God planted a garden in Eden (Genesis 2:8). Why is it called Eden?

I don't see that any of the commentaries in my mikraos g'dolos discuss this.

  • I see that Ralbag's commentary gives a reason, but I don't understand what it's saying.
    – msh210
    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:03
  • maybe from the root עדינות, להתעדן? could you give a link to that ralbag or at least quote him? dont have mikraot gedolot by me.
    – havarka
    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:18
  • 1
    could it be related to the other definition of Eiden, "pleasant" or "enjoyment"? [the entry above it in the even-shoshan]
    – rosends
    Dec 17, 2014 at 12:05

3 Answers 3


R. Aryeh Kaplan's commentary on the verse (2:8), from The Living Torah, states that Eden means "Delight in Hebrew." The Meam Lo'ez (which Kaplan helped translate from the Ladino) explains that "the Torah informs us that God planted a delightful place in the east."

The latest edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica essentially states this as well. It discusses the derivations that DanF cites in his answer, but ultimately stresses this:

More likely is the connection with the Hebrew root ʿ dn, attested in such words as ma ʿ danim, "dainties," "luxury items" (Gen. 49:20; Lam. 4:5) ʿ ednah, "pleasure," (Gen. 18:12), ʿ adinah, "pampered woman" (Isa. 47:8); and in Old Aramaic m ʿ dn "provider of abundance," which would be a transparent etymology for the name of a divine garden. The Septuagint apparently derived Eden from ʿ dn, translating gan ʿ eden (Gen. 3:23–4) by ho paradeisos tēs truphēs, "the park of luxuries," whence English "paradise."

  • It appears to me to be a backward reason - after the idea of the afterlife spread, Eden was re-interpreted as pleasure or luxury, while originally it meant "well-watered" as in Dan's answer.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 13, 2021 at 19:35

Wikipedia states:

Traditionally, the favoured derivation of the name "Eden" was from the Akkadian edinnu, derived from a Sumerian word meaning "plain" or "steppe". Eden is now believed to be more closely related to an Aramaic root word meaning "fruitful, well-watered." The Hebrew term is translated "pleasure" in Sarah's secret saying in Genesis 18:12.

It's common for the Torah to use Aramaic words (we see many word imports in Breishit, esp.) The above explanation is credible.

Note: Sarah uses the fem. version עדנה . Rashi explains this word as deriving from something that "refines" the skin. I'm not sure how this definition related to the masc. definition.

  • +1 Wow, Sara's עדנה might also reflect watering of the skin, as old skin looks often dry.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 13, 2021 at 19:31
  • I think yours (WIKI's) is the original meaning that was later adapted to the idea of the afterlife and reinterpreted as "pleasures" or "luxuries".
    – Al Berko
    Feb 13, 2021 at 19:37
  • Another afterthought in favor of your answer - the garden was IN Eden, not that the garden WAS Eden as many misinterpret. Meaning Eden was a bigger place, a part of which served as the garden.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 13, 2021 at 20:01

Eden refers to pleasure as the Path of the Just writes:

"Our Sages of blessed memory have taught us that man was created for the sole purpose of rejoicing in God and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; for this is true joy and the greatest of pleasures (Edens) that can be found"

  • That doesn't seem like a source for saying that that's why the gan was called that.
    – msh210
    Feb 15, 2015 at 21:05
  • @msh210 gan eden is the purpose of creation. since bestowing spiritual pleasure was the purpose of it all
    – ray
    Feb 16, 2015 at 6:07

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