I would love to be able to do some work with the languages even if I don't actually take Greek or Hebrew. I may take them at some point as I'm still doing my Seminary coursework, but I may not. It depends which degree I decide to do. Anyway, I would love to have some language tools that would help me as someone who doesn't know the languages. Are these things available in the Bible study one?
Accordance has many English texts that are Tagged to the original languages and can be good jumping off points to lexical aids like the Abridged Kittle and Theological Wordbook of the OT.
Using an example currently open in my Accordance.
Ruth 4:15 (NRSVS) He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.”
clicking on life brings up the following,,,
GK H5883 | S H5315 vRp‰n nep≈esû 757x
n.f. . breath; by extension: life, life force, soul, an immaterial part of a person, the seat of emotion and desire; a creature or person as a whole: self, body, even corpse. ˘ being; breath; person; soul.
± NIV | ESV | HCSB | NRSV | JPS | NKJV | KJV
Which can quickly lead you to the lexical article in TWOT below:
1395 * vApÎn (naœpash) take breath, refresh oneself. This denominative verb occurs only in the Niphal (Ex 23:12; 2 Sam 16:14; Ex 31:17).
1395a † vRp‰n (nepesh) life, soul, creature, person, appetite, and mind are the more common of the twenty-some varieties of meaning utilized in KJV.
(ASV conforms with these uses in a majority of cases, while RSV deviates freely, sometimes reverting to “soul” where KJV has another expression but more often replacing “soul” with words like “being,” “person,” any “one,” “he” who, “self,” “I/me,” etc., and “appetite.” Both revisions, in fact, make substitutions by using terms found in other passages in KJV.) The Ugaritic and Akkadian have cognates with somewhat similar breadth of meaning but both include the meaning “throat.” Arabic nafs includes “soul, mind, life, person, inclination, self (as a reflexive pronoun)“ but does not mean “throat.” For Phoenician-Punic and Old Aramaic npsh/nbsh see Jean, C. F. and Hoftijzer, F. Dictionnaire des Inscriptions Simitiques de l’ouest (Leiden 1965). It is common in language for a bodily part or organ to take on emotional or spiritual meanings, cf. “heart” in both Hebrew and English.
Most of the KJV variants referred to above are a matter of closely related concepts, as synonyms for creature, “living thing, beast, fish,” for appetite, “heart, pleasure, desire, lust, discontent,” and “will.” While “any (one), man,” and “self (myself, etc.)“ occur in KJV, the rendering of vRp‰n by the simple personal pronoun (often reflexive)is common only in RSV and other recent translations. The seemingly contradictory meaning, “the dead, dead body,” found a few times in all three versions, will be analyzed in what follows.
The treatment of vRp‰n by C. Westermann (THAT, I: 71–95) is valuable and should be compared.
The original, concrete meaning of the word was probably “to breathe.” The verb occurs three times in the medio-passive Niphal stem with the meaning “to refresh oneself” (Ex 23:12; 31:17; 2 Sam 16:14). The verb may be a denominative from the substantive, but both ancient and modern Semitic cognates do have verbal from signifying “to breathe” (cf. Akkadian napashu “to blow, to breathe out”; (see D. W. Thomas, “A Study in Hebrew Synonyms; Verbs Signifying ‘To Breathe’” Zeitschrift fur Semitistik 10:311–14). The noun appears to denote “breath” in Gen 1:30; “in which [i.e. the land creatures] is the breath of life.” The connection between vRp‰n and breath is also suggested by such statements as: “and [the Lord] breathed [jpn] into his [man’s] nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (2:7); and “the vRp‰n [life/breath/soul] of the child returned and he revived” (1 Kgs 21:22).
The case for an original, concrete meaning of “breath” is also suggested by the use of vRp‰n to denote “throat” in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Hebrew; e.g., “therefore Sheol had enlarged its throat [NASB; “appetite” in NIV] and opened its mouth without measure” (Isa 5:14; cf. Hab 2:5); “the waters have come up to my neck [NIV]“ (Ps 69:2; cf. Jon 2:6).
