My Lent Words 30: The breath of God

Ruah is a word that is translated by ‘spirit’, ‘breath’ and ‘wind’. These are three very different things to an English speaker but all one concept in Hebrew. Often context tells us which translation to use:

‘…at your rebuke O Lord, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.’ (Psalm 18:15b)

‘But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.’ (Genesis 8:1)

‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?’ (Psalm 139:7)

But we lose something if we have to opt for one word in, say, the following:

‘…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.’ (Genesis 1:2b)

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