Old Testament Hebrew Lexical Dictionary
Strong's #05315 - נֶפֶשׁ
1) soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
1a) that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
1b) living being
1c) living being (with life in the blood)
1d) the man himself, self, person or individual
1e) seat of the appetites
1f) seat of emotions and passions
1g) activity of mind
1h) activity of the will
1i) activity of the character
Jeff Brenner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center Used by permission of the author.
נֶפֶשׁ with suff. נַפְשִׁי; plur. נְפָשִׁוֹת (נְפָשִׁים once Ezekiel 13:20); comm. but more frequently, f. (Arab. نَفْسُ, Syr. ܢܰܦܫܐܳ).
(1) breath, Job 41:13 נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה breath of life, Genesis 1:20, 30 also a (sweet) odour, which is exhaled, Proverbs 27:9 בָּתֵּי נֶפֶשׁ smelling bottles, Isaiah 3:20.
(2) the soul, anima, ψυχή, by which the body lives, the token of which life is drawing breath (compare רוּחַ, Lat. anima; compare Gr. ἄνεμος), the seat of which was supposed to be in the blood (Leviticus 17:11 Deuter. 12:23 Genesis 9:4, compare Ovid. Fast. V. 469); hence life, vital principle. Genesis 35:18, וַיְהִי בְּצֵאת נַפְשָׁהּ “and it came to pass as her soul was in departing,” as she gave up the ghost. 1 Kings 17:21, תָּשָׁב־נָא נֶפֶשׁהַיֶּלֶד הַזֶּה עַל־קִרְבּוֹ “let now the soul of this child return into him.” Exodus 21:23, נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ “life for life.” The soul is also said both to live, Genesis 12:13; Psalms 119:175 and to die, Judges 16:30 to be killed, Numbers 31:19 to ask, 1 Kings 3:11 to be poured out (inasmuch as it departs along with the effused blood), Lamentations 2:12; Isaiah 53:12. יָרֵא לְנֶפֶשׁ he feared for his life, Joshua 9:24; Ezekiel 32:10. As to the phrase הִכָּה פ׳ נֶפֶשׁ see נָכָה. It is often used in phrases which relate either to the loss or to the preservation of life,
(a) אֶל־נֶפֶשׁ on account of life, to save life, 2 Kings 7:7 compare Greek τρέχειν περὶ ψυχῆς, Od. ix. 423. Valk. ad Herod. vii. 56; ix. 36; and even (of a hare) περὶ κρεῶν. But, Jeremiah 44:7, it is against life, in detriment of life.
(b) בְּנֶפֶשׁ with peril of life, 2 Samuel 23:17, 18:13 (קרי). 1 Kings 2:23, בְּנַפְשׁוֹ דִּבֶּר אֲדֹנִיָּהוּ אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה “at the peril of his life has Adonijah said this,” Lamentations 5:9; Proverbs 7:23 compare בְּרָאשֵׁינוּ 1 Chronicles 12:19. In other places for life (taken away), i.e. on account of the killing of some one, Jonah 1:14; 2 Samuel 14:7.
(c) לְנֶפֶשׁ פּ׳ for the good of one’s life, Genesis 9:5; Deuteronomy 4:15; Joshua 23:11.
Also, in many expressions which belong to the sustaining of life by food and drink, or to the contrary. Thus they say, “my soul (life) is satisfied” with meat and drink, Proverbs 27:7; Isaiah 55:2 to fill the soul, (the life), i.e. to satiate, Proverbs 6:30 and נֶפֶשׁ is used even for the aliment, Isaiah 58:10 and on the contrary, “my soul (life) hungers” (Proverbs 10:3, 27:7 ); thirsts (Proverbs 25:25), fasts (Psal. 69:11 ), abstains from certain kinds of food (Numbers 30:3), is polluted by them, Ezekiel 4:14 also, an empty soul (life), i.e. hungry, Isaiah 29:8 a dry soul, i.e. thirsty, Numbers 11:6 to open wide the soul (or, life) (i.e. the jaws), Isaiah 5:14; Habakkuk 2:5.-The soul as distinct from the body is meant, Job 14:22.
