Listen to this blog post which will, at a future date, be added to The Explanation Podcast
God breathed into his nostrils. The Biblical Hebrew for breathe includes seething hot and losing life! Here’s what this means.
God breathed on this inert pile of dust, like a sculpted mound of sand on the beach. The Bible indicates the man came alive. Why, then, does God breathed include the notion of snuffing out and giving up life? Here’s how to solve this apparent contradiction.
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 3.3)
Let’s summarize what we’ve covered in Genesis 2:7 so far. Yahveh formed man out of dust, the most sterile part of the ground. This molded dust was totally lifeless; this is the work of our hands-on Potter, Yahveh, the future Jesus, His implication in each human life.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed (H5301) into his nostrils the breath (H5397) of life; and man became a living soul (H5315).
This verse is certainly one of the most important verses, and I daresay, misunderstood verses, at the beginning of Genesis. Simply because it recounts the creation of the first man, and as such, humans. It tells us, WHO we are. Believe it or not, humans do not know, of and by themselves, who they really are. Even with all the science, philosophy, and religion at their fingertips, humankind is at loggerheads with their very own identity, constitution, and structure.
We are going to study God breathed into his nostrils. First, I draw your attention to the English words breathed and breath of life. They are identical in English but different unrelated words in Hebrew (H5301 and H5397). It is impossible to know this just reading the translation, yet it is vital to comprehension.
Second, to understand the meaning of breathed, it is necessary to grasp the second key of the 7 Keys to Master Biblical Hebrew. Most Bible scholars are not aware of this. The key is that the same Biblical Hebrew word can have different, seemingly unrelated significances. Here is Strong’s entry for breathed, which you can see for yourself at www.UnlockBibleMeaning.com.
נָפַח nâphach naw-fakh’; a primitive root; to puff, in various applications (literally, to inflate, blow hard, scatter, kindle, expire; figuratively, to disesteem):
KJV – blow, breath, give up, cause to lose (life), seething, snuff.
Can you see the opposites here? When God breathed into the nostrils of the first man, He GAVE him LIFE. Strong and the KJV translators give this word additional opposite meaning: cause to LOSE life, expire, seething, and snuff, as in snuffing out life.
Job 31:39 uses breathed (H5301) very clearly to mean death. If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money or have caused the owners thereof to lose (H5301) their life (H5315). I chose this verse for you because life, in Biblical Hebrew, is identical to soul in Genesis 2:7. There God breathed and GAVE life. Here Job refers to breathing that TAKES life. Talk about a contradiction. What’s going on here?
The Bible is clear; God uses His breath to destroy. Isaiah 54:16 Behold, I have created the smith that blows (H5301) the coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. See Further Study below. How can a God of love do this?
Notice the translation seething. It’s in Jeremiah 1:13, And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What see you? And I said, I see a seething (H5301) pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. Read the context in verse 15; it talks about the Lord, YAHVEH bringing armies up against Jerusalem. Biblical Hebrew includes this other-side-of-the-coin in God breathed. God’s breathing can put you in the hot-seat!
Is this New Testament theology? I ask this question because a lot of people (believers) think that God of love means God wouldn’t put anyone in a rough spot. Not so. Look at Hebrews 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. God is at the origin of this fiery indignation that devours. The principle here is identical to the meaning of God breathes in Genesis 2:7. I hear you, Hebrews is only for God’s enemies. Again, not so.
Look at 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. God breathed and breathes fiery trial on His own servants. A good number of people (believers) think it odd that difficult trials fall on them. They’re missing a piece of the Bible (Old and New Testament) theology.
How seething fiery does it get? Remember Daniel, who was thrown into a furnace heated up seven times its normal temperature (Daniel 3:19)? Do your own Bible Study on the Lake of Fire in Revelation and 2 Peter 3:7-10, where the heavens, earth, and the ungodly will be burned up and melt with fervent heat. God has excellent reasons for this that I will explain as we progress in Genesis 2.
What is essential to realize is that when God breathes, it is an active gesture on His part to accomplish His goals. That’s the whole meaning of the first part of Gen. 2:7; He formed man. He has a purpose, and when God breathed into the first man’s nostrils, He set that whole purpose in motion. God’s purpose involves life and death, abundant life, and also seething trials. All are necessary to accomplish His plan for humankind. All are essential puzzle pieces that we have to assemble correctly for an entire picture.
