Divine Encounters are the ultimate human experience - the maximal, the utmost possible when alive, as when Moses encountered the Lord upon Mount Sinai; and the final, terminal, and conclusive, as that of Egyptian Pharaohs who at death assumed an eternal Afterlife by joining the Gods in their Divine Abode.

The human experience of Divine Encounters as recorded in scriptures and texts from the ancient Near East is a most amazing and fascinating saga. It is a powerful drama that spans Heaven and Earth, involving worship and devotion, eternity and morality on the one hand, and love and sex, jealousy and murder on the other; ascents unto space and journeys to the Netherworld.


A stage on which the actors are Gods and Goddesses, angels and demiGods, Earthlings and androids; a drama expressed in prophecies and visions, in dreams and omens and oracles and revelations. It is a story of Man, separated from his Creator, seeking to restore a primeval umbilical cord and, by so doing, reach for the stars.

Divine Encounters are the ultimate human experience perhaps because they were also the very first human experience; for when God created Man, Man met God at the very moment of being created. We read in Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible, how the first human, "The Adam," was brought into being:

And God said: Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness ...
And God created the Adam in His image, in the image of Elohim created He him.

We can only surmise that the newborn, at the moment of being brought forth, was hardly aware of the nature and significance of that first Divine Encounter. Nor, it appears, was The Adam fully aware of an ensuing crucial encounter, when the Lord God (in the creation version attributed to Yahweh) decided to create a female mate for The Adam:

And Yahweh Elohim
caused a deep sleep to fall upon
the Adam, and he slept.
And he took one of his ribs
and closed up the flesh instead of it.
And Yahweh Elohim formed the rib
which He had taken from the Adam
into a woman.

The first man was thus deeply anesthetized during the proceedings, and therefore oblivious to this crucial Divine Encounter in which the Lord Yahweh displayed his surgical talents. But The Adam was soon informed of what had happened, for the Lord God "brought the woman unto the man" and introduced her to him. The Bible then offers a few words of commentary on why men and women become "one flesh" as they marry and ends the tale with the observation that both the man and his wife "were naked, but were not ashamed."


While the situation seemed not to bother the First Matchmaker, why does the Bible imply otherwise? If the other creatures roaming in the Garden of Eden, "the beasts of the field and the fowl of the skies," were unclothed, what on Earth should have caused (but did not) Adam and Eve to be ashamed of being naked? Was it because the ones in whose image the Adam was created were wearing clothing? It is a point to be kept in mind - a clue, an inadvertent clue provided by the Bible, regarding the identity of the Elohim.

No one after Adam and Eve could attain the experience of being the first humans on Earth, with the attendant first Divine Encounters. But what has ensued in the Garden of Eden has endured as part of human yearning unto our own days. Even chosen Prophets must have longed to be so privileged, for it was there, in the Garden of Eden, that God spoke directly to the first human beings, instructing them regarding their nourishment: They can eat of all the garden’s fruits, except the fruit of the Tree of Knowing.

The chain of events leading to the Expulsion from Paradise raises a lasting question:

  • How did Adam and Eve hear God - how does God communicate with humans at such, or any, Divine Encounters?

  • Can the humans see the divine speaker, or just hear the message?

  • And how is the message conveyed - face-to-face?

  • Telepathically?

  • In a holographic vision?

  • Through the medium of dreams?

We shall examine the ancient evidence for the answers. But as far as the events in the Garden of Eden are concerned, the biblical text suggests a physical divine presence. The place was not a human habitat; rather, it was a divine abode, an orchard deliberately planted "in Eden, in the east," where God "put the Adam whom He had fashioned" to serve as a gardener, "to till it and to keep it."

It is in this garden that Adam and Eve, through the intervention of the Divine Serpent, discover their sexuality after eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowing that "makes one wise." Having eaten the forbidden fruit, "they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons."

Now the Lord God - Yahweh Elohim in the Hebrew Bible - enters the stage:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

God is physically present in the Garden of Eden, and the sound of his strolling about the garden can be heard by the humans. Can they see the deity? The biblical narrative is silent on the issue; it makes clear, however, that God can see them - or, in this instance, was expecting to see them but could not because they were hiding. So God used his voice to reach them: "And the Lord God called unto the Adam, and said unto him: Where art thou?"

A dialogue (or more correctly a trialogue) ensues. The tale raises many issues of great import. It suggests that The Adam could talk from the very beginning; it brings up the question of how - in what tongue - did God and Man converse. For the moment let us just pursue the biblical tale: Adam’s explanation, that he hid on hearing God’s approach "because I am naked" leads to the questioning of the human pair by the deity.


In the full-scale conversation that follows the truth comes out and the sin of eating the forbidden fruit is admitted (though only after Adam and Eve blame the Serpent for the deed).


The Lord God then declares the punishment:

The woman shall bear children in pain...

The Adam shall have to toil for his food and earn his bread by the sweat of his brow...