(3) the mind, as the seat of the senses, affections, and various emotions (see לֵב 1, letter ), to which is ascribed love (Isaiah 42:1; Song of Solomon 1:7 -3:14 ; Genesis 34:3), joy (Psal. 86:4 ), fear (Isaiah 15:4 Psal. 6:4 ), piety towards God (Psal. 86:4 104:1 143:8 ), confidence (Psalms 57:2), desire (Psalms 42:3, 63:2 ), appetite both that for food, Proverbs 6:30, 10:3 Micah 7:1; Deuteronomy 12:20, 21 Deuteronomy 12:21(whence בַּעַל נֶפֶשׁ a greedy man, Proverbs 23:2), and also sexual, Jeremiah 2:24; Ezekiel 23:18 also, for slaughter and revenge, Psal. 27:12 41:3 105:22 Exodus 15:9 comp. Proverbs 21:10 and, on the contrary, hatred, Isaiah 1:14 Psal. 17:9 contempt, Ezekiel 36:5; Isaiah 49:7 revenge, Jeremiah 5:9 sorrow, Job 19:2, 27:2 30:25. As the seat of warlike valour, so used when a poet speaks to his own soul. Judges 5:21, תִּדְרְכִי נַפְשִׁי עֹז “tread down, O my soul, the strong.” Jeremiah 4:19, כִּי קוֹל שׁוֹפָר שָׁמַעַתְּי נַפְשִׁי “because thou hast heard the voice of the trumpet, O my soul.” Used of the sensations in general, Exodus 23:9, יְדַעְתֶּם אֶת־נֶפֶשׁ הַגֵּר “ye know the soul of a stranger,” what sort of feelings strangers have. 1 Samuel 1:15, “I have poured out my soul before Jehovah,” i.e. I have opened to Jehovah the inmost feelings of my mind; Proverbs 12:10.
Words, also, by which the sensations of the soul are expressed, are often applied to the soul, נֶפֶשׁ, and thus the soul is said to weep, Psal. 119:28 to be poured out in tears, Job 30:16 to cry for vengeance, Job 24:12 and, on the contrary, to invoke blessings, Genesis 27:4, 25 Genesis 27:25. Rather more rarely, things are attributed to the soul which belong
(a) to the mode of feeling and acting, as pride (רְחַב נֶפֶשׁ Proverbs 28:25), patience and impatience (הֶאֱרִיךְ נֶפֶשׁ Job 6:11).
(b) to will and purpose, Genesis 23:8, אִם־יֵשׁ אֶת־נַפְשְׁכֶם “if it be (in) your mind,” i.e. if ye have so purposed in your mind; 2 Kings 9:15. 1 Chronicles 28:9, בְּנֶפֶשׁ חֲפֵצָה “with a willing mind.”
(c) to the understanding and the faculty of thinking, Psalms 139:14, “my soul (mind) knoweth right well.” Proverbs 19:2. 1 Samuel 20:4, “what thy soul (mind) thinketh.” Deuteronomy 4:9, “keep thy soul; do not forget.” Lamentations 3:20. All of these expressions are more commonly used of the heart; (see לֵב No. 1, letters -ce ).
