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Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [1]

'Erets ( אֶרֶץ , Strong'S #776), “earth; land.” This is one of the most common Hebrew nouns, occurring more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament. It expresses a world view contrary to ancient myths, as well as many modern theories seeking to explain the origin of the universe and the forces which sustain it.

'Erets may be translated “earth,” the temporal scene of human activity, experience, and history. The material world had a beginning when God “made the earth by His power,” “formed it,” and “spread it out” (Isa. 40:28; 42:5; 45:12, 18; Jer. 27:5; 51:15). Because He did so, it follows that “the earth is the Lord’s” (Ps. 24:1; Deut. 10:1; Exod. 9:29; Neh. 9:6). No part of it is independent of Him, for “the very ends of the earth are His possession,” including “the mountains,” “the seas,” “the dry land,” “the depths of the earth” (Ps. 2:8; 95:4-5; Amos 4:13; Jonah 1:9). God formed the earth to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18). Having “authority over the earth” by virture of being its Maker, He decreed to “let the earth sprout vegetation: of every kind” (Job 34:13; Gen. 1:11). It was never to stop its productivity, for “while the earth stands, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). “The earth is full of God’s riches” and mankind can “multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Ps. 104:24; Gen. 1:28; 9:1). Let no one think that the earth is an independentself-contained mechanism, for “the Lord reigns” as He “sits on the vault of the earth” from where “He sends rain on the earth” (Ps. 97:1; Isa. 40:22; 1 Kings 17:14; Ps. 104:4).

As “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the earth,” He sees that “there is not a just man on earth” (Eccl. 7:20). At an early stage, God endeavored to “blot out man … from the face of the earth” (Gen. 6:5-7). Though He relented and promised to “destroy never again all flesh on the earth,” we can be sure that “He is coming to judge the earth” (Gen. 7:16f.; Ps. 96:13). At that time, “the earth shall be completely laid waste” so that “the exalted people of the earth fade away” (Jer. 10:10; Joel 2:10; Isa. 33:3-6; Ps. 75:8). But He also provides a way of escape for all who heed His promise: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isa. 45:22).

What the Creator formed “in the beginning” is also to have an end, for He will “create a new heaven and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17; 66:22).

The Hebrew word 'erets also occurs frequently in the phrase “heaven and earth” or “earth and heaven.” In other words, the Scriptures teach that our terrestrial planet is a part of an all-embracing cosmological framework which we call the universe. Not the result of accident or innate forces, the unfathomed reaches of space and its uncounted components owe their origin to the Lord “who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2; 124:8; 134:3).

Because God is “the possessor of heaven and earth,” the whole universe is to reverberate in the praise of His glory, which is “above heaven and earth” (Gen. 14:19, 22; Ps. 148:13). “Shout, O heavens and rejoice, O earth”: “let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice” (Ps. 49:13; 96:11). Such adoration is always appropriate, for “whatever the Lord pleases, He does in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6).

'Erets does not only denote the entire terrestrial planet, but is also used of some of the earth’s component parts. English words like land, country, ground, —and soil transfer its meaning into our language. Quite frequently, it refers to an area occupied by a nation or tribe. So we read of “the land of Egypt,” “the land of the Philistines,” “the land of Israel,” “the land of Benjamin,” and so on (Gen. 47:13; Zech. 2:5; 2 Kings 5:2, 4; Judg. 21:21). Israel is said to live “in the land of the Lord” (Lev. 25:33f.; Hos. 9:13). When the people arrived at its border, Moses reminded them that it would be theirs only because the Lord drove out the other nations to “give you their land for an inheritance” (Deut. 4:38). Moses promised that God would make its soil productive, for “He will give rain for your land” so that it would be “a fruitful land,” “a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of wheat and barley” (Deut. 11:13-15; 8:7-9; Jer. 2:7).

