Grass is the somewhat indistinct rendering in the Engl. Vers. of several Heb. terms:
1. It is the ordinary rendering of the Hebrew word חָצַיר, Chatsir', which signifies properly an inclosed spot, from the root חָצִר, to inclose; but this root also has the second meaning to Nourish, and hence the noun frequently signifies "fodder," food of cattle. It designates ripe grass fit for mowing and for feed, and in this sense it occurs in 1Ki 18:5; Job 40:5; Ps 104:14; Isa 15:6, etc. As the herbage rapidly fades under the parching heat of the sun of Palestine, it has afforded to the sacred writers an image of the fleeting nature of human fortunes (Job 8:12; Ps 37:2), and also of the brevity of human life (Isa 40:6-7; Ps 90:5). The Sept. renders חָצַיר by βοτάνη and πόα, but most frequently by χόρτος a word which in Greek has passed through the very same modifications of meaning as its Hebrew representative χόρτος =gramen, "fodder," is properly a. court or inclosed space for cattle to feed in (Homer, Il. 11:774), and then any feeding-place, whether inclosed or not (Eurip. Iph. T. 134, χόρτοι εὔδενὃροι). Gesenius questions whether חָצַיר χόρτος, and the Sanse. harit=green, may not be traceable to the same root. SEE LEEK.
In the N.T., wherever the word grass occurs, it is the representative of the Greek χόρτος. The dry stalks of grass, etc. were often used as fuel for the oven (Mt 6:30; Mt 13:30; Lu 12:28). SEE FUEL.
2. The next most usual, and indeed, more appropriate word, is דֶּשֶׁא, green grass, from the root to דָּשָׁא germinate. This is the word rendered grass in Ge 1:11-12, where it is distinguished from שֶׂב e'seb, the latter signifying herbs suitable for human food, while the former is herbage for cattle. Genenius says it is used chiefly concerning grass, which has no seed (at least none obvious to general observers), and the smaller weeds which spring up spontaneaously from the soil. It properly signifies the first. shoots from the earth tender grass, young herbage, as clothing the meadows, and as affording the choice food of beasts (Ge 1; Isa 66:14; De 32:2; 2Sa 23:4; Job 6:5; Ps 37:2, etc.). The sickly and forced blades of grass which spring up on the flat plastered roofs of houses in the East are used as an emblem of speedy destruction, becauses they are small and weak, and, being in an elevated part, with little earth, exposed to the scorching rays of the sun they soon wither away (2Ki 19:26; Ps 129:6; Isa 37:27). (See Hackett's Illustra. of Scrip. page 125.) The Sept. renders it by χλόη, as well as by χόρτος, βοτάνη and πόα. In Da 4:15,20, the corresposding Chaldee, דָּתָא dethe, is used. SEE HERB.
In Jer 1:11, the A.V. renders כּ גלָה דָשָׁא as the heifer at grass, and the Sept. ὡς βοϊvδια ἐν βοτάνῃ. It should be "as the heifer treading out corn" (comp. Ho 10:11). דָּשָׁא, dascha', the word here employed, comes from דּוּשׁ, to triturate, and has been confounded with the preceding term. SEE FODDER.
3. שֶׂב, is used in Deut., is the Psalms, and in the Prophets, and as distinguished from the foregoing., דֶּשֶׁא signifies herbs for human food (Ge 1:30; Ps 104:14), but also fodder for cattle (De 11:15; Jer 11:6). It is the grass of the field (Ge 2:5; Ex 9:22) and of the mountain (Isa 42:15; Pr 27:25). SEE HAY.
4. In Nu 22:4, where mention is made of the ox licking up the grass of the field, the Heb. word is יֶרֶק, ye'rek, which elsewhere is rendered green when followed by דֶּשֶׁא or שֶׂב, as in Ge 1:30, and Ps 37:2. It answers to the German das Griune, and comes from the root יָרִק, to flourish like grass. — Smith, s.v. SEE GREEN.
