(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 Colossians 3:2 ).
The term is used in two widely-different senses: (1) for the material of which the earths 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.
urth ('adhamah, 'erets, 'aphar; ge, oikoumene):
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.
'Adhamah (compare 'adham, "a man," and Adam) is from 'adham, "to be red," and is used in the senses:
The word most in use is 'erets, 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 'adhamah, but less as "soil" and more as "the earth" as a part of the universe; frequently with shamayim, "heavens," as in Genesis 1:1:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
`Aphar 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`fur, "a gazelle"; Hebrew `opher, "a gazelle"). Compare Genesis 2:7:
".... they die, and return to their dust"; Genesis 18:27: "dust and ashes."
In the Septuagint and New Testament, ge is used in nearly all cases, oikoumene being used a few times for the "habitable earth," as in Luke 21:26 the King James Version.
Alfred Ely Day
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