A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. – Genesis 2:10-11 (ESV)
Having taken a detour through the story of Cain and Abel, we now come back to our study of the lands listed in Genesis chapter 2 that surrounded the historical land of Eden. Yesterday we asked the question: Is there any direct Biblical evidence of the continuation of Abel’s line after he was murdered?
The Pishon River
It’s noteworthy that the regions of Havilah and Kush are described in greater detail than the others in Genesis 2:10-11. This indicates Havilah and Kush were remote from Adam’s experience. Adam (the author of this section of Genesis) was more familiar with the lands of the rivers Hiddekel and “Euphrates,” so these regions are not elaborated on as much as Havilah and Kush are.
Adam first describes the Pishon, a river that surrounded the land of Havilah. Next he describes the Gihon, another river. The suffix “-on” means “river” and the word “G-H-N” in Hebrew means “something bending,” which means Gihon would translate as the “Bending River.”
The word “Ur” is an ancient word that means “city.” In Pakistan, the traditional meaning of the name Peshawar (Pesha-Ur) is “City of the Border,” suggesting the meaning of “border” for the Hebrew word “P-SH.” If that is correct, then the Pishon (P-SH + ON) translates to “River of the Border” or “Border River,” an apt name for the river that marked the southern border of the antediluvian land of Havilah.
The Land Of Abel
The region associated with the Pishon, or the “Border River,” is Havilah. The suffix “-AH” appears in Semitic languages in several names of geographical regions, such as Aravah (the region between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba) or Tihamah (the lowland of south-western Arabia, between Habi and Jizan). Therefore we are justified in reading Havilah as “Havil Land” or the “Land of Havil.” Havil (pronounced Ha-veel) is Arabic for Abel, thus making Havilah the “Land of Abel.”
A shadow of the word Havilah survives in the name of Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, considered by locals to be the most ancient city in the world. In a wide range of ancient languages, the “Ka” represents the soul or life force. The Bible says “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11).
When God confronted Cain, He told him that “the voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10, Hebrews 11:4). Therefore, Kabul (Ka-Abel) may be interpreted as meaning “(the place of) the blood of Abel,” that is, the burial place of the murdered son of Adam and Eve.
We see another glimpse of Havilah in I Chronicles 5:26 as one of the three identifying geographical features of the land where Sargon II deported the Ten Tribes of Israel: a land named Halah, with a city named Habor and a river named Gozan. Halah is a shortened version of Havilah, Gozan is the Gihon, and Habor is a linguisitic variation of Kabol, the Persian name for Kabul.
If Kabul and the surrounding area of Afghanistan was in fact the location of antediluvian Havilah, then we’re one step closer to finding the location of the Garden of Eden. As for Abel’s children, the fact that Adam wrote specifically of the land of Havilah, or “Abel’s Land,” strongly indicates there were people living there.
Who would these people be, if not Abel’s family and their descendants? While the Bible goes on to focus on the Sethite line, and to a lesser degree the Cainites in Genesis chapter 5, yet another branch of the human race lived on in antediluvian Havilah until the Flood came: the Abelites.