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Inspiration isn’t a bad translation for Neshama. But it hides the most basic element of humans. Here it is.
Genesis 2:7 exposes the elementary components of a human being. And inspiration is not one of them. The only two mentioned there are afar and neshama, dust, and “divine breath or essence.” It’s time to grasp what a human being is, what you are. Why each of us is made of two extremes, the lowliest dust, and the highest divine.
(Mind-Body Problem Solved, Chapter 14 – Table of Contents)
The King James Version of the Bible does not use the term consciousness, undoubtedly because etymologically, the word goes back to about 1600, the same time as the KJV translation. It comes from Latin conscius “knowing, aware.” The goal of The Explanation is NOT to depart from English or Latin but from Biblical Hebrew. But, much more than that, to reveal the exactitude of the meaning of Biblical Hebrew words related to 21st-century proven facts. So, what is neshama? And is it related to consciousness?
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (H5397) of life; and man became a living soul.
One fact we can immediately recognize is whatever this breath is, the body does not generate it. God infused it. There are two separate origins of these two components. Think what this does for scientific knowledge. What is the Bible definition of neshama? Check UnlockBibleMeaning.com
נְשָׁמָה nᵉshâmâh nesh-aw-maw’; from H5395 (נָשַׁם); a puff, i.e. wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect. or (concretely) an animal:
KJV – blast, (that) breath(-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit.
With words like inspiration and spirit, we’re in the realm of the ethereal. Invisible, untouchable, intangible. We delve into the inner workings of humankind. In the last chapter, I showed you why Strong’s allusion to (concretely) an animal is incorrect, humans alone possess neshama. God’s servant Job gives us a clue to define neshama – inspiration.
But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration (H5397 – neshama) of the Almighty gives them understanding (H995 – bain).
Here, the KJV translation of neshama is inspiration, with another immaterial allusion to spirit. It goes further by adding the nature of WHO gives neshama and WHAT neshama is. We will look at Biblical Hebrew because English is correct and, at the same time, incomplete.
In Hebrew, only three words are the origin of “and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.” Neshama = inspiration. Shaddai = Almighty. Bain = understanding. The verb gives is NOT present. Why? It comes down to the 4 Steps to Master Biblical Hebrew. In this case the word/Name for God, Almighty. It is Strong’s H7706. Simply compare the three letters (שדי – shin, daled, yod) with H7699 and H7701. The yod is a vowel, the shin and daled (שד) are identical in all three words, and they are related. Now notice the meanings: H7699-breast and H7701-desolation. Total opposites: one gives life, and the other destroys life. That’s Step 1 to master Biblical Hebrew, multiple, even contradictory meanings to the same word.
Genesis 49:25 has both words, Almighty (H7706) and breasts (H7699) with God giving multiple blessings to Israel. Check the identical Biblical Hebrew roots in the image for Genesis 49:25.
The figurative meaning of God’s name Shaddai is God Breastfeeds. There is no better way for a mother to GIVE their child a better physical start in life than to breastfeed them. Space does not allow elaboration on this issue. Figuratively, that’s what God did with the first human being.
Job 32:8 expands on Genesis 2:7 by telling us God breastfed humans with understanding. Shaddai, Breatfeeding includes giving, that’s why there’s no need for the verb give.
El Shaddai gave understanding to humans
Here is what humans received when God breathed neshama – inspiration – understanding into them.
בִּין bîyn bene; a primitive root; to separate mentally (or distinguish), i.e.(generally) understand:
KJV – attend, consider, be cunning, diligently, direct, discern, eloquent, feel, inform, instruct, have intelligence, know, look well to, mark, perceive, be prudent, regard, (can) skill(-full), teach, think, (cause, make to, get, give, have) understand(-ing), view, (deal) wise(-ly, man).
Rather than give you the answer to what neshama is, I want to take you through an exercise. This is a deep yet basic subject for grasping what God breathed into humans and what this breath, the neshama, God’s inspiration allows humans to accomplish. Note that it separates humans mentally. It distinguishes them (H995).
Take each of the above translations as a verb and put yourself in the driver’s seat. I (you or me) attend to, consider, I am cunning, am diligent, I direct, discern, am eloquent, feel, inform, instruct, am intelligent, know, perceive, teach, think…
How can these actions take place? Why can these processes function in humans? Keep in mind what, according to Gen. 2:7, a human is: dust and neshama. A physical component and God’s neshama, His inspiration, or, as I suggested, God’s divine essence. This incredible fusion of apparent opposites, rubbish, and divine essence, allows humans to do all the above intellectual activities.
