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Man from Dust

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Author Topic: Man from Dust  (Read 498 times)
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« on: January 22, 2007, 10:00:41 pm »

Man From the Dust? Another Look at the Meaning of the Hebrew Word rpf(f

Kerry A. Shirts & Joe Steve Swick III

NEW Addendum from Joe Aug 30, 02 at end of article

A Note:

The idea here is mainly from Joe. I add Hebrew to this and some analysis, but the kernel concept is from Joe's mighty keyboard. It is, indeed, worth a look.

The Adam God doctrine has been discussed almost endlessly here on the Internet. An idea we have not seen much discussion or research into is remarkably interesting for those who choose to believe what Brigham Young taught. We remain neutral here as to our acceptance or rejection of the Adam-God doctrine, for the sake of this discussion on the Hebrew meaning of the word "dust," rpf(f.

Let's start with a few comments:

"Some will be ready to say, 'We always heard these Mormons did not believe the Bible.' I believe all the truth that is in there and that is enough for me, and for you to believe. 'Then the Lord did not make Adam out of the dust of the earth.' Yes, he did, but I have not got to that part of my discourse yet. Adam was made of the dust of the earth...whereon he was born in the flesh; that is the way he was made; he was made of dust.... as the Lord put into you your spirit, [Adam] was begotten of a father, and brought forth as you and I were; and so are all intelligent beings brought forth from eternity to eternity. Man was not made the same as you make an adobe to put in a wall. Moses said Adam was made of the dust of the ground, but he did not say of what ground" (Brigham Young, 8 OCT 1854 Discourse).

Here are the salient points, then:

1) Adam was "made of dust";
2) Adam was NOT made "as you make an adobe to put in a wall";
3) He was brought forth as all INTELLIGENT beings are brought forth;
4) He was begotten of a father.

At first glance, these expressions seem contradictory: which was it -- was he BEGOTTEN, or made of DUST? A brief look at the Hebrew text, together with
a gematric hint might provide a key to help us unlock the mystery.

The relevant biblical passage is Genesis 2:7, which reads:

hmfdf)jhf Nmi rpf(f Mdf)fhf t)e Myhilo)v hwfhy: rceyyiwa

v'yyitzer YHWH 'Elohim 'et ha'adam 'aphar min ha'adamah

"The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground."

The creation of man is described in this passage as from dust. The verb rceyyiwa v'yyitzer is the Qal imperfect of rcayf meaning "to form." The Hophal form of this verb means "to be forged" which is usually from pre-existing material. God as the skilled craftsman focuses his planning and creation like a potter. (see John R. Kohlenber III, James A. Swanson, The Strongest Strongs, 2001, "Hebrew-Aramaic Dictionary-Index to the Old Testament," entry # 3335).

The Hebrew word rpf(, aphar is derived from a close cognate meaning that which is "tawny, powdered." Hence the word refers to clay, earth, mud, ashes, dust, earth, ground, morter, powder, rubbish. It is the common earth (Gen. 26:15); the word is in fact used to refer to the morter of buildings in Leviticus 14:43, 45. Apar -to use President Young's own language - is most certainly used to denote the very stuff of which "adobes" are made, and "put in a wall." It is a "fine dust" such as is blown by the wind (Psalm 18:42), xw=r yniIp: l(a rpf(fk,;. Cf. Psalms 8:26 which states lbiIItiI trop;(a #$)ro, "ro'sh 'apherot tebel," the first of the earth particles of the world, (See Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Hereafter cited as BDB, p. 781, column B).

It may also mean the "dust of the grave"(Gen. 3:19).

To this point, the Hebrew text would not appear to support President Young's contention that Adam "was brought forth as all intelligent beings are brought forth," and that he was "begotten of a father." Were this the full range of meanings of the word rpf(, aphar, one might conclude with the critics of President Young, that "Mormons did not believe the Bible."

However, this would be a hasty conclusion, for we have not exhausted the full range of meanings of the word. In addition to what we have noted above, aphar may also refer to human life. For example, Numbers 23:10 asks rhetorically, bqo(jya rpa(j hnfm ymi, "who can count the dust of Jacob?" Here, aphar is used as a euphemism for "seed" or "offspring" -- in this case, the seed or offspring of Jacob. I suggest that this text is an important one for understanding Brigham Young's remarks that while Adam was "made of dust," he was NOT made "as you make an adobe to put in a wall, but rather was ... begotten of a father." In fact, that the word "dust" could mean "offspring" was used by Presidents Woodruff and Cannon to rebut Edward Bunker, Senior, in the famous Bunkerville trial. Here is a discussion of this point from the Charles Walker Journal, dated 11 June 1892. I have regularized punctuation and spelling, and added italics for emphasis:

"Attended the High Council at which President Woodruff presided. George Q. Cannon was present also, [as were] a large body of the leading men of this Stake. Brother Edward Bunker Senior and others of Bunkerville, Nevada had been advancing false doctrine. One item ... was that Adam was made of the dust of the earth contained in the Garden of Eden.... Presidents Woodruff and Cannon showed ... that Adam was an immortal being when he came to this earth and was made the same as all other men and Gods are made; and that the seed of man was the dust of the earth, and that the continuation of the seeds in a glorified state was eternal lives And that after this mortal tabernacle had crumbled to dust in the grave, that God would ... by his matchless power ... bring [it] together again in the form of a glorified and immortal [body] ... [in the time of the resurrection] to dwell with Him for ever."

