden of Eden is located on the eastern portion of a boomerang-shaped parcel of land that is known as “The Fertile Crescent.”  The Encyclopedia Britannica gives this description of this area of land:


“Situated between the Arabian Desert to the south and the mountains of the Armenian Highland to the north, it extends from Babylonia and adjacent Elam (the southwestern province of Persia, also called Susiana) up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Assyria.  From the Zagros Mountains east of Assyria it continues westward over Syria to the Mediterranean and extends southward to southern Palestine.  The Nile Valley of Egypt is often included as a further extension, especially since the short interruption in Sinai is no greater than similar desert breaks that disturb its continuity in Mesopotamia and Syria” (Fertile Cresent | Definition, Location, Map, Significance, & Facts | Britannica).


The following picture will give the readers of this article a good visual of the crescent shape of the land and of the amount of land being considered.


See the source image


The name “fertile crescent” came into use after an American Orientalist used the words in his book, Ancient Times:  A History of the Early World, when describing this region.  James Henry Breasted wrote: 


“This fertile crescent is approximately a semi-circle, with an open side toward the south, having west end at the south-east corner of the Mediterrainean, the centre directly north of Arabia, and the east end at the north end of the Persian Gulf. (193-194) (as quoted in the World History Encyclopedia).     


Mr. Breasted did not intend to label the region with these words, but his words accurately describe this land mass.  Therefore, those who followed after him caused his words to become the label of this territory.

            The “Fertile Crescent” is the environment of the entire Old Testament.  Thus, it behooves Bible students to come to an understanding of this feature of Bible Geography.  In our next article, we will continue to describe the Fertile Crescent.  We will also look at some of the ties it has to the Word of God.  We will leave our readers with this tidbit of information about this region.  Many have referred to it as “The Cradle of Civilization.”