Behind the Word – Breath – (Hebrew) Ruach pr. Ru-awk’ –used 378 times in the OT, primary meaning, breath when applies to man of beast as used here. Secondary meaning, wind, especially when applied to the elements of earth. Third meaning, spirit, and when associated with a name of God, i.e. Ruach Elohim, means Spirit of God, or Holy Spirit.
Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, “Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. (Ezekiel 36:36-38 NKJV)
I remember in seventh grade turning the corner at full speed to head down Mr. Rhinehardt’s section of the second floor hallway. He abruptly stopped me and “fined” me for “speeding” by ordering me to, by the same time the next morning, write out the definition of the word “run” three times. I said no problem. He instructed me to use the unabridged dictionary in the library. Again, No problem – until I looked at the unabridged definition(s) of what I thought had been a simple word.
Bible translation suffers from the same problem. Often, one Greek or Hebrew word has three or four primary definitions and can also be fairly translated to represent ten or twenty other English words.
In today’s verse, the Hebrew word ruach is used four times. Check it out — Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the ruach, prophesy, son of man, and say to the ruach, “Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four ruach, O ruach, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. Its top three biblical uses are breath, wind and spirit, in that order.
I use the New King James translation for Wordworks. Many other translations translate, O breath (ruach), as O Spirit or as O Spirit and breath, and I agree with these translators. In context, what breath or spirit can breathe on dry bones and bring them to life? What breathe animates man? Whose breath animates me? Genesis 2:7 confirms this — And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. God is the breath of life.
Under the New Covenant, I live in the time of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. I am actively indwelled by the breath, ruach, wind, Spirit of God. So, why don’t I live in greater influence and power of the Holy Spirit? I often pray to Jesus, less often to the Father, and far less often to the Holy Spirit. As in more familiar relationships, a lack of communication is often the difference between a casual and a vibrant relationship. An even greater hindrance of the Holy Spirit for me is reasoning. It is almost as if the radical personification and operation of the Holy Spirit contradicts logic, so when intellect prevails, the Spirit is diminished.
So here’s my prayer today, right from the Word — Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on me (these slain), that I (they) may live. May the breath of God more vibrantly animate your life today.