Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 NASB
Formed – The three verbs of creation each have unique features. Bara’ is exclusively a verb of divine action, a verb used of creative acts only God can perform. Asah’ is a completely common verb for making or forming. It is used hundreds of times to describe all kinds of actions. There is nothing particularly exceptional about this verb. Its only importance lies in who performs the act, not how the act was done. But yatsar is somewhat out of place in the creation account. Why? Because it is much too anthropomorphic to be attributed to God. Yatsar is a verb usually associated with making clay pots or sketching drawings. It is not the sort of verb you would expect to be used to describe the actions of God. It’s too pedestrian. It makes God look like a human being.
Ah, but isn’t that precisely the point? This same verb, yatsar, is used over and over to describe God’s fashioning of Israel! Otzen points out that this verb connects human craftsmanship with divine activity. Yatsar is the verb of partnership with God. The clay isn’t inert. It responds to the potter. For Man to be Man, there must be a response to the divine action. For Israel to be Israel, there must be a response to the electing God. Yatsar is a relationship verb. When God “forms” the dust, He doesn’t just pile up whatever can be gathered with the sweep of a hand. He establishes a relationship with this “stuff,” and it is the relationship that identifies the uniqueness of this creative act. Yatsar is the God-human verb of the story.
If we think of the Genesis account as a tribal explanation of origins, then we can understand why yatsar is the verb for both the creation of Man and the creation of Israel. God’s relationship – His choice, purpose and selection – is the essential factor in formation. Without the relationship, nothing exists. From a tribal perspective, God’s fashioning activity and His infusion of the breath of life is the reason human beings are what they are. Removing the relationship inherent in the forming or withdrawing the infusion of the breath of life means that Man returns to what he was before these actions occurred. He returns to the dust. He ceases to be. In other words, there is no inherent quality, no spark of the divine, no ontological substance residing in Man so that he lives independently of the action of yatsar and the infusion of the breath of life. Man exists in relationship with His creation, always! His breath and his body are entirely dependent on God. Perhaps Paul captures this Genesis thought when he wrote, “in Him we live and move and have our being.”
From the perspective of the tribe, you do not exist without dependence on God. If you think or act in ways that deny this dependence, you are simply deluded – and a fool.
Topical Index: yatsar, form, fashion, Genesis 2:7, relationship
 B. Otzen, yasar, in TDOT, Vol. 6, p. 260.