This journal entry tends to confirm that some early Latter-day Saints understood the reference to the "dust of the ground" in Genesis to allude to "the seed of man." This is of course within the acceptable range of meanings of the word aphar as found in the text of the Bible. However, it is interesting because of it also contrasts the "dust of the grave" with the "continuation of the seeds." Similarly, we find in Psalm 22: 29-30:

"All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust rpf( [Strong Heb. 6083 aphar] shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed (raze [Strong Heb. 2233 zerah; also "posterity"] shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation [i.e., future generations shall hear of the Lord]."

The BDB Lexicon (p. 282, #4) also shows this zera' means seed=offspring, the collective term meaning "descendants, posterity." It further demonstrates that this means the seed of all of Israel, i.e. Jacob, to mean future generations. (p. 283, column 1, #g).

I trust that this demonstrates that Brigham Young did indeed "believe all the truth that is in [the Bible]," and that his teaching was not as has been characterized by his critics. Rather, it demonstrates a grasp of deep understanding of the esoteric meaning behind the words of the biblical text.

While it moves us beyond the constraints of President Young's own expressions, let us extend the discussion a bit further. Ever since the essential concept first entered the Church, Latter-day Saints have speculated on the nature "intelligence" before the same was organized into individual spirit beings. The remarks which follow will not provide a conclusive answer to that question. However, it might be helpful to use gematria as an exegetical tool, to see what hint (Heb. remez) it can furnish us. It would be gratifying if the concept of intelligence could somehow relate to our discussion of Adam and the meaning of "dust."

In LDS scripture, we find a connection between man, intelligence, light, and spirit, although the exact nature of that connection is not made plain. We are simply told that "man was ... in the beginning with God," and that similarly "intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made" and that this "truth shineth"(e.g. D&C 93:29-30, 36).

While the word "intelligence" as used in Mormonism does not appear in the Bible, it is not unique to Mormonism. On the contrary -- it is found in the Western Mystery Tradition, and is associated with the various paths or gates on the Tree of Life. Each gate is a "SeKHeL," lke#&e a Hebrew word carrying the meanings of "understanding," "intelligence" and "consciousness." Cf the Aramaic, w,ntfl;k;#&f sokletanu "intelligence, understanding, insight.

Interestingly, the word lke# shares a gematric value of 350 with the word Nreqe qeren, (Strong Heb. 7161), or "horn," which figuratively means "power." According to Gensenius, (Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 744) as a verb Nreqe qeren can also mean to radiate, shine, emit beams of light, or to flash like lightning. Furthermore, the word rpf(j aphar, or dust, also has a value of 350. To a kabbalist, this shared gematric value suggests a link between the words rpf( aphar, Nreqe&e qeren and lke#&e sekhel -- that is, between the concepts of dust, light, and intelligence.

The mystical connection of the word lke#&e sekhel to the idea of (raze "seed " [Strong Heb. 2233 zera] is pictured in some versions of Tarot Key 13, which alludes to the close relationship between the earth, the grave, the shining light of the dawn and the seed. Consider again carefully what this may imply about the meaning of the words of the biblical text:

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground" (Gen. 2:7).

What we see in the 13th Major Arcana of the Rider-Waite Tarot, is Death as a warrior riding a noble steed. He holds aloft a black flag, emblazoned with the five-petaled mystical white rose, at the very center of which are a store of seeds. The rider bears no weapons, yet we note dead people on the ground (Hebrew hmfdf)a:hf:, ha'adamah, "the ground"). We also see a sun on the horizon between two pillars. Directly below this is a priest. Notice that his miter hat is in the form of a crocodile head -- reminiscent of the Egyptian god "Sobek," as the "Devourer"-- or perhaps a fish. The fish itself is an allusion to the Hebrew letter n nun, associated with this key and a symbol both of death and of fertility. The sun on the horizon would seem to indicate that light and life is sinking into the waters, which symbolizing chaos (Hebrew w,hbowf w,hto, tohu v'bohu, "unformed and void"). But with death comes new life, represented by the white (living) rose and its seeds on the flag.

