Passing Phrase - www.learnhebrew.org.il

Bur Ve-Am Haaretz

Literally: An unplowed field and man of the land
Idiomatically: An ignoramus

The beauty on this phrase lies in how it is put together: "Bur" is a field that hasn’t been plowed (Peah 2:1) and therefore has no yield. The phrase “am haaretz,” literally meaning person of the land, doesn’t sound like criticism. BTW although “am” is usually plural, in this case the sources are referring to a single person both male and female.

What has always fascinated me is how the meaning of a phrase changes over the millennium. In the Bible, “am haaretz” just means normal people. During the second temple period, it began to refer to simple people who were not very learned because they lived far from places of study. It is only at the end of the second temple period (first century CE.) that it became a derogative term, denoting someone who is ignorant, specifically of the Torah and Jewish law.

במרץ 2009 הוגו צ'אווס קרה לברק אובמה "בור ועם הארץ"

"BeMertz 2009 Hugo Chaves karah leObama 'Bur VeAm Haaretz." In March 2009 Hugo Chaves called Barak Obama “ignorant.” Then again he also called President Bush the "Satan" and told Ahmadinejad, "Let's save the human race; let's finish off the U.S. empire." It would be funny if it wasn’t sad.

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