Earth 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 (Ge 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 (Ge 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; Ec 12:7). The law prescribed earth as the material out of which altars were to be raised (Ex 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 (2Ki 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 (Ge 1:1); 2, to land as opposed to sea (Ge 1:10); 3, to a country (Ge 21:32); 4, to a plot of ground (Ge 23:15); and, 5, to the ground on which a man stands (Ge 33:3); also, in a more general view, 6, to "the inhabitants of the earth" (Ge 6:11; Ge 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 (2Ki 18:25; 2Ch 13:9, etc.); particularly the empire of Chaldaea and Assyria (Ezr 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 Le 25:23; Isa 10:23, and elsewhere. This is the sense which the original bears in Mt 23:35; Mt 27:45; Mr 15:33; Lu 4:25; Lu 21:23; Ro 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 (Joh 3:31; Col 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. Ecclus. 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 (Isa 40:22; Pr 8:27; Job 26:10; Ps 24:2; Ps 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 (1Ch 17:27; Ps 93:1; Ps 104:5; Ps 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 (2Sa 22:8; Ps 75:3; Ps 104:5; Pr 5:23). 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.;
⇒See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
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.