The Pishon is one of four river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s (along with Hidekel (Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

), Phrath (Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

) and Gihon
Gihon is the name of the second river mentioned in the second chapter of the biblical Book of Genesis. The Gihon is mentioned as one of four rivers issuing out of the Garden of Eden that branched from a single river within the garden. The name may be interpreted as "Bursting Forth, Gushing"...

) mentioned in the Biblical
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 Genesis. In that passage, these rivers are described as arising within the Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

. The Pishon is described as encircling "the entire land of Havilah
Havilah is in several books of the Bible referring to both land and people.The story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:11: "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads...

" (2:11).

Some scholars have questioned English translations that say the rivers sources were in Eden, and claim the Hebrew rendering would allow Eden to be a confluence point for four rivers originating elsewhere.


Unlike the first two rivers in the list, the Pishon has never been clearly located. It is briefly mentioned together with the Tigris in the Wisdom of Sirach (24:25), but this reference throws no more light on the location of the river. Some of the better-known identifications over the centuries follow.

The Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus, in the beginning of his Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

(1st century AD) identified the Pishon with the Ganges.

The medieval French rabbi Rashi
Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

 identified it with the Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...


Some early modern scholars, including A.D. Calumet (1672–1757), Rosebmuller (1768–1835), and Kell (1807–1888), believed the source river [for Eden] was a region of springs: "The Pishon and Gihon were mountain streams. The former may have been the Phasis or Araxes, and the latter the Oxus."

In 1995 James A. Sauer, former curator of the Harvard Semitic Museum, made an argument from geology and history that Pishon referred to what is now the Wadi Bisha, a dry channel which begins in the Hijaz Mountains near Medina to run northeast to Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...


David Rohl
David Rohl
New Chronology is the term used to describe an alternative Chronology of the ancient Near East developed by English Egyptologist David Rohl and other researchers beginning with A Test of Time: The Bible - from Myth to History in 1995...

 identified Pishon with the Uizhun
Sefid River
The Sefīd-Rūd is a river approximately long, rising in northwestern Iran and flowing generally northeast to meet the Caspian Sea at Rasht. The river is Iran's second longest river after the Karun....

, placing Havilah to the northeast of Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

. The Uizhun is known locally as the Golden River. Rising near Mt. Sahand
Sahand is a massive, heavily eroded stratovolcano in northwestern Iran. At , it is the highest mountain in the Iranian province of East Azarbaijan....

, it meanders between ancient gold mines and lodes of lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli is a relatively rare semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color....

 before feeding the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

. Such natural resources correspond to the ones associated with the land of Havilah in Genesis.
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