You should already know precisely what neshama is. But let’s look at a real-life example that will help us reach our goal. This takes us deep into God’s power and how He works with humans. He has a plan for each of us and His ways are not our ways. Look at what God did with probably the most powerful King in history, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
24 This is the interpretation [of a dream], O king [Nebuchadnezzar], and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
25 That they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will.
33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding (H4486) returned to me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that lives for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he [God] does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say to him, What do you?
36 At the same time my reason (H4486) returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned to me; and my counsellors and my lords sought to me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.
This account is amazing, by any means. It all revolves around Nebuchadnezzar losing and regaining his understanding/reason (verses 34 and 36). It is not the same Hebrew word as Job 32:8 (understanding H995). In English, H4486 (Daniel 4:34) and H995 (Job 32:8) are both translated with the same English word understanding. The king forwent his understanding/reason for seven years. He lost his human reasoning capacity. God transformed this powerful human king into a beast of the field, into an animal. How did he do this? Did He just wave a magic wand? NO.
Please think and remember, even revise the chapter Breath of Life. The Unique Possessors of Neshama on Earth. Animals do NOT possess neshama. God temporarily, for seven years, removed Nebuchadnezzar’s neshama, the inspiration that separates humans mentally from all other beings. Nebuchadnezzar still had certain capacities, those of a grass-eating beast which survive in the wild. We shall discuss what animates all animals. But Nebuchadnezzar totally lost his understanding/reason (H4486). Exactly what is this understanding/reason?
מַנְדַּע mandaʻ man-dah’; (Aramaic) corresponding to H4093 (מַדָּע); wisdom or intelligence:
KJV – knowledge, reason, understanding.
מַדָּע maddâʻ mad-daw’; or מַדַּע; from H3045 (יָדַע); intelligence or consciousness:
KJV – knowledge, science, thought.
יָדַע yâdaʻ yaw-dah’; a primitive root; to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively, instruction, designation, punishment, etc.):
KJV – acknowledge, acquaintance(-ted with), advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware, (un-) awares, can(-not), certainly, comprehend, consider, ⨯ could they, cunning, declare, be diligent, (can, cause to) discern, discover, endued with, familiar friend, famous, feel, can have, be (ig-) norant, instruct, kinsfolk, kinsman, (cause to let, make) know, (come to give, have, take) knowledge, have (knowledge), (be, make, make to be, make self) known, + be learned, + lie by man, mark, perceive, privy to, ⨯ prognosticator, regard, have respect, skilful, shew, can (man of) skill, be sure, of a surety, teach, (can) tell, understand, have (understanding), ⨯ will be, wist, wit, wot.
Compare the KJV translation of H3045 (know) and H995 (understanding) and you will immediately see the similarity.
That is the meaning of neshama. God removed or suppressed the neshama, and the king became like a beast. Neshama is a definite element that clearly differentiates animals from humans. It is consciousness. Note that Strong’s annotation (which is not God-inspired like Scripture) for H4093 refers to consciousness. And one of the KJV translations (again UNinspired) of H3045 is aware or awareness which we associate today with consciousness and mindfulness.
This event with Nebuchadnezzar went so far that he could not even take care of his physical needs. His hair and his nails grew tremendously. Some animals naturally have long hair, but you never see animals that have to trim their hair and nails regularly. Only humans have to groom themselves this way. Without neshama, a human being can NOT take care of their human needs. I don’t want to get into it here, but this is what happens when humans lose their minds for whatever reason. It is a sad state of affairs.
I also can’t expand on this subject now, but verse 35 explains why Nebuchadnezzar went through this episode (trial) in his life. God wanted him to realize that one of the most powerful kings on Earth (if not the most powerful, because of what he symbolizes prophetically) is nothing in God’s sight and that God does as He wills. He will accomplish His plan for the King and all of humanity. That’s why we and the world have trials. God wants us to come to our spiritual senses, like Nebuchadnezzar.
But, the point here is that God TOOK Nebuchadnezzar’s neshama, held on to it for seven years, and then GAVE IT BACK to him. Not only did He give it back during his lifetime, but God enhanced his neshama and kingdom with additional blessings, as the end of verse 36 points out. All other human beings will have their neshama given back to them at the resurrection. (Job 34:14 God collects the neshama and the ruach on death. For humans, this duo always stays together. I shall expand on this). In the meantime, God is storing it, just as He did with Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar still had his dust brain, but God removed his cognition, awareness, consciousness, his ability to act like a human being.
Next week we start a mini-five series expounding exactly what neshama – inspiration – consciousness allows humans to do. What defines a human being; the consciousness that separates all humans mentally from all other beings.
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