Author: Greg Kenyon, Mitchell, Ontario, Canada
Before reading -Please note
–This is an appendix to online version of a book I am writing with the purpose of providing true information about organ donation and invitro fertilization (IVF) as well as raising some of the questions that should be asked.
–This book is written from a Biblical-Christian perspective. To learn more about what this means feel free to read some of the other material on my blog at https://greg.kenyonspage.ca/. You may also read my attempt to describe my beliefs at http://greg.kenyonspage/i- Believe/.
–This is a work in progress. If you are reading from a printed version or coped material, rather than directly from my website, https://greg.kenyonspage.ca/, then you may not have the most up-to-date draft of this book. Please do not copy it or pass it on to others. Instead, go to the book on my website at , https://greg.kenyonspage.ca/greg-kenyons-book-questioning-medical technologies/. Feel free to direct others to my book on line.
Appendix B – Thoughts on What the Bible Teaches About the Physical Death of Mankind
What does the bible teach about the death of a person? When does the soul separate from the body? When is the body committed to dust? Today, the answers to these questions are more important in light of organ donation. For organ donation to be successful there needs to be a source of organs whose cells are still alive and functioning for the organ to be of any use in the recipient. When taking organs results in the death of the person, the sixth commandment is violated. So, it is important to understand when a person is dead. Following in my attempt to understand what the Bible teaches about the relatively narrow topic of the timing of the separation of body and soul in the process of death. Since organs to be useful for transplant have to be alive and basically must be taken from bodies with blood still flowing, vital organ transplantation can only be acceptable if it is morally justifiable to kill a person to get the organ or if it is possible for a person to be dead while there is still life flowing through the body. If death and the separation of body and soul occur at the same time, which I believe the bible teaches, then vital organ donation is only possible if the soul leave the body before the body is dead. Does this occur? What does the bible teach about the separation of body and soul at death?
Wanting to understand the answer to this relatively narrow question leads me to trying to do a comprehensive study on biblical passages that may speak about this. My biblical expertise is limited to striving to regularly read and study God’s word over a number of years. My comments are unlikely to be the final word on this topic. I suspect an understanding of the original language would be helpful to understand what the bible is saying. Unfortunately, I am not a scholar of either Greek or Hebrew. At times I do try to understand something of the original languages using Strongs numbering system. My understanding of this is likely primitive. Although, Hebrew scholars may be able to tell us that some phrases in our English bibles that refer to things like “giving up the ghost” may not really be referring to the separation of body and soul, it is still useful to include these in study because most people who are looking to the scripture to understand what is being taught are also not scholars of the original languages and will end up grappling with the same English passages.
Following is my attempt to understand what the bible teaches about the narrow question of when does the soul leave the body during the process of physically dying in this life.
Man – United Body-Soul.
Before considering the death of a person we need to define what it means to be a person. I am not, at this time, going to try to do this in an exhaustive way. Man is both body and soul. I have already explored this biblical truth in a previous essay titled, “Comments on the Doctrine of Body and Soul.”
Genesis 2:7 tells us of the creation of mankind saying,
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.
Man is described as a single living being that is comprised of a physical component, formed from dust, and a non-physical component, breathed into the physical component by God. The result is a single entity, a living body-soul being. There are several references that refer to a person having both body and soul in the poetic books. Psalm 16 says, “my heart is glad, my glory rejoiceth, my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Ps 16:9) Psalm 31 says, “mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.” (Ps 31:9) Psalm 63 says, “my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee.” (Ps 63:1) Psalm 84 says, my soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” (Ps 84:2) In Proverbs we read, “a sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” (Prov 14:30) Man is a united body-soul being.
Separation of Body and Soul.
With the end of a person’s time on this earth, there is a separation of body and soul. The body returns to the ground and the soul returns to God, as is stated in Ecclesiastes 12:7, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Consider Ecclesiastes 3:19-21.
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
The bodies of both man and animals return to the dust of the earth. But the spirit of man goes to a different place. It goes up, as Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, to God. The bible teaches that, ultimately the bodies and souls of believers end up in a different place than unbelievers. This essay is not dealing with this truth. For the purposes of this essay, I am considering what is called the first death, which is the time when a person of this world dies and his body returns to the dust. Other passages that refer to the body returning to the dust include, Genesis 3:19, “to dust thou shalt return,” Job 7:21, “for now I shall sleep in the dust,” Job 34:15, “All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust,” and Ps 104:29, “they die, and return to their dust.” Passages that refer to the soul returning to God include, Genesis 25:8, “Abraham gave up the ghost, and died,” Job 14:10, “man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost,” Job 34:14, [God] gather unto himself [man’s] spirit and his breath,” Ecclesiastes 3:21, “the spirit of man that goeth upward,” Matthew 27:50, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost,” Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost,” and John 19:30, “ [Jesus] said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost, “
When a person dies, the body and soul are separated. The body returns to the dust and the soul goes to God. At what point does this separation happen? Of passages that shed some light on what happens to body and soul at death, there are those passages that refer to what it means to be alive. There are a number of passages that refer to the breath of life, (Gen 2:7, 6:17-20, Job 27:2-6, Eccl 3:19-20, Daniel 5:23,) and some passages that refer to life being in the blood, (Gen 9:4-6, Lev 17:10-14, Deut 12:22-23.) In the King James Version there are only two passages that refer to the cessation of breathing. Both are in the Psalms, (Psalm 104:29, Psalm 146:4.) In the New King James Version there are a number of passages that refer to man breathing his last (Gen 25:8. 17, 35:29, 49:33, Job 14:10, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46), but the King James Version reads “gives up the ghost” in place of “breathing his last.” There are other passages that, along with breathing one’s last, also refer to giving up the ghost, (Matthew 27:50-53, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30-37, Acts 5:5, 10) There are a number of places that refer to giving up the ghost and returning to the dust in the same passage, (Gen 25:8, 17, 35:29, 49:33, Job 14:10, 34:12-15). Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 is an interesting special reference to breathing as it refers to the common breath of animals and men. Ecclesiastes 12 gives an interesting description of death. A study of physical death would not be complete without also considering resurrection from physical death to life that are recorded in the body. (1Kings 17:17-23, 2Kings 4:17-37, Matthew 27:52, Luke 7:12-16, Luke 8:41-56, John 11:1-44, Acts 9:36-42, and those of Jesus’ resurrection.) By looking first at those passages that refer to life, both the “breath of life” and “the life being in the blood” and then by considering those passages that speak of the separation of body and soul, as well the passage in Ecclesiastes 12 and the Resurrection passages, I hope it will become clear how the Lord would have us deal with the questions about the separation of body and soul.
