Truth, Understanding, Insight

O.T. Spirit

20th July 2009, mgh


1) Introduction to Spirit

This article is written at the request of a reader. This very important topic is an extremely controversial one and is approached with prayer and much thought as to its presentation. The approach will be as in all articles. It is essential to let the Bible speak for itself and that we should not be swayed by popular philosophy or man's imaginings. In writing this article no reference is made to the work of other authors but is based on an exhaustive analysis of the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible.

Spirit in the Old Testament

We need to begin by looking at the use of the word 'spirit' (Hebrew 'ruach'), which occurs 346 times in the Old Testament. Sometimes this word is concealed in the translation.

The opening verses of Genesis introduce the 'spirit' (ruach') of God. This word 'ruach' has also been translated as 'cool', 'breath' and 'wind' as well as 'spirit' in the verses below that have been taken from the beginning of the book of Genesis. The effect of the movement of air relates to the action of breathing. The following verses from Genesis reveal that there are multiple Hebrew definitions of 'spirit' (ruach).

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit (ruach) of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1: 1-2)
They heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool (ruach) of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
The 'cool' would have been a pleasant time of day. Adam and Eve would no doubt have enjoyed the cooling breeze, provided in the Creator's scheme for mankind's comfort at the end of the day. Breeze and wind are essential in the control of weather and bring variation within the limits of climate and weather patterns. It is essential to the cycles of the earth.

In the time of Noah the Creator brings judgment on the people for their wickedness. The following verses show the varied use of the word spirit as 'mind', 'breath/life' and 'wind'.

And the LORD said, My spirit (ruach) shall not always strive with man... And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath (ruach) of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. (Genesis 6: 3,17)
They went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath (ruach) of life.... All in whose nostrils was the breath (ruach) of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. (Genesis 7:15,22)
And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind (ruach) to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; (Genesis 8:1)

Although we have no simple definition for spirit from the context of these verses, certain principles seem to be emerging. There are unseen forces at work. A breeze or wind cannot be seen, but they cause very visible effects. In the wind, the trees bend or sway and waves appear on the surface of a lake. A breeze will cool and cause our hair to be ruffled, leaves to move and the water of a lake to ripple. Inexplicable pneumatic laws and the air we breathe create the breath of life by which we are able to survive .


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