And YHWH Elohim formed Man out of dry, loose earth dirt, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living person. Genesis 2:7 (my translation)
Breath – Once we realize that this word, hayim is plural, we are forced to ask why, especially since the preceding word, nishmat, is singular. It’s like saying “he breathe” rather than “he breathes.” But it’s no mistake. We suggested that there must be a connection between the unity of God, manifest in His animating power, and the diversity of His creation in all the forms that His outpouring word takes. But maybe there is something else here, something unique to the dry, dust earth-to-heaven bridge God forms called nephesh haya.
Heschel puts his finger on this nuance. “There can be no nature without spirit, no world without Torah, no brotherhood without a father, no humanity without attachment to God.” When God tells Israel that they are His witnesses, He is not talking about their superior theological understanding. He is talking about their legacy. Just as God decries the spilling of the bloods of Havel (Genesis 4:10 – the word is plural), so we see that we are never individuals standing apart from humanity. “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not principles to be comprehended but lives to be continued. The life of him who joins the covenant of Abraham continues the life of Abraham. For the present is not apart from the past. ‘Abraham is still standing before God’ (Genesis 18:22). Abraham endures forever. We are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.”
When YHWH Elohim breathed hayim (lives) into the ha-adam, He brought about the existence of a legacy; a legacy that stretches forward to each and every one who is in covenant with YHWH, who is coming to nishmat haya – a legacy that stretches back to the first ha-adam, the one who began the red blood transformation covenant with El Shaddai. To be human is to be connected to this transforming becoming. In once sense, no one of us will be truly human until we all reach the end of the process. And that end has been revealed to us in Yeshua HaMashiach, the one who is fully human, fully nephesh haya because He is the completed nishmat hayim. Perhaps Paul had something far more profound in mind when he spoke about the Body.
Now the question: Who is your blood legacy? Who has been your covenant connection? Who carries your nephesh haya back to the ha-adam and who are you equipping to carry it on after you? Succession planning is a big deal in the corporate world, but it is insignificant when compared to God’s succession plan. You are human insofar as you take the nishmat hayim and pass it to the next one becoming a person. Will you rob God by ignoring the plural hayim? Will you steal from those who are waiting for your gift?
Today’s Word: hayim, life, Genesis 2:7, Heschel, legacy
 Abraham Heschel, I Asked For Wonder, p. 128.
 Ibid., p. 136.