Root (שֹׁרֶשׁ, shoresh, ῥίζα), that part of a plant which extends downwards and fastens itself in the earth. The rocky ground of Palestine is in some places covered with a very thin soil, so that the plants growing in these spots cannot strike deep roots, and are therefore easily uptorn by the winds or withered by the scorching sun — a circumstance to which a beautiful allusion is made in the parable of the sower (Mt 13:21). The root of a family is the progenitor from whom the race derives its name; thus, "Out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice" (Isa 14:29), meaning Hezekiah, who was descended from David, and was, like him, a scourge to the oppressors of Israel. The word is used in this sense in a very remarkable prophecy, "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious" (Isa 11:10). The Messiah, elsewhere called "the branch," is here described as "the root," for though David's son in his human character, yet in his divine capacity he is David's "root," as being his Lord and God. A similar passage occurs in Revelation. "The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed" (5:5). So "covetousness is the root of all evil" (1Ti 6:10); that is, the origin, the cause, the occasion; "Lest any root of bitterness trouble you" (Heb 12:15). In Job 19:28, "root of the matter" signifies a ground or cause of controversy. The root may also denote the race, the posterity: Pr 12:3, "The root of the righteous shall not be moved," i.e. shall not fail;

Jer 12:2, "Whence do the wicked prosper in all things? thou hast planted them, and they have taken root." In Daniel and in the Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes, the persecutor of the Jews, is represented as a young sprout or sucker, or root of iniquity, proceeding from the kings, the successors of Alexander the Great. Jesus Christ, in his humiliation, is described as a root ill nourished, growing in a dry and barren soil (Isa 53:2). In the contrary sense, Paul says (Ro 11:16-18) that the Jews are, as it were, the root that bears the tree into which the Gentiles are grafted; and that the patriarchs are the pure and holy root of which the Jews are, as it were, the branches. Jesus Christ is the root on which Christians depend, and from which they derive life and subsistence (Col 2:7).

Definition of root

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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