- 1. The second river of Eden, surrounding the whole land of Cush or Ethiopia (Gen. ii. 13). Its identification has been a matter of dispute among Biblical exegetes and critics. Josephus (" Ant. " i. 1, § 3) identifies Gihon with the Nile, and the Septuagint renders "Sihor" (the Nile; Jer. ii. 18) by Γηών. But the Midrash and later commentators, as Saadia and Rashi, think Pison, the first river of Eden, to be the Nile. The Arabs call the Oxus "Jaiḥun," and it has been assumed by certain critics to be the "Gihon" of the Bible. The fact is that the identification of Gihon depends on that of Cush. Huet identifies Cush with Chusistan, and Bochart identifies it with Susiana; apparently, therefore, Gihon must be sought among Asiatic rivers, and it may be the Oxus, the Orontes, or the Ganges. But the medieval commentators, following the Septuagint, considered Cush to be Ethiopia, thus making Gihon an African river. Abraham Farissol, speaking of the position of Eden ("Iggeret Orḥot 'Olam," ch. xxx.), identifies Pison with the Nile, and speaks of Gihon in a way which led his annotator, Thomas Hyde (Ugolinus, "Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum," vii.), to think that he meant the Niger. Placing Eden in the region of the Mountains of the Moon, Farissol removes the difficulty presented by the fact that the Euphrates and Tigris are in Asia by declaring that these rivers, though taking their rise in Africa, actually run underground till they reappear in Assyria (comp. Pausanias, ii. 5).
- 2. A fountain near Jerusalem where the anointing and proclamation of Solomon as king took place (I Kings i. 33, 38, 45). According to one passage it was on low ground (see II Chron. xxxiii. 14), but in another (ib. xxxii. 30) it is said that Hezekiah stopped the "upper watercourse" of Gihon. This fountain is mentioned by Josephus as being outside the city ("Ant." vii. 14, § 5). Robinson ("Researches," i. 513) came to the conclusion that "there existed anciently a fountain Gihon on the west of the city, which was 'stopped' or covered over by Hezekiah, and its waters brought down by subterranean channels into the city." The Jewish commentators consider this Gihon to be the river mentioned above. The Targum of Jonathan, as well as the Syriac and Arabic versions have "Shiloah" for "Gihon" in I Kings i., while in Chronicles they agree with the Hebrew text.