ha’aretz and ha’adamah

B”H

what is the difference between ha’aretz and ha’adamah?

As I understand the two words, the difference between the two words is that ha’aretz refers to the earth generally, B’rashith (Genesis) 1.1, 2; whereas ha’adamah specifies:

  1. “the place” Adam was formed,
  2. the place which was cursed; and,

3. the place of Noach’s sacrifice –

B’rashith (Genesis) 2.7, 3.17-19, 8.21, or

4. Bikkurim (First Fruit) Offering of Devarim (Deuteronomy) 26.2 “that thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground (ha’adamah), which thou shalt bring in from thy land (me’artzcha) that the L-RD thy G-D giveth thee; and thou shalt put it in a basket and shalt go unto the place which the L-RD thy G-D shall choose to cause His name to dwell there.” (The structure of this passuk [verse] implies a possessive quality the ground has taken [of the Bikkurim] since HaShem chose this place for His altar – see Shmoth [Exodus] 20.20 below….  HERE: “[…] the fruit of the ground (ha’adamah), […] which thou shalt bring in from thy land (me’artzcha) […].” plainly makes a difference between the two words; while the words asheer tavi אֲשֶׁר תָּבִיא   focus our attention on the act of “bringing in” from thy land (me’artzcha); the words “kal pri ha’adamah” already have described the Bikkurim as “belonging” to “the ground!” See Rule 5 (Prat Uk’lal) of Rabbi Yishmael’s Rules of Interpretation: “through a specification broadened by a general statement.”)

A clue to understanding “ha’adamah” is why HaShem rejected Qayin’s (Cain’s) offering of the fruit of the ground (4.3-5): he offered “the fruit of” that which was cursed – In addition, we can see from 8.13, and 8.21 there is a distinct difference between ha’aretz and ha’adamah, that which was [past tense] cursed – “and behold, the surface of the ground had dried up.” (8.13); “And the L-RD smelled the pleasant aroma, and the L-RD said to Himself, “I will no longer curse the ground because of man….”
In fact, Devarim 26.2 (as stated above) specifies the difference between “me’artzcha and ha’adamah” – “that thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which thou shalt bring in from thy land that the L-RD thy G-D giveth thee; and thou shalt put it in a basket and shalt go unto the place which the L-RD thy G-D shall choose to cause His name to dwell there.”

 

Note: B’rashith (Genesis) 4.10-11, (Hark! Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.) and 9.20 (And Noah began to be a master of the ground, and he planted a vineyard.) וַיָּ֥חֶל נֹ֖חַ אִ֣ישׁ הָֽאֲדָמָ֑ה וַיִּטַּ֖ע כָּֽרֶם

also note Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11.17 “[…] and the ground shall not yield her fruit; […] , 21 upon ha’adamah which the L-RD swore unto your fathers […].” the blessing of rain is specified in 11.17

The J.H. Hertz (Soncino) Commentary (B’rashith 2.7, page 7) says “the dust of the ground” was taken from the future place of the Holy Temple where the Altar of Atonement was located. NOTE: “An altar of adamah thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come unto thee and bless thee.” (Shmoth – Exodus 20.20)

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