The Breath of Life.
First consider the breath of life in Ecclesiastes 3:19-21
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
This passage speaks of both man and animals “all having one breath.” Before one concludes that the “breath of life” of man and the “breathing “of animals are identical, a few observations should be considered. First, there is something the same about man and animal. Both need respiration or breathing to remain alive. In both, this usually includes the need to move air in and out of the body. In both, this can be done artificially. The bodies of man and of animals will both one day die and cease to breathe. The bodies of both will return to dust. Second, there is a difference between man and animals. According to Ecclesiastes 3, their spirits are different. The spirit of animals, when they die, return downward to the earth, just as their bodies do. The spirit of man does not return to the dust of the earth. Instead the spirit or soul of man goes upward to God. A third observation is that the breath referred to in Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 does not use the same Hebrew word as use for the “breath of life” that God breathed into man when man was created. I am not a Hebrew scholar and comments on Hebrew are based on a search of a King James Version concordance along with Strong’s numbering and Hebrew dictionaries. The “breath of life” used in Genesis 2:7 is from the Hebrew word neshamah. This word is used 24 times in the Old Testament and always in reference to God and to mankind. Instead, Ecclesiastes 3:19 tells of both man and animals having “one breath.” This “one breath” is from the Hebrew word, rewach, which is used more than 300 times in the Old Testament, often referring to movement, such as wind, the movement of air, or when God moves something. Is appears that the “breath of life” when used in reference to man in Genesis 2:7 seems connected the life of man, which includes breathing but is also seems to refer to a non-physical part of man, whereas I wonder if the “breath” used in Ecclesiastes 3:19 refers more to the movement of air into and out of the body. This movement of air or breathing is true of both man and animals, whereas we are not told that God breathed the “breath of life” into animal. A forth observation, as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2, is that the way God created man was different than the way He created animals. Man, unlike animals, was created in the “image of God” with a “likeness” to God. Man was given dominion over the creation, including the animals. We are told that both man and animals were created on the sixth day. Animals were simply created with the ability to breathe. The creation of mankind was different. Of mankind Genesis 2:7 says,
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. (Genesis 2:7)
It appears that man was initially formed of the dust of the ground without signs of life, such as the ability to breathe, and then God breathed into man the “breath of life.” We are not told that this “The breath of life” was breathed into animals. It only says this of man. It is reasonable to think that the body of man was formed from dust of the ground without signs of life such as the ability to breathe and that life was then put into man by God to make man a united living soul. It may also be important not to confuse the “breathing “of God when it says, “God….breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” with the breathing of animals and men. God does not have a body and does not breathe in the way that Ecclesiastes 3:19 indicates that animals and men do. It is interesting that the breathing that God is referred to doing in Genesis 2:7 uses a different Hebrew word than both the “breath of life” in Genesis 2:7 and the “breath” that both animals and men have in common as recorded in Ecclesiastes 3:19. The word used is naphach. It is used twelve times in the Old Testament. Only in Genesis 2:7 is it translated “breathed.” Of the nine times it is translated with a sense of breath or blowing, eight times it refers to something that God does. It is used once in connection to an action of man and no time for animals. It makes me wonder if this “breathing” that God did in Genesis 2:7 is something special to God.
Some may think that God formed man just as He did animals, “alive” and able breathe, and, when God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, all that He did was put a soul into man changing man from being “alive like an animal” and making man a living soul. From an organ transplantation point of view, this idea that man was formed like animals, alive and able to breathe and that the soul was breathed in afterward is appealing because it leaves the possibility that the soul can depart and leave the body of man in a functioning state, like that of an animal. A problem with this interpretation is that then the only difference between man and animal is the fact that man has a soul, while animals do not. This leaves open the possibility that the soul could depart or be removed from a man, such that the man is no longer the living-soul-being that God created but still “alive” in the same way that animals are alive. Taking such a man’s life, by taking his vital organs, would no longer result in death of the living-soul-being of creation. There is no place in scripture where man, after his soul has departed, is left living like a soulless animal. Instead, the living body-soul-being that God created was made by God taking formed dust and then breathing into man the “breath of life.” Does this not mean that the “breath of life” must refer to more than just the soul?
Could the “breath of life,” that God breathed into man, refer simply to the ability to move air into and out of the body along with all that “moving air in and out of the body” involves? Can this “breath of life” be substituted with artificial respiration in intensive care units? Is it right to say that if the “brain-lung” function needed to “breathe” is absent, then the “breath of life” is absent or that the soul is absent? If the “breath of life” that God breathed into man refers to the ability to move air in and out of the body, then when did the circulation and neurologic functions begin to work? Are we to believe that what God formed, from the dust of the ground, was a man with a beating heart and working vital organs in a body waiting to receive the finishing touch of respiration, and mind/spirit? If the “breath” or the “breath of life” is what moved man from being “formed dust” into a “living being,” then, if this “breath” is absent, the soul is absent. But if by “breath” one means only the movement of air in and out of the lungs, then, when breath is absent, we cannot say that the soul is absent. For, there are documented situations where people have had an absence of respiration for prolonged periods of time, often supported by artificial means, and lived to walk and talk again. If by “breath” we mean the physical ability to move air in and out of the lungs, then again we cannot claim that absence of this “breath” means the soul has departed. For it is possible for a small brainstem stroke to destroy the respiratory centre in the brainstem, thus destroy the person’s ability to move air in and out of the body and the person remain very much alive, as long as some form of mechanical respiration is maintained. Does this not suggest that the “breath of life,” which God breathed into man, must refer to something much greater than simply the ability to move air in and out of the body?
If the “breath of life” cannot refer to the soul only and must refer to something much greater than just the ability to move air, what does “the breath of life“ refer to?
