The Holy Breath

Our Journey Home

Youtube: The Holy Breath

In the Old Testament, when we see the terms Lord, Lord God, or Jehovah, the Hebrew word being translated is Yahweh. When we see the word God, the underlying Hebrew word is Elohim. If we turn to the first two chapters of Genesis, we see that chapter 1 uses Elohim and chapter 2 uses Yahweh.

According to Hebrew scholars, the term Yahweh was originally written without vowels: Yhwh. The reason? So, the holy name of God could not be spoken. This week, I came across a fascinating bit of information that was quoted indirectly from an unnamed Jewish physicist and religious scholar. He said the term Yh-wh was originally indicated as the spelling for the sound of the breath, with Yh being the inhalation and wh being the exhalation. Listen to your own breath, and you can get a feel for what he is saying.

That the breath is universal to all living forms is significant to understanding God as the very present source of our being. The book of Job says,  “Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom. But it is the spirit in a man,  the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand” (Job 32:7-8). And again, “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).

Humankind has struggled with the notion of God as the Creative Life Force that permeates all things, and that in whom we live and move and have our being, as Paul stated. It is easier to simply personify this spiritual abstraction, making God into something that resembles an ancient ancestor.

The Psalmist, who also understood the omnipresent nature of God, left us with this very inspiring bit of truth:

“God is our refuge and strength,  an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging (Psalms 46:1-3).

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