GangreneAid to Bible Understanding
Moist gangrene is a result of veins, rather than arteries, being occluded. The affected part undergoes putrefaction. Wounds, frostbite or other interference with the blood supply can bring about gangrene. The dead material is usually separated from the living tissue by a red line of demarcation and is cast off by a process of inflammation, or it becomes necessary to amputate by surgery. The bacteria associated with gangrene (especially in moist gangrene) can cause blood poisoning and a deadly spread of the infection if the affected part is not removed.
The apostle Paul uses the word figuratively of the teaching of false doctrine and of “empty speeches that violate what is holy.” He stresses the danger that such speech brings to the entire congregation, saying: “For they will advance to more and more ungodliness, and their word will spread like gangrene.” He then cites examples: “Hymenaeus and Philetus are of that number. These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some.” (2 Tim. 2:16-18) In view of Paul’s earlier symbolism, picturing the congregation as a body with many members—feet, hands, and so forth (1 Cor. chap. 12)—his figurative use of gangrene, with its danger to the human body, gives strong emphasis to the importance of eliminating false doctrine and ungodly speech from the Christian congregation.
GardenAid to Bible Understanding
Gardens of Bible times were usually areas enclosed by a hedge of thorns or by a wall of stone or mud, perhaps with thorns along the top.—Song of Sol. 4:12.
Generally speaking, the gardens spoken of in the Bible are quite different from the ordinary gardens of the West. Many of them were more in the nature of a park with various kinds of trees, including fruit and nut trees (Eccl. 2:5; Amos 9:14; Song of Sol. 6:11), spice plants and flowers (Song of Sol. 6:2), with winding paths, and they were well watered by streams or by means of irrigation. (Isa. 1:30) Smaller gardens may have been cultivated by individual families. King Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard, he claimed, for a vegetable garden.—1 Ki. 21:2.
The above-mentioned parklike gardens would usually be outside the city, except some of those of kings or very rich men. The King’s Garden, near the place where Zedekiah and his men tried to escape from Jerusalem during the Chaldean siege, was probably situated just outside the SE wall of that city. (2 Ki. 25:4; Neh. 3:15) Josephus speaks also of a place about six miles (10 kilometers) from Jerusalem, called Etham (“very pleasant it is in fine gardens, and abounding in rivulets of water”), where, so he claims, Solomon was accustomed to ride in the mornings in his chariot. It must have been a large and beautiful garden in which King Ahasuerus of Persia held a great seven-day banquet, in the third year of his reign.—Esther 1:1-5.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon constituted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. King Nebuchadnezzar built them to please his wife, a Median princess, who had come from a hilly country and, upset at the flatness of Babylonia, sighed for her native mountains. It is said that Nebuchadnezzar built four acres (1.62 hectares) of arches progressively higher, like steps, from seventy-five to three hundred feet (c. 23 to 91 meters) high and overlaid this mountain of masonry with sufficient soil to nourish the largest trees. At the top he built a reservoir, supplied from the Euphrates by a screw-type water lift.
While in Egypt, the Israelites had cultivated what seem to have been smaller vegetable gardens. Deuteronomy 11:10 says they irrigated these with the foot, possibly either by foot-powered treadmills or by conducting irrigation water by means of channels, opening and resealing the mud walls of the channels with the foot to water the various parts of the garden.
The garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, just across the Kidron from Jerusalem, was a favorite spot with Jesus Christ, where he could find solitude with his disciples. It was to this garden that Jesus retired with his disciples after eating his last Passover and instituting the Lord’s Evening Meal. There he withdrew a short distance from his disciples and prayed fervently, being ministered to by an angel. The traitor Judas, knowing of Jesus’ custom, led the mob to Gethsemane, where he betrayed Jesus with a kiss.—Matt. 26:36, 46-49; Luke 22:39-48; John 18:1, 2.
Gardens were sometimes used as burial places. Manasseh and his son Amon were buried in the garden of Uzza. (2 Ki. 21:18, 25, 26) It was in a garden, in a new memorial tomb, that Jesus was buried. (John 19:41, 42) The Israelites fell into the bad practice of sacrificing to pagan gods in the gardens, seating themselves among the burial places and eating loathsome things in their observance of false religion, for which Jehovah declared that he would render judgment.—Isa. 65:2-5; 66:16, 17.
GARDEN OF EDEN
The most celebrated garden of history is the Garden of Eden. It seems to have been an enclosed area, bounded, no doubt, by natural barriers. The garden, located “in Eden, toward the east,” had an entrance on its eastern side. It was here that cherubs were stationed with the flaming blade of a sword to block men’s access to the tree of life in the middle of the garden. (Gen. 2:8; 3:24) The garden was well watered by a river flowing throughout it and parting to become the headwaters of four large rivers. This parklike “paradise of pleasure” (Gen. 2:8, Dy) contained every tree desirable to one’s sight and good for food, as well as other vegetation, and was the habitat of animals and birds. Adam was to cultivate it and to keep it and eventually to expand it earth wide as he carried out God’s command to “subdue” the earth. It was a sanctuary, a place where God representatively walked and communicated with Adam and Eve, a perfect home for them.—Gen. 2:9, 10, 15-18, 21, 22; 1:28; 3:8-19.
Although the Bible does not state how long the cherubs remained to guard the way of the tree of life, it may have been that such an arrangement existed until the Flood, some 1,656 years later. Untended by Adam, who with Eve had been driven out for their disobedience in eating from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and bad, the garden likely suffered deterioration. At any rate, it would at the latest have been obliterated by means of the Flood.
The beauty of the Garden of Eden was recalled centuries after the Flood when Lot viewed the whole District of the Jordan, observing “that all of it was a well-watered region, . . . like the garden of Jehovah.” (Gen. 13:10) Jehovah kept his eyes on the Promised Land, preserving it as an inheritance for Israel. Moses contrasts it with Egypt, where the Israelites had to do irrigating as in a vegetable garden, describing the Promised Land as a land watered by “the rain of the heavens.”—Deut. 11:10-12.
In a warning to Judah through Joel, Jehovah tells of a people “numerous and mighty” who will devastate the land, converting it from a state “like the garden of Eden” into a wilderness. (Joel 2:2, 3) By contrast, those who do Jehovah’s will and enjoy his good pleasure are likened to a well-watered garden. (Isa. 58:8-11) Such was to be the situation of Jehovah’s covenant people restored from Babylonian exile.