In Job 27:2-6 Job says that he will maintain his integrity before God until he dies or, to say it with the words of Job, as long as “my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” Job’s reference to nostrils suggests that this “breath” that Job is referring to is the same as the “breath of life” that God breathed into man’s nostrils, referred to in Genesis 2:7. This breath that Job refers to is from the Hebrew word as used in Genesis 2:7, nashamah. Job’s understanding of this “breath of life” is that as long as it is present in him he is not yet dead.
Daniel 5:23 also speaks of “breath” in terms of life. Daniel speaking to proud rebellious Belshazzar says that “God in whose hand thy breath is….hast thou not glorified.” According to Daniel, the “breath of life” is something that is upheld by God. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for “breath” that Daniel uses is from the same root as used in Genesis 2:7.
In Genesis 6:17 God says to Noah that He will “destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the “breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.” This includes all flesh in which is the breath of life and everything else with breath that is described in Ecclesiastes 3. Considering the description of the creation of man in Genesis 2 where God breathed into Adam’s nostrils “the breath of life,” I wonder if Genesis 6:17, when it speaks of destroying all flesh in which is the breath of life, is saying that God’s purpose was to specifically kill all mankind, that is, all flesh in which is the “breath of life.” A consequence, of the method that God chose to use, was that “everything else” or all the animals would die too. The verses just prior to this verse support this. They state that the Lord said that “all flesh had corrupted his way” and “the earth is filled with violence.” From the rest of scripture we know that “all flesh” in this passage must refer to mankind, for animals are not the source of corruption. It is man who has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). Genesis 6:17’s separation for “all flesh in which is the breath of life” from “everything” else that breathes supports the idea that the “breath of life” that was breathed into man refers to more than just physical life and that there is something about the “breath of life” that sets man apart from animals. Making this less clear is the fact that the Hebrew for “breath” in this passage is rewach rather than neshamah.
Considering all of this, the “breath of life” that God breathed into man, that takes man from being formed lifeless dust and makes man a united living soul, is more than just soul and more than just breathing. It must involve all that it takes change lifeless formed dust into a live breathing walking talking man. This suggests that there is an integrated connection between the soul and life. Can this connection be broken? Can the soul be separated from the body while there is still life is in the body?
It is also interesting to note that the result of God breathing into the formed dust was a united-living-soul. If you take the soul or the body away, is what you have left a man? Or is what you have left a broken part of man? Is this not what sin did? Did sin not put a break or separation in man that was not there at creation? With sin, man became a dying body with a dead soul. But the scriptures do not talk about a total separation of body and soul. When the soul departs, the dying body then becomes totally dead and returns to the dust, but it is not [eternally] separated from the soul. One day, the body will rise again to be reunited with its soul to then stand before God in judgment. According to Daniel 12:2, some will be sentenced to everlasting life and some to everlasting contempt. Does this brokenness, that sin brought, allow the soul to be separated from the body such that we can view the body as just dust, to be used for our purposes as we use the rest of the dust of the earth? If so, does this separation occur while there is still enough life left in the body for organs to still be alive and useful for transplantation?
Life Is In the Blood.
Now consider the passages that refer to life being in the blood. This is first recorded in Gen 9:4-6.
But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Leviticus 17: 11 says, “the life of the flesh is in the blood”, and Deuteronomy 12:22 says, “the blood is the life.” The shedding of a man’s blood in Gen 9:4-6 is generally understood to refer to the killing or taking of the life of a person. We also see the connection of a person’s blood to his life in Genesis 4 when Cain killed Abel. The Lord says to Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” Somehow, life is in the blood. We have also seen that the Bible refers to living people as those who have the “breath of life.” It appears that, somehow, life is in the breath as well as in the blood.
It is interesting that the description of killing in the bible usually involves the shedding of blood, by stones, swords, arrow, spears, knives, etc. An exception to this is crucifixion where the death is the result of suffocation. The thieves on the crosses beside Jesus had their legs broken in order to speed up the process of suffocation. Jesus was also expected to die of suffocation, but He did not need His legs broken, because He was already dead. Jesus told us beforehand that He would lay down His life and that no man would take it from Him. (John 10:17, 18) After fully finishing the bearing of the fullness of His Father’s wrath, Jesus commended His spirit to His Father and then, “gave up the ghost” (John 19:30, KJV) or “breathed his last.” (John 19:30, NKJV) He died. With His death, Jesus’ blood changed. (the life was removed from His blood.) When the centurion stabbed a spear in Jesus’ side, living blood did not flow out. Instead, water and blood flowed out. (John 19:34) We now know that when blood stops flowing that, in very short order, the blood cells clump together into what is called a clot, leaving watery serum. Blood divided into serum and clots is no longer able to support life. When the spear went in, what came out was watery serum and clumps of blood cells. Given the understanding of this science at the time Bible was written, the serum and blood clots that came out of Jesus side are appropriately described as water and blood. Does this not support the conclusion that once Jesus had breathed His last, or given up the ghost, that there was then no life was left in His body?
The Blood of the Living – The Blood of the Dead.
In the Bible there is an interesting verse that suggests that there is a distinction between the blood of someone who is alive and the blood of a dead man. Revelation 16:3 reads, “the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man.” That the Bible compares something to “the blood of a dead man” suggests that there is something distinct about the blood of a dead man. If there is something distinct about the blood of a dead man, then there is also something distinct about the blood of a live man, at least to the extent that it is not like the blood of a dead man. The Greek for “dead man” is nekros and is related to corpse. It is always translated dead. The lexicon suggests that it means lifeless, destitute of life, inanimate. It may be that what is being referred to by the blood of a dead man is that the blood is poured out as that of a dead man on a medieval battle field. It is interesting that Jesus death tells us something of the blood of a dead man. As mentioned above, once Jesus was dead, His blood separated into serum and clotted cells. In biblical times this was described as water and blood. This is a biblical description of the blood of one dead man. Today we know that as soon as blood stops flowing it starts clotting, and changes from the blood of a live man into the blood of a dead man. This change begins almost immediately after the blood stops flowing. A live man’s blood has blood cell evenly distributed in the serum and carry oxygen, nutrients and carbon dioxide. A dead man’s blood is separated into serum and clotted cells and has lost the ability to carry oxygen. Whether poured out into a sea of blood, as in Revelations 16, or running out of the side of Jesus, the blood of a dead man no longer supports life. John compared something to the blood of a dead man because it would be understood by the readers. This comparison, and the description of dead Jesus’ blood, leads me to ask, “can a dead man have the blood of a live man flowing though him?”
