Troublesome Topic: The Red Dirt Became a Living Being

Genesis 2:7


YHVH ELOHIM (read Adonai Elohim) formed the adam

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from the dust

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of the adam

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and blew into his nostrils


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the breath of life;

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thus the adam

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became a living being.    (See comment below.)

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THE PERSONAL AND ETERNAL GOD who is also THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS fashioned man from the shifting, useless stuff

that comes from the good, productive soil, and blew violently into his nostrils the breath that gives life, and the red dirt became a living being with a soul and with life.  (See comment below.)

The Red Dirt Became a Living Being

There are several layers of meaning here as each word is rich in possibilities.

God made man from useless dust, but the valuable soil the dust comes from was purposely mentioned. The “ground or dirt” referred to by the word “adam” was tillable, workable soil that would produce a good crop, i.e. valuable soil. The “dust” on top of that good soil was not worth much, but it came from, and was closely associated with the good soil. From the beginning God placed great potential within each of us, at the same time, we are frail, weak, and helpless. We are capable, yet dependent on Him. Ps 103:14 says that God “remembers that we are dust.” There only dust is mentioned because the focus is on our weakness. Here in Genesis 2 we are reminded where dust comes from so we will maintain a balance between our weaknesses and our potential.

God is still in the business of taking things, people or situations which others see as useless, and making something special out of them.

This means we have a choice; we can choose to work with God or go on our own; we can do things that have value or do things centered on self which have no value for anyone.

The words for “breathed,” and “breath” are two different words; the first has the primary meaning of “blow” (often violently) and the second one is indeed “breath,” which also means “life, soul, inner being and breathing creatrue.”  When God breathed the breath of life into Adam it was not a gentle puff of air, it was strong, it invigorated every cell in his being.

While the word translated “being” is used in the Old Testament of both men and animals, the animals were characterized by only part of the richness of this word—life, while man has received the full package—life with an eternal soul.

So we see that God took something that had potential (red dirt), but something that was useless by itself, and he infused it with His life and His Spirit; He made it alive but in a different way than animals are alive. He made man to be more like Himself, a small-scale reflection of who He is. After God (think Jesus) fashioned some dirt into a model of a human, just like we make shapes out of clay, He blew hard into its nostrils. This put part of who God is into the dirt model and it came to life. This shows that animals and humans are not the same, for God did not blow or breathe His live-breath into them. This business of God infusing His life (think eternal life) and His Spirit into us is the fulfillment of God’s words: “Let us make man in our own image.” We have life, we have a soul, we have a connection to God’s Spirit, because God put all those things into us with His own breath or Spirit. He transferred a part of Himself into us.

This means that the useless dust that has as its source the potential-filled dirt, now has even greater potential. Good dirt has the ability to support life, to encourage life, to strengthen the life of plants. But man has the ability to live forever connected to God’s Spirit and living as a miniature reflection of the Creator of the universe.

But He gives us a choice about how we are going to use what He gave us. His image in us does not force us to do as He wants, Adam and Eve soon proved it. 

The next lesson is: The Personal and Eternal God



Literally “the adam,” which came to mean “man or mankind” since the first man was the representative of all who would follow after him.


The word for “dust or loose dirt” also meant “ashes, debris, rubbish or rubble” indicating things that are of no value.


Once again the word “adam” is used to represent “the dirt or the ground.” The “red dirt” referred to by the word “adam” was tillable, workable soil that would produce a good crop, i.e. valuable soil. Why is it worded this way, “from the dust from the ground,” instead of just saying “from the dust,” or “from the ground?” Each word is intentional and serves a purpose. It is communicating both positive and negative qualities at the same time. Although man was made from useless stuff, it was closely connected to the valuable stuff. Both are part of the picture.


The nostrils were thought of as “the breathing place.” They did not think of the mouth as the part of the body that did the breathing, but only the nose.


“Breath of life” is another play on words because “breath” can mean “life.”


Again “adam,” which means “man, red and dirt” but because he was not man yet, I have paraphrased it as “red dirt.”

7: “became a living being”

The words for “breath” and “life” are used for what God did, as well as for what man became. We could say it this way: “God breathed into his nostrils the breath that gives life and the man became something that breathes and lives.” I have added the idea of “with a soul” in the paraphrase because “soul” is a possible component of a “living being” and is a common way to render this word. The soul is the thing that separates us from the animals. But I must add that animals are also said to have this kind of breath that gives life. We learn from other parts of Scripture that man is unique in that we have an eternal soul, but animals do not. However, I have only added the word “soul” in the paraphrase column because I cannot be 100% sure it was intended.