Animals in Heaven: Part II: Do Animals Have Souls?

In Part I, we looked at the occurance of the Hebrew/Aramaic word "ruach", predominantly translated "spirit". Now, let's look at the English word "soul".

The English word, "soul", is used 244 times in the New American Standard Version of the Old Testament. Using my Holman's New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries, I find that in 240 cases, the original Heb/Aram word behind the English word "soul", is the Heb/Aram word "nephesh". That is to say, that in only 4 uses of the English word, "soul", was there a word in the original text that was NOT "nephesh".

This word, "nephesh", also occurs in other places in the Old Testament. For whatever reason, in those passages, the translators felt it best to use another English word, other than "soul". Here are the other words they chose:

any (1 time), any-one (3), appetite (7), being (2), beings (3), body (1), breath (1), corpse (2), creature (6), creatures (3), dead (3), deadly (1), death (1), defenseless (1), desire (12), desire (2), discontented (1), endure (1), feelings (1), fierce (2), greedy (1), heart (5), heart's (2), herself (12), himself (23), human (1), hunger (1), life (148), lifeblood (2), lives (34), living creature (1), longing (1), man (4), man's (1), men (2), mind (2), myself (2), ourselves (3), own (1), passion (1), people (3), perfume (1), person (90), slave (1), some (1), some (1), strength (1), themselves (6), thirst (1), throat (2), will (1), wish (2), yourself (24)

Now, to get a sense of the usual uses of the word "nephesh", here are some selected passages containing the word. Again, I cannot use over 200 passages here, so these are my own choices.

Genesis 1:30

...and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has LIFE (nephesh in combination with chayyah - note the fact that there are two words here being ignored by translators... hmmm...), I have given every green plant for food."

Genesis 9:3-4

Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its LIFE (nephesh), that is, its blood.

Genesis 1:20-24

Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living CREATURES (nephesh), and let the birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. And God created the great sea monsters, and every living CREATURE (nephesh) that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind, and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living CREATURES (nephesh) after their kind; cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so.

Genesis 9:9-10, 12, 15-16

Now behold, I Myself do establish My Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living CREATURE (nephesh) that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. (12) And God said, "This is the sign of the Covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living CREATURE (nephesh) that is with you, for all successive generations... (15-16) ...and I will remember My Covenant, which is between Me and you and every living CREATURE (nephesh) of all flesh that is on the earth.

Genesis 35:16 & 18

Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachael began to give birth and she suffered severe labor. (18) And it came about as her SOUL (nephesh) was departing (for she died) that she named him "Ben-oni"; but his father called him "Benjamin".

1 Samuel 18:1

Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the SOUL (nephesh) of Jonathan was knit to the SOUL (nephesh) of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.

Psalm 6:4

Return, O Lord, rescue my SOUL (nephesh); save me because of Thy lovingkindness.

Psalm 23:3

He restores my SOUL (nephesh); He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

The word "nephesh", translated "soul" 240 times, is applied to animals many times. The case for animal souls seems stronger to me than that for the issue of animal spirits. The translators have chosen to use other words for "nephesh" in every case where animals are indicated. I now challenge you to go back and read all the verses again, saying "SOUL" where the translators have used another word for "nephesh"... works, doesn't it?

At the time of translation of the Bible into English, the doctrine of animals NOT being in heaven was already taught by some churches. Perhaps the translators wanted to avoid controversy, which could have caused their work to be rejected by large portions of mainstream Christianity.

Perhaps, playing devil's advocate for a moment, they had some examples of Hebrew, in which it was clear that there were two meanings for the word "nephesh"... I doubt this, knowing that Hebrew was a dead language for several centuries, but it is arguable.

When I studied what is said about "spirit" and what is said about "soul" in the Bible, it became obvious to me that the emotions are tied to the "soul" and the intellect, will, and decision making to the "spirit". My personal observations of animals make it easy for me to believe animals have souls. Each of you will have to reach your own conclusions, however.

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