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Nephesh

Nephesh (נפש) is the Hebrew word commonly translated as soul in English. It literally means the "complete life of a being" though it is usually used in the sense of "living being" (breathing creature). The Hebrew word nephesh applies to humans, lower animals, corpses and to God Almighty (Leviticus 26:11; 26:30; Psalm 24:4; Isaiah 42:1). The concept of an immaterial soul separate from and surviving the body is common today but was not fully founded in ancient Hebrew beliefs.

Nephesh in the Companion Bible

E.W. Bullinger in his Companion Bible retrace the occurrences and translation of that word. He classes them in twelve categories.

The word Nephesh occurs 754 times in the Jewish Testament. Each occurrence is noted in the margin, but it will be useful for the Bible student to have a complete list.

In the A.V. and R.V. it is translated "soul" 472 times, while in the other 282 places it is represented by forty-four different words or phrases. In fifty-three of these places there is a marginal rendering which calls attention to the fact that the word is "Nephesh", while in 229 passages the English reader has hitherto been left in ignorance of the fact. The English word "soul" is in every occurrence the rendering of the Hebrew Nephesh, except in Job 30:15 and Isa. 57:16. See the notes. the time has come to "open the book", and let it speak for itself. Henceforth, every one who uses The Companion Bible will have complete information as to the facts, and can use it in determining his definitions, making his own classifications, and formulating his doctrines as to the Biblical use of the word.

Though, with these two exceptions, the English word "soul" always represents the Hebrew Nephesh, Nephesh is not always translated "soul".

This Appendix will exhibit all the varieties of translation; and, while it is not intended to teach either Theology or Psychology, it will give such information as will enable every Bible reader to form his own views and come to his own conclusions on an important subject, about which there is such great controversy. his can be done only by giving every occurrence of the Hebrew word Nephesh.

Each occurrence is noted in the margin of The Companion Bible; but it is well to present a complete, separate, and classified list of the recognized Lexical usages of the word; and the reader will be left to form his own judgment as to how far the following classification is correct.

The usage of the word Nephesh by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God is the only guide to the true understanding of it. It will be seen that the word "soul", in its theological sense, does not cover all the ground, or properly represent the Hebrew word "Nephesh". The correct Latin word for the theological term "soul" (or Nephesh) is anima; and this is from the Greek anemos = air or breath, because it is this which keeps the whole in life and in being.

[The usage of the corresponding New Testament word psuche will be presented in a later Appendix.] The first occurrence of Nephesh is in Gen. 1:20, "the moving creature that hath life (Nephesh)".

The following are twelve classifications of Nephesh :

Lower Animals

Nephesh is used of the lower animals only, in twenty-two passages, and is rendered in nine different ways:

  1. "creature" Gen. 1:21, 24; 2:19; 9:10, 12. Lev. 11:46. 7
  2. "thing" Lev. 11:10. Ezek. 47:9. 2
  3. "life" Gen. 1:20, 30. 2
  4. "the life" Gen. 9:4. Deut. 12:23. Prov. 12:10. 4
  5. "beast" Lev. 24:18. (See margin.) 3
  6. "the soul" Job 12:10. (See margin.) 1
  7. "breath" Job 41:21. 1
  8. "fish" Isa. 19:10. (See margin.) 1
  9. "her" Jer. 2:24. 1

Total = 22

Lower Animals and Man

Nephesh is used of the Lower Animals and Man in seven passages, and rendered in three different ways:

  1. "creature" Gen. 9:15, 16. 2
  2. "the life" Lev. 17:11, 14. 4
  3. "soul" Num. 31:28. 1

Total = 7

Man, as an individual person

Nephesh is used of Man, as an individual person, in 53 passages, and is rendered in six different ways:

  1. "soul" Gen. 2:7; 12:5; 46:15, 18, 22, 25, 26, 27. Ex. 1:5; 12:4. Lev. 22:11. Ps. 25:20. Prov. 10:3; 11:25, 30; 14:25; 19:15; 22:23 (R.V. life); 25:25; 27:7. Jer. 38:16. Lam. 3:25. Ezek. 13:18, 20; 18:4 34
  2. "person" Gen. 14:21; 36:6 (R.V. souls). Ex. 16:16. Lev. 27:2. Num. 31:40, 46. Deut. 10:22. Jer. 43:6; 52:29, 30. Ezek. 16:5; 27:13. 14
  3. "persons" Num. 31:35. 1
  4. "any" Deut. 24:7. 1
  5. "man" 2Kings 12:4 1
  6. "and" 1Chron. 5:21 1
  7. Not rendered Num. 31:35 (Lit. "and the soul of man...were 32,000 souls.") 1