The Hebrew noun may also be translated “the ground” (Job 2:13; Amos 3:5; Gen. 24:52; Ezek. 43:14). When God executes judgment, “He brings down the wicked to the ground” (Ps. 147:6, NASB).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

1: Γῆ (Strong'S #1093 — Noun Feminine — ge — ghay )

denotes (a) "earth as arable land," e.g.,  Matthew 13:5,8,23; in  1—Corinthians 15:47 it is said of the "earthly" material of which "the first man" was made, suggestive of frailty; (b) "the earth as a whole, the world," in contrast, whether to the heavens, e.g.,   Matthew 5:18,35 , or to heaven, the abode of God, e.g.,  Matthew 6:19 , where the context suggests the "earth" as a place characterized by mutability and weakness; in  Colossians 3:2 the same contrast is presented by the word "above;" in   John 3:31 (RV, "of the earth," for AV, "earthly") it describes one whose origin and nature are "earthly" and whose speech is characterized thereby, in contrast with Christ as the One from heaven; in   Colossians 3:5 the physical members are said to be "upon the earth," as a sphere where, as potential instruments of moral evils, they are, by metonymy, spoken of as the evils themselves; (c) "the inhabited earth," e.g.,   Luke 21:35;  Acts 1:8;  8:33;  10:12;  11:6;  17:26;  22:22;  Hebrews 11:13;  Revelation 13:8 . In the following the phrase "on the earth" signifies "among men,"  Luke 12:49;  18:8;  John 17:4; (d) "a country, territory," e.g.,  Luke 4:25;  John 3:22; (e) "the ground," e.g.,  Matthew 10:29;  Mark 4:26 , RV, "(upon the) earth," for AV, "(into the) ground;" (f) "land," e.g.,  Mark 4:1;  John 21:8,9,11 . Cp. Eng. words beginning with ge, e.g., "geodetic," "geodesy," "geology," "geometry," "geography." See Country , Ground , Land , World.

2: Οἰκουμένη (Strong'S #3625 — Noun Feminine — oikoumene — oy-kou-men'-ay )

the present participle, Passive Voice, of oikeo, "to dwell, inhabit," denotes the "inhabited earth." It is translated "world" in every place where it has this significance, save in  Luke 21:26 , AV, where it is translated "earth." See World.

 Philippians 2:10 2—Timothy 2:20 Philippians 2:10Earthen.

King James Dictionary [3]

Earth n. erth.

1. Earth, in its primary sense, signifies the particles which compose the mass of the globe, but more particularly the particles which form the fine mold on the surface of the globe or it denotes any indefinite mass or portion of that matter. We throw up earth with a spade or plow we fill a pit or ditch with earth we form a rampart with earth. This substance being considered, by ancient philosophers, as simple, was called an element and in popular language, we still hear of the four elements, fire, air,earth, and water. 2. In chimistry, the term earth was, till lately, employed to denote a simple elementary body or substance, tasteless, inodorous, uninflammable and infusible. But it has also been applied to substances which have a very sensible alkaline taste, as lime. The primitive earths are reckoned ten in number, viz, silex, alumin, lime, magnesia, baryte, strontian, zircon, glucin, yttria and thorina. Recent experiments prove that most or all of them are compounds of oxygen with bases, some of which appear to possess the properties of metals. In this case the earths are to be considered as metallic oxyds. 3. The terraqueous globe which we inhabit. The earth is nearly spherical, but a little flatted at the poles, and hence its figure is called an oblate spheroid. It is one of the primary planets, revolving round the sun in an orbit which is between those of Venus and Mars. It is nearly eight thousand miles in diameter, and twenty five thousand miles in circumference. Its distance from the sun is about ninety five millions of miles,and its annual revolution constitutes the year of 365 days, 5 hours, and nearly 49 minutes. 4. The world, as opposed to other scenes of existence. 5. The inhabitants of the globe.

The whole earth was of one language.  Genesis 11

6. Dry land, opposed to the sea.

God called the dry land earth.  Genesis 1

7. Country region a distinct part of the globe.

In this sense, land or soil is more generally used.

In scripture, earth is used for a part of the world.  Ezra 1.2 .

8. The ground the surface of the earth. He fell to the earth. The ark was lifted above the earth.

In the second month--was the earth dried.  Genesis 8

9. In scripture, things on the earth, are carnal, sensual, temporary things opposed to heavenly, spiritual or divine things. 10. Figuratively, a low condition.  Revelation 12 11. from ear, L. aro, to plow. The act of turning up the ground in tillage. Not used.

EARTH, To hide in the earth.

The fox is earthed.

1. To cover with earth or mold.

EARTH, To retire under ground to burrow. Here foxes earthed.