In medicine we know that life is in the blood. In a sense, as long as blood is flowing, healing is possible. Where blood stops flowing, cells die. In the Bible mankind’s life is described from two different vantage points. It is described as the “breath of life,” which somehow includes the soul, but more than the soul, and it is described as “being in the blood.” Life is not one or the other. Somehow, the description of life involves both.
The Science of Breathing.
A brief look as the Science of breathing may be helpful at this point. What does it mean to breathe? Prior to modern scientific discovery, the definition of breathing was simple. Air moved in and out of the body. We have already seen that biblically the “breath of life” means far more than simply the movement of air. It involves spirit, but it involves even more than just the movement of air and spirit. Somehow, it also includes the life that is in the blood. A look at the science of breathing may shed some light on this. When a person takes a breath, air moves into the lungs. Oxygen moves from the air into the blood. For this to happen the blood must be flowing and have blood cells distributed throughout it. The blood cannot be clotted. Oxygen is then carried by the blood to the cells that make up the body. The oxygen then moves into the cells. Inside the cells there is a process that scientists call cellular respiration, where oxygen combines with carbohydrates that also come from food. This produces energy. The byproducts of cellular respiration are water and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide leaves the cells and is picked up by the blood cells, which are then carried in the blood to the lungs. In the lungs the carbon dioxide moves from the blood into the air in the lungs. The air that is breathed out then has less oxygen and more carbon dioxide in it. Another breath is taken in and the cycle continues.
The movement of air in and out of the lungs is only part of the entire process of breathing. When the air ceases to move in and out of the body, if the blood is still circulating, then the other breathing processes continue to occur. From the oxygen that is left in the air in the lungs, oxygen continues to be transferred into the blood, but more slowly. Carbon dioxide continues to be released from the cells into the blood. The level of carbon dioxide will increase in the blood and it will continue to be moved into the air in the lungs. If air is not cycled in and out the body, the oxygen in the air in the lungs will continue to fall and the carbon dioxide will continue to rise. The rising carbon dioxide level causes the blood to become more acidic. If the carbon dioxide continues to rise, the resulting acidosis will eventually cause the heart to stop beating. Once the blood is no longer flowing, the process of oxygen moving into the cells and carbon dioxide moving out of the cells will quickly cease, at which point respiration, in its larger scientific sense, will have ceased. From this perspective, respiration and circulation, or breathing and living blood, cease at almost the same time. If both breathing and circulation have ceased, a person’s body will very quickly appear dead. Without circulating blood and continued cellular respiration the organs in the body will also die in very short order.
If breathing has ceased, has a person died? What if only the movement of air into and out of the body has ceased but the other parts of the process of respiration continue? Should we conclude that the person has died and soul has left the body? What if a mechanical ventilation machine is started while the other parts of respiration are still continuing, should we say that respiration has ceased? If in a body with blood still flowing, we maintain ventilation such that in the body oxygen is not falling and carbon dioxide is not rising, then the process of respiration, described above, must be continuing to occur in the body. If such a person is brain injured and the required reflexes, including the apnea test, support a diagnosis of brain death and blood is still flowing in the brain, these processes of respiration will likely continue, at least to some extent, in some of the cells in the brain. Should we say that such a person is dead?
Notice that the respiratory system is fully dependent on the circulatory system. Without living blood, that is circulating though the blood vessels, there would be no transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide and thus no truly effective breathing. Thus, the biblical teaching that life is described by both the “breath of life” and the “life that is in the blood” is supported by science. As breathing and circulation of blood cannot be separated, should we separate the “breath of life” and the life that is in the blood? If we allow for a diagnosis of death, associated with the absence of spontaneous movement of air into and out of the body, while one’s life blood is still flowing through the body, are we guilty of separating things that we should not separate?
Breathed His Last.
The bible does in some passages link the cessation of breathing to the death of a person. In the King James Version, there are only two verses that make this association. Psalm 104 tells of God’s control over creation. With respect to the animals, verse 29 says, “You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” This refers to animals not humans. The taking away of breath, death and returning to the dust are connected together. It may suggest an order that you take away breath and then they die and are returned to the dust. The KJV and NKJV to not include words that suggest an order to the phrases. It is possible that these are included together in poetic parallelism. The Geneva bible translates it as, “if thou take away their breath, they dye and returne to their dust,” suggesting that breath is taken away and then death comes. Psalm 146 speaks of not putting one’s trust in earthly princes. Of these princes, it says, “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Does this suggest that once breathing has ceased the body can be returned to the dust. In the day it was written the absence of breathing meant death. Today, if we define breathing as the ability to move the lungs and thus move air in and out of the body, then, as described in the section above, breathing may not have completely ceased. It makes sense that the cessation of breathing was what was used in that day to describe death. Today we might say, “he dies, he is returned to the dust, in that very day his thoughts perish. We may need to be careful not to use passages like this to say that because a person’s ability to move air has ceased that he is ready to be returned to the dust. This passage may have more to teach us on the movement of the soul then on the relationship of breathing to death. Since thought and the soul are connected the King James Version seems to say that that with death comes the cessation of the soul. We know it cannot mean the soul ceases to exist because the bible teaches that the soul continues to exist after death. In The New King James Version Psalm 146:4 says, “His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.” That man’s plans cease with death makes sense in light of the rest of scripture and I suspect that the word “plans” is closer to the original. The new King James Version has also replaced “breath” with “spirit.” The Hebrew word is ruwach. Remember that this word is the word translated “breath” in Ecclesiastes 3:19, (the NKJV translates it “breath” in Eccl 3:19,) and that ruwach is often associated with movement. I suspect that the use of the word “breath” is closer to the original. Again the translation of the Geneva bible is interesting. It says, “his breath departeth, and he returneth to his earth: then his thoughts perish,” suggesting that if we are to order events that the movement of the soul is not the first thing to happen. I’m not sure that we should even be trying to order events, or that we can use these poetic passages to define the order of the events of dying. If we must know the order of death and the movement of the soul the best I think we can say here is that we should be leery of saying that the soul departs while the body still has life in it.
