The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold… The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Kush. – Genesis 2:11, 13 (ESV)
We are searching for the location of the historical Eden. Yesterday we identified antediluvian Havilah as the “Land of Abel,” the place where Abel’s descendants lived before the Great Flood. We loosely associated the city of Kabul (Ka-Able, or the place of the blood of Able) as the burial place of Abel himself. Today we’ll use those facts to extrapolate new information about the neighboring rivers of that land, the Gihon and the Pison.
The Gihon River
Genesis 2:13 says Kush was also bordered by the Gihon. Today it’s called the Panj River and it flows from the eastern Wakhan Valley. It follows the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, then enters the Turanian plain and empties into the Aral Sea. Even today the river is still called by the natives “Dgihun” or Gihon.
In classical times it was known as the Oxus, meaning “Great Water,” and was the natural divide between the region of Turan, land of the horsemen, and that of Iran. In all maps prior to the 20th century, the name Gihon replaces Panj in the mountain portion of the river basin.
Outside of the mountains, the river’s name changes to Amu-Darya. To the north is the Jaxartes River, also called the Syr-Darya. Darya means “river” or “sea”, and Syr-Darya means “river (or sea) of lions”. Therefore, “on” translates to “river” as in Gihon or Pishon, and the word GHN in Hebrew means “something bending”, which aptly describes the Gihon (Bending River).
The Pishon River
The Pishon River corresponds to the Chitral branch of the Indus River. In the upper course it is named the Yarkhun, then the name changes to the Mastuj past the town of Mastuj. Past Chitral it enters the Afghanistan province of Konar with the name Darya-ye-Konar. Near Jalalabad it joins the Kabul River, where it reenters Pakistan and passes 20km north of Peshawar, then joins the Indus River near the town of Attock.
The name Pishon is now completely lost to the region, where most of the names are of much more recent origin. However, a remnant of the root word “P-SH” can still be found in some places:
• The city of Peshawar – Ur is an ancient word for city. Peshaw-Ur’s traditional meaning is “City of the Border,” suggesting the meaning “border” for P-SH. Therefore P-SH + ON = “River of the Border”
• The Pashtun – One of the main ethnic groups of Afghanistan, the Pashtun language has several words closely related to Hebrew. The Pashtun themselves claim to be descendants of Hebrew tribes.
• Pashai – This is the name of the region near the Kunar stretch of the Pishon River.
With the successful identification of Havilah and the two rivers surrounding it, we are now ready to proceed with a definitive identification of the land of Kush.