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): ( n.) The solid materials which make up the globe, in distinction from the air or water; the dry land.

(2): ( n.) The softer inorganic matter composing part of the surface of the globe, in distinction from the firm rock; soil of all kinds, including gravel, clay, loam, and the like; sometimes, soil favorable to the growth of plants; the visible surface of the globe; the ground; as, loose earth; rich earth.

(3): ( n.) The globe or planet which we inhabit; the world, in distinction from the sun, moon, or stars. Also, this world as the dwelling place of mortals, in distinction from the dwelling place of spirits.

(4): ( n.) A part of this globe; a region; a country; land.

(5): ( n.) Worldly things, as opposed to spiritual things; the pursuits, interests, and allurements of this life.

(6): ( n.) The people on the globe.

(7): ( n.) The connection of any part an electric conductor with the ground; specif., the connection of a telegraph line with the ground through a fault or otherwise.

(8): ( n.) A similar oxide, having a slight alkaline reaction, as lime, magnesia, strontia, baryta.

(9): ( n.) A hole in the ground, where an animal hides himself; as, the earth of a fox.

(10): ( n.) Any earthy-looking metallic oxide, as alumina, glucina, zirconia, yttria, and thoria.

(11): ( v. t.) To hide, or cause to hide, in the earth; to chase into a burrow or den.

(12): ( v. t.) To cover with earth or mold; to inter; to bury; - sometimes with up.

(13): ( v. i.) To burrow.

(14): ( n.) A plowing.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Earth. The term is used in two widely-different senses:

(1) for the material of which the earth's surface is composed;

(2) as the name of the planet on which man dwells.

The Hebrew language discriminates between these two by the use of separate terms, adamah for the former, erets for the latter.

1. Adamah is the Earth in the sense of soil or ground, particularly as being susceptible of cultivation.  Genesis 2:7.

2. Erets is applied in a more or less extended sense -

(1) to the whole world,  Genesis 1:1,

(2) to land as opposed to sea,  Genesis 1:10,

(3) to a country,  Genesis 21:32,

(4) to a plot of ground,  Genesis 23:15, and

(5) to the ground on which a man stands.  Genesis 33:3.

The two former senses alone concern us, the first involving an inquiry into the opinions of the Hebrews on cosmogony, the second on geography.

I. Cosmogony. - (1) The Hebrew cosmogony is based upon the leading principle that the universe exists, not independently of God, nor yet co-existent with God, nor yet in opposition to him as a hostile element, but dependently upon him, subsequently to him and in subjection to him.

(2) Creation was regarded as a progressive work - a gradual development from the inferior to the superior orders of things.

II. Geography. - There seems to be traces of the same ideas as prevailed among the Greeks, that the world was a disk,  Isaiah 40:22, bordered by the ocean, with Jerusalem as its centre, like Delphi as the navel, or, according to another view, the highest point of the world. As to the size of the earth, the Hebrews had but a very indefinite notion.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [6]

EARTH in OT usually stands for one or other of the Heb. words ’eretz and ’adâmâh . In AV [Note: Authorized Version.] these are rendered indiscriminately ‘earth’ and ‘ ground ,’ but RV [Note: Revised Version.] distinguishes them by using, to some extent, ‘earth’ for the former, and ‘ground’ for the latter. Both words have a wide range of meanings, some of which they possess in common, while others are peculiar to each. Thus ’eretz denotes: ( a ) earth as opposed to heaven (  Genesis 1:1 ), and ( b ) dry land as opposed to sea. (  Genesis 1:20 ). ’adâmâh is specially used: ( a ) for earth as a specific substance (  Genesis 2:7 ,   2 Kings 5:17 ); and ( b ) for the surface of the ground, in such phrases as ‘face of the earth.’ Both words are employed to describe: ( a ) the soil from which plants grow, ’adâmâh being the more common term in this sense; ( b ) the whole earth with its inhabitants, for which, however, ’adâmâh is but rarely used; and ( c ) a land or country, this also being usually expressed by ’eretz . In one or two cases it is doubtful in which of the two last senses ’eretz is to be taken, e.g.   Jeremiah 22:29 (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘earth,’ RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘land’).

