The collective waters of the earth as distinguished from land; or a large body of salt or fresh water, usually meaning a body smaller than an ocean and partially or wholly enclosed by land. Water covers 70.8 percent of the earth’s surface.
JEHOVAH THE CREATOR AND CONTROLLER
The Bible repeatedly acknowledges Jehovah as the Creator of the seas, which were formed as distinct from the dry land on the third creative day. (Gen. 1:9, 10, 13; Neh. 9:6; Acts 4:24; 14:15; Rev. 14:7) It also comments on his ability to extend his power over and to control the sea. (Job 26:12; Ps. 65:7; 89:9; Jer. 31:35) When his Son was on earth he was given authority by his Father to command the sea, with effectiveness. (Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 4:36-41; John 6:17-20) God’s control of the seas is demonstrated by the way the coasts and the tides keep the sea within its set limits, barricaded, as it were, by doors. (Job 38:8-11; Ps. 33:7; Prov. 8:29; Jer. 5:22; see BAND.) This accomplishment in connection with the sea, as well as its role in the earth’s water cycle (Eccl. 1:7; Amos 5:8), makes the sea an example of Jehovah’s wonderful works. (Ps. 104:24, 25) Poetically speaking, even the seas join in praising their Creator.—Ps. 96:11; 98:7.
SEAS IN THE PALESTINE AREA
Of the seas in the area of Palestine, the most prominent was the “Great [Mediterranean] Sea,” also called the “western sea” or simply “the Sea.” (Josh. 1:4; Deut. 11:24; Num. 34:5) Others were the “Red Sea” or “Egyptian sea” (Ex. 10:19; Isa. 11:15), the “Salt [Dead] Sea,” “sea of the Arabah” or “eastern sea” (Deut. 3:17; Ezek. 47:18) and the “sea of Galilee,” “sea of Chinnereth” or sea of “Tiberias.” (Matt. 4:18; Num. 34:11; John 6:1) (These seas are discussed separately in this volume under their individual names.) In Biblical references the particular body of water intended by the expression “the sea” often has to be determined from the context. (Ex. 14:2 [compare 13:18]; Mark 2:13 [compare verse 1]) Sometimes the Hebrew term is applied to rivers.—Jer. 51:36 (speaking of the Euphrates); Isa. 19:5 (the Nile).
The Greek word aʹbys·sos, meaning “very or exceedingly deep” and often translated “abyss,” is sometimes used with reference to or in making a comparison to the sea because of the sea’s great, almost fathomless depth. (Rom. 10:6, 7; compare Deuteronomy 30:12, 13.) In the symbols of Revelation the “wild beast that ascends out of the abyss” (Rev. 11:7) is said, at Revelation 13:1, to ascend out of the “sea.”—See ABYSS.
ORIGIN OF SEA LIFE
The Genesis account reports that sea life and flying creatures were the first animal life on earth. It reads: “And God went on to say: ‘Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls and let flying creatures fly over the earth upon the face of the expanse of the heavens.’ And God proceeded to create the great sea monsters and every living soul that moves about, which the waters swarmed forth according to their kinds, and every winged flying creature according to its kind. And God got to see that it was good. With that God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the waters in the sea basins, and let the flying creatures become many in the earth.’ And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a fifth day.”—Gen. 1:20-23.
In saying “Let the waters swarm,” God was not leaving the emergence of life to the seas themselves, to bring forth some primeval form from which all other animals evolved. For the account also says that “God proceeded to create [marine creatures] . . . according to their kinds.” Also in the record of the ‘sixth day’ and the creation of land animals, God is represented as saying: “Let the earth put forth living souls according to their kinds.” God did not command the sea to put forth living things for the land, or let these things evolve from the sea, but “God proceeded to make” each kind to suit the habitat each was to occupy.—Gen. 1:24, 25.
While the Promised Land was to extend “from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines [the Great Sea] and from the wilderness to the River [Euphrates],” the description of the dominion of the coming Messianic king as being “from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” would apparently refer to the entire globe. (Ex. 23:31; Zech. 9:9, 10; compare Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45.) This is indicated by Matthew and John in their application of the prophecy of Zechariah, in which prophecy Zechariah quotes Psalm 72:8.—Matt. 21:4-9; John 12:12-16.
Jeremiah described the sound of the attackers of Babylon as being “like the sea that is boisterous.” (Jer. 50:42) Hence, when he foretold that “the sea” would come up over Babylon, he evidently meant the flood of conquering troops under the Medes and Persians.—Jer. 51:42; compare Daniel 9:26.
Masses alienated from God
Isaiah likened the wicked people of earth, the restless masses alienated from God, to “the sea that is being tossed, when it is unable to calm down, the waters of which keep tossing up seaweed and mire.” (Isa. 57:20) At Revelation 17:1, 15 the “waters” on which Babylon the Great “sits” are said to mean “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” Isaiah further prophesied to God’s “woman” Zion: “Because to you the wealthiness of the sea will direct itself; the very resources of the nations will come to you.” (Isa. 59:20; 60:1, 5) This seems to mean the turning of many persons from the multitudes of earth toward God’s symbolic “woman.” This may shed light on the purpose of the prophetic “king of the north” in planting “his palatial tents between the grand sea [the Mediterranean] and the holy mountain of Decoration [on which God’s sanctuary stood in Jerusalem or Zion].”—Dan. 11:40, 45.
Daniel described four “beasts” that came up “out of the sea” and revealed these to be symbolic of political kings or kingdoms. (Dan. 7:2, 3, 17, 23) Similarly, John spoke of a “wild beast ascending out of the sea,” and his mention, in symbolic language, of diadems and a throne again links the idea of a political organization with this beast out of the “sea.” (Rev. 13:1, 2) He also saw in vision the time when there would be “a new heaven and a new earth,” and the “sea,” that is, the turbulent masses of people alienated from God, would be no more.—Rev. 21:1.
Persons lacking faith
A person who lacks faith, having doubts when he prays to God, is likened by the disciple James to “a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about.” He does not recognize or appreciate God’s fine qualities of generosity and loving-kindness. “Let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways,” James declares.—Jas. 1:5-8.
James’ brother Jude warns his fellow Christians of the great danger from wicked men who slip into the congregation with the purpose of bringing in moral defilement. He calls them “wild waves of the sea that foam up their own causes for shame.” (Jude 4-13) Jude may have had in mind an earlier expression of Isaiah (57:20) and may be figuratively describing such ones’ passionate, reckless disregard for God’s laws and their rushing against the divinely constituted moral barriers in their degraded, lustful course. As one commentator remarks: “. . . they cast forth to public view the mire and dirt of their excesses, . . . So these men foam out their own acts of shame, and cast them forth for men to see, and so to blame the Church for the ill-deeds of these professors.” (F. C. Cook, Commentary on Jude) Another says: “What they impart is as unsubstantial and valueless as the foam of the oceanside, and is in fact a proclamation of their own shame.”—Schaff-Lange, Commentary on Jude; compare Peter’s description of such men at 2 Peter 2:10-22.