Could the biblical Garden of Eden really be a reference to the gardens of Sanaa, Yemen? If you think this is a crazy idea, you simply do not realize the genius of Voltaire, the 18th century savant whose Philosophical Dictionary is in itself a garden of intellectual delights. In his commentary on Genesis, Voltaire rejects the idea that Eden was between the four rivers mentioned, claiming another explanation is needed and other rivers should be searched for. Then he drops this tantalizing datum:

In any case, the garden of Eden was manifestly taken from the garden of Eden at Sanaa, in Arabia Felix, famous throughout antiquity. The Hebrews, a very recent people, were an Arab horde. They prided themselves on what was finest in the best canton of Arabia. They have always used for their own purposes the ancient traditions of the great nations in whose midst they formed an enclave.

So Sanaa once was paradise. Let us hope that it shall return to that state again, with fruit only from the tree of the knowledge of good and rivers flowing with the water Yemen so desperately needs.