Sea (Heb. יָם, yam; Chahl. יַמָּא, yamma; θάλασσα), as opposed to land or earth (אֶרֶצ, erets, Ge 1:10), in which all the waters of the earth are included, originated by the separation of its waters from those of the air, or the clouds (vet. 6 sq.). The sea is represented as deep (Ps 68:23; Mic 7:19; Am 9:3; Job 38:16), wide (11:9), and mighty (Ps 104:25; Job 7:12; La 2:13); surrounding the earth at its utmost bounds (De 30:13; Ps 139:9; comp. the ancient Greek view of oceanus, ὠκέανος, Fubiger, Handb. d. alt. Geogr. i, 4); the earth, indeed, resting on the ocean (Ps 24:2). The surface (comp. βυθός, the deep, 2Co 11:25) is roused by winds (Da 7:2; comp. Jon 1:11,13) into waves (גַּלִּים, Ps 65:8; Ps 107:25; Isa 66:18; κύματα, Jude 1:13; κλύδων, Jas 1:6), so that it roars and rages (Jer 6:23; Jer 1; Jer 42; Isa 5:30; Isa 57:20; Ps 96:11; 1Ch 16:32), and is only subject to God (Job 38:11; Ps 89:10). The countless inhabitants of the sea (Jas 3:7; Re 8:8 sq.) are given to men for food (Ge 9:2 sq.),but the people of God may only eat those which are legally clean (Le 11:9 sq.). On the coasts of the sea (Heb. samah', שָׂמָה) lie great lands; and the sand of the sea (חוֹל; Gr. ἄμμος) is proverbial for multitude (Ge 22:17; Jos 11:4; 2Sa 17:11; Job 29:18; Ho 1:10; Ho 1 Macc. 11:1; Re 20:8, etc.; Homer, Iliad, 9:885; Callim. Dish. p. 252; Ovid, Trist. 4:1, 55; Ars Am. i, 254. Comp. Pindar, Olymp. ii, 178; Calpurn. ii, 72. See also Gesen. Thesaur. p. 598 sq.).
It may be remarked that almost all the figures of speech taken from the sea in Scripture refer either to its power or its danger, and among the woes threatened in punishment of disobedience, one may be remarked as significant of the dread of the sea entertained by a non-seafaring people, the being brought back into Egypt "in ships" (De 28:68). The national feeling on this subject may be contrasted with that of the Greeks in reference to the sea. No mention of the tide is found in Scripture.
The above Heb. word, יָם, yam, is sometimes connected with תּהוֹן, tehom (ἄβυσσος, abyssus, "the deep," Ge 1:2; Jon 2:5). It also means the west (Gesen. Thesaur. p. 360, 598). When used for the sea, it very often, but not always, takes the article. Other words for the sea (in the A.V. "deep") are: מצוּלָה, metsulah, or מצוֹלָה, metsolah (only in the plural), or צוּלָה, tsulah simply (ἄβυσσος, βάθος, abyssus, profundum); מַבּוּל, mabbul (κατακλυσμός, diluvium, "water-flood," Ps 29:10).. Smaller pools were distinguished into אֲגָם, Ogdm, a natural pool or pond (evil, 35; 114:8; Isa 35:7; Isa 41:18, etc.), and בּרֵכָה, berekah, the same as the Arabic birkeh; an artificial pool or reservoir (2Sa 2:13; 2Sa 4:12; Na 2:9).
The following are the applications Of the term yam in Scripture:
1. The "gathering of the waters" (yammin), encore-passing the land, or what we call in a more or less deft-nite sense "the Ocean." In this sense the term is used in Ge 1:2,10, and elsewhere, as De 30:13; 1Ki 10:22; Ps 24:2; Job 26:8,12; Job 38:8; see Homer, Iliad, 14:301, 302; Hesiod, Theog. 107, 109; and 2Pe 3:5.
2. The word is used, with the article, of some definite part of the great circumambient water, viz.:
(a.) Of the Mediterranean Sea, called the "hinder" (אַחֲרוֹן), the "western," and the "utmost" sea (De 11:24; De 34:2; Joe 2:20); "sea of the Philistines" (Ex 23:31); "the great sea" (Nu 34:6-7; Jos 15:47); "the sea" (Ge 49:13; Ps 80:11; evil, 23; 1Ki 4:20, etc.). SEE MEDITERRANEAN.
(b.) Also frequently of the Red Sea (Ex 15:4; Jos 24:6), or one of its gulfs (Nu 11:31; Isa 11:15), and perhaps (1Ki 10:22) the sea traversed by Solomon's fleet. SEE RED SEA.
The place "where two seas met" (τόπος διθάλασσος, Ac 27:41) is explained by Conybeare and Howson as a place where the island Salmonetta, off the coast of Malta, in St. Paurs Bay, so intercepts the passage from the sea without to the bay within as to give the appearance of two seas, just as Strabo represents the appearance of the entrance from the Bosphorus into the Euxine; but it seems quite as likely that by the "place of the double sea" is meant one where two currents, caused by the intervention of the island, met and produced an eddy, which made it desirable at once to ground the ship (Conybeare and Howson, 5, 423; Strabo, ii, 124).
3. The term is also applied to the great internal lakes of Palestine, whether fresh or salt; e.g.
(a.) The Sea of Chinnereth, יַם כִּנֶּרֶת (Nu 34:11), called in the New Test. "the Sea of Galilee" (Mt 4:18), the "Sea of Tiberias" (Joh 21:1), and "the sea (or lake) of Gennesareth" (Mt 14:34; Mr 6:53; Lu 5:17), which last is but a variation of the Hebrew name. SEE GALILEE, SEA OF.
(b.) The Dead Sea, called in Scripture the Salt Sea, יָם הָמֶּלַח (Ge 14:3), the Sea of the Plain, or the Arabah, יָם חָעֲרָבָה (De 4:40), and the Eastern Sea, הַיָּם חַקַּדמֹנִי (Joe 2:20; Eze 47:18; Zec 14:8). It is not named or alluded to in the New Test. It is called by Josephus (War, iii, 10, 7) λίμνη Ασφαλτίτης, by which name, or in the Latin form of Lacus Asphaltites, it was known to the classical writers. SEE SALT SEA.
(c.) The Lake Merom is named once only in Scripture, where it is called מֵי מרוֹם, waters of Merom (Jos 11:5,7). By Josephus it is called Semechonitis (Σεμεχωνίτις, Ant. v, 5, 1), and at present bears the name of Huleh: this is the uppermost and smallest of the three lakes on the Jordan. SEE MEROM.
4. The term yam, like the Arabic bahr, is also applied to great rivers, as the Nile (Isa 19:5; Am 8:8, A.V. "flood ;" Na 3:8; Eze 32:2) and the Euphrates (Jer 51:36). See Stanley, Syr. and Pal. App. p. 533; Hackett, Illust. of Script, p. 119.