By this time the encounter is clearly face-to-face, for now the Lord God not only makes skin-coats for Adam and his wife, but also clothes them with the coats. Although the tale undoubtedly is intended to impress upon the reader the significance of being clothed as a "divine" or major dividing element between humans and beasts, the biblical passage cannot be treated as only symbolical. It clearly lets us know that in the beginning, when The Adam was in the Garden of Eden, humans encountered their Creator face-to-face.

Now, unexpectedly, God gets worried. Speaking again to unnamed colleagues, Yahweh Elohim expresses his concern that "now that the Adam has become as one of us, to know good and evil, what if he shall put forth his hand and also take of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever?"

The shift of focus is so sudden that its significance has been easily lost. Dealing with Man - his creation, procreation, abode, and transgression - the Bible abruptly echoes the concerns of the Lord. In the process, the almost-divine nature of Man is highlighted once more. The decision to create The Adam stems from a suggestion to fashion him "in the image and after the likeness" of the divine creators. The resulting being, the handiwork of the Elohim, is brought forth "in the image of Elohim." And now, having eaten the fruit of Knowing, Man has become Godlike in one more crucial respect.

Looking at it from the viewpoint of the deity, "the Adam has become as one of us" except for Immortality. And so the other unnamed colleagues of Yahweh concur in the decision to expel Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, placing Cherubim with a "revolving flaming sword" to block the humans’ way back if may ever tried.

Thus did Man’s very Creator decree Man’s mortality. But Man, undaunted, has searched for immortality ever since through the medium of Divine Encounters.

Is this yearning for Encounters based on a recollection of real happenings, or an illusionary search based on mere myths? How much of the biblical tales is fact, how much fiction?

The diverse versions relating the creation of the first humans, and the alternating between a plural Elohim (deities) and a single Yahweh as the creators), have been just one of the indications that the editors or redactors of the Hebrew Bible had in front of them some earlier texts dealing with the subject. Indeed, chapter 5 of Genesis begins by stating that its brief record of the generations that followed Adam is based on "the Book of the Generations of Adam" (starting from "the day Elohim had created Adam in the likeness of Elohim").


Verse 14 in Numbers 21 refers to the Book of the Wars of Yahweh. Joshua 10:13 refers the reader for more details of miraculous events to the Book of Jashar, which is also listed as a known source text in II Samuel 1:18. These are but passing references to what must have been a much more extensive trove of earlier texts.

The veracity of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) - be it its tales of Creation, of the Deluge and Noah’s Ark, of the Patriarchs, of the Exodus - has come into doubting criticism in the nineteenth century. Much of that skepticism and disbelief has been muted and countered by archaeological discoveries that increasingly validated the biblical record and data in an ever-receding order - from the near past to the earlier times, carrying the corroboration farther and farther back through historical times to prehistorical ones.


From Egypt and Nubia in Africa to the Hittite remains in Anatolia (today’s Turkey), from the Mediterranean coast and the islands of Crete and Cyprus in the east to the borders of India in the west, and especially in the lands of the Fertile Crescent that began in Mesopotamia (nowadays Iraq) and curved to embrace Canaan (today’s Israel), as one ancient site after another - many known previously only from the Bible - have been uncovered, texts written on clay tablets or papyrus and inscriptions carved on stone walls or monuments have resurrected the kingdoms, the kings, the events, the cities listed in the Bible.


Moreover, in many instances, such writings found at sites such as Ras Shamra (the Canaanite Ugarit) or more recently at Ebla have shown familiarity with the same sources as those on which the Bible had relied. However, unencumbered by the monotheistic constraints of the Hebrew Bible, the writings of Israel’s neighbors in the ancient Near East spelled out the identities and names of the "us" of the biblical Elohim. In doing so, such writings paint a panorama of prehistoric times and raise the curtain on a fascinating record of Gods and humans in a series of varied Divine Encounters.

Until the start of purposeful archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia, "The Land Between the Rivers" (the Tigris and Euphrates) some 150 years ago, the Old Testament was the sole source of information on the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, their great cities and haughty kings.


As earlier scholars pondered the veracity of the biblical data concerning the existence of such empires three thousand years ago, their credulity was stretched even more by the biblical assertion that Kingship began even earlier, with a "mighty hunter by the grace of Yaweh" called Nimrod, and that there had been royal capitals (and thus an advanced civilization) in the distant past in "the Land of Shine’ar."


This assertion was linked to the even more incredible tale of the Tower of Babel (Genesis chapter 11) when Mankind, using clay bricks, embarked on the erection of a "tower whose head can reach the heavens." The place was a plain in the "Land of Shine’ar."

That "mythical" land has been found, its cities unearthed by archaeologists, its language and texts deciphered thanks to the knowledge of Hebrew and thus of its parent tongue, Akkadian, its monuments and sculptures and artworks treasured in major world museums. Nowadays we call the land Sumer; its people called it Shunter ("Land of the Guardians"). It is to ancient Sumer that we have to go to understand the biblical tale of Creation and the ancient Near Eastern record of Divine Encounters; for it is there, in Sumer, that the recording of those events began.

