In addition to the classification system for living organisms, the Bible also separates what scientists call “higher” animals from all others. The word used in Scripture is “nephesh” and is most often translated as “soul.” It is also defined as the “breath of life.” God told Noah which creatures to take on the Arkand based on these instructions we conclude, animals that breathe will be saved in the ark, and those that are left outside will drown in the flood. Since Insects do not breathe but absorb oxygen through other means, they do not have the breath of life(lungs). Insects can stay underwater for long periods of time, and a majority spend part of their life cycle in water. Insects did not go on the Ark but survive in the flood waters.
Now we define animal death as opposed to plant death. Plants don’t die in the same way the soul animals do. For example; when you eat fruit like an orange you do not destroy its life in the seed because even if the seed passes through an organism’s body, it still has life. Plant it and watch it grow. That is not true when you eat the chicken sandwich. The chicken has given up its life.
When the Bible talks about death as the penalty for sin, it refers to the death ofhumans and the creatures that have soul life, not insects or plants. As people, we recognize this and grieve when a loved one dies. We know in our hearts this is not the way life is supposed to be and that knowledge is part of our being made in God’s image. Watch an animal special on TV and see the lion take down a zebra, kill it and begin to eat it. Other zebras don’t grieve the death of one of the herb because they don’t have an awareness ofdeath as sin’s penalty and they are not made in God’s image.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nephesh (נֶ֫פֶשׁnép̄eš) is a Biblical Hebrew word which refers to the aspects of sentience, and human beings and other animals are both described as having nephesh. Plants, as an example of live organisms, are not referred to in the Bible as having nephesh. The term נפשis literally “soul,” although it is commonly rendered as “life” in English translations… In Genesis 2:7 the text is that Adam was not given a nephesh but “became a living nephesh…” Nephesh, when put with another word, can detail aspects related to the concept of nephesh; with רוּחַrûach (“spirit”) it describes a part of men that is immaterial, like mind, emotions, will, intellect, personality, and conscience, Job 7:11.
Biblical use: The word nephesh occurs 754 times in the Hebrew Bible. The first four times it is used exclusively to describe animals: Gen 1:20 (sea life), Gen 1:21 (great sea life), Gen 1:24 (land creatures), Gen 1:30 (birds and land creatures).
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