The Four Rivers

64” X 88” OIL ON WOOD PANELS 2004

Aryeh Kaplan, in his book, WATERS OF EDEN, remarks that the biblical narrative of the Garden of Eden is unexpectedly interrupted by a detailed description of the four rivers flowing from Eden. Immediately after we are told of the creation of man and the planting of the Garden, it relates that a river issued forth from Eden to water the garden, and there it split and became four headwaters. After this account, the river is no longer mentioned in the Creation narrative.

Rabbi Kaplan quotes a midrash revealing that after Adam was driven from Paradise, the first human was suffused by sorrow and regret, and sat down in the waters of the river - the only remaining link on earth to the lost Eden. Although he had been permanently barred from the Garden itself, he sought the solace of physically connecting with the waters.

The four rivers flowed from beneath the tree of life which stood in the middle of the garden of Paradise and reached out from there to all the corners of the world. These living waters were created before Adam to be an eternal link to Eden and the means for the future purification of human sin.

Then and now, ritual immersion or contact with the living water signals a transformation and rebirth. In re-connecting to the original state of man’s perfection in a world before death and sin, we are given an opportunity to spiritually transform ourselves.

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