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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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THE FIRST FOUR OCCURRENCES OF THE WORD "NEPHESH" RELATE EXCLUSIVELY TO ANIMALS. That is a good fact to start with and to remember. A good foundation. Let us get them firmly in our mind:

Gen. 1:20: "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life" (The word "life" here is nephesh--soul).

Next verse: "And God created great whales, and every living creature (nephesh--soul) that moveth, which the water brought forth abundantly."

Verse 24: "The living creature (nephesh) after his kind, cattle and creeping things."

Verse 30: "Every beast...every foul...everything that creepeth, wherein there is life (nephesh)."

Then Used of Man

Then, having prepared our understanding by applying nephesh four times to every species of living creature on the earth, the Scriptures' next use of the word is in the record of the creation of man (Gen. 2:7): "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground." (and that in itself is a phrase to be well noted when we consider the nature and composition of man)

"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 (nephesh)."

(EXACTLY THE SAME WORD as four times already applied to animals, Man, formed of the dust of the ground, became a living soul (an animal, breathing creature) when God breathed into him the breath of life.)

Now the usual response at this point from the immortal soulist is to switch over to the word spirit, and abandon the argument based on soul. Our present subject, is however, SOUL, and we hope to thoroughly dispose of that, but in passing it may be mentioned that exactly the same remarks apply to "spirit." It, too, in these early foundation chapters of Genesis, is used of animals alone, and also of men and animals together, and to the same point Solomon says (Eccl. 3:19): "Man and beasts...they have all ONE spirit."

In applying both these words, soul AND spirit, to animals as well as to men, the Scriptures seem to be taking especial care to protect us from erroneous conceptions, if only we will heed and accept its divine guidance, and not depend upon the Greek philosophers against whose teachings the Apostle Paul so bitterly contended and so vehemently warned.

Man and Animals Together Indiscriminately

We have considered the first five occurrences. Of the next eight, six are applied to animals. There are seven places where the word is applied to man and animals together without distinction. An interesting example is Num. 31:28

"Levy a SOUL (nephesh) of 500, both of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses..."

One more typical passage of the use of soul for animals before we go on, Prov. 12:10:

"A righteous man regardeth the life (nephesh--SOUL) of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

Surely we can consider it definitely established, therefore, that there is no difference between men and animals in the matter of being or having souls. This IS VERY IMPORTANT. It is one of the first principles of Scripture. If we have not definitely fixed this in our minds, let us keep going back over these facts and passages and stick with them. They are worth more than all the volumes ever written of Greek or modern philosophy.

Adam's Sentence "Dust Thou Art"

The sentence passed on Adam is in full accord with the record of his creation from the dust (Gen. 3:19):

"Dust THOU art, and unto dust shalt THOU return."

The sentence was passed upon the conscious, thinking, sinning individual--the LIVING SOUL, created from dust, and animated by breath from God. This is in harmony with the general expression of the dispensation of God's justice, as expressed through Ezekiel:

"The soul that sinneth, IT SHALL DIE". (Ezek. 18:4)

Any attempt to transfer this sentence from the thinking, responsible Adam to his mere body is such an obviously weak subterfuge as not to be worthy of serious consideration.

And finally, we note, in passing, very distinctly that in this first pronouncement of the wages of sin, THERE IS NO MENTION OF ETERNAL TORTURE--but on the contrary, the sentence is dissolution into original dust.

Nephesh: Physical Functions of Fleshly Creatures

Now a few passages to show that soul (Hebrew: nephesh) is not some immaterial essence, but is applied to the ordinary, natural functions of fleshly creatures:

  • Prov. 6:30: "Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul (nephesh) when he is hungry."
  • Isa. 29:8: "A hungry man dreameth, and behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul (nephesh) is empty--a thirsty man dreameth, and behold, he drinketh, but he awaketh, and his soul (nephesh) hath appetite."
  • Lev. 17:10-11: "I will even set my face against that soul (nephesh) that eateth blood...For the life (nephesh--soul) of the flesh is in the blood..."
  • Deut. 12:20-23: "Thy soul (nephesh) longeth to eat flesh thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul (nephesh) lusteth after...the blood is the life (nephesh--soul); and thou mayest not eat the life (nephesh--soul) . . ."

It is clear that the immortal soulists' only solution is to do what they have done, and regard the Bible as merely the speculations of partially enlightened men. They could not possibly agree with Peter's statement (2 Peter 1:21), that:

"Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."