As in the cognate languages (cf. especially Arabic) vRp‰n can refer to the appetite. Thus it may denote hunger for food: “You may eat grapes according to your appetite, until you are satisfied” (Deut 23:24; [H 25]; cf. Ps 78:18); “this bread will be for their hunger” (Hos 9:4); “a righteous man cares for the needs of his animals” (Prov 12:10; cf. 10:3; 16:26). So also it can refer to one’s spiritual/volitional appetite, that is, “desire” or “will”; e.g. “the enemy said,... ‘my desire shall be gratified against them’” (Ex 15:9; cf. Ezek 16:27; Ps 27:12; 41:3); “then you shall let her go according to her desire” (Deut 21:14; cf. 1 Sam 2:35 [of God’s will] Ps 105:22). Abraham says to Ephron: “if it is your wish...” (Gen 23:8). The desire of the wicked is condemned (Prov 13:2; 19:2).
About twenty times, however, vRp‰n is the subject of hDwDa “to desire,” “to crave.” Here it is not the hunger/appetite/desire itself but that which possesses the appetite, “the soul.” A person, a soul, may crave physical food: “and you say, ‘I will eat meat, ‘ because you desire [ h‰…wAaV;t ]to eat meat, then you may eat meat, according to the desire of your soul [ DKVvVpÅn tA…wAa_lDkV;b]“ (Deut 12:20; cf. 14:26; 1 Sam 2:16). The compound can also speak of the sexual drive: “a wild donkey accustomed to the wilderness, that sniffs the wind has passion [ hDvVpÅn tA…wAaV;b][Qere and LXX], in the time of her heat who can turn her away” (Jer 2:24). So also it may denote one’s spiritual volitional desire for something. Abner said to David: “that you may be king over all that your soul desires” (2 Sam 3:21; 1 Kgs 11:37). “The desire of the wicked soul is evil” (Prov 21:10). “[what] his soul desires [ hDt◊…wIa wøvVpÅn◊w ] that he does” (Job 23:13).
The people of Judah desire God’s justice: “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts [ vRpÎn tÅwSaA;t]. My soul yearns for you [ yIvVpÅn
aIw…IytIyKD ] for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments came upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness” (Isa 26:8–9; cf. Ps 119:20 and below for numerous passages where vRp‰n is used to express personal yearning for someone and its inclination and disinclination for someone).
One can also speak of the hungry or thirsty soul: “For he has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul he has filled with good things” (Ps 107:9; cf. Prov 19:15; 25:25; 27:7).
Accordingly verb oAbDc “to satisfy” occurs often with vRp‰n: “The dogs are greedy [ vRp‰n_yEΩzAo = “strong of appetite”], they are not satisfied” (Isa 56:11; cf. 58:10; Jer 50:19). Especially in Eccl, the soul “craves, lacks,” or is “filled with good things” (Eccl 2:24; 4:8; 6:2, 3, 7, 9; and 7:28).
As Isa 26:8–9 suggests, the object of that which the soul craves may be a person. The soul’s thirst or language may be directed toward God. The psalmist brings the two notions together thus: “As the deer parts for the water-courses, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and appear before God” (Ps 42:1, 2 [H 2, 3]; cf. 63:2). In addition to God’s presence the soul may long for the law (119:20), salvation (119:81); his courts (84:3); etc.
Thus vRp‰n occurs with many verbs denoting “Yearning”; cf. the idiom he set his soul “to long after, yearn” for someone, something (Deut 24:15; Hos 4:8; Prov 19:18; Jer 22:27; 44:14; etc.). The soul waits for [ hwq ] the Lord (Ps 130:5), seeks [ vrd ] him (Lam 3:25); etc.
