‘Kidmat’ means ‘East of’. It could also mean ‘before’ or ‘of old’. Original references are in the Old Testament, civilization’s first book, in the beginning – Genesis. The story tells of a place named ‘Eden’, where at its eastern part god had planted a special garden, and placed Adam and Eve. In this context, ‘Kidmat Eden’ would mean the location of the garden within Eden.
After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve are punished and exiled. They still reside in Eden, but not inside the garden. When Cain killed his brother Abel, he too was exiled. He went to ‘the land of Nod’, which is in ‘Kidmat Eden’. It could be another area in eastern Eden. In any case, ‘Nod’ means ‘to wander’, and it seems Cain was cursed to wander the land forever.
So ‘Kidmat Eden’ could be Utopia itself. It could be symbolic, although the faithful believe that ‘heaven on Earth’ really did exist. At the same time it could also be a land of exile and wandering, of change and new beginnings, despair and hope.
Researchers have been trying to identify Eden’s location for centuries. The current prevailing theory is that it lies in an area covered by the Persian Gulf, at its northern tip, which before 4000 BC was not covered in water. At the time this area was going through a ‘wet’ period, and was indeed a paradise.
The theory is that the stories of the garden and the exile represent a summary of a painful transition in the history of the earliest known civilizations; a transition from hunting-gathering to farming and agriculture, a transition from relying on the grace of god to self-reliance by growing their own food. Such a transition would be traumatic for the displaced hunter-gatherers, who might have seen it as an act of defiance. There was also a climate change that eventually flooded the area, and Eden was gone forever.
The words ‘Eden’ – fertile plain, and ‘Adam’ – settlement on the plain, were found in Sumer, Just North of that region, where the world’s first writing system using cuneiform script was invented, but they originated from a previous, pre-historic culture. The Sumerians adopted the stories. Later, the Hebrews who moved west to form the nation of Israel, but still wanted to link up with that great civilization, recorded those stories of events that happened millennia earlier, as the beginning of history. Thus started a new religion.
Kidmat Eden, to me, is both Utopia and change. It is new ideas, times, and places, and courage to explore them. It is the place we came from, and the place we aspire to go back to – out to the stars.
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