According to Google, the word “earth” is defined as:
1. the planet on which we live; the world.
2. the substance of the land surface; soil.
When you Google “Images” of earth, you see all sorts of pictures of a globe, a ball which includes both land and seas. Most, if not all, are not even true photographs of the land we live on. The picture to the right is not a real photo, but rather just a composite image.
It seems that the predominant view in our culture is that the primary definition of earth includes both land and seas, and that it is orbiting the sun in space.
However, the Bible paints a different picture.
In the beginning of God’s preparing the heavens and the earth— the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness is on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters, (Gen 1:1-2 YLT)
In the Bible, the Hebrew word translated as “earth” in Genesis 1:1-2 from the Masoretic Text is “erets” (H776), which is defined by Brown Driver Briggs as “earth, land”. We’re told this word comes from an unused root probably meaning, “to be firm”.
When I Googled “Images” of land, this is what came up first:
According to the creation account of Genesis 1, we see that it is the “dry land” that is called Earth, while the collection of waters is called something else, Seas.
And God saith, `Let the waters under the heavens be collected unto one place, and let the dry land be seen:’ and it is so. And God calleth to the dry land `Earth,’ and to the collection of the waters He hath called `Seas;’ and God seeth that it is good. (Gen 1:9-10 YLT)
The Hebrew word translated here as “dry land” is “yabbasah” (H3004) and comes from the primitive root word “yabesh” (H3001), which means, “to make dry, wither, be dry, become dry, be dried up, be withered” (according to BDB).
It seems to me that our culture has conditioned us to think, picturing in our mind, a planet in the shape of a ball consisting of both land and seas from the perspective of outer space when we hear the word “earth”.
So when we read our Bibles, instead of simply thinking dry land as opposed to the collection of waters when we see the word “earth”, though that is how the text itself defines the word, we think a ball-shaped planet consisting of both land and seas.
I propose an exercise.
Do a word search in your Bible locating every instance of the word “erets” (H776). Next, find all the verses where the word is translated as “earth” in the KJV and read each one of them replacing “earth” with the word “land” and see what you see.
There are 2502 occurrences of Strongs # H776 in the Bible. Of those, 1543 are translated as “land(s)”, 140 as “country(s)”, and 97 as “ground” in the KJV. There are 712 occurrences with the translation of “earth”.
Here are the references to get you started (the number in parentheses denotes the number of occurrences of the word in that passage):
