🔼The name Gihon: Summary
- From the verb גיח (giah), to burst forth.
🔼The name Gihon in the Bible
There are two Gihons mentioned in the Bible. The first Gihon is Eden's river number two (the others are Pishon, Haddakel and Parat). Of this river it is said that it flows around the whole land of Cush (Genesis 2:13).
The second Gihon mentioned in the Bible is a place near Jerusalem where Solomon was anointed king (1 Kings 1:33-45; in 1 Kings 1 this name is spelled גחון). Apparently this Gihon was some kind of waterway, as king Hezekiah rerouted its course (2 Chronicles 32:30).
🔼Etymology of the name Gihon
The name Gihon is derived from the verb גיח (giah) meaning to burst forth:
The verb גיח (giah), or גוח (gwh), means to burst forth. It's applied to rivers and human births. Human collectives such as families and tribes are in the Bible often symbolized as mountains. Hence births signify valleys and are associated with rivers.
Verb גיא (gy') isn't used in the Bible and its meaning is subsequently unknown. The derived noun גיא (gai'), however, means valley and is used frequently. There are at least seven named valleys mentioned in the Old Testament.
The observation that "every valley shall be exalted and every mountain made low" ties into the principle of rebirth, via which is peopled a world in which every individual is king and high priest and utterly free.
HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament calls the river the Gusher, or Bubbler, although 'Bubbler' seems a bit too tame. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Great Breaking Forth (Of Waters), but that seems a bit over the top. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Bursting Forth.
Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that geographically the Gihon corresponds with the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia. The story of the four rivers, however, most generally tells of the evolution of human civilization; see our article on the name Tigris for a closer look at this hypothesis.