THE GOLD OF THAT LAND: Biblical Minerals & Rocks  


27.     earth, ground, soil

Hebrew: 'adāmāh, red earth or soil. Genesis 2:5; Exodus 20:24.

    The Hebrew word 'adāmāh may denote soil, the ground surface or "face of the Earth," dry land, and Earth as a planet. This word appears 48 times in the Bible. The far more common word 'eretz also means country, Earth, ground, and dry land, but never soil. The phrase "heaven and Earth" ('eretz) means the Universe, just as in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian usage. In shaping Adam from the dust of the earth ('adāmāh), the Lord gave life to human beings in the same way and from the same materials as other living beings.

    The Hebrew wordplay in Genesis 2:5 and 7 passes through the Latin pun homo ex humo into English as "... there was no human to till the humus."

Greek: ge, soil, and by extension ground, dry land, country, and Earth.


    Soil, the living skin of Earth which supports all life on land, is our most vital natural resource after water. Geologically, soil is the loose covering of the earth's surface and consists of layers parallel to the surface that formed by the breakdown of parent rock through physical, chemical, and biological processes working together over an extended time.

    Soil contains a mixture of bedrock particles, weathering products, decaying organic matter, soil organisms, water, and air. The soil of any particular place owes its fertility and other properties to bedrock composition and structure and to local climate, relief, and vegetation. Red soils derive their color from trace amounts of highly-oxidized iron.

    Michael Zohary, the pre-eminent Israeli botanist, has documented how the geographic distribution of soils in the Holy Land affects its plant cover.

    The fruitful earth is an ancient picture of life under the blessing of redemption, in contrast to barrenness, the symbol of the absence of divine blessing. In his Parable of the Sower (Mark 4, etc.), Jesus compares the fertility of different soils to the varying fruitfulness of the gospel in our lives.


Hunt, Charles B., 1972. Geology of Soils. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.

Logan, op. cit.

Zohary, Michael, 1961. Plant Life of Palestine, Israel and Jordan. New York: Ronald Press.

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