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In Genesis chapter two verse seven God created man from the dust and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils;

Genesis 2:7 KJV 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.

The original words used in the Hebrew were:

Breath:

נְשָׁמָה

nshamah (nesh-aw-maw') n-f.

  1. a puff, i.e. wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect. or (concretely) an animal

KJV: blast, (that) breath(-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit.

and life:

חַי

chay (khah'-ee) adj.

  1. alive

  2. (hence) raw (flesh)

  3. fresh (plant, water, year), strong

  4. (as noun, especially in the feminine singular and masculine plural) life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively

KJV: + age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life(-time), live(-ly), living (creature, thing), maintenance, + merry, multitude, + (be) old, quick, raw, running, springing, troop.

Chay Is the same word used in 1Kings 17:17 which is just breath.

Since נְשָׁמָה can also be interpreted as soul, could breath be a mistranslation in light of the second part of the verse "and man became a living soul".

Or is there some other explanation for the breath of life, such as oxygen absorption, which has been prove to be the case of a fetus in the womb?

Please make you answer as Biblical as possible.

Thank you.

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Would this not be better asked on Hermeneutics? –  Andrew Leach Jan 23 at 17:01
    
@ Andrew Leach probably so I will also ask it there. –  Bye Jan 23 at 17:13
    
@ Andrew Leach I checked the Hermeneutics site and found a similar question asking about spirit, and much amplification of the word nshamah, but it didn't include the possibility of a misinterpretation of the word. Please look at it, and if you feel my question is answered there I will delete my question. –  Bye Jan 23 at 17:31
    
I think Ezekiel 37 may have the answer you seek. –  Dan H Jan 23 at 20:30
    
Do you have a suggestion for how it should be translated differently? –  mojo Jan 24 at 5:11
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1 Answer 1

In Hebrew thinking/usage "breath" is what separates animals from plants. Plants have no "breath," but animals do.

This same phrase is used in the account of the flood.

Genesis 7:15 (KJV)
And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.

This phrase is used of everything that got on the ark (Ge 7:15), as well as the animals and humans that didn't get on the ark (Ge 7:22).

Hebrew writers liked to employ parallelism, and it seems that the way things are phrased in Genesis 2:7 is little more than an example of that: saying two things that essentially mean the same thing but are stated in different ways.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps 119:105)

O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? (Ps 15:1)

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@ mojo In the genesis account of creation God breathed the breath of life not only into man, but also into the animals, and he did not breathe the breath of life into even Eve since life already existed in the rib taken from Adam. Also all progeny after creation whether man or the animals have inherited life through the parents and God has not to my knowledge ever breathed the breath of any progeny, but it was inherited. –  Bye Jan 24 at 19:36
    
@CecilBeckum, I'm not understanding your point. If God gives life to progeny, they still have the "breath of life" don't they? –  mojo Jan 24 at 20:54
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