What does Genesis 2:11 mean?
ESV: The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
NIV: The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.
NASB: The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
CSB: The name of the first is Pishon, which flows through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.
NLT: The first branch, called the Pishon, flowed around the entire land of Havilah, where gold is found.
KJV: The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
NKJV: The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
Verse Commentary:
Verses 10 through 14 describe the territories around Eden, by commenting on the great river which flowed out of the region and divided into four smaller rivers. These details correspond to rivers or lands we know in the modern world, helping us understand where the region of Eden was without knowing the specific location of the garden.

The first of the four rivers described is Pishon. The word Pishon means "to leap" and may have come from a physical description of the river itself. The river might have been turbulent, crooked, or steep and filled with waterfalls and eddies. Pishon is described as flowing around the land of Havilah. Scholars suggest Havilah may be Arabia, an area known for gold. If that's right, Pishon would be an Arabian river or one associated with the Persian Gulf.

Unlike two of the other rivers identified in this passage, Tigris and Euphrates, we don't have an explicit connection between this "leaping" river and a known waterway in the modern world.
Verse Context:
Genesis 2:10–14 is a side-note in the chapter's description of the creation of man. The details given here would have helped the original readers of Genesis understand the location of the Garden of Eden. The reason for this description is not given. In later verses, the Bible will make it clear that God does not intend for man to return to Eden (Genesis 3:24). However, the garden might have been destroyed in the flood, at which point there would be no harm in knowing where it used to be.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 2 begins with a description of the seventh day of creation, in which God rested from His work. Then it returns to the sixth day and describes in more detail the creation of man, the garden God placed him into, and the work God gave him to do. God recognizes that it is not good for man to be alone and makes a helper for him out of his own rib. This woman becomes Adam's companion and wife, setting the original example of God's design for marriage. The two exist in pure innocence, naked yet unashamed before sin enters into the world.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 2 concludes the description of God's week of creation and then zooms in on the creation of man, his work, his perfect environment, and the creation of woman as his helper and wife. It is our last glimpse of the world before it is ravaged by human sin and death with the disobedience of Adam and Eve in chapter 3. Where chapter 1 gave a full overview of creation, this chapter focuses more on a few specific events. These are crucial to understanding the fall of man.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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