Minerals in the Garden

The Pishon River, originating in Eden, flowed "around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there" (Gen.

The intent of these verses is clearly to connect in our minds the Garden of Eden with precious stones and minerals; and this point is made in other Biblical references that speak of Eden. The most obvious reference is in God's statement to fallen Adam (part of which was quoted above):

You were in Eden, the Garden of God;

Every precious stone was your covering:

The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond;

The beryl, the onyx, and the jasper;

The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald;

In fact, the ground seems to have been fairly littered with sparkling gems of all sorts, according to the next verse: "You walked in the midst of the stones of fire." The abundance of jewelry is regarded here as a blessing: fellowship with God in Eden meant being surrounded with beauty. Moses tells us that the gold of that land was good (i.e., in its native state, unmixed with other minerals). The fact that gold must now be mined from the earth by costly methods is a result of the Curse, particularly in the judgment of the Flood.

The stone that is called onyx in Scripture maybe identical to the stone of that name today, but no one knows for sure; and there is even less certainty regarding the nature of bdellium. But some very interesting things about these stones appear as we study the Biblical history of salvation. When God redeemed His people from Egypt, He ordered the High Priest to wear special garments. On his shoulders, the High Priest was to wear two onyx stones, with the names of the 12 tribes written upon them; and God declares these stones to be "stones of memorial" (Ex. 25:7; 28:9-12). A memorial of what? The only mention of the onyx prior to the Exodus is in Genesis 2:12, with reference to the Garden of Eden! God wanted His people to look at the High Priest - who was in many ways a symbol of man fully restored in God's image — and thus to remember the blessings of the Garden, when man was in communion with God. The stones were to serve as reminders to the people that in saving them God was restoring them to Eden.

An even more striking example of this is in what we are told about God's provision of manna. In itself, manna was a reminder of Eden: for even while God's people were in the wilderness (on their way to the Promised Land of abundance), food was plentiful, good-tasting, and easy to find — as, of course, it had been in the Garden. But, just in case they might miss the point, Moses recorded that manna was the color of bdellium (Num. 11:7) -the only occurrence of that word apart from its original mention in the book of Genesis! And this, by the way, tells us the color of bdellium, since we are told elsewhere (Ex. 16:31) that manna was white. In our Lord's messages to the Church in the Book of Revelation, Edenic imagery is used again and again to describe the nature of salvation (see Rev. 2-3), and on one occasion He promises: "To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone" (Rev. 2:17).

It is noteworthy that these statements regarding onyx and were made as Israel was traveling through the land of As they journeyed, they could observe the terrible effects of the Curse, which had turned this beautiful and well-watered land into a "waste and howling wilderness" — while they, through grace, were able to enjoy the blessings of the Garden of Eden. This theme of Eden-restoration was also evident in the abundant use of gold for the Tabernacle and Temple furnishings (Ex. 25; 1 Kings 6), and for the garments of the High Priest (Ex. 28). The forfeited privileges of the First Adam are restored to us by the Last Adam, as we once again come into God's presence through our High Priest.

In their prophecies of the coming Messiah and his blessings, the Old Testament prophets concentrated on this Edenic imagery of jewelry, describing salvation in terms of God's adorning of His people:

Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of crystal,

And your entire wall of precious stones. (Isa. 54:11-12)

The wealth on the seas will be brought to you,

To you the riches of the nations will come.

Herds of camels will cover your land,

Young camels of Midian and Ephah.

And all from Sheba will come,

Bearing gold and incense

And proclaiming the praise of the Lord. . . .

Surely the islands look to me;

In the lead are the ships of Tarshish,

Bringing your sons from afar,

With their silver and gold,

To the honor of the LORD your God,

The Holy One of Israel,

Your gates will always stand open,

They will never be shut, day or night,

So that men may bring you the wealth of the nations. . . ."

In line with this theme, the Bible describes us (Mai. 3:17) and our work for God's kingdom (1 Cor. 3:11-15) in terms of jewelry; and, at the end of history, the whole City of God is a dazzling, brilliant display of precious stones (Rev. 21:18-21).

The story of Paradise thus gives us important information about the origin and meaning of precious metals and stones, and therefore of money as well. Right from the beginning, God placed value upon gold and gems, having created them as reflections of His own glory and beauty. The original value of

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