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Saturday, February 20, 2010

What is the difference in the meaning of "ru´ach" (spirit) in Genesis chapter 1 and 2 in the Bible?

The Hebrew ru´ach (spirit) is believed to come from a root having the same meaning as the Greek pneu´ma (spirit) which comes from pne´o, meaning “breathe or blow". Ru´ach and pneu´ma, then, basically mean “breath” but have extended meanings beyond that basic sense.

They can also mean wind; the vital force in living creatures; one’s spirit; spirit persons, including God and his angelic creatures; and God’s active force, or holy spirit. (Compare Koehler and Baumgartner’s Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, Leiden, 1958, pp. 877-879; Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 1980, pp. 924-926; Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by G. Friedrich, translated by G. Bromiley, 1971, Vol. VI, pp. 332-451.) All these meanings have something in common: They all refer to that which is invisible to human sight and which gives evidence of force in motion. Such invisible force is capable of producing visible effects.

There is another Hebrew word, nesha·mah´ (Ge 2:7), which also means “breath,” but it is more limited in range of meaning than ru´ach.

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