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

se (yam; thalassa; in Acts 27:5 pelagos): The Mediterranean is called ha-yam ha-gadhol, "the great sea" (Numbers 34:6; Joshua 1:4; Ezekiel 47:10, etc.); ha-yam ha-'acharon, "the hinder," or "western sea" (Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 34:2; Joel 2:20; Zechariah 14:8); yam pelishtim, "the sea of the Philis" (Exodus 23:31); the King James Version translates yam yapho' in Ezra 3:7 by "sea of Joppa," perhaps rightly.

The Dead Sea is called yam ha-melach, "the Salt Sea" (Numbers 34:3; Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 3:16, etc.); ha-yam ha-qadhmoni, "the east sea" (Ezekiel 47:18; Joel 2:20; Zechariah 14:8); yam ha-'arabhah,"the sea of the Arabah" (Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3; II Kings 14:25).

The Red Sea is called yam cuph, literally, "sea of weeds" (Exodus 10:19; Numbers 14:25; Deuteronomy 1:1; Joshua 2:10; Judges 11:16; I Kings 9:26; Nehemiah 9:9; Psalms 106:7; Jeremiah 49:21, etc.); (eruthra thalassa), literally, "red sea" (The Wisdom of Solomon 19:7; Acts 7:36; Hebrews 11:29); yam mitsrayim, "the Egyptian sea" (Isaiah 11:15).

Yam is used of the Nile in Nahum 3:8 and probably also in Isaiah 19:5, as in modern Arabic bachr, "sea," is used of the Nile and its affluents. Yam is often used for "west" or "westward," as "look from the place where thou art, .... westward" (Genesis 13:14); "western border" (Numbers 34:6). Yam is used for "sea" in general (Exodus 20:11); also for "molten sea" of the temple (I Kings 7:23).

The Sea of Galilee is called kinnereth, "Chinnereth" (Numbers 34:11); kinaroth, "Chinneroth" (Joshua 11:2); kinneroth, "Chinneroth" (I Kings 15:20); yam kinnereth, "the sea of Chinnereth" (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 13:27); yam kinneroth, "the sea of Chinneroth (Joshua 12:3); (he limne Gennesaret), "the lake of Gennesaret" (Luke 5:1); and (to hudor Gennesar), "the water of Gennesar" (1 Macc 11:67), from late Hebrew ginecar, or (genecar; he thalassa tes Galilaias), "the sea of Galilee" (Matthew 4:18; Matthew 15:29; Mark 1:16; Mark 7:31; John 6:1); (he thalassa tes Tiberiados), "the sea of Tiberias" (John 21:1; compare John 6:1).

In Jeremiah 48:32 we have yam ya'zer, "the sea of Jazer." Jazer is a site East of the Jordan, not satisfactorily identified (Numbers 21:32; Numbers 32:1, Numbers 32:3, Numbers 32:15; Joshua 13:25; Joshua 21:39; II Samuel 24:5; I Chronicles 6:81; I Chronicles 26:31; Isaiah 16:8-9).


In midhbar yam, "the wilderness of the sea" (Isaiah 21:1), there may perhaps be a reference to the Persian Gulf.

Alfred Ely Day

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