Gen 1 (20), Gen_2:1, Gen_2:4-6 (5), Gen_4:12, Gen_4:14, Gen_6:4-6 (3), Gen_6:11-13 (6), Gen_6:17, Gen 7 (14), (2), Gen_8:1, Gen_8:3, Gen_8:7, Gen_8:9, Gen_8:11, Gen_8:13-14 (2), Gen_8:17 (3), Gen_8:19, Gen_8:22, Gen_9:1-2 (2), Gen_9:7, Gen_9:10-11 (3), Gen_9:13-14 (2), Gen_9:16-17 (2), Gen_9:19, Gen_10:8, Gen_10:25, Gen_10:32, Gen_11:1, Gen_11:4, Gen_11:8-9 (3), Gen_13:16 (2), Gen_14:19, Gen_14:22, Gen_18:18, Gen_18:25, Gen_19:23, Gen_19:31 (2), Gen_22:18, Gen_24:3, Gen_24:52, Gen_26:4, Gen_27:28, Gen_27:39, Gen_28:12, Gen_28:14, Gen_37:10, Gen_41:47, Gen_41:56, Gen_42:6, Gen_43:26, Gen_45:7, Gen_48:12, Exo_8:16-17 (2), Exo_8:22, Exo_9:14-16 (3), Exo_9:29, Exo_9:33, Exo_10:5 (2), Exo_10:15, Exo_15:12, Exo_19:5, Exo_20:4 (2), Exo_20:11, Exo_31:17, Exo_34:8, Exo_34:10, Lev_11:2, Lev_11:21, Lev_11:29, Lev_11:41-42 (2), Lev_11:44, Lev_11:46, Lev_26:19, Num_11:31, Num_14:21, Num_16:32-34 (3), Num_22:5, Num_22:11, Num_26:10, Deu_3:24, Deu_4:17-18 (2), Deu_4:26, Deu_4:32, Deu_4:36, Deu_4:39, Deu_5:8 (2), Deu_10:14, Deu_11:6, Deu_11:21, Deu_12:16, Deu_12:24, Deu_13:7 (2), Deu_28:1, Deu_28:10, Deu_28:23, Deu_28:25-26 (2), Deu_28:49, Deu_28:64, Deu_30:19, Deu_31:28, Deu_32:1, Deu_32:13, Deu_32:22, Deu_33:16-17 (2), Jos_3:11 (2), Jos_3:13, Jos_4:24, Jos_5:14, Jos_7:6, Jos_7:9, Jos_7:21, Jos_23:14, Jdg_3:25, Jdg_6:4 (2), Jdg_6:37, Jdg_18:10, 1Sa_2:8, 1Sa_2:10, 1Sa_4:5, 1Sa_5:3, 1Sa_14:15, 1Sa_17:46 (2), 1Sa_17:49, 1Sa_24:8, 1Sa_25:41, 1Sa_26:8, 1Sa_26:20, 1Sa_28:13, 1Sa_28:20, 1Sa_28:23, 1Sa_30:16, 2Sa_1:2, 2Sa_4:11, 2Sa_7:9, 2Sa_7:23, 2Sa_12:16-17 (2), 2Sa_12:20, 2Sa_13:31, 2Sa_14:11, 2Sa_14:20, 2Sa_18:9, 2Sa_18:28, 2Sa_22:8, 2Sa_22:43, 2Sa_23:4, 1Ki_1:31, 1Ki_1:40, 1Ki_1:52, 1Ki_2:2, 1Ki_4:34, 1Ki_8:23, 1Ki_8:27, 1Ki_8:43, 1Ki_8:53, 1Ki_8:60, 1Ki_10:23-24 (2), 1Ki_18:42, 2Ki_5:15, 2Ki_10:10, 2Ki_19:15 (2), 2Ki_19:19, 1Ch_1:10, 1Ch_1:19, 1Ch_16:14, 1Ch_16:23, 1Ch_16:30-31 (2), 1Ch_16:33, 1Ch_17:8, 1Ch_17:21, 1Ch_21:16, 1Ch_22:8, 1Ch_29:11, 1Ch_29:15, 2Ch_1:9, 2Ch_2:12, 2Ch_6:14, 2Ch_6:18, 2Ch_6:33, 2Ch_9:22-23 (2), 2Ch_16:9, 2Ch_20:24, 2Ch_32:19, 2Ch_36:23, Ezr_1:2, Job_1:6-8 (3), Job_2:2-3 (2), Job_3:14, Job_5:10, Job_5:22, Job_5:25, Job_7:1, Job_8:9, Job_9:6, Job_9:24, Job_11:9, Job_12:8, Job_12:15, Job_12:24, Job_14:8, Job_15:19 (2), Job_15:29, Job_16:18, Job_18:4, Job_18:17, Job_20:4, Job_20:27, Job_22:8, Job_24:4, Job_24:18, Job_26:7, Job_28:5, Job_28:24, Job_30:8, Job_34:13, Job_35:11, Job_37:3, Job_37:6, Job_37:12, Job_37:17, Job_38:4, Job_38:13, Job_38:18, Job_38:24, Job_38:26, Job_38:33, Job_39:14, Psa_2:2, Psa_2:8, Psa_2:10, Psa_7:5, Psa_8:1, Psa_8:9, Psa_10:18, Psa_12:6, Psa_16:3, Psa_17:11, Psa_18:7, Psa_19:4, Psa_21:10, Psa_22:29, Psa_24:1, Psa_25:13, Psa_33:5, Psa_33:8, Psa_33:14, Psa_34:16, Psa_37:9, Psa_37:11, Psa_37:22, Psa_41:2, Psa_44:25, Psa_45:16, Psa_46:2, Psa_46:6, Psa_46:8-10 (3), Psa_47:2, Psa_47:7, Psa_47:9, Psa_48:2, Psa_48:10, Psa_50:1, Psa_57:4-5 (2), Psa_57:11, Psa_58:2, Psa_58:11, Psa_59:13, Psa_61:2 (2), Psa_63:9, Psa_65:5, Psa_65:9, Psa_66:4, Psa_67:2, Psa_67:4, Psa_68:6-8 (3), Psa_68:32, Psa_69:34, Psa_71:20, Psa_72:6, Psa_72:8, Psa_72:16 (2), Psa_72:19, Psa_73:9, Psa_73:25, Psa_74:12, Psa_74:17, Psa_74:20, Psa_75:3, Psa_76:8-9 (3), Psa_76:12, Psa_77:18, Psa_78:69, Psa_79:2, Psa_82:5, Psa_82:8, Psa_83:18, Psa_89:11 (2), Psa_89:27, Psa_94:2 (2), Psa_95:4, Psa_96:1, Psa_96:9, Psa_96:11, Psa_96:13, Psa_97:1, Psa_97:4-5 (2), Psa_97:9, Psa_98:3-4 (2), Psa_98:9, Psa_99:1, Psa_102:15, Psa_102:19, Psa_102:25, Psa_103:11, Psa_104:5, Psa_104:9, Psa_104:13-14 (2), Psa_104:24, Psa_104:32, Psa_104:35, Psa_105:7, Psa_106:17, Psa_108:5, Psa_109:15, Psa_112:2, Psa_114:6-7 (2), Psa_115:15-16 (2), Psa_119:19, Psa_119:64, Psa_119:87, Psa_119:90, Psa_119:119, Psa_121:2, Psa_124:8, Psa_134:3, Psa_135:6-7 (2), Psa_136:6, Psa_138:4, Psa_139:15, Psa_140:11, Psa_141:7, Psa_146:6, Psa_147:8, Psa_147:15, Psa_148:7, Psa_148:11 (2), Psa_148:13, Pro_2:22, Pro_3:19, Pro_8:16, Pro_8:23, Pro_8:26, Pro_8:29, Pro_8:31, Pro_11:30-31 (2), Pro_17:24, Pro_30:3-4 (2), Pro_30:14, Pro_30:16, Pro_30:21, Pro_30:24, Ecc_1:4, Ecc_3:21, Ecc_5:2, Ecc_5:9, Ecc_7:20, Ecc_8:14, Ecc_8:16, Ecc_10:7, Ecc_11:2-3 (2), Ecc_12:7, Son_2:12, Isa_1:2, Isa_2:19, Isa_2:21, Isa_4:2, Isa_5:8, Isa_5:26, Isa_6:3, Isa_8:22, Isa_10:14, Isa_11:4 (2), Isa_11:9, Isa_11:12, Isa_12:5, Isa_13:13, Isa_14:7, Isa_14:9, Isa_14:16, Isa_14:26, Isa_18:3, Isa_18:6 (2), Isa_23:8-9 (2), Isa_24:1, Isa_24:4-6 (5), Isa_24:16-20 (7), Isa_26:8-9 (2), Isa_26:15, Isa_26:18-19 (2), Isa_26:21 (2), Isa_28:2, Isa_28:22, Isa_33:9, Isa_34:1, Isa_37:16 (2), Isa_37:20, Isa_40:12, Isa_40:21-24 (4), Isa_40:28, Isa_41:5, Isa_41:9, Isa_42:4-5 (2), Isa_42:10, Isa_43:6, Isa_44:23-24 (2), Isa_45:8, Isa_45:12, Isa_45:18-19 (2), Isa_45:22, Isa_48:13, Isa_48:20, Isa_49:6, Isa_49:8, Isa_49:13, Isa_49:23, Isa_51:6 (2), Isa_51:13, Isa_51:16, Isa_52:10, Isa_54:5, Isa_55:9-10 (3), Isa_58:14, Isa_60:2, Isa_61:11, Isa_62:7, Isa_63:6, Isa_65:16-17 (3), Isa_66:1, Isa_66:8, Jer_4:22-23 (2), Jer_4:28, Jer_6:19, Jer_6:22, Jer_7:33, Jer_9:3, Jer_9:24, Jer_10:10, Jer_10:12-13 (2), Jer_14:4, Jer_15:3-4 (2), Jer_15:10, Jer_16:4, Jer_16:19, Jer_17:13, Jer_19:7, Jer_22:29 (3), Jer_23:5, Jer_23:24, Jer_24:9, Jer_25:29-33 (6), Jer_26:6, Jer_27:5, Jer_29:18, Jer_31:8, Jer_31:22, Jer_31:37, Jer_32:17, Jer_33:9, Jer_33:25, Jer_34:1, Jer_34:17, Jer_34:20, Jer_46:8 (2), Jer_49:21, Jer_50:23, Jer_50:41, Jer_50:46, Jer_51:7, Jer_51:15-16 (2), Jer_51:25, Jer_51:41, Jer_51:48-49 (2), Lam_2:1, Lam_2:11, Lam_2:15, Lam_3:34, Lam_4:12, Eze_1:15, Eze_1:19, Eze_7:21 (2), Eze_8:3, Eze_8:12, Eze_9:9, Eze_10:16, Eze_26:19-20 (2), Eze_27:33, Eze_28:18, Eze_31:12, Eze_31:14, Eze_31:16, Eze_31:18, Eze_32:4, Eze_32:18, Eze_32:24, Eze_34:6, Eze_34:27, Eze_39:14 (2), Eze_39:18, Eze_43:2, Dan_8:5, Hos_2:18, Hos_2:21-23 (3), Hos_6:3, Joe_2:10, Joe_2:30, Joe_3:16, Amo_2:7, Amo_3:5, Amo_4:13, Amo_8:7-9 (3), Amo_9:6 (2), Amo_9:9, Jon_2:6, Mic_1:2-3 (2), Mic_4:13, Mic_5:4, Mic_7:2 (2), Mic_7:17, Nah_1:5, Hab_2:13-14 (2), Hab_2:20, Hab_3:3, Hab_3:6, Hab_3:9, Zep_2:3, Zep_2:11, Zep_3:8, Zep_3:20, Hag_1:10, Hag_2:6, Hag_2:21, Zec_1:10-11 (3), Zec_4:10, Zec_4:14, Zec_5:3, Zec_5:6, Zec_5:9, Zec_6:5, Zec_6:7 (3), Zec_9:10, Zec_12:1, Zec_12:3, Zec_14:9, Zec_14:17, Mal_4:6
In doing this exercise, I have to say these passages make me feel a lot more grounded when they are read in this way. How about you?