Thus in numerous passages reference is made to the inclination or disinclination of the soul. It is frequently used in connection with “love.” The maiden says to her lover: “Tell me, O you whom my soul loves” (Song 1:7; and repeatedly in 3:1–4; cf. Jer 12:7; Gen 34:3). It is used not only of the man-woman relationship, but also of the closest human friendships; e.g. of David and Jonathan: “The soul of Jonathan was bound [qashar] with the soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul.” So also it speaks of man’s love for God. The psalmist says: “My soul clings [ qAb∂;d] to you” (Ps 63:9).
Here too belongs the important exhortation “to love” and “to serve” God with the whole heart and soul (Deut 6:5; 30:6; cf. 4:29; 10:12; 11:13; 13:4; 26:16; 30:2, 6, 10; Josh 22:5; 23:14; 1 Kgs 2:4; 8:48 = 2 Chr 6:38; etc.). Commenting on Deut 6:5, J. McBride noted: “The three parts of Deut 6:5; bDbEl (heart), vRp‰n (soul or life), and dOaVm (muchness) rather than signifying different spheres of biblical psychology seem to be semantically concentric. They were chosen to reinforce the absolute singularity of personal devotion to God. Thus, bDbEl denotes the intention or will of the whole man; vRp‰n means the whole self, a unity of flesh, will and vitality; and dOaVm accents the superlative degree of total commitment to Yahweh.” While agreeing that these terms were chosen to denote the singularity of devotion, we would now underscore vRp‰n as pertaining to the personal desire or inclination.
For the turning away of the soul from someone/something, vRp‰n occurs with such words as a´nDc “to hate” (2 Sam 5:8; Isa 1:14 [of God’s hatred]; Ps 11:5); lAoÎ…g “abhor” (Lev 26:11, 15, 30, 43 = of a fractured God-man relationship); X…wq “loathe” (Num 21:5); etc.
Thus vRp‰n is frequently used in connection with the emotional states of joy and bliss. The Psalmist suggests the relationship between these ideas when he prays: “Bring joy to the soul of your servant, for I long (I lift up my soul, aDÚcRa yIvVpÅn) for you, O Lord (Ps 86:4). Not only can the soul be joyful because its desires are met but also because of its appreciation for the inherent worth of something which delights its tastes: “Pleasant words are... sweet to the soul” (Prov 16:23). When filled with the sayings of the wise, the son will find that “Knowledge will be pleasant to [his] soul” (2:10). A disciplined son “will delight your soul” (29:17). Fully satisfied in the Lord the soul praises him (Ps 103:1, 2, 22; 104:1, 35; etc.). But the wicked, having depended upon themselves, praise. themselves (49:19).
It also follows that the soul can be bitter. Fifteen times it occurs with the root rårDm. With his health and well-being broken, Job complained: “The Almighty has embittered my soul” (27:2). Provoked by her rival on account of her barrenness, Hannah was one “bitter of soul” (tårDm
n‰pRv) (1 Sam 1:10; cf. Jud 18:25; etc.). Related to rårDm are many different expressions of sorrow with the soul. Jeremiah says to his people: “But if you will not listen to it [the word of God], my soul will sob in secret...” (Jer 13:17; cf. passim).
In Isa 10:18 vRp‰n is employed alongside of rDcD;b, “flesh”=physical body as a merism to denote the whole person. It is also used in parallel with basar. NIV interprets this as a figure for totality: “completely,” “flesh” in Ps 63:1 [H 2] for the same reason.
Since personal existence by its very nature involves drives, appetites, desires, will, vRp‰n denotes the “life” of an individual. As the object of the verb b…wv “to revive” “to restore” vRp‰n moves between the notion of “soul” and “life.” Jerusalem laments: “Because far from me is a comforter, One who restores my soul/life” (Lam 1:16). The women of Bethlehem pray for Naomi: “May he [Obed] be to you a restorer of life [ vRp‰n ], and a sustainer of your old age (Ruth 4:15; Ps 23:3; Lam 1:11; Ps 18:8; Prov 25:13). What is meant in these passages is life which consists of emotions, passions, drives, appetites.