Sumer (the biblical Shine’ar) was the land where the first known and fully documented civilization sprang up after the Deluge, appearing suddenly and all at once some six thousand years ago. It gave Humankind almost every "first" in all that matters as integral components of a high civilization - not just the first brickmaking (as mentioned above) and the first kilns, but also the first high-rise temples and palaces, the first priests and kings; the first wheel, the first kiln, the first medicine and pharmacology; the first musicians and dancers, artisans and craftsmen, merchants and caravaneers, law codes and judges, weights and measures.


The first astronomers and observatories were there, and the first mathematicians. And perhaps most important of all: it was there, as early as 3800 B.C., that writing began, making Sumer the land of the first scribes who wrote down on clay tablets in the wedgelike script ("cuneiform") the most astounding tales of Gods and humans (as this "Creation of Man" tablet, Fig. 1). Scholars regard these ancient texts as myths. We, however, consider them to be records of events that have essentially happened.

The archaelogists’ spades not only verified the existence of Shine’ ar/Sumer. The finds also brought to light ancient texts from Mesopotamia that paralleled the biblical tales of Creation and the Deluge. In 1876 George Smith of the British Museum, piecing together broken tablets found in the royal library of Nineveh (the Assyrian capital), published The Chaldean Genesis and showed beyond doubt that the biblical tale of Creation was first written down in Mesopotamia millennia of years earlier.

In 1902 L.W. King, also of the British Museum, in his book The Seven Tablets of Creation, published a fuller text, in the Old Babylonian language, that required seven clay tablets - so long and detailed it was. Known as the Epic of Creation or as Enuma elish by its opening words, its first six tablets describe the creation of the heavens and the Earth and all upon Earth, including Man, paralleling the six "days" of creation in the Bible.

Figure 1

The seventh tablet was devoted to the exaltation of the supreme Babylonian deity Marduk as he surveyed his marvelous handiwork (paralleling the biblical seventh "day" on which God "rested from all His work that He had made"). Scholars now know that these and other "myths" in their Assyrian and Babylonian versions were translations of earlier Sumerian texts (modified to glorify the Assyrian or Babylonian supreme Gods). History, as the great scholar Samuel N. Kramer has so excellently expounded in his 1959 book of that title, Begins at Sumer.

It all began, we learn from the various texts, a very long time ago, with the splashing down in the waters of the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Sea of a group of fifty ANUNNAKI - a term literally meaning "Those Who from Heaven to Earth Came." They waded ashore under the leadership of E.A ("He Whose House Is Water"), a brilliant scientist, and established the first extraterrestrial colony on Earth, calling it E.RI.DU ("House in the Faraway Built").


Other settlements followed in pursuit of the visitors’ mission: Obtaining gold by distilling the waters of the Persian Gulf - gold needed urgently back on the home planet of the Anunnaki so that their dwindling atmosphere could be protected by a shield of suspended gold particles. As the expedition expanded and the operations were set in motion, Ea acquired the additional title or epithet EN.KI - "Lord of Earth."

But all did not go well. The home planet (called NIBIRU) was not receiving the required gold. A change of plans was soon decided, calling for the obtainment of the gold the hard way, by mining it in the AB.ZU - southeastern Africa. More Anunnaki arrived on Earth (in the end they numbered 600); another group, the IGI.GI ("Those Who Observe and See") remained skyborne, operating shuttlecraft and spacecraft and space stations (they numbered, Sumerian texts assert, 300 in all).


To make sure there were no failures this time, ANU ("The Heavenly One"), ruler of Nibiru, sent to Earth a half brother of Enki/Ea, EN.LIL ("Lord of the Command"). He was a strict disciplinarian and a firm administrator; and while Enki was sent to oversee the mining of gold ores in the Abzu, Enlil took over command of the seven Cities of the Gods in the E.DIN ("Home of the Righteous Ones"), the place where more than 400,000 years later the Sumerian civilization blossomed out.


Each such city was assigned specialized functions: a Mission Control Center, a Spaceport, a center for metallurgy; even a medical center under the supervision of NIN.MAH ("Great Lady"), a half sister of both Enki and Enlil.

The evidence, presented and analyzed by us in books I-V of The Earth Chronicles series and the companion book Genesis Revisited, indicated a vast elliptical orbit for Nibiru that lasts 3,600 Earth-years, a period called SAR in Sumerian. Sumerian records of prehistoric times, called King Lists, measured the passage of time as applied to the Anunnaki in Sars.


Scholars who have uncovered and translated these texts find the lengths of the tours of duty of named Anunnaki commanders nothing short of "legendary" or "fantastic," for such individual "reigns" lasted 28,800 or 36,000 or even 43,200 years. But in fact the Sumerian King Lists state that this or that commander was in charge of a certain settlement for 8 or 10 or 12 Sars. Converted to Earth-years these numbers become the "fantastic" 28,800 (8 x 3,600) and so on; but in Anunnaki terms they were just eight or ten of their years, a perfectly reasonable (and even short) length of time.