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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2007, 10:02:00 pm »

Life is also represented with the five petaled rose, the number five being the penta, that is the number associated with "regeneration." The human body itself, expresses the Pentads symmetry in the five senses as well as the five extensions from the torso, each limb ending in five fingers or toes. Notice also, counting the horseman, there are exactly five people represented in this card. Remember also in Revelation 6:8 - "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death…" The Greek qanatoj means a natural death, though it also indicates a sense of destruction, perdition, and misery, implying both physical death and exclusion from the presence and favor of God. However, it does not ever mean extinction.

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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2007, 10:04:27 pm »

There is another tradition in which the letter of this card is "M." M is the 13th letter of both the English and Hebrew Alphabets. M is the only letter which, when you pronounce it, your lips remain tightly closed -- as if signifying Death - silence.

But the main idea in Key 13 is rebirth and regeneration - as the symbolism shows clearly with the pentad and setting/rising sun. Death is not final, but indicates a transformation or rebirth, i.e., resurrection.

Now let us look at the Pearl of Great Price again and see how this symbolism is correlated concerning dust, particles and inhabitants. Emphasis in italics our own.

"And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore" (Moses 1:27-28).

Here, Moses sees every particle of the earth; and every human being is also compared to a particle of sand. The image of the tawny sand is very similar
image to that of the fine and tawny dust. The earth is like the head of a dandelion; when the seeds ripen, they are carried forth by the wind of the Spirit. In Kabbalah, the Spirit is often signified by the Hebrew letter # shin. This is because the phrase Ruach Elohim -the Spirit of God -- is gematrically equivalent to the letter (both have a value of 300). However, NAME of this letter (Ny#) also has a value of 350. So, we see that QeReN, SeKheL, APhaR, and ShiN (itself connoting SPIRIT), are all gematrically equivalent (350): seed; dust; light; particle of light; intelligence; spirit. Kabbalistically, the concepts of Spirit (of ELoHiM)- Intelligence (Consciousness) - Light (Power emitted from God) - Dust (Seed) are all connected.

It is also worth noting that to the Greeks and Romans, the human head was what contained the stuff of life, the seed, and in it the procreative life soul. Cerebrum is, in fact, related to cereo, cerus, etc. These words are expressive of procreation, fertility. We are at the root meaning of kerav, cornu, horn, Hirn (= "brain"), etc.

Another substance, the spermaceti, i.e., "the seed of a whale," implies the head as containing the "seed." This was found mostly in the head of the whale. Norsemen called amber (or ambergris) hvals auki "whale's seed." Auki akin to augeo meant "increase," or "seed"; wax = grow, wax forth = be born, created, are akin. This is almost certainly the origin of (bees) wax. Cf. the words cera khrov "wax" of bees with cerus - genius, cereo = creo, "I beget, engender," to which belongs the inceptive cresco = Grow with participle cretus = "born, engendered." (see R. B. Onians, The Origins of European Thought, Cambridge Univ. Pres, 1st paperback, 1988: 238). Is it not remarkable that Hugh Nibley in his paper "Figure 6 of Facsimile 2" Brown Bag Lecture, FARMS, March 15, 1995, demonstrated that the bees and bull on the Hypocephalus in the Book of Abraham represent the ultimate resurrection and begetting? In Walter Scott's Hermetica, we read that Terra, sola in se ipsa consistens, omnium est [gener[antium] receptrix. omniumque [generum] quae accepit restitutrix - Portions of the earth are taken up into the bodies of plants, beasts, and men; but the solid mass of the earth stands fast at the center of the universe [following the ancient Greek Hermetic ideas] and receives on its surface the generantia (i.e., portions of air and fire, or pneuma (spirit) from above, by which these bodies are vitalized. At the dissolution of the individual organism, the generantia which had entered into its composition return to their natural place above; and that is what is meant by saying that the "earth" renders them back. (Scott, p. 13)

So why is the number 350 considered to be so important as a summing up of all these remarkable correspondences, connecting sekhel - "intelligence, consciousness," qeren, - "horn," hence power, rulership, kingship, etc., and aphar - "dust"? Because concerning it all, we read:

bwo+ yki Myhilo)v )r;yawa

v'yare Elohim ki tov

"and God saw that it was good." (gematric value: 350)


One correspondence I failed to mention in this piece which ought to bring
smiles of satisfaction is that of SHiN (Gm. 350). As you may know, ShiN the
letter itself has a value of 300, which is gematrically equivalent to the
phrases "RVaCH ELoHiYM," "YeTzeR," (to form) and "KaPpaR" (to cover, atone,
expiate, purge, cleanse, pardon, reconcile). Leaving these last two for your
own intellectual play, we see that QeReN, SeKheL, APhaR, and ShiN (itself
connoting SPIRIT), are all gematrically equivalent (350).

Kabbalistically, the concepts of Spirit (of ELoHiM)- Intelligence
(Consciousness) - Light (Power emitted from God) - Dust (Seed) are all

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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2011, 09:04:17 pm »

Very informative, thank you.
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