Another aspect and parallel to God breathing physical life into the first man is what Christ did following His resurrection in John 20:22. And when he (Christ) had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Holy Ghost. I shall explain the Holy Spirit when we discuss breath of life over the next few posts.
For now, in the Old Testament, YAHVEH God breathed physical life into the first man. In the New Testament, the same YAHVEH God breathed spiritual life on His disciples. Both the Old and New complement each other. They represent the whole Word of God. Godly theology comes from assembling all the pieces of God’s puzzle.
God breathed into his nostrils. Now that we’re getting into the meaning of Biblical Hebrew and not your native language translation, maybe you won’t be surprised to learn that it does not explicitly say nostrils. There’s another Hebrew word for nostrils. Job 41.20 Out of his nostrils (H5156) goes smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
In Genesis 2:7, the original language uses H639, aph.
אַף ʼaph af; from H599 (אָנַף); properly, the nose or nostril; hence, the face, and occasionally a person; also (from the rapid breathing in passion) ire:
אָנַף ʼânaph aw-naf’; a primitive root; to breathe hard, i.e. be enraged:
KJV – be angry (displeased).
Modern Hebrew uses this word for nose. The Biblical Hebrew in Gen. 2:7 is in the singular, whereas nostrils would have to be in the plural. That said, look at the next verse in Genesis, which uses H639s used. Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of your face (H639) shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return.
H639, the same word for nostrils is translated face. Genesis 2:7 could just as well be translated God breathed on his face, which parallels what the same YAHVEH did, some 4000 years later in John 20:22, when He breathed on His disciples. He gave spiritual life.
God breathed is the initial step when Yahveh formed humankind. Next week we shall see what that nefesh chaya, that living soul. who was the result of breathing life into the dust man really is.
Verify for yourself the meaning of God breathed. It means both GIVING life and TAKING life. It means God has power over life and death. If you think God is love, in the sense that He would never harm a fly, your entitled to that belief, but that is not what the Bible says. That piece of the Bible puzzle is askew, and you will not be able to assemble the puzzle correctly. And we’re only in Genesis 2:7.
Go over to UnlockBibleMeaning.com and search for the word breathed in Gen 2:7. Click on H5301 and then, at the bottom of Strong’s reference, Hebrew Concordance for H5301. You’ll see all the verses containing H5301 (naphach), and the translation of each one. In Ezekiel 20:19 you can read, Therefore thus says the Lord GOD; Because you are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.
20 As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow (H5301) the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.
21 Yea, I will gather you, and blow (H5301) upon you in the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst thereof.
22 As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall you be melted in the midst thereof; and you shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you.
When God breathes, He can raise and lower the temperature as it is needed, as He sees fit, to form humankind collectively and individually.
Take another look at the meaning of, In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. That’s Strong’s H1254.
בָּרָא bârâʼ baw-raw’; a primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes):
KJV – choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).
See cut down. How can created include cutting down something? Well, when you build a new building you have to demolish the old one and clear away (cut down) the rubble and mess. The demolishing is synonymous with blowing that snuffs out.
To understand, we have to grasp both sides of the coin.
Using UnlockBibleMeaning.com, do a study of the use of H639 (nostrils, nose, face). It means anger (Genesis 27:45, 30:2) and is in contrast to bowing down in worship (Genesis 19:1, 42:6). There again, the same Biblical Hebrew word is used to reflect attitudes on opposite ends of the spectrum. It is in line with the contrasts in Ecclesiastes 3:3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.
Can you tell the story of this word H639 aph? In a nutshell, if someone doesn’t bow down correctly to the proper individual, they will be the brunt of that person’s anger; this refers to humankind’s (collective and individual) relationship to God. Yahveh can raise or lower the temperature in function of humankind’s bowing down or disrespect.
Biblical Hebrew, as authored in the Bible, is incredibly revealing. It’s not a hidden code, but it does hide the meaning unless you dig it out with an open mind searching for Godly theology.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 3.3 of the book Origin of Humankind.
Dig Deeper into The Explanation
Join The Explanation Newsletter to stay informed of updates. and future events. No obligations, total privacy, unsubscribe anytime, if you want.
The Explanation series of seven books. Free to read online or purchase these valuable commentaries on Genesis 1-3 from your favorite book outlet. E-book and paperback formats are available. Use this link to see the details of each book and buy from your favorite store.
Since you read all the way to here… you liked it. Please use the Social Network links just below to share this information from The Explanation, God Breathed into the Nostrils of His Dust Man