Therein, in the Sars, lies the secret to the apparent immortality of the ancient "Gods." A year, by definition, is the time it takes the planet one lives on to complete one orbit around the Sun. The orbit of Nibiru lasts 3,600 Earth-years; but for those who live on Nibiru, that amounts to only one of their years. The Sumerian and other Near Eastern texts speak of both the birth and the death of those "Gods"; except that, in the eyes of the Earthlings (for that, literally, is what Adam - "He of Earth" - meant in Hebrew), the life cycles of the Anunnaki were such that, in human terms, they were immortal for all practical purposes.

The Anunnaki arrived on Earth 120 Sars before the Deluge - 432,000 Earth-years before that avalanche of water that was a watershed event in more than physical ways. Man, The Adam, was not yet on Earth when the Anunnaki arrived. For forty Sars the Anunnaki who were sent to the Abzu toiled mining the gold; but then they mutinied.


A text in Akkadian (the mother tongue of Babylonian, Assyrian, and Hebrew) called Atra Hasis describes the mutiny and the reasons for it in vivid detail. Enlil called for disciplinary measures to force the Anunnaki to continue toiling and to punish the mutiny’s instigators. Enki was for leniency. Anu was consulted; he sympathized with the mutineers. How was the impasse to be resolved?

Enki, the scientist, had a solution.


Let us create a Primitive Worker, he said, that will take over the backbreaking toil. The other leaders of the Anunnaki present wondered: How can it be done, how can an Adamu be created? To which Enki gave this answer:

The creature whose name you uttered, it exists!

He found the "creature" - a hominid, the product of evolution on Earth - in southeast Africa, "above the Abzu." All that we need to do to make it an intelligent worker, Enki added, was to:

Bind upon it the image of the Gods.

The assembled Gods - the Anunnaki leaders - agreed enthusiastically. On Enki’s suggestion they summoned Ninmah, the Chief Medical Officer, to assist in the task.

"You are the midwife of the Gods," they said to her - "Create Mankind! Create a Mixed One that he may bear the yoke, let him bear the yoke assigned by Enlil, let the Primitive Worker toil for the Gods!"

In Chapter 1 of Genesis the discussion that led to this decision is summed up in one verse:

"And Elohim said: Let us make the Adam in our image, after our likeness."

And, with the implied consent of the assembled "us," the task was carried out:

"And Elohim created the Adam in His image; in the image of Elohim created He him."

The term image - the element or process by which the existing "creature" could be raised to the level desired by the Anunnaki, akin to them except for Knowing and Longevity - can best be understood by realizing who or what the existing "creature" was. As other texts (e.g. one that scholars title The Myth of Cattle and Grain) explain,

When Mankind was first created They knew not the eating of bread. knew not the wearing of garments. They ate plants with their mouths, like sheep; They drank water from the ditch.

This is a fitting description of hominids roaming wildly as, and with, other beasts. Sumerian depictions, engraved on stone cylinders (so-called "cylinder seals") show such hominids mingling with animals but standing erect on two feet - an illustration (regrettably ignored by modern scientists) of a Homo erectus (Fig. 2). It was upon that Being, that already existed, that Enki had suggested to "bind upon it the image of the Gods," and create through genetic engineering an Earthling, Homo sapiens.

Figure 2


A hint of the process involved in the genetic makeover is made in the Yahwist Version (as scholars refer to it) in chapter 2 of Genesis, in which we read that,

"Yahweh Elohim formed The Adam with clay of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the Adam became a living being."

In Atra Hasis and other Mesopotamian texts a much more complex process involving the Being is described. It was a creative process not without frustrating trials and errors until the procedure was perfected and the desired result was attained by Enki and Ninmah (whom some texts, in honor of her memorable role, granted her the epithet NIN.TI - "Lady of Life").

Working in a laboratory called Bit Shimti - "House where the wind of life is breathed in" - the "essence" of the blood of a young Anunnaki male was mixed with the egg of a female hominid. The fertilized egg was then inserted into the womb of a female Anunnaki. When, after a tense waiting period, a "Model Man" was born, Ninmah held the newborn baby up and shouted: "I have created! My hands have made it!"

Sumerian artists depicted on a cylinder seal that breathtaking final moment, when Ninmah/Ninti held up the new Being for all to see (Fig. 3). Thus, captured in an engraving on a small stone cylinder, is a pictorial record of the first Divine Encounter!

Figure 3

In ancient Egypt, where the Gods were called Neteru ("Guardians") and identified by the hieroglyphic symbol of a mining axe, the act of creating the first Man out of clay was attributed to the ram-headed God Khnemu ("He who joins"), of whom the texts said that he was "the maker of men . . . the father who was in the beginning."


Egyptian artists too, as the Sumerians before them, depicted pictorially the moment of the First Encounter (Fig. 4); it showed Khnemu holding up the newly created being, assisted by his son Thoth (the God of science and medicine).

Figure 4

The Adam, as one version in Genesis relates, was indeed created alone. But once this Model Man proved the validity of this process of creating "test-tube babies," a project of mass replication was embarked upon. Preparing more mixtures of TI.IT - "That which is with life," the biblical "clay" - genetically engineered to produce Primitive Workers of both sexes, Ninmah placed seven lumps of the "clay" in a "male mould" and seven in a "female mould."


