And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living souls, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” Bible other translations

“living souls.” The Hebrew word “soul” is nephesh (#05315 נֶפֶשׁ), and nephesh has a wide range of meanings. It is used to describe the life force that animates humans, land animals, and many sea creatures; it is the “soul” animating the person or animal that makes the difference between a living person and a dead one. For that reason, nephesh is also used for the “life” of a person, as in, “do not take my life,” i.e., “do not kill me.” Nephesh is also used in the sense of “individual,” both of people and animals, thus the translation “creature” (CJB; HCSB; ESV; KJV), because the living individuals in the sea were “sea individuals” or sea creatures. It is not well recognized in Christianity that the same life force that animates humans animates animals. In large part that is due to the fact that the word “soul” is not translated that way in most English Bibles when it comes to animals. Here in Genesis 1:20, the animals were given life and became living individuals. For more information on “soul,” see Appendix 7: Usages of “Soul.”

Commentary for: Genesis 1:20