Did Adam and Eve speak Dutch? A theory dating back to the Renaissance places the Garden of Eden in what is today the Netherlands and Belgium.
Israelis and Jews have it all wrong, apparently. The Promised Land is not where they think. It’s actually a few thousand kilometers to the northwest in the Netherlands and Belgium.
In fact, the Low Countries have the dual honor of being both paradise on Earth and the place where many of the Bible’s most prominent celebrities did their thing, at least according to Johannes Goropius Becanus (1519-1572).
This Renaissance polymath was not only a physician to the royals, he was also an amateur linguist. According to his bizarre theories, the Garden of Eden was actually located in Antwerp, and Adam and Eve spoke the Antwerp dialect of Dutch.
And therein lies the problem. Amateur linguists are just the worst of the Dilettante’s tribe.
His proof? The etymology of their names. According to Becanus, Adam apparently derived from the Dutch compound Haat-Dam (Dam-Against-Hate) and Eve is Eeuw-Vat (The-Eternal-Barrel). He similarly “discovered” origins for Cane, Abel, Noah and other biblical figures. Becanus believed that these etymologies were self-evident; after all, he was convinced that Dutch was the oldest language in the world (Duits, i.e. De Oudst, or The Oldest).
He also theorized that Antwerp was founded by the descendants of Noah, though how they located this low-lying town – only 7.5 meters above sea level – after the reported deluge is unclear.
Though he did have admirers, Becanus and his theories were ridiculed even during his lifetime. His contemporary, Dutch religious leader and historian Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609) scoffed: “I have never read such nonsense.” He derided Becanus as the man who “was not ashamed to criticize Moses for drawing etymologies from Hebrew rather than Dutch.”
Dilettantes always have some weird admirers. There are always people who revel in ignorance. Read the rest of the Ha’aretz essay, it’s quite fun.