“Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four river heads.” (Genesis 2:10)
In the beginning, one river coursed its way through the ancient region called Eden — loosely translated “paradise.” The river watered the trees and other vegetation that grew in the garden that God had planted in this paradise. Eventually, this river became the headwaters of four other rivers, each named in subsequent verses. These rivers then provided life to other regions of the planet.
According to Judaism, the one and only Word of God can be understood on four different levels. The first is called peshat or “literal,” the next is remez (“a hint or allusion”), followed by d’rash (“homiletical”), and sod or “hidden.” In Hebrew thought, these four levels of biblical exegesis are referred to collectively as פרדס pardes, a word meaning “(fruit tree) orchard.” The word is formed by the first letter in each of the four levels — P-R-D-S.
I want to suggest that the Word of God is symbolized by the river which divided into four other rivers which are, in turn, symbolic of the four different types of study. This point is accentuated by the fact that the English word “paradise” is etymologically related to the Persian word pardes which means “an enclosed garden.”
When we study the Word of God as it was intended, we will forever be learning new things that were embedded in the text in the very beginning. Messiah said that:
“Every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (Matthew 13:52).
Paul told us the Spirit of God reveals to us the “deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Thus we understand that the Word of God is a fathomless source of wisdom and inspiration; its mysteries can baffle the greatest of minds and can, at the same time, be understood by a child. Each and every day it gives life to our existence if we are willing to dive in. It’s like the old saying: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Let’s be that one who continually hungers and thirsts for the Word of God.
Blessings and Shalom,