Desire Of My Soul

Combat Zone Series: Part 2—Soul Nuances


Connected upward, yet pulled downward.

That is the battle within your soul.

But it’s for a purpose. And it’s good.


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Ancient Israelites as well as those in the Second Temple period—including the first century with Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name)—have long embraced a soul-body perspective.


Even philosophers from Homer to Plato and Socrates and onto the Hellenistic period and beyond have peered into this mysterious soul-body relationship.


This series explores that spiritual-physical interplay in daily life and pulls from the Bible’s Hebrew wording as a gateway to deeper understanding of biblical text.


And because film/literature can help visualize the human-soul story, I later on (in a linked post) lightly explore a character in a Fellini film, Nights of Cabiria, via this soul lens. An unconventional approach? Maybe.


So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it.


[photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash]



Looking deeper, inward


The first stop: three revealing Hebrew words for soul that are used interchangeably throughout scripture.


The words that I’ll discuss in a moment—neshama/nishmat, ruach, nefesh—magnify things for us in certain Bible passages, when considering the context.


And they do something else. They’re a tutor teaching us that the soul . . .


(1) is breathed from God
(2) is unseen like a breath or wind
(3) can rise (to the things of God) and descend (away from His goodness)
(4) houses understanding and thought
(5) has emotions
(6) has a desire to cleave (negatively or positively)
(7) has an awareness of self
(8) is eternal and shares responsibility with the body for its actions/decisions (thus one of the needs for a bodily resurrection—more on that in another post)


Now let’s unpack it.


Soul Nuance #1: Breath of life, soul, attached to God


Neshama [neh-shah-mah ]—soul, God’s breath of life [in Hebrew, nishmat chayim נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים] that He breathed into Adam per Genesis 2:7. That divine breath animated, enlivened the body and sparked the soul’s dimensions. It gave Adam’s body—as it does yours and mine—life.


Think of it. That breath is your closest contact with God, His soul to your newly breathed soul. It’s His holy breath (nishmat) residing within you. How miraculous. A profound, loving gift from the King of Kings, the Ruler of the Universe. The One who sits High and lifted up on His mighty throne.


Soul Nuance #2: Wind, breath, spirit, and also used for feelings/emotions, inner feelings


Ruach [roo-akh] rises and descends—designed to move (like the wind) with the flow of God’s divine presence, His Shechinah, dwelling within. You hear the wind, feel it, but can’t see it. In Genesis 6:17, God brought the flood upon all flesh having the “spirit/breath of life” (ruach chayim, ר֣וּחַ חַיִּ֔ים).


Genesis 7:22 uses ruach again to speak of the breath of life: Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life in its nostrils (nishmat ruach chayim be’apav, נִשְׁמַת רוּחַ חַיִּים בְּאַמָּיו) died.


And in Psalm 33:6: By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made, and with the breath (ruach) of His mouth, all their host.


Since ruach is also used for feelings/emotions and inner thoughts, consider this: As your life goes this way or that, upwardly seeking Him or not, so this ruach (spirit/wind/breath) rises, descends. So . . .


The question then is, will you hear His voice and follow Him, drawing the entire soul-body upward, aligning your inner thoughts with His, surrendering to Him and His leading?


Or will your flesh—which is tethered to this world, made from the earth, dust to dust—run the show and derail your soul destiny with God?


Soul Nuance #3: Life force, soul, self, a person, rested breath, living (breathing) being


Nefesh [neh-fesh], taken from the Hebrew root nafash meaning to rest, similar to Exodus 31:17 where God tells Moses what to say to Israel about the Shabbat and how He rested (nafash) after six days of creation.


Genesis 2:7 reveals that God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the soul of life/breath of life (nishmat chayim), so man became a living soul (nefesh chayim).


Want other scriptures? Read these after this post: three more scripture examples.



Like a glassblower, God’s action of exhaling a soul is like
the breath [neshama/nishmat] leaving His lips,
traveling as wind [ruach/spirit],
coming to rest [nefesh/nafash] in the vessel [our body].