The fertilized eggs were then implanted in the wombs of female Anunnaki "birth Goddesses." It was to this process of bringing forth seven male and seven female "Mixed Ones" at each shift that the "Elohist Version" (as scholars call it) in Genesis referred when it stated that when Humankind was created by Elohim, "male and female created He them."

But, like any hybrid (such as a mule, the result of the mating of a horse and a she-ass), the "Mixed Ones" could not procreate. The biblical tale of how the new being acquired "Knowing," the ability to procreate in biblical terminology, covers with an allegorical veneer the second act of genetic engineering. The principal actor in the dramatic development is neither Yahweh-Elohim nor the created Adam and Eve, but the Serpent, the instigator of the crucial biological change.

The Hebrew word for "serpent" in Genesis is Nahash. The term, however, had two additional meanings. It could mean "He who knows or solves secrets"; it could also mean "He of the copper." The last two meanings appear to have stemmed from the Sumerian epithet for Enki, BUZUR, which meant both "He who solves secrets" and "He of the metal mines."


Indeed, the frequent Sumerian symbol for Enki was mat of a serpent. In an earlier work (Genesis Revisited) we have suggested that the associated symbol of Entwined Serpents (Fig. 5a), from which the symbol for healing has remained to this day, was inspired - already in ancient Sumer! - by the double helix DNA (Fig. 5b) and thus of genetic engineering.


As we shall show later on, Enki’s use of genetic engineering in the Garden of Eden also led to the double helix motif in Tree of life depictions. Enki bequeathed this knowledge and its symbol to his son Ningishzidda (Fig. 5c), whom we have identified as the Egyptian God Thoth; the Greeks called him Hermes; his staff bore the emblem of the Entwined Serpents (Fig. 5d).

Figures 5a, 5b, 5c, and 5d

As we trace these double and triple meanings of Enki’s epithets (Serpent-copper-healing-genetics), it behooves us to recall the biblical tale of the plague that befell the Israelites during their wanderings in the Sinai wilderness: it stopped after Moses has made a "copper serpent" and held it up to summon divine help.

It is nothing short of mind-boggling to realize that this second Divine Encounter, when Humankind was given the ability to procreate, was also captured for us by ancient "photographers" - artists who carved the scene in reverse on the small stone cylinders, images that were seen in positive after the seal was rolled on wet clay. But such depictions too, in addition to the ones depicting the creation of The Adam, have been found.


One shows "Adam" and "Eve" seated, flanking a tree, and the serpent behind Eve (Fig. 6a).

Figures 6a and 6b


Another shows a great God seated atop a throne-like mound from which two serpents emanate - undoubtedly Enki (Fig. 6b). He is flanked on the right by a male whose sprouting branches are penis-shaped, and on the left by a female whose branches are vagina-shaped and who holds a small fruit tree (presumably from the Tree of Knowing). Watching the goings-on is a menacing great God - in all probability an angry Enlil.

At these texts and depictions, augmenting the biblical narrative, have thus combined to paint a detailed picture, a course of events with identifiable principal participants, in the saga of Divine Encounters. Nevertheless, scholars by and large persist in lumping all such evidence as "mythology." To them the tale of events in the Garden of Eden is just a myth, an imaginary allegory taking place in a nonexistent place.

But what if such a Paradise, a place with deliberately planted fruit-bearing trees, had really existed at a time when everywhere else nature alone was the gardener? What if in the earliest times there had been a place called "Eden," a real place whose events were real occurrences?

Ask anyone where Adam was created, and the answer will in all probability be: In the Garden of Eden. But it is not there where the story of Humankind begins.

The Mesopotamian tale, first recorded by the Sumerians, places the first phase at a location "above the Abzu" - farther north than where the gold mines were. As several groups of "Mixed Ones" were brought forth and pressed into service for the purpose for which they were created - to take over the toil in the mines - the Anunnaki from the seven settlements in the E.DIN clamored for such helpers too.


As those in southeastern Africa resisted, a fight broke out. A text which scholars call The Myth of the Pickax describes how, led by Enlil, the Anunnaki from the E.DIN forcefully seized some of "the Created Ones" and brought them over to Eden, to serve the Anunnaki there. The text called The Myth of Cattle and Grain explicitly states that "when from the heights of Heaven to Earth Anu had caused the Anunnaki to come," grains that vegetate, lambs and kids were not yet brought forth.


Even after the Anunnaki in their "creation chamber" had fashioned food for themselves, they were not satiated. It was only,

After Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninmah

had fashioned the black-headed people,

Vegetation that is fruitful they multiplied

in the land... In the Edin they placed them.

The Bible, contrary to general assumptions, relates the same tale. As in the Enuma elish, the biblical sequence (chapter 2 of Genesis) is, first, the forming of the Heavens and of Earth; next, the creation of The Adam (the Bible does not state where). The Elohim then "planted a garden in Eden, eastward" (of where the Adam was created); and only thereafter did the Elohim "put there" (in the Garden of Eden) "the Adam whom he had fashioned."

