Paradise - A Park
Paradise is but an Anglicized form of the Greek word παράδεισος,
which is identical with the Sanscrit paradesa, Persian pardes,
and appears also in the Hebrew pardes, פִּרדֵּס, and the Arabic firdarus. In all these languages it has
essentially the same meaning, a park.
It does not occur in the Old Testament, in the English
version, but is used in the Septuagint. to
translate the Hebrew Gan, גָּן,
a garden (Ge 2:8 sq.), and thence found its way
into the New Testament. It figuratively represents to the dwelling of
the righteous, in allusion to the Garden of Eden (2Co 12:4; Re 2:7).
It has thus come into familiar use to denote both the garden and the
I. Literal Application of the Name — Of this word (παράδεισος)
the earliest instance that we have is in the Cyropaedia
and other writings of Xenophon, nearly 400 years before Christ.
It means a wide, open
park, enclosed against injury, yet with its natural beauty
unspoiled, with stately forest-trees, many of them bearing fruit, watered
by clear streams, on whose banks roved large herds of antelopes or sheep
this was the scenery which connected itself in the mind of the Greek traveler
with the word: παράδεισος,
We find it also used by Plutarch, who lived in
the 1st and 2d century of AD. It was by these authors evidently employed to
signify an extensive plot of ground, enclosed with a strong fence or wall,
abounding in trees, shrubs, plants, and garden culture, and in which choice
animals were kept in different ways of restraint or freedom, according as
they were ferocious or peaceable; thus answering very closely to the
English word park, with the addition of gardens, a menagerie, and an
The circumstance which has given this term its extensive
and popular use is its having been taken by the Greek translators of the
Pentateuch, in the 3d century B.C., and, following them, in the ancient Syriac version, and by Jerome in the Latin Vulgate, as
the translation of the garden ( גָּן,, gan) which the benignant providence of the
Creator prepared for the abode of innocent and happy man. The translators
also use it, not only in the twelve places of Ge
2; Ge 3, but in eight others, and two in which
the feminine form (גִּנָּה)
occurs; whereas, in other instances of those two words, they employ κῆπος (Kypos)
, the usual Greek word for a garden or an enclosure of fruit-trees. But
there are three places in which the Hebrew text itself has the very word,
giving it the form pardes. These are, "the
keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber" (Ne 2:8);
orchards (Ec 2:5); "an orchard of
pomegranates" (Song of Solomon, 4:13).
Through the writings of Xenophon, and through the
general admixture of Orientalisms in the later
Greek after the conquests of Alexander of Macedonia, the Garden of Eden
became 'The Paradise of Delight' ὁ
τῆς τρυφῆς (Ge 2:15,23;
Joe 2:3). They used the same word whenever there was any allusion, however
remote, to the garden of Eden
Josephus calls the gardens of Solomon, in the plural
number, "Paradises" (Ant. 8:7, 3). Berosus
(B.C. cent. 4), quoted by Josephus (c. Apion,
1:20), says that the lofty garden-platforms erected at Babylon by
Nebuchadnezzar were called the Suspended Paradise.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of
the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and is called suspended Paradise.
According to Rosenmüller (Bibl. Alterthumsk. vol. i, pt. i, p. 174):
"It corresponds to the Greek pardesa, a word
appropriated to the pleasure-gardens and parks with wild animals around
the palace of the Persian monarchs. The origin of the word, however, is
to be sought with neither the Greeks nor the Hebrews, but in the languages
of Eastern Asia. We find it in Sanskrit 'paradesha', 'foreign land', a region of surpassing beauty; and the
Armenian pardes, a park or garden adjoining
the house, planted with trees for use and ornament."
The name was originally applied to "the Garden of
Eden" (Ge 2:8; Ge
4:16,; comp. 2:8), from the name of the region in
which it lay; an Eastern country, the first dwelling-place of Adam and Eve.
It was watered by a river which passed out from the garden, in four arms or
branches (Hebr. רָאשַׁים, heads, i.e. streams).
In the Chaldee Targums, "the Garden of Eden" is put as the
exposition of heavenly blessedness (Ps 90:17).
The Talmudical writings, cited
by the elder Buxtorf (Lex.
Chald. et Talm. p. 1802) and John James Wetstein
(N.T. Gr. 1:819), contain frequent references to Paradise as the
immortal heaven, to which the spirits of the just are admitted
immediately upon their liberation from the body. As I have discussed
earlier, this would imply the active principle of Karma in action without
any judgement. As far as we know only two people
in the history of the Biblical period attained it. Even that is questioned by some.
The book. Zohar speaks
of an earthly and a heavenly Paradise, of which the latter excels
the former "as much as darkness does light" (Schottgen,
Hor. Hebr. 1:1096).
To the idealistic school of Alexandria, of which Philo the Jew
is the representative, paradise was nothing more than a symbol and an
Philo (De Mundi Opif. §. 54).
"Spiritual perfection (ἀρετή)
was the only paradise.
The trees that grew in it were the thoughts of the spiritual man.
The fruits which they bore were life and knowledge and immortality.
The four rivers flowing from one source are the four virtues of the later
Platonists, ." The virtues of prudence,
temperance, courage, and justice;
while the main stream, of which they are branches is the generic virtue,
goodness, which goeth forth from Eden, the wisdom
A Real Paradise of Garden on the Earth.
The rabbinical schools of
Palestine presented a phase of thought the very opposite of that of the
Alexandrian writer. They had their descriptions, definite and detailed, a
Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical
Literature, Volume 7 By John McClintock, James Strong
It is all on Earth or
Paradise, the garden of Eden, existed still, and
they discussed the question of its locality. The answers were not always
consistent with each other.
was far off in the distant East, farther than
the foot of man had trod.
It was a region of the world of the dead,
of Sheol, in the heart of the earth. Gehenna was on one side, with its flames and torments.
Paradise on the other, the intermediate home of the blessed. (Comp. Wetstein, Grotius, and Schottgen,
In Luc. 23.)
The patriarchs were there, Abraham and Isaac and
Jacob, ready to receive their faithful descendants into their bosoms
De Macc. c. 13). The highest place of honor at the feast of the blessed
souls was Abraham's bosom.
Paradise was neither on the earth nor within it,
but above it, in the third heaven, or in some higher orb. .
There are two paradises, the upper and the lower — one in heaven, for those
who had attained the heights of holiness —
one in earth, for those who had
lived but decently
(Schottgen, Hor. Heb. in Apoc. 2:7),
The heavenly paradise was sixty times as large as
the whole lower earth (Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenth. 2:297).
Each had seven palaces, and in each palace were its appropriate dwellers
(ibid. p. 302). As the righteous dead entered paradise, angels stripped
them of their grave clothes, arrayed them in new robes of glory, and placed
on their heads diadems of gold and pearls (ibid. p. 310). There was no
night there. Its pavement was of precious stones. Plants of healing power
and wondrous fragrance grew on the banks of its streams (ibid. p. 313).
From this lower paradise the souls of the dead
rose on sabbaths and on feast-days to the higher
(ibid. p. 318), where every day there was the presence of Jehovah: holding
council with his saints (ibid. p. 320). (Comp. also Schottgen,
Hor. Heb. in Luc. 23.)