Any of the plants belonging to the family Gramineae, the grasses, which include the cereal grains, the plants of meadow and pasture, sugarcane, and bamboo. However, even today, in common usage, this scientific classification is not strictly adhered to, and it is therefore unlikely that the ancient Hebrews differentiated between the true grasses and grasslike herbs.
Brought into existence during the third creative day (Ge 1:11-13), the grasses have served as a direct as well as an indirect source of food for man and the animals. Also, along with other plants, when in the sunlight they play a significant role in purifying the air, taking in sufficient carbon dioxide and giving off enough oxygen to balance the normal needs of humans and animals. The extensive root system of grasses serves as a deterrent to soil erosion. Appropriately, grass is referred to as one of Jehovah’s provisions, as are also the sunlight and the rain that are so vital for grass to flourish.—Ps 104:14; 147:8; Zec 10:1; 2Sa 23:3, 4; Job 38:25-27; Mt 5:45.
The Israelites were very familiar with the withering of grass under the sun’s intense heat during the dry season. So the transitoriness of man’s life is fittingly likened to that of grass and is contrasted with the everlastingness of Jehovah and that of his “word” or “saying.” (Ps 90:4-6; 103:15-17; Isa 40:6-8; 51:12; 1Pe 1:24, 25) Evildoers also are compared to grass that quickly withers. (Ps 37:1, 2) The haters of Zion as well as people about to be subjugated by military conquest are likened to shallow-rooted grass growing on earthen roofs, grass that withers even before being pulled up or that is scorched in the wake of the east wind.—Ps 129:5, 6; 2Ki 19:25, 26; Isa 37:26, 27.