And Yahweh Elohim took the Adam, and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till it and to keep it.

An interesting light is shed on the "Geography of Creation" (to coin a term) and, consequently on the initial Divine Encounters, by the Book of Jubilees. Composed in Jerusalem during the time of the Second Temple, it was known in those centuries as The Testament of Moses, because it began by answering the question, How could Humankind know about those early events that even preceded the creation of Humankind?


The answer was that it was all revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, when an Angel of the Divine Presence dictated it to Moses by the Lord’s command. The name Book of Jubilees, applied to the work by its Greek translators, stems from the chronological structure of the book, which is based on a count of the years by "jubilees" whose years are called "days" and "weeks."

Obviously drawing on sources that were available at the time (in addition to the canonical Genesis), such as the books that the Bible mentions and other texts that Mesopotamian libraries cataloged but which are yet to be found, the Book of Jubilees, using the enigmatic count of "days," states that Adam was brought by the angels into the Garden of Eden only "after Adam had completed forty days in the land where he had been created"; and "his wife they brought in on the eightieth day." Adam and Eve, in other words, were brought into being elsewhere.

The Book of Jubilees, dealing with the expulsion from Eden later on, provides another morsel of valuable information. It informs us that "Adam and his wife went forth from the Garden of Eden, and they dwelt in the Land of Nativity, the land of their creation." In other words, from the Edin they went back to the Abzu, in southeastern Africa. Only there, in the second Jubilee, did Adam "know" his wife Eve and "in the third week in the second jubilee she gave birth to Cain, and in the fourth she gave birth to Abel, and in the fifth she gave birth to a daughter, Awan." (The Bible states that Adam and Eve had thereafter other sons and daughters; noncanonical books say that they numbered sixty-three in all.)

Such a sequence of events, that places the start of Humankind’s proliferation from a single primordial mother not in the Mesopotamian Eden but back in the Abzu, in south-eastern Africa, is now fully corroborated by scientific discoveries that have led to the "Out of Africa" theories regarding the origin and spread of Humankind.


Not only finds of fossil remains of the earliest hominids, but also genetic evidence concerning the final line of Homo sapiens, confirms southeast Africa as the place where Humankind originated. And as to Homo sapiens, anthropological and genetic researchers have placed an "Eve" - a single female of whom all of present day humans stem - in the same area at about 250,000 years ago.


(This finding, at first based on DNA that is passed only by the mother, has been corroborated in 1994 by genetic research based on Nuclear DNA that is passed from both parents and expanded in 1995 to include an "Adam" circa 270,000 years ago.)


It was from there that the various branches of Homo sapiens (Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons) later arrived in Asia and Europe.

That the biblical Eden was one and the same place settled by the Anunnaki and the one to which they brought over Primitive Workers from the Abzu, is almost self-evident linguistically. The name Eden, hardly anyone now doubts, stemmed from the Sumerian E.DIN via the intermediary of the Edinnu in Akkadian (the mother tongue of Assyrian, Babylonian, and Hebrew).


Moreover, in describing the profusion of waters in that Paradise (an impressive aspect for readers in a part of the Near East wholly dependent on rains in a short winter season), the Bible offered several geographical indicators that also pointed to Mesopotamia; it stated that the Garden of Eden was located at the head of a body of water that served as the confluence of four rivers:

And a river went out of Eden
to water the garden;
And from there it was parted
and became four principal streams.
The name of the first is Pishon,
the one which winds through the land
of Havilah, where the gold is -
the land whose gold is good -
there [too] is the bdellium and onyx stone.
And the name of the second river is Gihon;
it is the one that circles
all of the land Kush.
And the name of the third river is Hiddekel,
the one that flows east of Assyria.
And the fourth is the Prath.

Clearly, two of the Rivers of Paradise, the Hiddekel and the Prath, are the two major rivers of Mesopotamia (that gave the land its name, which means "The Land Between the Rivers"), the Tigris and Euphrates as they are called in English. There is complete agreement between all scholars that the biblical names for these two rivers stem from their Sumerian names (via the intermediary Akkadian): Idilbat and Purannu.

Though the two rivers take separate courses, at some points almost coming together, at others separating substantially, they both originate in the mountains of Anatolia, north of Mesopotamia; and since this is where the headwaters are as riverine science holds, scholars have been searching for the other two rivers at that "head-point." But no suitable candidates for the Gihon and Pishon as two more rivers flowing from that mountain range and meeting the other qualifications have been found.


The search, therefore, spread to more distant lands. Kush has been taken to mean Ethiopia or Nubia in Africa, and the Gihon ("The Gusher") to be the Nile River with its several cataracts. A favorable guess for Pishon (possibly "The one who had come to rest") has been the Indus River, equating therefore Havilah with the Indian subcontinent, or even with landlocked Luristan. The problem with such suggestions is that neither the Nile nor the Indus confluates with the Tigris and Euphrates of Mesopotamia.

