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Genesis 2:7 | Man and Fire

By Jeff A. Benner

And the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

The Hebrew word for fire is אש (esh, Strong's #784). Derived from this two letter parent root is the three letter child root איש (iysh, Strong's #376) meaning "man". Not only are these two words related by their letters, they are also related in meaning. To re-discover this relationship between fire and man let us begin by seeing the "creation" of fire from the ancient Hebrews perspective.

In ancient times, before the invention of lighters and matches, fire was made with a "bow drill" and tinder. The tinder is any fine organic material such as dried grass or inner bark fibers. The bow drill consisted of four parts, the fireboard, bow and string, rod and handle. The fireboard was made of a flat board with a v-shaped cut at the edge of the board. The bow and string is constructed similar to an archers bow. The rod is a round stick pointed at one end and rounded at the other. The handle is a flat round board.

Fine tinder, compressed into a ball, is layed on the ground. The fireboard is placed on top of the tinder with the v-shape cut over the tinder. The string of the bow is wrapped once around the rod and the pointed end of the rod is set on the fireboard over the v-shaped cut. The handle is placed on top of the rod. One hand holds the handle while the other hand moves the bow back and forth in a sawing motion. This action causes the rod to spin back and forth on the fireboard.

As the rod spins on the fireboard fine wood dust is shaved off the rod and deposited in the v-shape cut on top of the tinder. The friction of the two woods rubbing also create heat causing the dust to become very hot. After a short time of working the fire drill back and forth, smoke will begin to rise from the heated dust. The fireboard is carefully removed leaving the pile of smoldering dust on the tinder. The tinder is picked up and enclosed around the dust and the fire maker blows on the dust increasing the heat. The dust then ignites the tinder creating fire.

Let us now look at passage in Genesis in light of the ancient form of making fire.

Genesis 2:7
Creator Firemaker
And the LORD God And the fire maker
formed the man from the dust of the ground formed a man of dust on the tinder
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and he blew into the tinder the breath of life
and the man became a living soul. and the man became a living fire.

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