In NT the Gr. words for ‘earth’ are gç and oikoumenç , the former having practically all the variety of meanings mentioned above, while the latter denotes specially the whole inhabited earth, and is once used (  Hebrews 2:5 ) in a still wider sense for the universe of the future. See, further, art. World.

James Patrick.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

Several Hebrew words are translated 'earth,' but they are not employed to distinguish the earth as a sphere from the surface of the earth, or ground; nor to discriminate between the general surface of the earth, and any portion of it as 'land,' or the soil of the earth. Thus adamah generally refers to the earth as ground or soil: the rain falleth on 'the earth,'  Genesis 7:4; 'an altar of earth,'  Exodus 20:24; man 'returneth to his earth,'  Psalm 146:4; but it often refers to the ' land ' of Israel: 'prolong your days upon the land;' 'dwell in the land;' 'live in the land;' 'the land which I sware unto their fathers.'  Deuteronomy 30:18,20;  Deuteronomy 31:13,20 .

Another word, erets, has wider significations: sometimes the earth as a sphere: "God created the heaven and the earth,"   Genesis 1:1; He "hangeth the earth upon nothing,"  Job 26:7 : but in other places it is restricted to districts: "out of that land went forth Asshur;" "after their tongues in their countries;" "in his days was the earth divided."   Genesis 10:11,20,25 .

In the N.T. the word γῆ is employed for all the above various significations. It is used symbolically as a characteristic of man according to his natural estate. "He that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth."  John 3:31 .

From the above examples it will be seen that in some instances where the A.V. has 'earth,' the 'land' only, or the land of Canaan, may be intended; the context must be studied in each case.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [8]

There are many senses in which this word is used in holy Scripture. In general, it means the gross matter which forms a bed, and sustains the life of trees, and fruit, and of vegetable life. God called the dry land earth. ( Genesis 1:10) Sometimes it is put for the people, and sometimes for their property. The earth, it is said, was filled with violence. ( Genesis 6:13) And respecting property, we are told, that while the heavens are the Lord's, the earth hath he given to the children of men. ( Psalms 115:16) I have somewhere read of the presumptuous gift of one of the princes of the earth, assuming to himself this grant, making a deed of gift to one of his favorites, of a certain portion of the land, the charter of which ran in words to this effect: "I give all that is from heaven to the centre of the earth, including the minerals in the bowels of it," etc. Poor vain man! when shortly after, all that he could embrace of the earth, or the earth him, was just his own breadth and length to lie down upon for corruption and to mingle with in the dust! The word earth is also spoken of by way of a natural and moral sense, Hence, in opposition to spirit, the Scripture describes the first man as of the earth, earthy; while the second man is declared to be, the Lord from heaven. And Jesus himself defines the essential difference, he that is of the earth, speaketh of the earth, he that cometh from heaven, is above all. (See  1 Corinthians 15:47-48;  John 3:31)

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [9]

'Erets in Hebrew; Gee in Greek, designating either the whole globe, or land as opposed to sea, or a particular land; to be distinguished by the context. A distinct term expresses the material of which the earth consists Damaah , the "ground," "soil," from whence Adam was named ( Genesis 2:7), his body coming from and returning to the earth ( Genesis 3:19), a different word "dust" ( Job 10:9;  Ecclesiastes 12:7). Naaman desired to have two mules' burden of earth of the Holy Land ( 'Εretz Ιsrael ), whether for an altar or other sacred purpose ( Exodus 20:24), a half-paganish nation that God would accept devotions in connection with that soil rather than with any other.

In  James 5:17 it is translated: "it rained not on the land (of Israel)"; for the drought was a judgment, not on the whole earth, but on Israel; compare  Luke 4:25. So in  Luke 23:44 "there was darkness over all the land," not "all the earth"; compare  Matthew 27:45. In  1 Corinthians 15:47-49, "the first man is of the earth, earthy," contrasted with "the Lord from heaven" and "the heavenly," the term is Choikos , not merely earthly, i.e. born upon earth, but "earthy," literally, "of heaped clay," answering to the surface "dust" in the Old Testament of which man is made; not merely terrestrial, but terrene, therefore, transitory.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

  • In the sense of soil or ground, the translation of the word Adamah' . In   Genesis 9:20 "husbandman" is literally "man of the ground or earth." Altars were to be built of earth (  Exodus 20:24 ). Naaman asked for two mules' burden of earth ( 2 Kings 5:17 ), under the superstitious notion that Jehovah, like the gods of the heathen, could be acceptably worshipped only on his own soil.