It also moves between these two notions with the word hDyDj “to live.” Abraham instructs Sarah to say she is his sister “so that it may go well with me on account of you and my soul may continue in life” (Gen 12:13; cf. 19:20; 20:7; Isa 55:3; etc.). But here it is also equivalent to “self.” vRp‰n with the notion of “life” refers to the “I” that hungers and is filled, loves and hates, is joyful and sorrowful, etc. It adds an intensely personal element to the notion of self. Indeed vRp‰n could be substituted with the personal pronoun in these passages, but the intensity of feeling would be lost.
Accordingly, in some passages vRp‰n is best translated by “life,” but “life” here denotes the living self with all its drives, not the abstract notion “life” which is conveyed by MyI¥yAj, nor the other meaning of MyI¥yAj which refers to a quality of existence as well as the temporal notion of being (cf. the use of MyI¥yAj in Deut and Prov). Westermann noted that when vRp‰n occurs as the subject of the verb it is usually rendered “soul”—desires, inclinations, etc.; as the object of the verb it is frequently rendered by “life” — the state of personal existence as over against death.
Many passages refer to the “saving” of a man’s vRp‰n “life”. In fact, almost all the verbs within this semantic notion take vRp‰n as their object: with lAxÎn “and deliver our lives from death” (Josh 2:13; Isa 44:20; passim), with fAlDm: “if you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be put to death” (1 Sam 19:11); cf. 2 Sam 19:6; passim); with XAlDj, “rescue my life” (Ps 6:5); with oAvÎy, “he will save the lives of the needy” (72:13); etc. The psalmist is confident that God will even “redeem” (hDdDÚp) his life out of the grave (49:15 [H 16]). In all these passages “life” is equivalent to the person.
It has also this notion of saving the “life”=“individual” in certain prepositional phrases. Thus Elijah “ran for his life [ wøvVpÅn lRa ]“ 1 Kgs 19:3); “take heed for your lives” (Jer 17:21); etc. When one risks his life it is said that he takes his vRp‰n into his hands (Judg 12:3; passim).
Then too, it is usually rendered “life” after verbs denoting “keeping” “preserving” “sustaining” etc. Thus it occurs: with rAmDv “to keep” (Deut 4:9); with JKAmDs “to sustain” (Ps 54:6); with JKAcDj “to hold back [from the grave]“ (78:50); etc.
The vRp‰n “life” is most precious. Thus the captain prays to Elijah: “O man of God, please let my life and the lives of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight” (2 Kgs 1:13; cf. 1 Sam 26:21); etc. In some situations a monetary payment can be given for the life (cf. Ex 21:30; 30:12).
In the lex talionis formula “life for life” vRp‰n denotes the precious individual, the living self (Ex 21:23; Lev 24:18; Deut 19:21; cf. 1 Kgs 20:39, 42; 2 Kgs 10:24; etc.).
Here too belongs Lev 17:11, one of the most decidedly theological and distinctively meaningful passages where the word vRp‰n is of major significance, and one which certainly defines the term as meaning life “for the life (vRp‰n) of the flesh (rDcD;b) is in the blood.” Here it is the vitality, the passionate existence of an individual which is denoted.
Then too it is frequently said that the enemy threatens the individual’s life. Thus it occurs as the objects of: baqash “to seek” (Ex 4:19; passim); bårDa “to lie in ambush for” (Ps 59:3 [H 4]) etc. Sometimes God’s destruction of the life, the individual is in view: “Do not take away my life with sinners” (26:9).
