GARDEN In biblical times, an enclosed plot of ground on which flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruit and nut trees were cultivated (Genesis 2:8; 1 Kings 21:2; Esther 1:5; Isaiah 51:3; John 18:1-2).
Characteristics The primary Old Testament words for “garden” (gan and gannah) derive from a root meaning “to surround.” Gardens were plots of ground enclosed or surrounded by walls or hedges. Some were large (Esther 1:5), the most prominent gardens being royal ones (2 Kings 25:4; Nehemiah 3:15; Jeremiah 39:4). Most gardens were situated close to the owner's residence (1 Kings 21:2). Occasionally a house might be located in the garden (2 Kings 9:27). An abundant supply of water was especially important (Genesis 13:10; Numbers 24:6; Isaiah 1:30; Isaiah 58:11; Jeremiah 31:12). Gardeners were employed to tend the more substantial gardens, sowing seed and watering (Deuteronomy 11:10; John 20:15). Orchards or small vineyards were sometimes called gardens.
Contents A variety of plants were cultivated in gardens though most of them were small (Matthew 13:32). Biblical references include cedar, cypress, and fruit trees (Ecclesiastes 2:5; Ezekiel 31:8); vegetables (KJV “herbs”; Deuteronomy 11:10); fragrant spices such as myrrh and balsam (Song of Solomon 4:16; Song of Solomon 5:1);
flowers such as lilies (Song of Solomon 6:2); and a wide variety of other plants—mint, rue (Luke 11:42), dill, cummin (Matthew 23:23), and mustard (Luke 13:19).
Uses Obviously a garden provided food for its owner (Jeremiah 29:5,Jeremiah 29:28; Amos 9:14), but it also served other aesthetic and utilitarian purposes. It was a place of beauty where plants were pleasing to the sight (Genesis 2:9). As a guarded and protected place (Song of Solomon 4:12), persons could retreat there for prayer (Matthew 26:36-46), for quiet or solitude (Esther 7:7), or even for bathing (Susanna 1:15). It provided a cool escape from the heat of the day (Genesis 3:8; Susanna 1:7). Friends could meet in gardens (John 18:1-2), or banquets could be served there (Esther 1:5). It thus was often associated with joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:3). On the other hand, pagan sacrifices were sometimes offered in gardens (Isaiah 65:3; Isaiah 66:17); and gardens were used as burial sites (2 Kings 21:18,2 Kings 21:26; John 19:41-42).
Important Gardens The garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8; Genesis 3:23-24) was planted by God (Genesis 2:8) and entrusted to Adam for cultivating and keeping (Genesis 2:15). Following their sin, Adam and Eve were banished from the garden; but “Eden the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:13) continued as a symbol of blessing and bounty (Ezekiel 36:35; Joel 2:3). The “king's garden” in Jerusalem was located near a gate to the city that provided unobserved exit or escape (2 Kings 25:4; Nehemiah 3:15; Jeremiah 39:4; Jeremiah 52:7). The “garden” (John 18:1) called Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32) was a place where Jesus often met with His disciples (John 18:2) and where He was betrayed and arrested.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.