[b-hebrew] Nefesh - Breath or Breather

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Apr 24 04:20:09 EDT 2007

Dear "Brak" (or is it John? - please sign you posts in such a way that we 
know who we are answering),

Think of the expression "a living soul" in English. The "soul" is somthing 
that all living beings (or at least humans - I have no intention of opening 
up a debate on that) have - and so one may refer to all people as "living 
souls", as in, "I walked down the street, and there was not a living soul 

While Nefe$ Xayah is more "spirit" then "soul", the ancients considered a 
person's breathing as evidence of his being alive - thus the use of the same 
word for "spirit" and for "breath". "Ne$amah" has a similar meaning. So you 
might translate vss. 20, 21, 24 as "beathing, living creatures" (even for 
fish!), and 30 as "creatures with the breath of life".

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brak" <Brak at neo.rr.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 10:36 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Nefesh - Breath or Breather

> In Gen 1:20, 1:21, 1:24, and 1:30  we have the phrase NEFE$ XAY.FH
> In 1:20, 1:21, and 1:24 the phrase is usually translated as "living
> creature".
> But in 1:30 it is usually translated as "breath of life".
> So it appears that in 1:20,21,24 NEFE$ XAY.FH  is being translated to be
> referring to the item being spoken of (the "breather"), while in 1:30 is
> appears to be translated as something which the item being spoken of has
> (the "breath").
> Can someone help me make heads or tails of this.
> -- 
> B"H
> John Steven
> "If you don't behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you
> behave."
> -Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
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