An olive tree in Turkey

The Eastern Portion of the Garden of Eden:

God stationed the cherubim who guarded the Garden from intruders (Gen. 3:24). This raises an interesting question: Why were the cherubim placed only on the east? A likely answer is that the Garden was inaccessible on all other sides (cf. Song of Sol. 4:12), and that entrance had to be made through the eastern “gate” (this would agree with the meaning of the ancient word paradise, meaning an enclosed garden); in Milton’s poem the devil entered the Garden by leaping over the wall (cf. John 10:1):

So clomb this first grand Thief into God’s fold:

So since into his Church lewd hirelings climb. [4.192-93]

Apparently, the godly tended to stay near the eastern entrance of the Garden for some time—perhaps bringing their sacrifices to the “gate”—for when Cain fled from “the presence of the LORD” (a technical term in Scripture for the official center of worship), he headed for parts farther east (Gen. 4:16), away from God and godly men.

It is thus significant that the entrance to the Tabernacle was from the east side (Ex. 27:13-16): to enter God’s presence through redemption is a gracious re-admittance to Eden. Ezekiel’s vision of the universal triumph of the Gospel shows the healing River of Life flowing out from the doors of the restored Temple (the Church, Eph. 2:19-22) toward the east (Ezek. 47:1-12); and, as a precursor of the day when the wealth of all the nations will be brought into the household of God (Isa. 60:4-16; Hab. 2:6-9; Ps. 72:10-11; Rev. 21:24-26), the birth of the King of kings was honored by wise men bringing gifts from the east (Matt. 2:1-11).

David Chilton. Paradise Restored. excerpt from Chapter 4.