- Physical body (from the dust of the earth)
- The breath of life (נְשָׁמָה)
- The living soul (נֶפֶשׁ)
What does the breath of life (נְשָׁמָה) mean in Genesis 2:7?
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The three components of a person as listed by the OP is at variance with the text of Gen 2:7. The actual text of Gen 2:7 is (NASB):
Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [chay = life]; and the man became a living [chay = life] person [nephesh = soul].
According this verse, a person is a living being or living soul and we can summarize by saying (according to Gen 2:7)
The breath of life, whatever that is, is something that mankind shares with all living creatures that breathe. For instance:
Now, according to Gen 2:7, God gives the breath of life to initiate a living being/soul. However, at death, the breath of life returns to God who gave it, Job 34:14, Eccl 12:7.
This is confirmed by Stephen's prayer to Jesus to receive his breath at death, Acts 7:59, which essentially quotes Ps 31:5.
It is well-known that humans cannot create life - but God can! The "breath of life" appears to be the difference between a dead body and a living person/soul. Beyond that we cannot go because the Bible is silent and has no further information.