Total = 53

Man, as exercising certain powers, or performing certain acts

Nephesh is used of Man, as exercising certain powers, or performing certain acts (may be often well rendered by emphatic pronouns), in ninety-six passages, and with eleven different renderings:

  1. "soul" Gen. 27:4, 19, 25, 31. Lev. 4:2; 5:1, 2, 4, 15, 17; 6:2; 7:18, 20, 21, 27; 16:29, 31; 17:12, 15; 20:6, 25; 22:6; 23:27, 30, 32. Num. 15:27, 28, 30; 19:22; 29:7; 30:2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. Deut. 13:6. Judg. 5:21. 1Sam. 1:26; 17:55; 18:3; 20:3, 17; 25:26. 2Sam. 11:11; 14:19. 2Kings 2:2, 4, 6; 4:30. Job 16:4; 31:30 (R.V. life). Ps. 35:13; 120:6. Prov. 6:32; 8:36; 11:17; 13:2; 15:32; 16:17; 19:8, 16; 20:2 (R.V. life); 21:23; 22:5; 29:24. Ecc. 4:8; 6:2. Isa. 51:23; 58:3, 5. Jer. 4:19. Ezek. 4:14. Mic. 6:7. 81
  2. "man" Ex. 12:16. 1
  3. "any" Lev. 2:1. 1
  4. "one" Lev. 4:27. 1
  5. "yourselves" Lev. 11:43, 44. Jer. 17:21. 3
  6. "person" Num. 5:6. 1
  7. "themselves" Est. 9:31. Isa. 46:2. 2
  8. "himself" Job 18:4 (R.V. thyself); 32:2. 2
  9. "he" Ps. 105:18. 1
  10. "herself" Jer. 3:11. 1
  11. "Himself" Jer. 51:14. Amos 6:8 (used of Jehovah). 2

Total = 96

Man, as possessing animal appetites and desires

Nephesh is used of Man, as possessing animal appetites and desires, in twenty-two passages, rendered in five different ways:

  1. "soul" Num. 11:6 (dried away). Deut. 12:15 (lusteth), 20 (longeth to eat flesh), 20 (lusteth after), 21 (lusteth); 14:26 (lusteth), 26 (desireth); 21:5 (loatheth). 1Sam. 2:16 (desireth). Job 6:7 (refused); 33:20 (abhorreth). Ps. 107:18 (abhorreth). Prov. 6:30 (hunger); 13:25 (satisfying). Isa. 29:8 (empty), 8 (hath appetite). Mic. 7:1 (desired...figs). 17
  2. "pleasure" Deut. 23:24. 1
  3. "lust" Ps. 78:18. 1
  4. "appetite" Prov. 23:2. Ecc. 6:7. 2
  5. "greedy" Isa. 56:11. 1

Total = 22

Man, as exercising mental faculties, and manifesting certain feelings and affections and passions

Nephesh is used of Man, as exercising mental faculties, and manifesting certain feelings and affections and passions, in 231 passages, and rendered in twenty different ways:

  1. "soul" Gen. 34:3 (clave), 8 (longeth); 42:21 (anguish); 49:6 (come not). Lev. 26:11 (not abhor), 15 (abhor), 30 (abhor), 43 (abhor). Num. 21:4 (discouraged). Deut. 4:9 (keep), 29 (seek); 6:5 (love); 10:12 (serve); 11:13 (love), 18 (lay up in); 13:3 (love); 26:16 (keep); 30:2 (return), 6 (love), 10 (turn). Josh. 22:5 (serve); 23:14 (know). Judg. 10:16 (Used of God) (grieved); 16:16 (vexed). 1Sam. 1:10 (bitterness of), 15 (poured out); 18:1 (knit with), 1 (loved as); 20:4 (desireth); 23:20 (desire); 30:6 (grieved). 2Sam. 5:8 (hated). 1Kings 2:4 (walk); 8:48 (return); 11:37 (desired). 2Kings 4:27 (vexed); 23:3 (keep), 25 (turned). 1Chron. 22:19 (seek). 2Chron. 6:38 (return); 15:12 (seek); 34:31 (keep). Job 3:20 (bitter); 7:11 (bitterness); 9:21 (know) (R.V. myself); 10:1 (weary), 1 (bitterness); 14:22 (mourn); 19:2 (vex); 21:25 (bitterness); 23:13 (Used of God) (desireth); 24:12 (wounded); 27:2 (vexed); 30:16 (poured out), 25 (grieved). Ps. 6:3 (sore vexed); 11:5 (Used of God) (hateth); 13:2 (take counsel); 19:7 (converting); 24:4 (not lifted up); 25:1 (lifted up), 13 (dwell at ease); 31:7 (in adversities), 9 (consumed with grief); 33:20 (waiteth); 34:2 (boast); 35:9 (be joyful); 42:1 (panteth), 2 (thirsteth), 4 (pour our), 5 (cast down), 6 (cast down), 11 (cast down); 43:5 (cast down); 44:25 (bowed down); 62:1 (waileth), 5 (wait); 63:1 (thirsteth), 5 (satisfied), 8 (followeth hard); 69:10 (chastened); 77:2 (refused comfort); 84:2 (longeth); 86:4 (rejoiced), 4 (lift up); 88:3 (full of troubles); 94:19 (delight); 103:1, 2, 22; 104:1, 35 (bless); 107:5 (fainted), 9 (satisfied), 9 (filled with goodness), 26 (melted); 116:7 (return to rest); 119:20 (longing), 25 (cleaveth unto the dust), 28 (melteth for heaviness), 81 (fainteth), 129 (keep), 167 (kept); 123:4 (filled with scorning); 130:5 (wait), 6 (waiteth); 131:2 (quieted); 138:3 (strengthened); 139:14 (knoweth); 143:6 (thirsteth), 8 (lifted up), 11 (bring out of trouble), 12 (afflict); 146:1 (praise). Prov. 2:10 (knowledge pleasant); 3:22 (be life to); 13:4 (desireth), 4 (made fat), 19; 16:24 (sweet to); 19:2 (without knowledge), 18 (spare) (R.V. heart); 21:10 (desireth); 22:25 (get a snare to); 24:14 (wisdom unto); 25:13 (refresheth); 29:17 (give delight). Ecc. 2:24 (enjoy good); 6:3 (not filled); 7:28 (seeketh). Song 1:7; 3:1, 2, 3, 4 (loveth); 5:6 (failed); 6:12 (Used of God) (made me like chariots). Isa. 1:14 (hateth); 26:8 (desire), 9 (desire); 32:6 (made empty); 38:15 (bitterness of); 42:1 (Used of God); 55:2 (delight); 58:10 (drawn out), 10 (afflicted), 11 (satisfied); 61:10 (joyful); 66:3 (delighteth). Jer. 4:31 (wearied); 5:9, 29 (avenged); 6:8 (depart), 16 (find rest); 9:9 (Used of God) (avenged); 12:7 (dearly beloved of); 13:17 (shall weep); 14:19 (loathed); 31:12 (watered), 14, 25 (satiated), 25 (sorrowful); 32:41 (Used of God) (whole); 50:19 (satisfied). Lam. 3:17 (removed), 20 (humbled), 24 (saith). Ezek. 7:19 (satisfied); 24:21 (pitieth). Jonah 2:7 (fainted). Hab. 2:4 (not upright). Zech. 11:8 (lothed), 8 (abhorred). 176
  2. "mind" Gen. 23:8 (your). Deut. 18:6 (desire); 28:65 (sorrow). 1Sam. 2:35 (Used of God). 2 Sam. 17:8 (chafed). 2Kings 9:15. 1Chron. 28:9 (willing). Jer. 15:1 (Used of God). Ezek. 23:17 (R.V. soul), 18 (Used of God) (R.V. soul), 18 (Used of God) (soul), 22 (R.V. soul), 28 (R.V. soul) (alienated); 24:25 (R.V. heart) (set); 36:5 (R.V. soul) (despiteful). 15
  3. "heart" Ex. 23:9. Lev. 26:16. Deut. 24:15. 1Sam. 2:23 (grieve). 2Sam. 3:21 (desireth). Ps. 10:3 (desire). Prov. 23:7 (R.V. himself); 28:25 (proud heart) (R.V. greedy spirit); 31:6 (heavy heart.) (R.V. bitter in soul). Jer. 42:20 (dissembled) (R.V. souls). Lam. 3:51 (affected) (R.V. soul). Ezek. 25:6 (rejoiced) (R.V. soul), 15 (despiteful) (R.V. soul); 27:31 (bitterness). Hos. 4:8 (set). 15
  4. "hearty" Prov. 27:9 (counsel). 1
  5. "will" Deut. 21:14 (she will). Ps. 27:12; 41:2. Ezek. 16:27. 4
  6. "desire" Ecc. 6:9. Jer. 22:27; 44:14. Mic. 7:3 (R.V. soul). Hab. 2:5. 5
  7. "pleasure" Ps. 105:22. Jer. 34:16. 2
  8. "lust" Ex. 15:9. 1
  9. "angry" Judg. 18:25. 1
  10. "discontented" 1Sam. 22:2. 1
  11. "thyself" Est. 4:13. 1
  12. "myself" Ps. 131:2. 1
  13. "he" Prov. 16:26 (R.V. appetite). 1
  14. "his own" Prov. 14:10 (R.V. its own). 1
  15. "Him" Prov. 6:16 (Used of God) 1
  16. "himself" Jon. 4:8. 1
  17. "herself" Isa. 5:14 (R.V. her desire). 1
  18. "yourselves" Jer. 37:9. 1
  19. "man" Isa. 49:7. 1
  20. "so would we have it" Ps. 35:25. 1