The names Kush and Havilah are found in the Bible more than once, both as geographical terms and as names of nation-states. In the Table of Nations (Genesis chapter 10) Havilah is listed together with Seba, Sabtha, Raamah, Sabtecha, Sheba, and Dedan. They were all nation-lands which various biblical passages linked with the tribes of Ishmael, the son of Abraham by the handmaiden Hagar, and there is no doubt that their domains were in Arabia.


These traditions have been corroborated by modern researchers that have identified the tribal locations throughout Arabia. Even the name Hagar was found to be the name of an ancient city in eastern Arabia. An updated study by E.A. Knauf (Ismael, 1985) conclusively deciphered the name Havilah as the Hebrew for "Sand Land," and identified it as the geographic name for southern Arabia.

The problem with such convincing conclusions has been that no river in Arabia could qualify as the biblical river Pishon, if for no other reason than the simple fact that the whole of Arabia is arid, a huge desert land.

Could the Bible be so wrong? Could the whole tale of the Garden of Eden, and thus of the events and Divine Encounters in it, be just a myth?

Starting with a firm belief in the veracity of the Bible, the following question came to our mind: Why does the biblical narrative go to relatively great lengths to describe the geography and mineralogy of the land (Havilah) where the Pishon was; list the land and describe the circular course of the Gihon River; merely identify the location ("east of Assyria") of the Hiddekel; and just name the fourth river, Prath, without any additional identifying landmarks? Why this descending order of information?

The answer that had occurred to us was that while there was no need whatsoever to tell the reader of Genesis where the Euphrates was, and a mere mention of Assyria was enough to identify the Tigris (Hiddekel) River, it was necessary to explain that the Gihon - evidently, a lesser-known river by then - was the river that encompassed the land of Kush; and that the apparently totally unknown river Pishon was in a land called Havilah, which, devoid of landmarks, was identified by the products that came from it.

These thoughts began to make sense when, in the late 1980s, it was announced that scanning of the Sahara desert (in North Africa, in western Egypt) with soil-penetrating radar from Earth-orbiting satellites and with other instruments aboard the space shuttle Columbia, revealed under layers of desert sand dry beds of rivers that once flowed in this region. Subsequent research on the ground established that the area was well watered, with major rivers and many tributaries, since perhaps 200,000 years ago and until about 4,000 years ago, when the climate changed.

The discovery in the Sahara desert made us wonder: Could the same have happened in the Arabian desert? Could it be that when the version in chapter 2 of Genesis was written - obviously at a time when Assyria was already known - the Pishon River had entirely vanished under the sands as the climate changed in past millennia?

Confirmation of the validity of this line of reasoning took place quite dramatically in March 1993. It was an announcement by Farouk El-Baz, director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, concerning the discovery of a lost river under the sands of the Arabian peninsula - a river that flowed for more than 530 miles from the mountains of western Arabia all the way eastward to the Persian Gulf. There it formed a delta that covered much of today’s Kuwait and reached as far as the present-day city of Basra, merging - "confluing" - there with the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It was a river that was about fifty feet deep throughout its entire length and more than three miles wide at some points.

After the last Ice Age, between 11,000 and 6,000 years ago, the Boston University study concluded, the Arabian climate was wet and rainy enough to support such a river. But some 5,000 years ago the river dried up because of climatic changes that resulted in the aridity and desert-like conditions in the peninsula. In time, wind-driven sand dunes covered the river’s channel, obliterating all evidence of the once-mighty river.


High-resolution imaging by Landsat satellites, however, revealed that the dune patterns changed as the sand crossed a line that extended for hundreds of miles, a line that ended in mystifying deposits of gravel in Kuwait and near Basra - gravel of rocks that came from the Hijaz Mountains in western Arabia. Ground-level inspections then confirmed the existence of the ancient river (Fig. 7).

Figure 7

Dr. El-Baz has given the lost river the name Kuwait River. We suggest that it was called Pishon in antiquity, cutting across the Arabian peninsula that indeed was an ancient source of gold and precious stones.

And what about the river Gihon, "the one that meanders in all of the land of Kush"? Kush is listed twice in the Table
of Nations, first with the Hamitic-African lands of Egypt, Put (Nubia/Sudan) and Canaan; and a second time as one of the Mesopotamian lands where Nimrod was lord, he "whose first kingdoms were Babylon and Erech and Akkad, all in the land of Shine’ar" (Sumer). The Mesopotamian Kush was in all probability east of Sumer, the area of the Zagros Mountains.


It was the homeland of the Kushshu people, the Akkadian name for the Kassites, who in the second millennium B.C. swept down from the Zagros Mountains and occupied Babylon. The ancient name was retained as Kushan for the district of Susa (the "Shushan" of the biblical Book of Esther) well into Persian and even Roman times.

There are several noteworthy rivers in that part of the Zagros Mountains, but they have not caught the attention of scholars because none of them share headwaters with the Tigris and Euphrates (which begin hundreds of miles to the northeast). Here, however, another thought came into play: Could the ancients have spoken of rivers that join together not at their headwaters, but at their confluence into the Persian Gulf? If so, the Gihon - the fourth river of Eden - would have been a river that joins the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the newly discovered "Kuwait River" at the head of the Persian Gulf!

