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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Modern Hebrew Words

Earth

By Jeff A. Benner


The Modern Hebrew for the earth is כדור הארץ (kadur ha'arets). In Modern Hebrew the word כדור (kadur) means "ball," but in Biblical Hebrew the word דור (dur) means a "ball" and the letter כ (k) is a prefix meaning "like" as can be seen in the following passage.

and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land… (Isaiah 22:18, ESV)

The Hebrew word הארץ (ha'arets) is the word ארץ (erets, Strong's #776) meaning "land" with the prefix ה (ha) meaning "the." So the phrase הארץ כדור (kadur ha'arets) literally means "the ball of the earth." How כדור (kadur), which originally meant "like a ball," came to mean just "ball," I do not know. While the word ארץ (erets, Strong's #776) is often translated as "earth" in the Bible, it technically does not mean the whole earth, but simply the "land" of the earth and is often used for a "region." Incidentally, the word "land" in the verse above is the Hebrew word ארץ (erets, Strong's #776).




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