(4) concr. animal, that in which there is a soul or mind (נֶפֶשׁ) Joshua 10:28 כָּל־הַנֶּפֶשׁ “every living thing,” verses 30 Joshua 10:30, 32 Joshua 10:32, 35 Joshua 10:35, 37 Joshua 10:37. Sometimes more fully נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה Genesis 1:24, 2:7, 19 and with the addition of the article נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה Genesis 1:21, 9:10 pr. animal of life, i.e. endued with life (lebendige Seele = lebendiges Wefen), living creature, Genesis 2:7 commonly collect. living creatures, Genesis 1:21, 24 9:10, 12, 15 Leviticus 11:10 in this phrase it should be observed that חַיָּה is genit. of the substantive חַיָּה (life), not the fem. of the adjective חַי (living); so that נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה, equally with נֶפֶשׁ, is of either sex, and may be construed with a masculine. This serves to illustrate the words, Genesis 2:19, where interpreters have differed, וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָא לוֹ הָאָדָם נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה הוּא שְׁמוֹ “and whatsoever Adam called them, the living creatures, that was their name;” for לוֹ and שְׁמוֹ, refer to נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה, which after לוֹ is pleonastic.-Specially it is a man, a person, particularly in certain phrases, in which in German also the word soul is used, as גָּנַב נֶפֶשׁ to steal a man (comp. Germ. Seelenverkäufer) Deuteronomy 24:7 אָכַל נֶפֶשׁ Ezekiel 22:25 also
(a) in laws, Leviticus 4:2 נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תֶחֱטָא “if any soul (i.e. if any one) sin,” Leviticus 5:1,,, 15, 17 compare the phrase נִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִיא מֵעַמֶּיהָ under the word כָּרת Niph. No. 2.
(b) in a census of the people, as שִׁבְעִים נֶפֶשׁ seventy souls, seventy persons, Exodus 1:5, 16:16 Genesis 46:18, 27 Genesis 46:27; Deuteronomy 10:22 (Gr. similarly ψυχαί, Eurip. 1 Peter 3:20); more fully נֶפֶשׁ אָדָם Numbers 31:46 compare Genesis 14:21.
(c) used of slaves, Genesis 12:5 הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂוּ בְחָרָן “the slaves which they had obtained in Haran,” Ezekiel 27:13 compare ψυχαὶ ἀνθρώπων, Revelation 18:13 1Ma_10:33.
(d) נֶפֶשׁ אֵת (where מֵת is the genit., compare above the phrase נֶפֶשׁ הַיָּה) any dead person, a corpse, Numbers 6:6 עַל־נֶפֶשׁ מֵת לֹא יָבֹא “he shall not come near a dead body,” Leviticus 21:11 and even without מֵת id., in the phrases טָמֵא לָנֶפֶשׁ Numbers 5:2, 9:6,, 10 and מְמֵא נֶפֶשׁ Leviticus 22:4; Haggai 2:13 he who pollutes himself by touching a dead body; compare Numbers 19:13.
(5) With suff. נפְשִׁי, נַפְשְׁךָ etc.; it is sometimes I myself, thou thyself (compare Arab. نَفْسُ and Germ. felb, felber, Swed. sjel of the same stock as Seele, soul, see Adel. iv. p. 47). Hosea 9:4, לַחְמָם לְנַפְשָׁם “their food (is consumed) by themselves.” Isaiah 46:2 also reflex. נַפְשִׁי me myself, Job 9:21. It has also been remarked by interpreters that נַפְשִׁי, נַפְשְׁךָ are often put for the personal pronoun אֲנִי, אַלתָּה, but all the instances which they cite are to be explained by what has here been observed, No. 2, 3. It is often thus used in sentences in which life is said to be in danger. Psalms 3:3, “many say of me (to my soul לְנַפְשִׁי), there is no help for him in God.” Psalms 11:1, “why say ye to me (my soul לְנַפְשִׁי) flee as a bird to your mountain?” Isaiah 3:9, אוֹי לְנַפְשָׁם “woe to them!” (pr. to their life, or soul). Psalms 7:3, 35:3, Psalms 35:7, 120:6 to this head also belongs Isaiah 51:23, “who say to thee (to thy soul לְנַפְשֵׁךְ), lie down, that we may go over;” and in similar instances. In other instances, it refers to the feelings of the soul or mind, e.g. Job 16:4, לוּ יֵשׁ נַפְשְׁכֶם תַּחַת נַפְשִׁי which must not be rendered, “Oh that ye were in my place!” but “Oh that ye felt what I feel!” wäre euch nur zu Muthe wie mir; (compare Exodus 23:9). Once, however, נַפְשִׁי and רוּחִי come so near to the nature of a pronoun, that they are even construed with the first person of verbs, Isaiah 26:9 compare עַבְדְּךָ followed by the 1 pers. Genesis 44:32.
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