In Hebrew, the word for wind/breath/spirit is ruach, which is feminine (like all nouns for body parts). However, some theologians use that as an argument for calling the Holy Spirit "she".

Pneuma in Greek, though, is neutral.

Regardless of the applications, I've heard that when there is a pronoun in the original text, denoting ruach or pneuma, it is in fact masculine, which may be more relevant, just like one would say "sie" (feminine) when talking about "Das Mädchen" (the girl) in German, even though the word is technically neuter.

Leaving the question about God and gender aside, can anyone confirm if what I've heard about pronouns in the biblical text is grammatically correct?

From memory, I can only think of one instance (Eph 4:30) where the relative pronoun is in the dative, which means one can not differentiate between masculine and neuter.

Edit: Please note that this is a question about the occurrence of a grammatical construct. Not the meaning or possibility of a meaning that could be deduced from the presence or absence of such constructs. I am not trying to do theology just yet, I am trying to get to the underlying facts that some people have used to do theology from.

  • 1
    Hebrew simply does not have a neuter-gender, so all words are either masculine or feminine. Sure, we may translate a Hebrew pronoun as "it," but the pronoun still possesses a gender. The "it" comes from the translator's preference, not the actual grammar of the Hebrew word. Greek, on the other hand, does have a neuter gender. In the case of ruach, the grammatical gender of the word may be feminine; that is not a proof that the Holy Spirit is indeed feminine.
    – user862
    Dec 24 '12 at 7:40
  • You also need to understand that, in a language in which words possess gender, there can be a grammatical gender, and a natural gender.
    – user862
    Aug 20 '13 at 2:58
  • Thank you @H3br3wHamm3r81 but may I return the queston to its original purpose. If there exists such a grammatical breach (as in "das Mädchen - sie ist", not "Das Mädchen - es ist"). As for the implications of grammatical gender, that is another question. (And yes, I do get the difference...)
    – itpastorn
    Aug 20 '13 at 12:07
  • 2
    Yes it is grammatically correct and I've seen some draw parallels between ruach and sophia as both feminine gendered words. However, any attempts to draw specific conclusions as to the significance of how a word is gendered is severely misguided.
    – swasheck
    Aug 22 '13 at 3:00
  • These types of questions are off topic as per this meta discussion (since it has been clarified that this question is about 'occurrence of a grammatical construct. Not the meaning or possibility of a meaning...').
    – Dan
    Jun 20 '14 at 15:59

You simply cannot determine gender based on the gender of a noun in any particular language. Otherwise the OT translation from Hebrew to Greek would totally switch the gender of the RUACH/PNEUMA. Which is silly. The context should determine who or what it really is. In this case RUACH is the power of the Creator. Even as the Hebrews understood it.

Wisdom who is a "she" according to Hebrew and Greek says: "Yahweh created me in the beginning of his way". "She" was there when He created heaven and earth, and "she" was by his side as a "master builder".

The one who said: "The breath of Yahweh is upon me because he has anointed me to declare the good news" is the same that said "Yahweh created me in the beginning of his way". This is the Anointed one thru whom all things were created. Who is without a doubt male, so gender of verbs don't represent the gender of the person or thing its applied to.


One can dismiss Ruwach as a feminine noun if gender was not already apparent within the Godhead. When God became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ He identified God as His Father. This was relatively new, notice Jesus elected to not use any of the established names for God, He called God His Father and essentially it was for that claim that He was crucified. John 5:1 “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

According to Blueletterbible.org the following are Old Testament names for God: · El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty) · El Elyon (The Most High God) · Adonai (Lord, Master) · Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah) · Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner) · Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd) · Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals) · Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There) · Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness) · Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You) · El Olam (The Everlasting God) · Elohim (God) · Qanna (Jealous) · Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide) · Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace) · Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

Since according to Jesus Christ the Godhead consists of Father and Son then it stands to reason that the third person would be matronly especially if as in this case “Ruwach” is a feminine noun.

Since God’s children must be born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5) “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

John 15:26 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father…shall testify of me”. Here we know the Fruit Bearer; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father in order to bear witness of Jesus Christ the Only Begotten of the Father.

Finally in Scott Hahn's book First comes Love. He quotes Pope John Paul II: "In the light of the New Testament it is possible to discern how the primordial model of the family is to be sought in God Himself, in the Trinitarian mystery of His life...God in His deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family, since He has in Himself Fatherhood, Son-ship and the essence of family, which is love."

So while I agree one could not stake their claim on a Hebrew words gender identity alone, in the case of the Holy Spirit being matriarchal, the evidence is very substantial.

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