Formation of Adam
Ain Soph – The Unknown God
Genesis II, v. 7. (English A.V.)
“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 soul:’
We have discussed already the “Creation” of man- “Adam”; i.e., his conception in the mind of God, the ideal, the principles, and the forces of his nature, all that he was ultimately to express and exercise. Now we have come to the bringing of that creative work into effect. Creation was a spiritual act internal to God Himself. What we are told of now is still a spiritual act, the “formation” of a spiritual being, in the spiritual realm, but external to the essential Being of God. -The “Adam” has still no physical or material form of existence. He was “formed,” not of the dust of the earth or of any earthly substance, but “from the adamah”-the spiritual elements of humanity, of the qualities and attributes that constitute “man” a kingdom of being in himself or a link between the sub-human and Divinity. This is the important thing to keep in mind at this stage of our study. Although it is perfectly clearly stated in the Hebrew text, it never appears to have been understood by the great majority of Bible students, who have almost invariably been misled by the idea that the words earth” and “ground” must mean the same thing. They failed to see that the writer of Genesis was much too careful, too precise, and too concise to use needless synonyms. That kind of thing might be done in a poetical composition- (it has, in fact, been assumed that “parallelism” is a distinguishing feature in Hebrew poetry) – but it would be out of place in a work of Spiritual Philosophy. One thing is certain: he would never use words to confuse or destroy his real meaning, and we have already seen many times that, whenever we find him changing or varying the form of a word, it invariably proves to be necessary to his purpose, and always significant.
The word “iitzer,-He “formed,” differs in toto from the word “bara,”- “He “created,” Analysed etymologically its construction starts from the final letter which is. here, a contraction of the primal root, “AER.” We have had to refer many times to this root as denoting the “primal element” of the universe. As it is possible that the word “element” may suggest to the reader something more “material” than the writer intends, it may clarify the idea of spiritual “element” if we consider something analogous—-is, for instance, “thought.” Thought is not a material thing but it, most certainly. has spiritual sub-stance which can take on “form,” and which we can consider the “element” of intelligence. It not only has substance but it is substance of a kind that is infinitely more permanent than any material element. If a thought is spoken, the spoken words die as they are uttered ; if it is written the writing will fade or the printed book perish, but nothing can destroy a “thought.” It can pass from mind to mind; memory can recall it at will; it can grow and propagate. We might almost say that “thought” itself was the “primal element” of all creation. But to continue our analysis of the word “iitzer”; to the root “aer” is prefixed the “determinative” sign “tz,” making the composite root “tzr.” The meaning of that root is clear in the word “Tzor,” which means “to shape, to cc-ordinate, to form, to control or command, to define, to bind together the constitutive elements of anything.” All these meanings can be found by tracking the root in a dictionary. To the root “tzr” is prefixed the “i,” or “ee,” which is the sign of “manifestation,” “duration,” “eternity.” (Three “Yods,” “ill:’ were used hieroglyphically by the Hebrews as a name of God, signifying the “Triple Eternal.”) Thus, “itzer,” completes the word. The additional “i” beginning the word, as used in the text, is simply the pronominal sign of the third person, singular, masculine- “He.” So that “iitzer” really means “He gave a permanent and homogenous form” to the Adamic elements. We have deliberately gone into what may be considered quite unnecessary detail here because this kind of analysis is not taught academically. It is only used in the schools of the Kabbalists; and it is the only means by which the inner and deeper meaning of Hebrew words can be fully realised.
The word “man” (English Version) is “adam” in the original. We have to emphasise this as the word “man” in the English Versions is used indiscriminately for other Hebrew words, also, the English Versions show complete confusion in translating “adam.” Sometimes they treat it as a proper name and translate it with a capital letter: “Adam”; sometimes they make it “Man,” sometimes “a man” or “the man”; sometimes even by “men”: (Psalm XC, for instance). We refer the reader, therefore, to what has been said of “Adam” in previous chapters.
We can now see that the “formation” of Adam was his being constituted a spiritual “being” with an existence of his own, external to the Essential Being of God.
The next part of the verse: “of the dust of the ground” (English Version), has been a stumbling block to the translators, and their rendering of it has gone far to bring Genesis down to the category of “Myths” in the estimation of many people. Led astray by considering “earth” and “ground” as synonymous, and by the materialistic tendency of their whole conception of the Mosaic narrative, they could find no better rendering of the Hebrew word “aphar,” than the word “dust.” As a matter of fact, the word is not a noun at all but a verb; and the Hebrew text does not say that Adam was formed “of” “aphar.” The English Version admits that “of” is not in the original text, by printing the word in italics, but failed to see that “aphar” was a verb.
The Greek translators saw that “aphar” was a verb but still could only think of “dust,” so they tried to get over the difficulty by translating the word “by taking of the dust.” It is not difficult to see what was passing in their minds, nor to see that they were not ignorant of the basic meaning of the word “aphar,” They wanted at all costs some materialistic analogy to the meaning of the original to continue their purpose of hiding the deeper spiritual meaning of the Book from the intrusive “goyim,” and the only material thing which they could think of that was in any way analogous to the meaning of the word, was “dust.” The root of “aphar” is “whoph.” We have had this root to deal with before, when it was used for the “flying kind” of created things. It was explained as denoting anything of a light, swift, gliding. or soaring nature; anything active in higher realms than the earthly, although having a habitat on the earth. The “flying kind” of beings were shown to be representative of human thought and all the higher spiritual activities of man. We did not, when discussing the creation of the various “souls of life,” go into any detail on this point, but a study of ancient symbolism will give us conclusive evidence of the relevance of the “bird-like” idea to what we are now attempting to explain.