In the New King James Version, there are seven passages that speak of death in terms of “breathing one’s last.” In Genesis 25:8, “Abraham breathed his last and died….and was gathered to his people” Genesis 25:17 says that Ishmael ”breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people,” as it also says of Isaac in Genesis 35:29 and of Jacob in Genesis 49:33. The King James Version, in each of these passages, instead of saying, “breathed his last,” says, “gave up the ghost” or “yielded up the ghost.” One might say that “breathed his last” or “gave up the ghost” is just how they referred to dying in that day, but in three of these passages this is followed by “and died.” These passages are historical narrative so one would not expect repetition or parallelism of poetry. For some reason the Lord inspired the author to include both that these man died and that they breathed their last or gave up the ghost. Does this lend credence to the idea that death is a process? Does this support the idea that it is eventually possible to say that someone is clearly dead but there are events that occur in the process of dying that cannot easily be linked to the actual moment of death, such as taking the last breath or becoming unable give any sign of brain function, or yielding up the spirit? It is interesting that some translators refer to cessation of breathing, while other translators refer to the spirit leaving. We have considered how “the breath of life” that God breathed into man is more than breathing. It also included the soul. Given this, it is not surprising to find that translators associate both “breathing one’s last” and “giving up the ghost” with dying. Can we say with certainty that a person is dead and ready to be returned to the ground while there are still signs of life in the body, based on the fact that the person is unable to move air in and out of their body?
****Job 14:10 says, “man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last.”
Death of the Body, Then the Spirit Departs or The Spirit Departs, Then Death of the Body Occurs.
Job 34:12-15 is interesting.
Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.
In this passage Job is referring to God’s charge or authority over the earth and over life. The passage speaks of God gathering man to Himself. This is similar to the terminology use in Genesis 25:8, 17, 35:29, and 49:33 when men die and are gathered to their people. So, the passage is referring to death. The spirit and the breath are gathered, the flesh perishes and man is returns to the dust. Is the spirit gathered and then the breath? Is there time between this gathering and man returning to the dust? Can we depend on the order of this passage and conclude that the correct order of events is for the spirit to be gathered, then the breath, then comes perishing and finally being returned to the dust? It might be tempting to use this passage to try to say that God first gathers the spirit and then the breath stops and then death comes and then the body returns to the dust. If this is the case, it would be possible to have a soulless, breathless person whose life blood was still flowing. We need to be careful with such an interpretation for a few reasons. First, commentators suggest that all but the first two chapters and the end of the last chapter of the book of Job are written in poetic language. In poetry a fair bit of license can be taken in word order. Second, a look at the Hebrew words for “spirit” and “breath” raises some questions. The Hebrew for spirit is ruwach and for breath is nashamah. Remember that ruwach tends to refer to movement, such as physical movement of air and is translated as breath in Ecclesiates 3:19, and nashamah refers to that “breath” that God breathed into man, which we have shown before refers to more than just breathing and somehow includes man’s spirit. This means that this passage seems to be saying something like, “God gathers unto Himself man’s spirit and his essence of being,” or “God gathers unto Himself man’s breathing and his breath of life.” I wonder if the use of these words together has more to do with emphasis than to record and order of events, which is to be expected in poetic language. Third, in Job 14:10-12 is says,
But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where Is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
If one can rely on the order of the words in this passage, then giving up the ghost comes after man dies and wastes away or turns to dust. The order of the words in this passage is opposite to the order in the English rendering of Job 34:12-15 mentioned above. The order in the two passages would contradict one another. A Hebrew scholar who review an earlier version of this essay pointed out that in Hebrew “man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he” is a form of poetic parallelism. Although it may be tempting to try to use these passages in Job to comment on the timing of when the soul leaves the body, I think one may get into trouble doing so.
Now, let us consider in more detail the description of the separation of body and soul that is given to us in Ecclesiastes chapter 12.
1-5 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
6-7 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Solomon writes to encourage people to pay attention to the things of God, the Creator, when they are still young, for old age will come and interfere. Although commentators vary on what they think is the precise meaning of each of the phases in this passage, the tone is relatively clear. A day will come when life will be more difficult, when things will not be as bright, when cloudiness will interfere, when work will not be as easy, when music will not be the same, when fears will increase, etc. These difficulties of growing older will one day end in death. The phase at the end of verse 5, “man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets,” refers to death. Remember God now, because one day the opportunity will be lost, for death will come. The connection between “going to his long home” and “mourners going about the streets” makes it clear that this passage is referring to death because, as seen in some examples in the Bible, when a person died, mourners would come, and accompany the body along the street. Verses 6-7 speak further on the reality of death. Verse 7 makes this clear saying, “the dust shall return to the earth and the spirit shall return unto God.” There are a number of other passages that teach the body returns to the dust and the soul to God, at the time of death. Ecclesiastes 12:5 introduces death and verse 6, in a symbolic language describes dying. Following this, at the beginning of verse 7, it says, “then.” The word “then” is an adverb that indicates that the events in the phrase that follow occur next following after the events that come before. Although commentators differ in the precise meanings of each of the phrases in verse 6 that precede the “then,” they agree that they are descriptive of the time of death. Then, following death, according to verse 7, the body returns to the dust of the earth and the spirit unto God. With respect to the question of order at death, about what occurs first, the departure of the spirit or the death of the person’s body, this passage says that the person’s body dies and then the body and soul separate. The person dies and the body returns to the dust of the earth and then the soul unto God. This interpretation depends on the Hebrew supporting the use of the adverb, “then.”
Resurrections of Body and Soul.
A study of physical death and the separation of body and soul is not complete without considering the resurrections that are recorded in the bible. There are two resurrections recorded in the Old Testament and five in the the New Testament, other than the special cases of the resurrection of Jesus and the opening of the graves of many bodies of the saints right after Jesus cried out, “it is finished” and breathed His last.
