“ruach: The Spirit of God”
The Hebrew ruach means “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit.” The corresponding Greek word is pneuma. Both words are commonly used in passages referring to the Holy Spirit. The word’s first use in the Bible appears in the second verse: “The Spirit of God [Ruach Elohim] was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). In Genesis 6:17 ruach is translated “breath of life.” Genesis 8:1 uses ruach to describe the “wind” God sent over the earth to recede the Flood waters. Altogether, the word ruach is found almost 400 times in the Old Testament.
God’s Ruach is the source of life. The Ruach of God is the One who gives life to all creation. We could say that God’s Ruach has created every other (non-divine) ruach that exists. All living creatures owe the breath of life to the Creative Spirit of God. Moses states this truth explicitly: “God . . . gives breath [ruach] to all living things” (Numbers 27:16). Job understood this truth as well: “As long as I have life within me, the breath [ruach] of God in my nostrils” (Job 27:3). Later, Elihu tells Job, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).