From the earliest ages of humanity of which we have any knowledge, we find wings or feathers used as symbols of spiritual or divine qualities. Records of the ancient Mayas, Incas, Quichis, and Maori, are full of references to the feather head ornaments of the Priest-Kings, Priests, and others to whom were attributed any divine office or function. They were worn on all ceremonial occasions. Over the doorway of the Egyptian temples were placed the “winged orb” representing the Divine Sun: the source of spiritual intelligence. Guarding the entrance to Assyrian temples were the great “winged bulls,” symbolic of Divine Strength :- the power to rise to higher realms of life. The Israelites had their winged “cherubim” on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. (The “Cherubim” are the Divine powers that “build up,” multiply and increase.) The Israelites also conceived the idea of the “Seraphim” with “six-wings.” The Seraphim were the “Fire forces” whose task was to purify by the destruction of evil. They were the Angelic Divine representatives and envoys, complementary to the Cherubim. In all cases the wings represent their supraterrestrial activities and their divine missions. The same applies, of course, to the representations of “Angels” in Christian Art. The same idea also is expressed in Greek Art: Mercury, the “Messenger of the Gods,” wears a winged cap and winged sandals.
A variant of the idea is found in the legend of Dedalus, who comes to grief in trying to rise to the heavens by physical means. We may also mention in Christian symbology the “Dove” as the symbol of the Holy Spirit, and the “Eagle” as that of the most spiritual of the Apostles. This list might be very much extended, but enough has been said, perhaps, to make clear the spiritual idea called up by the root “hoph,” and to explain the connection between the “flying kind” and the higher human faculties, in the Genesis narrative. The word “aphar” as a verb, means to refine, to etherealise, to elevate, to spiritualise, to raise above the earthly level, etc. It is used in the verse we are considering in the form of the “present (or continuing) participle,” so that it should be translated :- “by (or ‘in the act of’) refining, elevating,” etc. Now we can see why the translators used the word “dust.” It suggested to them the refinement of matter until it was light, and airy, and easily blown into the air. So there was just a faint -a very faint-suggestion of the meaning of the original in it, but unfortunately it did not fit in with the most important fact that it was not earthly matter that the Lord God was moulding to His purpose, but the spiritual elements of Man.
This He accomplished – according to the English Version-by “breathing into his nostrils” the “breath of life.” Literally, that translation is correct. “Iaphah” does mean, in a merely material sense, “He breathed,” and “aphio” does mean “nostrils.” But here again we must remind ourselves of the before-quoted axiom of Maimonides that no definite, correct translation of any Hebrew word can be given without relating it correctly to its context. It is quite obvious ?o everyone that, when the Great Spirit breathes “living soul” into any being, it is not physical breath exhaled from a physical mouth that is in question. It is equally obvious that man does not inhale “soul” through his nostrils-but through some inward spiritual faculty. It ought to be unnecessary even to mention anything so obvious. The translators, however, in this case, did all that was required. There can, surely, be very few people so void of spiritual perception as not to be able to sense the true meaning of their phraseology here, viz., that “the Lord God inspired ‘in’ (not ‘into’)* the inspirational faculty” of “Adam”-(that is in the universal spirit of man) – “living soul.” Those last words “living soul,” however, require some explanation. The word here translated “soul” is quite a different word from that used in the passage Gen. I, v. 2-23, which was explained, in our eleventh chapter. In that case the words were “nephesh chaich.”- “soul of life,” or “living soul.” In the present case the words are “nishemath chayim.” This word “nishemath” is really a verb, “Shemah”; the root is “shm,” a root we should be familiar with by now (see Chapter V, etc.); it denotes what is – “high, exalted, superior, outstanding,” etc., that by which any-thing is distinguished (therefor – “name”). As a verb it means to give prominence to anything, to elevate, to ennoble, etc.
“Nishemath” is the “present participle” of the indicative passive, in the feminine constructive form. It means a “being elevated,” “being raised to a higher state. “The word “chayim” is not the singular “life,” but the plural “lives.” Thus, in the “formation ‘of’ Adam” by the infusion of divine spirit, all the qualities, faculties and powers of his spiritual being were elevated so as to give him superiority over all the Kingdoms of Nature. (This, it will be seen, was the realisation of the creative purpose, dealt with in Chapter XIII, that Adam should have “rule” in all the lower life Kingdoms, and in “all the earth.”) The spiritual elements which constitute the “human” Kingdom were brought into order and cohesion to form a spiritual focus of life and activity, and this was the prototype of what was to become the “individual soul” of every human being, when “man” became individualised as “men and women” -on the physical plane. What the “group” souls were to the animal “species,” Adam, as “living soul,” was to humanity as a whole-i.e., human “species.”
The last few words of the verse: “and man (adam) became a living soul,” do not present any difficulty. The English Version is quite literally correct. The chief thing to notice is that, in this case, the Hebrew expression translated “living soul” (nephesh haiah) is exactly the same as that used in the case of the “group souls” of the Animal Kingdom described in Chapter XI.
*Just as the normal physical human being has faculties of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling, so the spiritual man has its “inspirational faculty” through which the Spiritual and Divine realms can contact the human soul.
What we gather, on looking back over the narrative as a whole, is that it describes, as continually in operation. a double process :-in the direction of the material realisation of the creative plan. it is a process of “Evolution,” but at the same time it is a process of “Involution,” that is, of continual involvement or influx of spirit into matter. Matter of itself is incapable of development or progression; it is always a “product” or residue, not an active formative force. Therefore, every successive stage of evolution must be brought about by some force not inherent in matter-the activity of some spiritual force. That which is to be realised on the material plane must be first formed as a living force in the spiritual realm. This is the essential point in which the Cosmogony of Genesis differs from the theories of materialistic Science, and Science will eventually be driven to accept the teachings of the more ancient wisdom.