I am fascinated with Permaculture, which means “permanent culture.” Why? Because our culture is NOT permanent presently. It is dying primarily because of our destructive agricultural practices and policies. (Click pic at left for larger version) Search my blog with the keyword “Sahara” and you will get several articles on this topic. So my studies in permaculture have caused me to think long and hard about the Biblical statements about “subduing the earth” and “having dominion” and “tilling the ground” and so forth. You guys know these verses, right? But have you studied the Hebrew words? I had not until just recently. But thanks to a Christian man I met at Permies.com, Dan Grubbs who has a blog called “It’s the Soil Stupid,” I now have some cool new insights into these verses. Let me share with you. Dan says
“… the Hebrew word aw-bad that is translated as “till” or “cultivate” in reference to the land or soil is the word for “serve.”
Hmm … I didn’t know that. Let’s check it out … Googling the term “till awbad strongs concordance hebrew” we get the following link … http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=H5647. …
The KJV translates Strongs H5647 in the following manner: serve (227x), do (15x), till (9x), servant (5x), work (5x), worshippers (5x), service (4x), dress (2x), labour (2x), ear (2x), misc (14x).
Sure enough. 227 times ‘awbad’ is translated ‘serve’ and only 9 times as ’till.’ Looks like my friend Dan has done his homework. So the big question for me is …
Well, I don’t know … I’m not inside their heads. But I have to wonder if perhaps their English mindset of ’tilling the soil’ – i.e. digging it up and planting annual crops every year, a practice inherited from the Romans (I think) which we now know is responsible for destroying topsoil faster than anything and apparently is well suited for dominating and enslaving people – influenced them to choose this word ’till’ instead of ‘serve.’
I don’t have definitive answers here, but I will leave you with a quote from ‘Chief Two Eagles’ (pic at bottom right) which pretty much (except for a bit of hyperbole) sums up my view of North America about the time the KJV was produced (1611) … link to larger version HERE.
And I hope you will consider the words of Toby Hemenway, a keynote speaker at the recent Permaculture Voices conference, on the subject of English agriculture – tillage – summarized neatly in a list at top left. See the following LINK to view Toby’s video from whence this list came.