—A poetic image about God breathing the soul into Adam (my inserts in red)—from the 18th century Italian-Jewish philosopher/writer, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto.



The nefesh is often translated as self, suggesting it has an awareness of the physical world and of the body. It also has a yearning, a desire, appetite, and a cleaving (attaching itself either negatively or positively), per some rabbinic thinking.


That self-factor with a desire to cling is an important characteristic. Especially if the soul (nefesh) cleaves to things/desires mirroring those of the downward-focused, earth-tethered body, because it can wind up blocking the soul’s upward call (God’s desire).


Now add in what Rabbi Pinchas Winston (a lecturer/author on Torah philosophy) basically describes about the nefesh in his teaching of Exodus 35-38: it [nefesh] sets out to control and manipulate its physical surroundings in an attempt to “create a sense of self-reliance and security.”


No wonder that globally-and-generationally-known rabbi (who was so much more)—Jesus, the Messiah—taught this 2,000 years ago about dying to that negative self and turning your soul and body to God, surrendering to Him, serving Him, loving Him:



“Truly, truly, I say to you,

unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,

it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

—John 12:24






Hebrew wording based on Tanakh Hebrew for text and Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon.


Greek word for soul and spirit from Strongs on



Quirky man with magnifying glass photo by Marten Newhall on


Combat Zone is the foundational post for soul basics. The original article was created/posted in 2009, but for easier reading, later divided into more posts.

Resurrection, Real or Not: Part 5—Why A Bodily Resurrection?

Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale shadows our soul-body journey. But what’s that got to do with needing a resurrection? A few things, as it turns out.


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Shakespeare’s plays often navigate spiritual waters. The Winter’s Tale is no exception. The tragicomedy travels the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of our wintry lives and moves to a spring-like moment.


It’s a light nod to God’s promised latter rain in the Bible. This rainy season—as the Talmud, Judaic scholars, and even some Christian Bible teachers call it—is the glory rain, the promised resurrection.


So what’s with the withered leaves and wintry tales? In the Psalms—such as Psalm 1, Psalm 52 and the one below—God likens us to trees. Some good, some not so good. The condition of a tree varies from season to season, choice by choice. Like our souls.


A good, solid tree is vibrant, flourishes, bears fruit, stretches its roots and branches. Other trees may appear lively for a season but are slowing decaying from the inside out.


The righteous flourish like the palm tree

and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Planted in the house of the Lord,

in the courts of our God they will flourish.

—Psalm 92:13-14 (12-13)


In winter, all the trees are dormant, still, laid bare. Not that much different than the time of our individual wintry tale when we are laid still . . . waiting for that latter rain resurrection.


But we don’t all have the same resurrection ending.

The body and the soul are reunited in resurrection, then face litigation in God’s court, are judged, and subsequently step into one of two places: everlasting life (for the righteous) or everlasting contempt (for the unrighteous), per Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29, among other scriptures.

Certain things impact that judgment . . . but simply said, it centers on what the soul-body did down here in light of God’s ways.


More to the point, what it did regarding one eternity-driven move of God in particular: His redemption plan centered on Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah.


On our way to that vital eternity-tipping choice, let’s begin by reviewing some plausible reasons why there’s even a need for the resurrection.





In Act 1, Scene 2 of The Winter’s Tale, Polixenes—King of Bohemia—describes his childhood relationship with Sicily’s King Leontes as being like twins, buddy buddies, innocents.


That is, until life happens and they’re cast out of their Garden-of-Eden-esque existence and into the Sicilian King’s irrational rampage, where he goes all Othello on his alleged “slippery wife” (Hermiones) and her alleged lover, Polixenes, the king’s friend.


The king is wrong. Like really wrong. For the sake of the plot—not unlike our own soul stories—the king and some others choose anything but the humble, righteous path.


The tale bulges with jealousies, accusations, misjudgments, malicious lies, for-the-better-good lies, over-the-top emotional reactions, bitterness, relationship splits, disloyalty, paranoia, tyranny, expulsions, broken hearts, death, and more.