Total = 231

Man, as being "cut off" by God; and as being slain or killed by man

Nephesh is used of Man, (a) as being "cut off" by God; (b) and as being slain of killed by man, in fifty-four passages : and is rendered in eight different ways:

(a) Soul cut off by God, in twenty-two passages, and rendered:

  1. "soul" Gen. 17:14. Ex. 12:15, 19; 31:14. Lev. 7:20, 21, 25, 27; 17:10; 18:29; 19:8; 20:6; 22:3; 23:29, 30. Num. 9:13; 15:30, 31; 19:13, 20. Ezek. 18:4, 20. 22

(b) Slain or killed by man, in thirty-two passages, rendered in eight different ways :--

  1. "soul" Josh. 10:28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 37, 39; 11:11. Jer. 2:34. Ezek. 13:19; 22:25, 27. 12
  2. "person" Deut. 27:25. Josh. 20:3, 9. 1Sam. 22:22. Prov. 28:17. Ezek. 17:17; 33:6. 7
  3. "any" Lev. 24:17. '''1
  4. "any person" Num. 31:19; 35:11, 15, 30, 30. 5
  5. "him" Gen. 37:21. Deut. 19:6; 22:26. 3
  6. "mortally" Deut. 19:11. 1
  7. "life" 2Sam. 14:7. 1
  8. "thee" Jer. 40:14, 15. 2

Total = 54

Man as being mortal, subject to death of various kinds, from which it can be saved and delivered and life prolonged

Nephesh is used of Man as being mortal, subject to death of various kinds, from which it can be saved and delivered and life prolonged, in 243 passages, rendered in eleven different ways:

  1. "soul" Gen. 12:13; 19:20. Ex. 30:12, 15, 16. Lev. 17:11, 11 (R.V. life). Num. 16:38 (R.V. lives); 31:50. 1Sam. 24:11; 25:29, 29, 29; 26:21 (R.V. life). 2Sam. 4:9. 1Kings 1:29; 17:21, 22. Job 7:15; 27:8. Ps. 3:2; 6:4; 7:2, 5; 11:1; 17:13; 22:20, 29; 23:3; 25:20; 26:9; 33:19; 34:22; 35:3, 4, 12, 17; 40:14; 41:4; 49:8, 15; 54:3, 4; 55:18; 56:6, 13; 57:4; 59:3; 63:9; 66:9, 16; 69:1, 18; 70:2; 71:10, 13, 23; 72:13, 14; 74:19; 78:50; 86:2, 14; 88:14; 94:21; 97:10; 106:15; 109:20, 31; 116:4, 8; 119:109; 175; 120:2; 121:7; 124:4, 5, 7; 141:8; 142:4, 7; 143:3. Prov. 18:7; 24:12; 29:10. Isa. 3:9; 10:18; 44:20; 53:10, 11, 12; 55:3. Jer. 4:10; 20:13; 26:19; 38:17, 20; 44:7; 51:6 (R.V. life), 45 (R.V. yourselves). Lam. 1:11, 16, 19; 2:12; 3:58. Ezek. 3:19, 21; 13:18, 19; 14:14, 20; 18:27; 33:5, 9. Hos. 9:4 (R.V. appetite). Jon. 2:5. Hab. 2:10. 127
  2. "life, lives" Gen. 9:5, 5; 19:17, 19; 32:30; 35:18; 44:30, 30. Ex. 4:19; 21:23, 23, 30. Num. 35:31. Deut. 19:21, 21; 24:6. Josh. 2:13, 14; 9:24. Judg. 5:18; 9:17; 12:3; 18:25, 25. Ruth 4:15. 1Sam. 19:5, 11; 20:1; 22:23, 23; 23:15; 26:24, 24; 28:9, 21. 2Sam. 1:9; 4:8; 16:11; 18:13; 19:5, 5, 5, 5; 23:7. 1Kings 1:12, 12; 2:23; 3:11; 19:2, 2, 3, 4, 10, 14; 20:31, 39, 39, 42, 42. 2Kings 1:13, 13, 14; 7:7; 10:24, 24. 1Chron. 1:11. Est. 7:3, 7; 8:11; 9:16. Job 2:4, 6; 6:11 (R.V. be patient); 13:14; 31:39. Ps. 31:13; 38:12. Prov. 1:18, 19; 6:26; 7:23; 13:3, 8. Isa. 15:4 (R.V. soul); 43:4. Jer. 4:30; 11:16; 19:7, 9; 21:7, 9; 22:25; 34:20, 21; 38:2, 16; 39:18; 44:30, 40; 45:5; 46:26; 48:6; 49:37. Lam. 2:19; 5:9. Ezek. 32:10. Jon. 1:14; 4:3. 110
  3. "ghost" Job 11:20. Jer. 15:9. 2
  4. "person" 2Sam. 14:14 (R.V. life). 1
  5. "tablets" Isa. 3:20 (R.V. perfume boxes) (Heb. "houses of the soul" = boxes of scent for the nose). 1
  6. "deadly" Ps. 17:9 (Heb. "enemies against my Nephesh"). 1
  7. "himself" 1Kings 19:4. Amos 2:14, 15. 3
  8. "me" Num. 23:10. Judg. 16:30. 1Kings 20:32. 3
  9. "they" Job 36:14. 1
  10. "themselves" Isa. 47:14. 1
  11. "yourselves" Deut. 4:15. Josh. 23:11. 2

Total = 243

Man, as actually dead

Nephesh is used of man, as actually dead, in thirteen passages, and is rendered in three different ways:

  1. "the dead" Lev. 19:28; 21:1; 22:4. Num. 5:2; 6:11. 5
  2. "dead body" Num. 9:6, 7, 10. 3
  3. "body" Lev. 21:11. Num. 6:6; 19:11, 13. Hag. 2:13. 5

Total = 13

God Almighty

  1. "God's soul" Leviticus 26:11; 26:30; Psalm 24:4; Isaiah 42:1

Soul

Nephesh, in thirteen passages (all rendered "soul"), is spoken of as going to a place described by four different words, rendered as shown below:

  1. "sheol" = THE grave (as distinct from keber, A grave), gravedom (or the dominion of death), in five passages, rendered in this connection in two different ways :--
    1. "grave". Ps. 30:3 (R.V. "Sheol"); 89:48 (R.V. "Sheol", marg. grave). (Cf. Ps. 49:15). 2
    2. "hell". Ps. 16:10 (R.V. "Sheol"); 86:13 (marg. grave. R.V. "pit", marg. lowest Sheol). Prov. 23:14 (R.V. "Sheol", marg. the grave). 3
  2. "shachath" = a pit (for taking wild beasts); hence, a grave. The Septuagint and New Testament take it in the sense of corruption; but, if so, not implying putridity, but destruction. Occurs in six passages, and is rendered in two different ways :--
    1. "pit". Job 33:18, 28, 30. Ps. 35:7. Isa. 38:17. 5
    2. "grave". Job 33:22 (R.V. "pit"). 1
  3. "shuchah" = a deep pit (cf. all the occurrences, Prov. 22:14; 23:27. Jer. 2:6; 18:20, 22). In one passage only :--
    1. Pit. Jer. 18:20. 1
  4. "dumah" = silence. Ps. 94:17. 1

Total = 13

This page is extract from the Companion Bible.

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