    (2). As the rendering of 'Erets , It means the whole world (  Genesis 1:2 ); the land as opposed to the sea (1:10). Erets Also denotes a country (21:32); a plot of ground (23:15); the ground on which a man stands (33:3); the inhabitants of the earth (6:1; 11:1); all the world except Israel (  2 Chronicles 13:9 ). In the New Testament "the earth" denotes the land of Judea ( Matthew 23:35 ); also things carnal in contrast with things heavenly ( John 3:31;  Colossians 3:1,2 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Earth'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [11]

    is used for that gross element which sustains and nourishes us by producing plants and fruits; for the continent as distinguished from the sea, "God called the dry land earth,"  Genesis 1:10; for the terraqueous globe, and its contents, men, animals, plants, metals, waters, &c, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof,"  Psalms 24:1; for the inhabitants of the earth, or continent, "The whole earth was of one language,"  Genesis 11:1; for Judea, or the whole empire of Chaldea and Assyria. Thus Cyrus says,  Ezra 1:2 , "The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth." The restriction of the term "earth" to Judea is more common in Scripture than is usually supposed; and this acceptation of it has great effect on several passages, in which it ought to be so understood.

    Earth in a moral sense is opposed to heaven, and to what is spiritual. "He that is of the earth is earthy, and speaketh of the earth; he that cometh from above is above all."  John 3:31 . "If ye then be risen with Christ, set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth,"  Colossians 3:1 ,

    Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [12]

     Exodus 15:12 (a) This statement probably refers to the incident in the life of Moses when the earth opened up a cavity and Korah, Dothan and Abiram went down alive into hell. (See  Numbers 16:29-33).

     Deuteronomy 32:1 (a) The word refers to the peoples of the earth in every nation, for it is the desire of our Lord that all shall hear His Word. (See also1Ch  16:31;  Job 20:27;  Psalm 96:11;  Isaiah 24:4;  Isaiah 45:22).

     Psalm 63:9 (a) This statement clearly indicates that hell is in the heart of the earth. There are many other passages that confirm this truth. (See under "HELL").

     Matthew 13:5 (c) The teaching probably is that there was nothing in the heart of the hearer, nor in his mind, which would enable him to receive or understand GOD's Word. (See also  Mark 4:5).

    American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [13]

    In both Hebrew and Greek the same word is used to denote the earth as a whole, and a particular land. Only the context can enable us to decide in which of these senses it is to be taken in a given passage.

    Thus in  Matthew 27:45 we might, so far as the original word is concerned, render either "there was darkness over all the land," or over all the earth. The expression "all the earth" is sometimes used hyperbolically for a large portion of it,   Ezra 1:2 . The word is used of the whole world, etc. In a moral sense, earthly is opposed to what is heavenly, spiritual and holy,  John 3:31   1 Corinthians 15:47   Colossians 3:2   James 3:15 . "The lower parts of the earth," means the unseen world of the dead,  Psalm 63:9   Isaiah 44:23   Ephesians 4:9 .

    People's Dictionary of the Bible [14]

    Earth.  Psalms 24:1. Besides the ordinary acceptation of the word, as in the passage cited, it is used by the sacred writers to denote only a particular country. Thus, the phrase,  Ezra 1:2, "all the kingdoms of the earth," means only Chaldea and Assyria; and it is often restricted to Judæa only.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

    properly the name of the planet on which we dwell. (See Geography).

    I. There are two Hebrew words thus rendered in the A.V., both of which are rendered by Γῆ in the Sept., and this Γῆ is rendered by "earth," "land," " ground, "in the New Testament. (See Dust).

