And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7 (KJV)
What is the meaning of "breath of life" here? Is there any relation between spirit of man?
The phrase in Hebrew is נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (nishmat chayyim). The Hebrew word typically translated as "spirit" in English is רוּחַ (ruach).
Here is a link to a Jewish understanding of the distinctions between neshamah, nefesh, and ruach.
However, it is my belief that neshamah and ruach are probably equivalent to one another.
For example, in Genesis 2:7, it is said that God inspired into man the נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (nishmat chayyim), or "breath of life" (A.V.).
Later on in Genesis 7:21-22, where the narrative is speaking about all those who died on the face of the earth in the flood (viz. "And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man..."), regarding them it says, "...all in whose nostrils was the breath of life..." (A.V.). Here, the phrase "breath of life" is translated from the Hebrew phrase נִשְׁמַת־רוּחַ חַיִּים (nishmat ruach chayyim), which is like saying "the nishmah of the ruach chayyim."
Grammatically, I would understand this phrase as nishmat being in apposition (genitive of apposition) to ruach chayyim, and thus meaning, "the nishmah, that is to say, the ruach chayyim."
In summary, it seems as though they are equivalent.
@Fraser Orr: Yes. That would be prefential. But, you could still read it as: nishmat, that is to say ruach, chayyim.
Word studies without reference to structure will not give us the full picture. Adam is a triune creature. Genesis 1 portrays him as physical, Genesis 2 as social and Genesis 3 as ethical.
So the initial breath is physical and the later breath is ethical. Adam's disobedience meant that he missed out on his "Pentecost," that is, the "ethical breath" of God, the Word.
The Word was made flesh. His initial breath was physical. His life of obedience was vindicated at His baptism. He received an "ethical breath" which began His ministry of representing the Father in the flesh.
Jesus breathed physical breath on His disciples, but they did not receive the Spirit on that day. The physical breath was the liturgical prefigurement of the ethical breath to come on the Day of Pentecost.
Edited: No citations available but the text itself, so here is further explanation.
Genesis 1 is construction process: the world is formed (Days 1-3) and filled (Days 4-6) with a "future" on Day 7.
In Genesis 2, Adam is formed and filled (physically) then he is "de-formed" that he might be filled socially. Forming is always Adamic (usually involving a creation of empty spaces) and filling is Evian, or bridal. Adam is the house and Eve is the fragrant smoke.
We also see this in the Tabernacle and Temple. They were formed and then filled by God. But that was just a priestly beginning. They were then called to a social ministry (towards Israel as the bride - kings) and ethical ministry (towards all nations - prophets). The three-level structure of the building would be "measured out" in the nations.
In Genesis 3, whether Adam has been "formed" under the tutelage of the Law is being tested. The filling available here is ethical. The test is designed to take him from a natural state to a supernature, that is, being like God, but by God's means, not that of the serpent. Adam must be an obedient priest before he can be a ruling king and representative prophet. He must obey the law (priest), rule over the serpent (king) and repeat the law to the mother of all (prophet). It is "Leviticus/Numbers/Deuteronomy."
So there is a physical breath, which Adam shares with the animals (Genesis 1) but the animals are not called to obey any Law. Adam represents them, as a union between heaven and earth, made of earth but to be filled with heaven. Unlike animals (physical breath) man does not live by bread alone. Man also requires a steady diet of truth, the "breath" of the Spirit from heaven.
Now, we see Jesus go through this process as a new Adam. His obedient life is vindicated at His baptism. He receives the Spirit from the Father, and begins His ministry. Once His ministry is fulfilled, He can share the Spirit with others. He has defeated the devil personally, so He can rule over the devil in the lives of others.
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