In 1 Kings 17, after the Lord used a widow of Zarephath miraculously to sustain the life of Elijah, the widow’s son became ill and died. The description of this boy’s death included the cessation of his breathing for “there was no breath left in him.” (v17) We are told that Elijah “cried unto the LORD, as said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.” (v21) We are then told that “the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” (v22) The boy’s cessation of breathing was associated with the departure of his soul. Elijah recognized that this boy’s soul was in the realm of the Lord and asked the Lord to let the soul return into the boy’s body. We need to be careful not to read into this passage that if breathing fails, such that artificial respiration is needed, that the soul then departs. In the day this was written death was sufficiently described by saying that there was no breath left in him because there was no option of artificial respiration. Today, a person could have no breath, and be kept alive using artificial respiration. It is also impossible to imagine what it would be like for this boy to have died and his soul to have departed to be with the Lord and then be sent back to his body to live again in this fallen world. I think that the wording suggests that this is what happened. Also, notice that it was not Elijah who called the soul of the boy back to his body. Elijah cried out to the Lord. The Lord heard the voice of Elijah and the soul of the child returned. It seems that it was after the boy’s soul returned that life returned to his body.
In 2 Kings 4, after the Shunammite woman’s son became ill and died, she went to the prophet Elisha at Mount Carmel (vv 18 to 27) We are told the child was dead. Elisha came and, after praying to the Lord, performed a somewhat odd ritual and the flesh of the child became warm. Then, after further odd ritual, the child sneezed seven times and then opened his eyes. (v35) This resurrection does not give any information about the soul. As with Elijah, Elisha was not involved in this miracle on his own. He, too, prayed unto the Lord. It is reasonable to say that this resurrection was also of the Lord.
In Luke 7 Jesus comes upon a funeral with a dead man being carried out of the city called Nain who is an only son. When Jesus commanded, “Young man, I say to thee, Arise,” he that was dead sat up and began to speak. The fact that Jesus raised a man from the dead was a sign to those around that God had visited His people. Like the passage in 2 Kings 4, this passage speaks of a man being dead and rising again but it does not shed any light on the actual movement of the soul into or out of the body. Unlike Elijah and Elisha, Jesus spoke directly to the man. It was after Jesus spoke that the man’s life returned.
In Luke 8 and Mark 5 we learn about the daughter of Jarius, a ruler of the synagogue. Luke’s telling of this event says that the girl had died. (v53) At the word of Jesus, the spirit of the girl came to her again and “she arose straightway.” Since we are told that her spirit came into her again we can conclude that with her death her soul had departed from her body. Notice that as soon as her spirit returned she arose, a sign that physical life returned. Like the resurrection of the widow’s son in 1 Kings 17, this resurrection also sheds some light on the movement of the soul. At the command of Jesus the soul returned and then the girl came to life. From the passage in Ecclesiastes 12, we learned that death occurs and then the body and soul separate. In these resurrection passages the movement of the soul is in the opposite direction. We are told that the soul comes in again and then the person’s lifeless non-breathing body revives.
The resurrection of Lazarus recorded in John 11 is interesting. We are not explicitly told about the movement of his soul but what we are told suggests something of the connectedness of body and soul even after death. Jesus told the disciples plainly that Lazarus was dead. (v15) This is confirmed at the graveside, when Martha said, “by this time he stinketh for he has been in the grave four days.” (v40) Being dead and being a friend of Jesus it is reasonable to think that Lazarus’s soul had separated from His body and was with the Lord. We saw evidence of a soul being with God in the resurrection of the widow of Zarephath’s son discussed above. We also see evidence of this when we see Moses and Elijah with Christ on the mountain during the transfiguration of Christ. (Matthew 17, Mark 9) At the grave side, after the stone was taken away, Jesus prayed out loud to His Father and thanked Him that He heard Him and then cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” (v43) Lazarus’ life returned, indicating that the soul had returned into his body again, and he came forth. Notice, Jesus did not call the soul and the body of Lazarus to come forth. He called Lazarus, body and soul, to come forth. This is also the case in when Jesus raised the widow’s son in Luke 7. Jesus addressed the young man, not the man’s body and the man’s soul. We find the same thing when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. He took her by the hand and called her, rather than addressing her as her body and her soul, to arise. In each of these situations Jesus does not treat these people as simple dust. He treats the bodies as belonging to each of the people they were before they died. Jesus calls the person, body and soul forth or commands the person body and soul to arise. We find the same thing when Peter was involved in the raising of Tabitha from the dead, as recorded in Acts 9. Peter kneeled down and prayed, turned to the body of Tabitha and said “Tabitha arise.” The fact that in each of these resurrections the whole person is spoken to, raises questions about the connectedness of the soul with the body. Should this not lead us to consider soberly how we deal with a person’s body, even after their death.
There is a special case of many saints arising all at the same time as part of the miraculous happenings at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion after Jesus said, “It is finished” and cried with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. In Matthew 27 it says “the graves being opened, and many bodies of the saints arising and appearing to many” (v 52-53) It is not clear whether these represent resurrections of body and soul, as those discussed above, where those resurrected are back in the land of the living as you and I are such that they needed to face death again, or if this is somehow a special case. The other resurrections refer to specific people being brought back to life, who seem to be, once resurrected, the same as they were in before they had died, people living in a fallen world. They would be expected to have to go through death again. In this case it does not say that the saints arose but that the “many bodies of the saints which slept arose.” I do not think it is possible using this passage to comment with any certainty about the interaction between body and soul at the time of death.
These resurrections suggest that when a soul returns to a body that is dead, that life then returns to that body. These resurrection comments are consistent with the conclusion that as long as there are signs of life in the body of a person that their soul remains with the body, and that clear physical death of the body occurs before or at the same time as the soul departs.
The Special Case of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection.
Finally, a comment on resurrections is not complete without considering more about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, after His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary, had two natures, His divine nature that remained everywhere present and His human nature that was limited in location to His human body. In His humanness, He was just like us, except without sin. (Php 2:7-8, Heb 2:17-18, 4:15) This means that He had not just a human body but He also had a human soul.
When Jesus died on the cross there was, like with the rest of mankind, a separation of body and soul. Jesus, Himself, recognizes this and says to His Father, “into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) It is clear that Jesus human body for the next three days went the way of all human bodies after death. It went to the grave. It was wrapped in spices, likely to mask the smell of the ensuing decay, and laid in a grave. Although it is not clear what happened to Jesus’ human soul during the three days His human body was in the grave, it is clear that Jesus human body really died and at the same time His human spirit was separated from His body, being was left to the hand of His father. This was indicated when Jesus said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46) it is finished” (John 19:30) and bowed His head and gave up the ghost or breathed His last. (Luke 23:46, John 19:30) It is important to realize that the soul is not Jesus’ divine nature. To be fully human Jesus had a human body and a human soul. Jesus’s divine nature is everywhere present and in that sense is never separated from His human body or human soul. The Scriptures tell us in Jesus’ case that His body at that point died. The fact that the water or serum separated from His blood is a confirmation that He was really dead. There is no evidence here that blood continued to flow through Jesus’ body after His soul departed.
