Genesis 2:7

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NRSV

4In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up . . . 7 then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground*, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים]; and the man became a living being. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

* Or formed a man (Heb adam) of dust from the ground (Heb adamah)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

NET

The LORD God formeda the man from the soil of the groundb and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,c and the man became a living being.d

NET Bible Notes to this verse

a tn Or "fashioned." The prefixed verb form with vav (ו) consecutive initiates narrative sequence. The Hebrew word יָצַר (yatsar) means "to form" or "to fashion," usually by plan or design (see the related noun יֵצֶר [yetser] in Gen 6:5). It is the term for an artist's work (the Hebrew term יוֹצֵר [yotser] refers to a potter; see Jer 18:2-4.)

sn Various traditions in the ancient Near East reflect this idea of creation. Egyptian drawings show a deity turning little people off of the potter's wheel with another deity giving them life. In the Bible humans are related to the soil and return to it (see 3:19; see also Job 4:19, 20:9; and Isa 29:16).

b tn The line literally reads "And Yahweh God formed the man, soil, from the ground." "Soil" is an adverbial accusative, identifying the material from which the man was made.

c The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (nÿshamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of Nÿshama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27).

sn Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called "a living being" (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way.

d tn The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, "being") is often translated "soul," but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phrase נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה (nefesh khayyah, "living being") is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19).

Created, formed, made ...

The image in Genesis chapter 2 is of God as a potter. Hebrew verb yatzer = form, fashion; the word for a "potter" is [yatzer]-er

This is one of the trio of "creating" verbs, brought together in Isaiah 43:7 — see Created, Formed and Made. In the first chapter of Genesis humankind is said to be created, not formed.

See Literal and Figurative Creation in the Bible

Made from the Dust

See made from the dust and F.F. Bruce: "a man of dust". The BASF Clause 4 references this verse when speaking of "the first man ... Adam, whom God created out of the dust of the ground as a living soul, or natural body of life..."

A chain of references relevant to humankind made from the dust continues here →


The Breath of Life

God putting "the breath of life" (in this verse, נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים Neshamah hayyim — see also Ruach hayyim) into people and other living things is a theme that runs through the Bible. The complex and overlapping semantics of Hebrew Nephesh, Neshamah and Ruach, as well as Neshamah hayyim, can be understood as a lasting tradition of the giving of life and breath, as Paul put it in his speech to the Areopagites — see at Acts 17:24-28. This chain of references follows relevant passages.

Follow the theme of "giving life and breath" beginning here →

Where was Adam formed? Not in the Garden of Eden!

KJV

7 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. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Note the sequence: God formed Adam and gave him life (verse 7); then verse 8 says God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and then it says "and there he put the man whom he had formed". So Adam was not made in the Garden of Eden as commonly thought, he was made outside it.

Bruce (talk)

Mistranslation

See a scholarly critique here of a fundamentalist mistranslation of verse 8.