Bible Articles on the Topic of Nephesh

The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.

Adam’s Sentence “Dust Thou Art"

The sentence passed on Adam is in full accord with the record of his creation from the dust:

Nephesh First Used of Animals, Then Men

The first four occurrences of the word “nephesh” relate exclusively to animals. That is a good fact to start with and to remember. A good foundation. Let us get them firmly in our mind:

Souls Subject to Death

What is the soul’s relation to death?

What is a Soul?

The soul is the self, the “I” that inhabits the body and acts through it. Without the soul, the body is like a light bulb without electricity, a computer without the software... With the introduction of the soul, the body acquires life, sight and hearing, thought and speech, intelligence and emotions, will and desire, personality and identity.


The word nephesh occurs 754 times in the Hebrew Old Testament.

Heart and Soul: What Makes Us Human

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

The Soul Compared: KJV and NIV

Below are all of the instances where the English word “soul” occurs in the Old Testament as found in the King James Version of the Bible. For each occurrence, the same passage from the 1984 edition of the New International Version is shown for the sake of comparison.

Man, His Origin and Nature

In dealing with the question of man’s redemption, we must, necessarily, consider the question of his origin and nature; and in doing this we are quite conscious of having much prejudice to contend with. There is a popular side to this question, and it has bred and fostered a sensitiveness which makes the task of reducing it to reason and subjecting it to the light of scripture quite a difficult one. He who would undertake to call in question the popular view must not hope to escape the suspicion of being a troubler, bent upon “turning the world upside down.”

More on the Soul

A good summary of the ancient Greek and biblical views on this subject is found in The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987, “Immortality,” p. 518).

Soul Used with Various Meanings

In ordinary language the word “soul” is used with different meanings. It will be seen in the following passages that different ideas are involved when the word is used in the Bible.

The Word “Spirit"

Spirit is a word used sometimes synonymously with “soul.” To a certain extent this similarity occurs in the original Hebrew words. We have already noticed that the root meaning of “nephesh” is “breath.” The word translated spirit is “ruach,” and this word means “wind.” The translators used “breath” as the equivalent of “ruach” on 28 occasions. In his concordance under the word “breath” Dr. Young states that “ruach” means “breath,” “air,” “wind,” “spirit.” Thus there is a relationship between “nephesh” and “ruach,” and this might justify a relationship between “soul” and “spirit.” Even the English word ties us down to the fundamental idea of the Hebrew, for spirit comes from the Latin word ”spiritus” which means breath, from “spiro” to breathe.

The Bellow-maker’s Epitaph

A churchyard in Newcastle-on-Tyne bears the following facetious epitaph which nevertheless enshrines a serious Bible truth.

That Something Called Self: Where is the I in Myself?

A continuation of the comments, critical and helpful, by our late colleague and friend Philip Wale, on the book THE GOSPEL OF THE HEREAFTER by J. Paterson Smyth, D.D., LL.D., Litt.D., D.C.L.

John Locke and His Quest for the Soul

For over two thousand years, men have been disputing over the question “Can matter think?” Socrates (B.C. 400) is largely responsible for having” assumed that our thinking powers arise from the possession of an innate Divine spirit which, he argued, being immaterial, was necessarily eternal and therefore had an existence before our birth and would survive our decease.

The Valley of the Shadow

We have received the following from a Manchester reader:—

What Is Our Soul?

Souls are on the way out. Not just in our culture or in science, where some Christians may suspect “naturalism” as the culprit, but souls are on the way out of our Bibles. This is because of the ways in which our translations are getting better at conveying what was originally intended.

Word Study: Nephesh (Soul)

This is the penultimate installment of the Shema word study series. This video explores the Hebrew word “nephesh” that unfortunatley often gets translated as “soul” in almost all versions of the English Bible. While the English word “soul” usually refers to a non-material essence of a human that according to Greek philosophy is believed to survive after death, “nephesh” means something different. It is referring to humans as living, breathing, physical beings, or just to life itself. Prepare to be surprised at the biblical meaning of this fascinating word!

Heaven and Hell

In this episode, Tim Mackie explores the popular misunderstandings and distortions of the concepts of heaven and hell in Western culture. This will help us rediscover what the Scriptures are actually trying to say. This is really just an effort to clear the ground and help people rebuild these concepts. Tim starts on page 1 of the Bible and work through the first 3 chapters, looking at the themes of life, death, the grave, eternal life, and eternal death, etc.

Let’s Get Physical

According to the Bible, we don’t “have” souls, we “are” souls. And people will live forever not in a disembodied existence as a soul, but in an embodied existence. So what do we do with physical/body desires like hunger and sex?

What is the Soul and What Happens to it After We Die?

What is the soul? And what happens to our souls after we die? This is our third episode on the Hebrew word “nephesh.” It usually gets translated as “soul” in modern Bibles. But to the Hebrews the word often meant “throat.” This episode Tim Mackie and Jon Collins discuss the Hebrew concepts of an afterlife. The Hebrews would often use the word “nephesh” when talking about eternal life in the Scriptures.

You Are a Soul

This is the first podcast episode related to The Bible Project’s word studies video on the Hebrew word “nephesh” which often gets translated as “soul” in most English Bibles.


hart (לב, lēbh, לבב, lēbhābh; καρδία, kardía): The different senses in which the word occurs in the Old Testament and the New Testament may be grouped under the following heads:

Person; Personality

pûr ́sun, pûr ́s'n, pûr-un-al ́ti (נפשׁ, nephesh, אישׁ, ‘īsh, אדם, ‘ādhām, פּנים, pānīm, πρόσωπον, prósōpon, ὑπόστασις, hupóstasis): The most frequent word for “person” in the Old Testament is nephesh, “soul” (Genesis 14:21, “Give me the persons, and take the goods”; Genesis 36:6, the King James Version “all the persons”: Numbers 5:6 the King James Version “that person,” etc.): ‘īsh “a man,” “an individual,” Is also used (Judges 9:2, “threescore and ten persons”; 1 Samuel 16:18, “a comely person,” etc.); ‘ādhām, “a man,” “a human being” (Numbers 31:28, “of the persons, and of the oxen”; Proverbs 6:12, “a worthless person,” etc.); ‘ĕnōsh, “a man,” “a weak, mortal man,” occurs twice (Judges 9:4, the King James Version “vain and light persons”; Zephaniah 3:4); ba‛al, “owner,” “lord,” is once translated “person” (Proverbs 24:8, the King James Version “a mischievous person”), and methīm, “men,” once (Psalms 26:4, the King James Version “vain persons”); pānīm “face,” is frequently translated “person” when the reference is to the external appearance, as of persons in high places, rich persons who could favor or bribe, etc., chiefly in the phrases “regarding the person,” “accepting the person” (Deuteronomy 10:17; Malachi 1:8).


sōl (נפשׁ, nephesh; ψυχή, psuchḗ; Latin anima):


spir ́it (רוּח, rūaḥ; πνεῦμα, pneúma; Latin, spiritus):

Nephesh Soul