After three days, Jesus bodily rose again from the dead. Some of the many proofs that Jesus rose again from the dead include the following. The body was no longer in the grave. Angels said that he had risen. He was seen by many. He allowed some of his disciples to put their fingers into the holes in His hands. He ate fish. The biblical accounts of Jesus resurrection, unlike some of those mentioned above, does not give details about how His soul and body came back together. We are just informed that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. I do not think that the facts of Jesus resurrection adds anything that helps answer the question about whether a person’s soul can depart from the body while their body remains alive.
These comments on the resurrections in the bible delve into things beyond our main question, “When does the soul separate from the body?” They do indicate that when a soul returns to a body that is dead, then life returns to that body. These resurrection comments are consistent with the conclusion that as long as there are signs of life in the body of a person that the soul remains with the body or that clear physical death of the body occurs before the soul departs.
Neurologic, Circulatory, Respiratory Death. What about the Digestive Systems.
In this study of physical death in the bible it is interesting to note what is not found. In modern medicine we tend to focus on three systems, the neurologic system (brain), the circulatory system (heart), and the respiratory system (lungs). We say that all three systems are necessary and if any one system fails, then the other two will soon fail. The bible does not talk about death in terms of three systems. The bible talks about breathing. If breathing means the respiratory system, then we need to see failure of a lot more than just the ability to move air into and out of the body to conclude that breathing has failed. The bible talks about blood, both of the living and of the dead, but does not really say much about circulation. The bible refers to the mind and thoughts but does really speak of a neurologic system. As we have seen above, rather than dividing life into systems, these aspects of life are assumed to be integrated and interdependent.
One passage that may refer to these systems is Ecclesiastes 12: 6-7.
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
As mentioned above, verse 6 is a symbolic picture of death. In the discussion above, I did not look at what each of these items means specifically, as there is much uncertainty. There is agreement that verse 6 refers to death. Some consider the silver cord to be the spinal cord and the golden globe the skull. Others think the bowl refers to a lamp in biblical times and the silver cord to the cord that suspends the lamp from the ceiling and that the lamp represents the light of life. In either case, the silver cord and the golden bowl are thought to represent the neurologic system. Some consider the pitcher and fountain to represent the large veins from which the blood flows into the heart and they consider the wheel at the cistern to be the heart that distributes the blood to the rest of the body. (John Gill, Adam Clark, Jameson Faucet & Brown, Albert Barnes) John Gill comments that the Targum, referring to early Jewish commentary on the OT, is incorrect in saying that the pitcher is the gallbladder. He says the ancients used to believe that the fountain of blood was the gallbladder. He says that now we know the fountain of blood is the heart. This passage seems to refer to the neurologic and circulatory systems. It does not mention the respiratory system. As we have seen above, the circulatory system and respiratory systems are intricately connected and one could say that pitcher and the wheel include both systems. Are we to divide life into systems? Considering the interconnectedness of the respiratory and circulatory systems should we be dividing these into two systems for the purposes of thinking about death?
Some may look at the four phases in verse 6 being connected by the word “or” and suggest that if any one of these four things fails, then the body returns to the dust and the spirit to God. Does this passage suggest that if the brain, as seen in the golden bowl is destroyed, then we can consider the body as dust and take organs? If blood flow is destroyed we have no problem with considering the person to be dust, but no organs will be useful for transplantation. If we follow this train of thought with the golden bowl – brain idea, then we also have to follow it with the breaking of the silver cord or the severing of the spinal cord. Yet most would not consider severing of the spinal cord alone to be enough to say that someone was dead. Could it be that the silver string does not refer to the spinal cord? We need to be careful with our assumptions, with respect to this verse, considering the fact that most commentators remain uncertain about what each of these phrases means. Some may use the “or” to support the conclusion that if one life supporting system fails then the rest will fail or that if one system is dead, the other systems will follow. If this is true, does this then allow for a diagnosis of death before the other systems have also died?
What if systems are artificially supported? I find nothing in the scriptures that supports an argument that claims that because a system is artificially supported that the system is dead. What about the integumentary system? This system involves the movement of food into the body, the breaking of the food into small molecules, the movement of these molecules into the blood stream, and the absorption of these food molecules into all the different kinds of cells in the body, where they are used to support the cells. This system is dependent on the circulatory system and works together with the respiratory system to produce energy for the cells. If this system fails, there will be no energy and the cells will die. Like the neurologic, circulatory and respiratory systems, if the integumentary system fails, the other systems will fail and the body will die. If this system is artificially supported with tube feeding into the stomach or with intravenous feeding, do we conclude that this system is dead and begin to look at the person as dead? Should we? I raise these questions to demonstrate some of the pitfalls of trying to fit what the bible teaches into the world’s body-system view of death and dying.
When developing a method of thinking about death and dying, should we not begin with what the bible teaches in order to decide if it is appropriate to accept and use the world’s method of describing death and dying? We may be misguided if we place too much emphasis on the world’s three-system view of life, death and dying, rather than the biblical description of the living, having the “breath of life” and living blood and the dead being without the breath of life and without living blood.