Along the way, Shakespeare exposes familiar elements of the soul’s journey—its rise, decline, fall, redemptive resurrection (Queen Hermiones is brought back to life after being dead sixteen years).


He even turns the physical tables of the atmosphere to mirror the inner soul rumblings of his characters—Sicily’s Mediterranean warmth and light are shrouded in a wintry gloom.


Veiled, fractured souls.
Out of sync with God’s ways.
Self-focused. Earthly tethered.
Becoming a wintry heart of darkness.


Enter two reasons for an end-of-days resurrection . . .


(1) accountability—of what every soul-body has done, said, thought along its earthly journey.


(2) divine reconstruction of every soul-body God sovereignly raises in His righteousness—so it no longer is earthbound/self-focused but able to move with the give-receive love flow of heaven.


Let me explain . . .



journeying between weight and responsibility


Okay, so you’re not exactly like Shakespeare’s Antigonus, the king’s advisor who teeters between loyalty to the crown and loyalty to truth, makes concessions to protect, and then is chased off stage by a bear and killed.


But believe it or not, bears and their presumed Shakespearean connotation have their place in your soul experience and its aftermath, your future resurrection.


The word bear appears about twelve times in the play—where a person bears the onus for their actions and their related guilt. And, yeah, the fierce “bearish” beast appears in the midst of it all.


How bear/bearing translates to the soul’s journey and end-of-days accountability goes like this:


Bearing your soul—transparent before your Creator, God.


Bearing the weight of your actions—good and not so good.


Bearing the scrutiny of others and our internal self.


Bearing the hardships and testings along life’s journey.


Bearing the responsibility for what you’ve said, done, thought, written, shared, taught, imposed, desired, touched, took, gave, blessed, cursed, healed, harmed, lifted up, brought down.


Bearing the yoke of Heaven (surrendered to God, His word, His Messiah—your identity is in Him).


Bearing the final outcome of it all—with your soul’s work salted by His holy fire, tested by His holiness, so the work is either reduced to ash and stubble or glorified in Him.


Both the soul and the body must face their shared judgment.


For God shall bring every deed (every action, work)

into litigation (for His judgment),

everything that is concealed,

whether it be good or evil.

—Ecclesiastes 12:14


And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it.

The earth and sky fled from his presence,

but they found no place to hide.

I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.

And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.

Revelation 20: 11, 12



transformed from a fractured soul to a future glory in Him


At times, the journey down here can cause the push-pull of the soul-body union—with the God-breathed soul called upward vs. the earth-tethered body drawn to things below—to become . . .


flooded with spiritual darkness, doctrines of demons

a one-way receptor—receiving for self, no capacity for authentic giving

compelled by the things of this world

defiant, resisting the yoke of heaven.

dissonant, clashing with God


In other words . . . a

Ravaged. War-scarred. Vessel.


REALITY CHECK: No one is exempt. All have fallen short of God’s glory, His righteousness.


For a resurrection to righteousness,
your soul-body will need a reconstruction worthy of God’s presence.

Raised. Recalibrated. Renewed.

Made Holy with His righteousness—not yours.





The Lord can come to you like the rain—a glory rain, the true latter rain (resurrection to righteousness)—after the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of your soul’s winter tale.


The veil that covered your wintry soul can be gone.

Death, gone.

All things made new.


Here’s how.




On this mountain he [the Lord God of Hosts] will destroy

the veil which covers the face of all peoples,

the veil enshrouding all the nations.

He will swallow up death forever.

Adonai Elohim will wipe away

the tears from every face . . .

Isaiah 25:6-8 excerpts



Photo Credits:

Resurrection/Tomb photo by jchizhe, purchased on (Stock photo ID:1243063771)

Shakespeare by Jessica Pamp on

Bear Running by Zdeněk Macháček on


Resurrection series initially created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016, then later divided into various posts for easier reading

Journey on