If the problem is looked at thus, the obvious candidate for the Gihon easily emerges. It is the Karun River, which is indeed the major river of the ancient land of Kushshu. Some five hundred miles in length, it forms an unusual loop, starting its tortuous flow in the Zardeh-Kuh range in what is now southwestern Iran. Instead of flowing down south to the Persian Gulf, it flows "upward" (as one looks at a modern map) in a northwesterly direction, through deep gorges.


Then it makes a loop and begins to flow southward in a zigzagging course as it leaves the high mountains of the Zagros range and starts a descent toward the gulf. Finally, in its last hundred miles or so, it mellows and meanders gently toward a confluence with none other than the Tigris and Euphrates in the marshy delta they form at the head of the Persian Gulf (the so-called Shatt-el-Arab, nowadays contested between Iran and Iraq).

The location, the circular course, the gushing, the confluence with the other three rivers at the head of the Persian Gulf, all suggest to us that the Karun River could well be the biblical river Gihon that circled the land of Kush. Such an identification, combined with the space-age discoveries of the major river in Arabia, by so delineating and identifying the location of the Garden of Eden in southern Mesopotamia, confirm the physical existence of such a place and form a sound foundation of fact, not myth, under the related tales of Divine Encounters.

Confirmation of southern Mesopotamia, ancient Sumer, as the E.DIN, the original biblical Eden, does more than create a geographic congruency between the Sumerian texts and the biblical narrative. It also identifies the group with whom Humankind had Divine Encounters. The E.DIN was the abode ("E") of the DIN ("The Righteous/Divine Ones"). Their full title was DIN.GIR, meaning "The Righteous Ones of the Rocketships," and was written pictographically as a two-stage rocket whose command module could separate for landing (Fig. 8a).


As the script evolved from pictographic to the wedgelike cuneiform, the pictograph was replaced by a star symbol meaning "Heavenly Ones"; later on, in Assyria and Babylon, the symbol was simplified to crossed wedges (Fig. 8b) and its reading, in the Akkadian language, changed to Ilu - "The Lofty Ones."

Fig. 8a and 8b


The Mesopotamian Creation texts provide not just the answer to the puzzle of who were the several deities involved in the creation of The Adam, causing the Bible to employ the plural Elohim ("The Divine Ones") in a monotheistic version of the events and to retain the "us" in "Let us make Man in our image and after our likeness"; they also provide the background for this achievement.

The evidence leaves little room for doubting that the Elohim of Genesis were the Sumerian DIN.GIR. It was to them that the feat of creating The Adam was attributed, and it was their diverse (and often antagonistic) leaders - Enki, Enlil, Ninmah - who were the "us" whom the first Homo sapiens first encountered.

The expulsion from the Garden of Eden brought to an end the first chapter in this relationship. Losing Paradise but gaining knowledge and the ability to procreate, Humankind was henceforth destined to be bonded with Earth -

In the sweat of thy brow
shalt thou eat bread,
until your return to the earth,
for from it wast thou taken.
For thou art earthdust
and unto earthdust thou shall return.

The E.DIN and its four rivers


But that is not how Humankind saw its destiny. Being created in the image, after the likeness, and with the genes of the Dingir/Elohim, it saw itself part of the heavens - the other planets, the stars, the universe. It strives to join them in their celestial abode, to gain their immortality.


To do so, the ancient texts tell us, Man has continued to seek Divine Encounters without weapons-bearing Cherubim blocking the way.

The First Language

Could Adam and Eve speak, and in what language did they converse with God?

Until a few decades ago modem scholars held that human speech began with Cro-Magnon Man some 35,000 years ago and that languages developed locally among diverse clans no more than 8,000 to 12,000 years ago.

This is not the biblical view according to which Adam and Eve conversed in an understandable language, and that prior to the Tower of Babel incident "the whole Earth was of one language and one kind of words."

In the 1960s and 1970s word comparisons led scholars to conclude that all the thousands of different languages-including those of Native Americans - could be grouped into three primary ones. Later fossil discoveries in Israel revealed that 60,000 years ago Neanderthals could already speak as we do. The conclusion that there indeed had been a single Mother Tongue some 100,000 years ago has been confirmed in mid-1994 by updated studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

The advances in genetic research, now applied to speech and language, suggest that these abilities, distinguishing humans from apes, are of a genetic origin. Genetic studies indicate that there indeed had been an "Eve," a sole mother of us all-and that she appeared 200,000-250,000 years ago with "the gift of gab."

Some Fundamentalists would believe that the Mother Tongue was Hebrew, the language of the Holy Bible. Perhaps, but probably not: Hebrew stems from Akkadian (the first "Semitic" language) that was preceded by Sumerian. Was it then Sumerian, the language of the people who had settled in Shine’ar? But that was only after the Deluge, whereas Mesopotamian texts refer to a pre-Diluvial language.


Anthropologist Kathleen Gibson of the University of Texas at Houston believes that humans acquired language and mathematics at the same time. Was the First Language that of the Anunnaki themselves, taught to Mankind as all other knowledge?


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