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The meaning of Earth in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

urth ('adhamah, 'erets, 'aphar; ge, oikoumene): In a hilly limestone country like Palestine, the small amount of iron oxide in the rocks tends to be oxidized, and thereby to give a prevailing reddish color to the soil. This is especially the case on relatively barren hills where there is little organic matter present to prevent reddening and give a more blackish tinge.

'Adhamah (compare 'adham, "a man," and Adam) is from 'adham, "to be red," and is used in the senses: "earth" (Exodus 20:24), "land" (Psalms 105:35), a "land" or country (Isaiah 14:2), "ground" (Genesis 4:11), "the earth" (Genesis 7:4).

The word most in use is 'erets, undoubtedly from a most ancient root occurring in many languages, as English "earth," German Erde, Arabic 'ard. It is used in most of the senses of 'adhamah, but less as "soil" and more as "the earth" as a part of the universe; frequently with shamayim, "heavens," as in Genesis 1:1 : "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

'Aphar and its root word and derivatives are closely paralleled in the Arabic, and refer mainly to "dust" or "dry earth" (compare Arabic 'afir, "to be of the color of dust"; 'afar "dust"; ya'fur, "a gazelle"; Hebrew 'opher, "a gazelle"). Compare Genesis 2:7 : "Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground"; Job 2:12 : ".... sprinkled dust upon their heads"; Psalms 104:29 : ".... they die, and return to their dust"; Genesis 18:27 : "dust and ashes."

In the Septuagint and New Testament, ge is used in nearly all cases, oikoumene being used a few times for the "habitable earth," as in Luke 21:26 the King James Version.

See further ANTHROPOLOGY; ASTRONOMY; EVOLUTION; WORLD.

Alfred Ely Day


See more on the meaning of Earth in the Bible:
Earth {Easton's Bible Dictionary}

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