Every once and a while, I come across a word in the Bible (in Hebrew) that really touches me. I almost think “dang, if we even came CLOSE to matching this word I would use it….” but many times English just does not. One of these words is “ruach” or “breathe, spirit.”
This word is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 to describe the spirit of God hovering over the blocky-chaotic water. And yet, its the same word to describe the Holy Spirit of God. God’s spirit is like a breathe of fresh air, a wind. Its unseen, a felt concept, and yet when it reacts with other things, both good and destruction can come from it. The word just screams uniqueness. Not only is it used in a very specific context in the Bible, but the underscore-looking item under the final letter chet actually is not common place in Hebrew. Typically most Hebrew words are balanced between consonants & vowels. Rarely do you see two vowels next to each other.
As for the theological implications–the words relates to the breathe of life. The Holy Spirit is meant to be God’s source in all life. This is the word that describes God “breathing into ” humanity the breathe of life. The imagery is just astounding. And from my class w/ Dr. Tremper Longman last year, this image of God breathing is contrary to other Ancient Near Eastern stories, where gods live in the world, fighting, and create humans out of spite so they do not have to do anything. It’s an interesting perspective when you think of all the similarities from early creation stories to the Biblical story.
So next time you come across the term “Holy Spirit”, your meaning of God’ presence will grow deeper instead of thinking of white-sheeted floating people muddling “BOOOOoooo” in your face