Genesis 2:7

7 then the LORD God formed the man of 1dust from the ground and 2breathed into his 3nostrils the breath of life, and 4the man became a living creature.

Genesis 2:7 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 2:7

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,
&c.] Not of dry dust, but, as Josephus F8 says, of red earth macerated, or mixed with water; the like notion Hesiod F9 has; or out of clay, as in ( Job 33:6 ) hence a word is made use of, translated "formed", which is used of the potter that forms his clay into what shape he pleases: the original matter of which man was made was clay; hence the clay of Prometheus F11 with the Heathens; and God is the Potter that formed him, and gave him the shape he has, see ( Isaiah 64:8 ) , there are two "jods", it is observed, in the word, which is not usual; respecting, as Jarchi thinks, the formation of man for this world, and for the resurrection of the dead; but rather the two fold formation of body and soul, the one is expressed here, and the other in the following clause: and this, as it shows the mighty power of God in producing such a creature out of the dust of the earth, so it serves to humble the pride of man, when he considers he is of the earth, earthy, dust, and ashes, is dust, and to dust he must return.

And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
which in that way entered into his body, and quickened it, which before was a lifeless lump of clay, though beautifully shapen: it is in the plural number, the "breath of lives" F12, including the vegetative, sensitive, and rational life of man. And this was produced not with his body, as the souls of brutes were, and was produced by the breath of God, as theirs were not; nor theirs out of the earth, as his body was: and these two different productions show the different nature of the soul and body of man, the one is material and mortal, the other immaterial and immortal:

and man became a living soul;
or a living man, not only capable of performing the functions of the animal life, of eating, drinking, walking but of thinking, reasoning, and discoursing as a rational creature.


F8 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 1.
F9 Opera & dies, ver. 60.
F11 Martial. l. 10. Epigram. 38.
F12 (Myyx tmvn) Heb. "spiraculum vitarum", Pareus.

Genesis 2:7 In-Context

5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up--for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground,
6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground--
7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Cross References 4

  • 1. Genesis 3:19, 23; Genesis 18:27; Psalms 103:14; Ecclesiastes 12:7; 1 Corinthians 15:47
  • 2. Genesis 7:22; Job 33:4; Isaiah 2:22
  • 3. Job 27:3
  • 4. Cited 1 Corinthians 15:45
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.