    1. אֲדָמָה , Adamah', is the Earth in the sense of soil or ground, particularly as being susceptible of cultivation; hence the expression אַישׁ אֲדָמָה , lit. "Man Of the Ground," for an agriculturist ( Genesis 9:20). The; Earth supplied the elementary substance of which man's body was formed, and the terms Adam and Adamah are brought into juxtaposition, implying an etymological connection ( Genesis 2:7). (See Adam). The opinion that man's body was formed of earth prevailed among the Greeks (Hesiod, Op. Et Di. 61, 70; Plato, Rep. page 269), the Romans (Virgil, Georg. 2:341; Ovid, Met. 1:82), the Egyptians (Diod. Sic. 1:10), and other ancient nations. It is evidently based on the observation of the material into which the body is resolved after death ( Job 10:9;  Ecclesiastes 12:7). The law prescribed earth as the material out of which altars were to be raised ( Exodus 20:24); Bahr (Symb. 1:488) sees in this a reference to the name adam: others, with more reason, compare the ara de cespite of the Romans (Ovid, Trist. 5:5, 9; Horace, Od. 3:8, 4, 5), and view it as a precept of simplicity. Naaman's request for two mules' burden of earth ( 2 Kings 5:17) was based on the idea that Jehovah, like the heathen deities, was a local god, and could be worshipped acceptably only on his own soil. (See Ground).

    2. More generally אֶרֶוֹ , E'Rets, which is explained by Von Bohlen (Introduction To  Genesis 2:6) as meaning etymologically the Low in opposition to the High, i.e., the heaven. It is applied in a more or less extended sense: 1, to the whole world ( Genesis 1:1); 2, to land as opposed to sea ( Genesis 1:10); 3, to a country ( Genesis 21:32); 4, to a plot of ground ( Genesis 23:15); and, 5, to the ground on which a man stands ( Genesis 33:3); also, in a more general view, 6, to "The Inhabitants Of The Earth" ( Genesis 6:11;  Genesis 11:1); 7, to Heathen Countries, as distinguished from the land of Israel, especially during the theocracy; i.e., all the rest of the world excepting Israel ( 2 Kings 18:25;  2 Chronicles 13:9, etc.); particularly the empire of Chaldaea and Assyria ( Ezra 1:2); 8, in the New Testament especially, "the earth" appears in our translation as applied to the land of Judea. As in many of these passages it might seem as if the habitable globe were intended, the use of so ambiguous a term as "the earth" should have been avoided, and the original rendered by "the land," as in  Leviticus 25:23;  Isaiah 10:23, and elsewhere. This is the sense which the original bears in  Matthew 23:35;  Matthew 27:45;  Mark 15:33;  Luke 4:25;  Luke 21:23;  Romans 9:28;  James 5:17. 9. Finally, in a spiritual sense, the word is employed (in the N.T.) in contrast with heaven, to denote things earthly and carnal ( John 3:31;  Colossians 3:1-2). See Wemyss, Symbol. Dict. s.v.; (See World).

    To demand earth and water was a custom of the ancient Persians, by which they required a people to acknowledge their dominion; Nebuchodonosor, in the Greek of Judith (2:7), commands Holofernes to march against the people of the West, who had refused submission, and to declare to them that they were to prepare earth and water. Darius ordered his envoys to demand earth and water of the Scythians; and Megabysus required the same of Amyntas, king of Macedonia, in the name of Darius. Polybius and Plutarch notice this custom among the Persians. Some believe that these symbolical demands denoted dominion of the earth and sea; others, that the earth represented the food received from it, corn and fruits; the water, drink, which is the second part of human nourishment.  Sirach 15:16, in much the same sense, says, " The Lord hath set fire and water before thee; stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt; and chapter 39:26, "Fire and water are the most necessary things to life." Fire and water were considered by the ancients as the first principles of the generation, birth; and preservation of man. Proscribed persons were debarred from their use; as, on the contrary, wives in their nuptial ceremonies were obliged to touch them. (See Element).

