Emily Carson, a Lutheran pastor serving at the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Office in Rochester has an interesting article on God’s breath and the human act of breathing. Here is an excerpt from her article:
God’s breath and the human act of breathing are both referenced in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word ruach is commonly translated as breath. It also means life and spirit and wind. This special word shows up for the first time in the initial verses of Genesis, which read, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” According to the writer of Genesis, ruach (the breath/wind/Spirit of God) was part of creation from the start.
A short while later, in Genesis, chapter 2, verse 7, God is described as forming the first human from the dust of the ground. After that, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” It is fascinating to ponder the image of a God who physically breathes life into humanity!
The many Old Testament uses of the Hebrew word ruach remind readers that there is a special spiritual significance to breathing. It is more than an autonomous process we do entirely without thinking. It’s something that connects us to a divine life-source.
You can read Emily Carson’s article, “Holy Everything: Remember, God is present in every breath,” in its entirety by visiting the Post Bulletin, a newspaper in Rochester, Minnesota.
Claude F. Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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