It comes as no surprise, then, that in some contexts vRp‰n is best rendered by “person,” “self,” or more simply by the personal pronoun. Westermann says that it is best rendered by such English equivalents in casuistic law, in the enumeration of people, in the general designation of people and as a substitute for a pronoun. An example of its use in legal contexts with such particles as rRvSa or yI;k is: “Now when anyone [ yI;k vRp‰n ] presents a grain offering” (Lev 2:1; cf. 4:2; 5:1, 2; passim). Again, “But the person who [ rRvSa vRp‰…nAh◊w ] eats the flesh...” (7:20; passim). Similarly it has this notion in enumerations: “These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive... in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar 832 persons [ vRp‰n ]...” (Jer 52:28, 29; Ex 12:4, passim). So also with reference to “people” “he [shall be valued] according to the valuation of persons belonging to the Lord” (Lev 27:2; passim). As a substitute for a pronoun it frequently occurs with the pronominal suffix. Thus Lot said to the Lord: “That I [yIvVp‰n = “my soul”] may live” (Gen 19:19; passim). Although it appears to be an equivalent of the personal pronoun, its intensive, passionate sense peculiar to the word is always present. A. R. Johnson speaks of it as “a pathetic (i.e. in the sense of deeply emotional) periphrasis for a pronoun” (The Vitality of the Individual in the Thought of ancient Israel, 1964, p. 22).
A total of 755 occurrences of the noun vRp‰n have been counted in the OT, and of these it is rendered in the Greek translation (LXX) some 600 times by the psyche (yuxh/). Of the 144 times it is used in the Psalms, over 100 of them have the first person suffix, “my soul.” Thus in its most synthetic use vRp‰n stands for the entire person. In Gen 2:7 “man became a living creature” [ vRp‰n ]-the substantive must not be taken in the metaphysical, theological sense in which we tend to use the term “soul” today. Precisely the same Hebrew expression (hA¥yAj vRp‰n) — traditionally rendered “living soul” occurs also in 1:20, 21, and 1:24. In other words, man is here being associated with the other creatures as sharing in the passionate experience of life and is not being defined as distinct from them. It is true, however, as Oehler points out that the source of the vRp‰n of animals is the ground, whereas the source of the vRp‰n of Adam is God.
Particular note should be taken of the antonymous translation, “the dead, dead body” found in Lev 19:28; 21:1, 11; Num 5:2; 6:6, 11; 9:6, 7, 10; etc. In these citations, “the dead” stands for vRp‰n by itself, while “dead body” renders vRp‰n/ twøvVpÅn met. The latter indicates “a person (persons) who has died,” the emphasis being on the personal identity of an ‘individual,’ so that in context the term vRp‰n by itself refers to a dead individual, “one who has died,” and the word itself does not really mean physical ‘body.’
The use of vRp‰n with reference to God is rare since God does not have the cravings and appetites common to man nor is his life limited by death. In addition to the passages already noted, we cite several more where the word is used to express forcefully his passionate disinclination or inclination toward someone. The former is more frequent. Thus he threatens: “Be warned, O Jerusalem, lest I/My soul be alienated from you” (Jer 6:8); cf. 5:9, 29; 9:8; 15:1; passim). On the other hand his passionate love, delight and inclination toward his servant is spoken of thus: “My chosen one in whom my soul delights” (Isa 42:1).
It must not be concluded from this study of vRp‰n that the OT presents man as physical only. There are other OT ideas to be considered in this connection: (1) the OT teaching concerning the “spirit” of man; (2) the OT teaching concerning the heart (bEl) of man; (3) the subject of the image of God (see MRlRx) in man; and (4) the picture as given of man’s relation to God.
Bibliography: Briggs, C. A., “The Use of npsh in the OT,” JBL 16. 17–30, Becker, J. H., Het Begrip Nefesj in het Oude Testament, 1942. Buswell, J. O., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, Zondervan, 1962, vol. 11, pp. 237–41. Seligson, M., The Meaning of npsh mt in the Old Testament, 1951; cf. Widengren, G., VT 4: 97–102. Murtonen, A., The Living Soul, 1958. Lys, D., nepe¿sh, 1959. Johnson, A. R., The Vitality of the Individual in the Thought of Ancient Israel, 1949. Wolff, H. W., Anthropology of the Old Testament, Westermann, C., “Naefaes” in THAT, II, pp. 71–95. Richardson, TWB, pp. 144–45. TDOT, IX, pp. 617–37.