Plants in general. On the third creative “day,” God caused the earth to bring forth “vegetation bearing seed according to its kind”; thus it was able to reproduce. (Ge 1:11-13) Genesis 2:5, 6 apparently describes conditions on that “day” just after God made dry land appear but before the production of grass, seed-bearing vegetation, and fruit-bearing trees. To supply needed moisture for coming plant life, Jehovah provided that mist should regularly rise from the earth to water the ground. It kept vegetation flourishing earth wide, even though there was then no rain. Although the luminaries in the heavens did not become clearly discernible in the expanse until the fourth creative “day” (Ge 1:14-16), an ample amount of diffused light was evidently available by the third “day” to foster the growth of vegetation.—See Ge 1:14, Ro, ftn.
God gave green vegetation to man and the animals as part of their original food supply, later expanding mankind’s diet to include meat from which the blood had been drained. (Ge 1:29, 30; 9:3, 4) Sinful man was compelled to toil for the vegetation he ate (Ge 3:18, 19), but Jehovah remained the Provider of it for man and beast alike, for He is the Provider of the sunshine and rain essential to its growth.—Ps 104:14; 106:20; Mic 5:7; Zec 10:1; Heb 6:7; compare De 32:2.
Growth of vegetation can be controlled by God according to his purpose. He assured the Israelites that their obedience would be rewarded with rain and vegetation for their domestic animals. (De 11:13-15) However, if they abandoned their covenant with God, he would make their land devoid of vegetation. (De 29:22-25; compare Isa 42:15; Jer 12:4; 14:6.) One blow from Jehovah against ancient Egypt consisted of hail that struck all sorts of vegetation. In another God-sent blow, locusts devoured all the vegetation the hail had left.—Ex 9:22, 25; 10:12, 15; Ps 105:34, 35; compare Am 7:1-3.
Figurative Use. During the Palestinian dry season, vegetation, when subjected to the scorching heat of the sun or a parching east wind, quickly dries up. Accordingly, people about to be subjugated by military conquest are likened to “vegetation of the field and green tender grass, grass of the roofs, when there is a scorching before the east wind.” (2Ki 19:25, 26; Isa 37:26, 27) Similarly, when severely afflicted, the psalmist exclaimed: “My heart has been struck just like vegetation and is dried up.” “I myself am dried up like mere vegetation.”—Ps 102:4, 11.
Under favorable conditions vegetation sprouts in great profusion, making it an appropriate figure to represent numerous descendants. (Job 5:25) During Solomon’s reign, for example, “Judah and Israel were many” and flourished, “eating and drinking and rejoicing.” (1Ki 4:20) This is evidently alluded to in a psalm regarding Solomon: “Those who are from the city will blossom like the vegetation of the earth.” (Ps 72:16) On the other hand, though the wicked for a time may sprout like vegetation, they are not flourishing because of God’s blessing but are in line to be “annihilated forever.”—Ps 92:7.
In the Scriptures, trees at times represent those who are prominent and lofty (compare Eze 31:2-14), whereas the lowly vegetation, like the bramble, grass, or rushes, can represent people generally. (Compare Jg 9:8-15; 2Ki 14:8-10; Isa 19:15; 40:6, 7.) This aids in understanding the significance of Revelation 8:7, which speaks of the burning up of “a third of the trees” and “all the green vegetation.”