לֶקֶשׁ, le'kesh (from לָקִשׁ, to be late ripe), in the "after-math" or "rowen" that springs up on meadows after being once rown ("latter growth," Am 7:1). SEE MEADOW.
"Mown grass" is גֵּז, gez, a mowing or mown meadow (Ps 72:6; Am 7:1). SEE MOWER.
Dry grass or self-made hay is called חָשִׁשׁ, chashash', "chaff" (Isa 5:24; Isa 33:11). SEE STUBBLE.
As in Mt 6:30, where a lily is called "the grass of the field," it is evident that, like the Latin gramen and the English "grass," the Hebrew equivalent had a very extensive range, and was not restricted to the "grasses" (Gramineae) of the botanist. These are themselves a very ample order, ranging from diminutive plants like our own mouse-ear barley to the bamboo which shoots up to a height of fifty or sixty feet in an Indian jungle, and including productions as various as the Arundo donax of Southern Europe, which furnishes the fisherman with his rod and the weaver with his "reed," the cereals which supply to all mankind the staff of life, and the sugar-cane which, on the table of the humblest artisan in Europe or America, places luxuries unknown to a Roman emperor. SEE REED.
But when we speak of grass we are usually thinking of the narrow blades, so thickset and tender, which form the sward on a meadow, or the matchless turf on an English lawn. Or, if we are thinking of a separate plant, it is a hollow glossy stem rising up from the midst of these spiry blades, and throwing out similar leaves from its joints, till it ends in blossoming spikelets, loose or more compact, which, when the flowering time is over, show the taper corn-like seeds enclosed in the chaffy glumes, and which we destine as food for the cattle, even as we reserve the fruit of the cereal grasses as food for ourselves. The fescues, darnels, and poas, which clothe the meadows and build up the hay-ricks at home, are pigmies, however, when compared with the grass "which grows for the cattle" of other lands; with the "tussac," for instance, whose enormous tufts form an inexhaustible supply to the herds both amphibious and terrestrial of the Falkland Isles, and the beautiful pampas-grass, under which the huntsman can ride and see high overhead its "plume of silvery feathers." The imperfect enumeration which we possess of grasses native to Palestine is of less importance, as the scriptural allusions may very well be understood without being able to identify the species. The psalmist wishes (Ps 129:6) that the haters of Zion may be "as the grass upon the house-tops which withereth afore it groweth up," or, as it should be rendered, "before it is plucked up" (see Hengstenberg, Walford, etc.); .and Isaiah (Isa 37:27) speaks of vanquished populations "as the grass of the field, as the grass on the house-tops, blasted before it be grown up." On the flat roofs at the present day any one may see grass which has sprung up in the rainy season, withered away by the first weeks of sunshine. "When I first came to reside in Jerusalem," says Dr. Thomson, "my house was connected with an ancient church, the roof of which was covered with a thick coat of grass. This being in the way of a man employed to repair my house, he actually set fire to it and burned it off; and I have seen others do the same thing without the slightest hesitation. Nor is there any danger; for it would require a large expense for fuel sufficient to burn the present city of Jerusalem" (Land and Book, 2:574). Indeed nearer home we may often see grass and even oats springing up on the roof of a thatched cottage, and a goat peradventure nibbling the herbage before it is withered. The dew "distilling" on the grass, and the rain descending on the mown grass, or rather on the grass which has been close-browsed by the cattle, furnish the sacred poetry with a frequent and exquisite image (De 32:2; Ps 72:6; Pr 19:12; Mic 5:7); and still more frequently does that emblem occur in which our fleeting generations are compared to the grass "which in the morning groweth up, and which in the evening is cut down and withereth" (Ps 90:6; Ps 37:2; Ps 92:7; Ps 102:11; Ps 103:15; Isa 40:6; Jas 1:10; 1Pe 1:24).