So far studying the topic of physical death I come to the following conclusions. In this study we touched on the doctrine of man being body and soul, with man being the result of God-formed dust, given life by having the “breath of life” breathed in by God. We saw how, at death, there is a temporary separation of body and soul, with the body returning to the dust and the soul going to God. We considered how the processes of God’s creation of animals and man were different and that the “breath of life” that God breathed into man is more than just the giving of the soul and more than the moving of air in and out of the body. We considered how, as long as “the breath of life” and all that it encompasses is present in man, that he is alive. Then we looked at the truth that life is in the blood and suggested that there is a difference between the blood of a live man and the blood of a dead man. Life of people is defined both in terms of “the breath of life” and in terms of the blood of a live man. A dead man, by the fact that he is dead, has the blood of a dead man and he no longer has the “breath of life. Somehow, life is both the “breath of life” and in the blood. If we accept, in the passages mentioned, that when the King James version says, “gave up the ghost” it is right to say, “breathed His last,” we saw that the bible links “breathing his last” with death, but in each case “breathing his last” is not used alone to define death. The most we can say is that “breathing his last” is associated with death. We learned that the order of the spirit leaving the body and the body returning to the dust cannot be presumed based on the order these words occur in a passage especially in the poetic biblical literature. We can say that God first formed man into formed lifeless dust, then breathed into man’s nostril the “breath of life.” It is then reasonable to think that when God gathers unto Himself the spirit and the breath of man, that is He removes the “breath of life,” then what is left behind is formed lifeless dust. With respect to the question of order at death, about what occurs first, the departure of the spirit or the death of the body, the bible supports that death of the body and separation of body and soul occur very close together. If the bible places one as occurring first rather than at the same time, I think it supports death of the body, immediately follow by departure of the soul. A review of resurrections of various people who had died reveals that when the soul returns to the body and then signs of life return to the person. It makes sense that the opposite should also be true, that first the person’s body dies and then soul separates from the body. Finally, we considered some of the pit falls of trying to fit what the bible teaches into the world’s body-system view of death and dying. We should begin with what the bible teaches and decide if it is appropriate to continue to accept the world’s view.
 Found at https://greg.kenyonspage.ca/topical-essays/comments-on-the-doctrine-of-body-and-soul/. It can also be found at http://spindleworks.com/library/kenyon/Bodsoul.htm/.
 Strong’s numbers refers to the numbering system developed for Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the King James Version of the Bible. Each of the original language words use in Bible was given a number.
 The Hebrew word for the “breath of Life” in Genesis 2:7 is neshawah. It is used 24 times in the Old Testament, always in reference to God or mankind. It may appear that it is also used in reference to animals in passages like Joshua 10:40 where “Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed. If you read on, in Joshua 11:1-14 it shows that this too is referring to mankind and not to animals. Here Joshua destroys all those in the next region so that there were “not any left to breathe.” It goes on to say that “and all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe. Mankind were destroyed, not the cattle. The Hebrew word, neshawah refers to the breath of God and of mankind and not to animals.
 Genesis 12:1, spirit of God; Genesis 3:8, cool of the day; the animals in whose nostrils is the breath of life, Genesis 7:15, wind, Genesis 8:1, Exodus 10:13, 19, 14:21, 15:8,10; spirit of wisdom, Exodus 28:3; spirit of Jealously, Numbers 5:14; Courage Joshua 2:11, etc.
 3498 nekrov nekros nek-ros’. from an apparently primary nekus (a corpse); TDNT-4:892,627; adj
AV-dead 132; 132
1a) one that has breathed his last, lifeless
1b) deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell
1c) destitute of life, without life, inanimate
2a) spiritually dead
2a1) destitute of a life that recognises and is devoted to God, because given up to trespasses and sins
2a2) inactive as respects doing right
 Our society supports a diagnosis of brain death based on doctors not being able to detect brain activity based on testing a number of reflexes, such as eye movement, gagging and responses to pain. The apnea test tests a reflex of the body to spontaneously breathe as the carbon dioxides level increases in the blood. To do this the ventilator is shut off for a period of time and carbon dioxide levels are measured and the person is observed to see if spontaneous attempts to breathe occur.
 This information was provided to me in an Email to myself from Dr. Lawrence Bilkes. He asked Dr. Michael Barret to review an earlier version of this essay in 2014 and received the comment referred to. Dr. Michael Barret teaches Hebrew at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids Michigan.
 What happened to Jesus’ soul? It is important to realize that the soul is not Jesus’ divine nature. To be fully human Jesus had a human body and a human soul. Jesus’s divine nature is everywhere present and in that sense is never separated from His human body or human soul. Some may think that Jesus’ soul went to Hell citing Psalm 16:10, where the KJV says, “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” The Hebrew word for hell in Psalm 16 is often translated “grave.” I have been told that the connection of a personal pronoun to the Hebrew word nepesh (the word translated soul) in “my soul” can, in Hebrew, be a way of referring to the person. This means that this passage could be translated, “thou wilt not leave me in the grave,” meaning that this passage is not referring to Jesus’s soul going to hell. [From a comment made by Michael Barret a Hebrew and Greek scholar who teaches Hebrew at Puritan Refromed Theological Seminary.] Others may think that Jesus’ soul went immediately to heaven as He commended His spirit or soul into His Father’s hands. Jesus also told the thief on the cross beside Him, “today you will see me in paradise.” Scripture does not clearly say what happened to Jesus’ human soul during this three day period. Although Christ’s work of Salvation and fully satisfying His Father’s wrath was finished when, just prior to His human death, Jesus said the words, “It is finished,” the separation of body and soul that resulted from the death was not finished until Jesus rose again from the dead on the third day. The Westminster Confession of Faith, along with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, refers to the time between Jesus’ death and His resurrection saying that He “remained under the power of death for a time.” The Westminster Larger Catechism devotes an entire question and answer to this time saying, “Christ’s humiliation after His death consisted in His being buried, and continuing in the state of death, and under the power of death till the third day.” It is interesting that the reformed confessions, although they refer to the separation of Christ’ body and soul at His death, they do not try to say where Christ’s soul went during this time. [This comment on the reformed confessions is based on my reading of confessions that are included under the headings, The Natures of Jesus Christ and The States of Christ, in the book, Reformed Confessions Harmonized as edited by Joil Beeke & Sinclair Furguson, Baker Books, 2000. The confestions include the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Second Helvetic Confession, Canons of Dort, Westminister Confession of Faith, Westminster Shorter Catechism, and Westminster Larger Catechism.] Scripture makes it clear that at the time of Jesus physical death, His soul was separated from His body but it is not clear what happened to Jesus’ human soul during this three day period of continued humiliation referred to in the confessions. Jesus’s words to the thief on the cross beside Him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43) suggest that Jesus’ soul would go that very day to heaven. One question with this interpretation is, if Jesus, having defeated Satan, went to heaven at this point why did war in heaven not break out right away? Revelation 12 indicates that the war that banished Satan from heaven did not occur until after Jesus’ resurrected body and soul ascended into heaven. Another scripture that raises question contains Christ’s own words to Mary Magdaline when He says to her, after His resurrection, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.