    II. The idea which the ancient Hebrews had of the figure of the earth can only be conjectured from incidental hints occasionally given in Scripture ( Isaiah 40:22;  Proverbs 8:27;  Job 26:10;  Psalms 24:2;  Psalms 136:6). From these passages, taken together, says Rosenmuller (Alterthumsk. I, 1:133 sq.), we obtain the notion of the earth's disk as circular, rising out of the water, and surrounded with the ocean, the heaven being spread over it as a canopy. Though floating free in the boundless immensity of space, yet, through the Creator's might, it remains firmly fixed, without moving (1 Chronicles 17:30;  Psalms 93:1;  Psalms 104:5;  Psalms 119:90). It is rather inconclusive, however, to infer the popular notions of the earth's figure from what may have been nothing more than the bold imagery of poets. Some have supposed that so long as the Hebrews were a nomadic race, they conceived of the earth as resembling a round tent, with the expanse as its covering; but that in later times, when domiciled in Palestine, they spoke of it as a splendid palace resting upon its many pillars ( 2 Samuel 22:8;  Psalms 75:3;  Psalms 104:5; Proverbs 5:25-29). The Greek and Roman writers (Hesiod, Theogn. 116 sq.; Ovid, Metam. 1:5 sq.; comp. Euseb. Prasp. Ev. 1:10 [Sanchoniathon, ed. Orelli, p. 9 sq.] Zendavesta, 1:170 sq.) also vary in their representations on this point, describing the earth sometimes as an oblong square, sometimes as a cube, sometimes as; a pyramid, sometimes as a chlamys, or outspread mantle. (See Eichhorn, Urgesch. ed. Gabler, Nurnb. 1790; Doderlein Rel. Unterr. 7:59 sq.; Beck, Weltgesch. 1:99 sq.; Bauer, Hebr. Mythol. 1:63 sq.; De Wette, Bibl. Dogm. page 76 sq.; Baumgarten-Crusius, Bibl. Theolog. p. 264 sq.; Colln, Bibl. Theol. 1:166; Mignot, in the Memoires de l'Acad. des Inscr. 34:352 sq.; Anquetil, Oupnekhat, 1:409 sq.; Johannsen, Die kosmog., Ansichten d. Inder u. Hebr. Altona, 1833, Dornedden, in Eichhorn's Bibl. 10:284 sq., 548 sq.; Gessner, in the Comment. Soc. Goett. volume 2; Corrodi, Beitr. zum vern. Denken, 18:15 sq.; Link, Urwelt, 1:268 sq.; Wagner, Geschichte d. Urgesch. p. 496 sq.; Umbreit, in the Stud. u. Kritiken, 1839, p. 189 sq.; Ballenstedt, Die Urwelt, 3d ed. Quedlinb. 1819; Von Schrank, Physik. theolog. Erkldr. der 6 Schopfungstage, Augsburg, 1829; Beke, Researches in Primeval History, London, 1834; Burton, View of the Creation, London, 1836; Tholuck, Literar. Anzeig. 1833, No. 67-78; Keil, apologia Mos. traditionis, Dorpat, 1839; Benner, De censura Longini in verba  Genesis 1:3, Giess. 1739; Burmeister, Gesch. D. Schopfung, Lips. 1843; Waterkeyn, Kosmos Hieros Grimma, 1846; Goguet, Urspr. D. Gesetze, 2:227.) (See Cosmogony).

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [16]

    ûrth ( אדמה , 'ădhāmāh , ארץ , 'erec , עפר , ‛āphār  ; γῆ , gḗ , οἰκουμένη , oikouménē ): 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.

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

    The word most in use is 'erec , 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 'ădhāmāh , but less as "soil" and more as "the earth" as a part of the universe; frequently with shāmayim , "heavens," as in  Genesis 1:1 : "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

    ‛Āphār 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‛fūr , "a gazelle"; Hebrew ‛ōpher , "a gazelle"). Compare  Genesis 2:7 : "Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground";   Job 2:12 : ".... sprinkled dust upon their heads";   Psalm 104:29 : ".... they die, and return to their dust";   Genesis 18:27 : "dust and ashes."

    In the Septuagint and New Testament, is used in nearly all cases, oikoumenē being used a few times for the "habitable earth," as in  Luke 21:26 the King James Version. See further Anthropology; Astronomy; Evolution; World .

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [17]

    Besides the ordinary senses of the word or words rendered 'earth' in our translation—namely, as denoting mold, the surface of the earth, and the terrestrial globe—there are others in Scripture which require to be discriminated.

    1. 'The earth' denotes 'the inhabitants of the earth' .

    2. Heathen countries, as distinguished from the land of Israel, especially during the theocracy, i.e. all the rest of the world excepting Israel (; , etc.).

    3. In the New Testament especially, 'the earth' appears in our translation as applied to the land of Judea. As in many of these passages it might seem as if the habitable globe were intended, the use of so ambiguous a term as 'the earth' should have been avoided, and the original rendered by 'the land,' as in;; and elsewhere. This is the sense which the original bears in;;;;;; .