The Dust of Creation
Parashat Breisheet, Genesis 1:1–6:1
by Barri Cae Seif, Sar Shalom (Arlington, TX)
Then Adonai Elohim formed the man out of the dust from the ground and He breathed into his nostrils a breath of life—so the man became a living being. B’reisheet 2:7
When I was growing up, my father would often tell us children that if God had formed Adam from the dust, then we have a whole new generation being formed under our beds. We make it a point to remove dust from our homes and yet God took what was worthless and unwanted and made the most wonderful thing in creation, Man.
Creation was the most awesome event in the spectrum of time, other than Messiah Yeshua’s life, death, and resurrection. Rabbi Hertz’s commentary notes that “from every part of the habitable earth was dust taken in the formation of Adam.” It is thought that there are as many colors of dust as there are the colors of man. God created the whole human race for His own pleasure, as Revelation 4:11 says: “For You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created!” God made man, the whole human race, in His image: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness! Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the flying creatures of the sky, over the livestock, over the whole earth, and over every crawling creature that crawls on the land’” (Gen 1:26). God sculpted man from dust. Dust was perfect at the time of creation.
Man, dust at that time, received God’s breath. This is such a profound moment that just reading it in English does not capture all the magnificence of the action. “He breathed into his nostrils a breath of life”וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (Gen. 2:7b). God’s spirit, His ruach, the Holy Ruach, the Holy Breath, enabled Adam to come to life. God gave Adam heavenly CPR. First birth. Perfect birth.
God and man had close fellowship, face-to-face communication, and all was wonderful. Man had the life of God within, and became a living being, nefesh chayah. We are told in Ecclesiastes 7:29, “Only this have I discovered: God made mankind upright, but they went seeking after many schemes.”
Yes, man was made upright, close to God, and yet man chose to go his own way. God is sovereign and yet He allowed sin to enter the world through Adam and Eve’s act of disobedience. God gave man free will. All I need to do is look at a two-year-old after telling him or her not to stick a finger into the electrical socket or even come near. What is the first thing that the two-year-old will do? Go towards that electrical socket. That alone explains this first sin to me.
Before I became a believer in Yeshua, I had no moral compass. I was dead to anything that related to God. When individuals shared about being born again, I had no idea what they were talking about nor did I care. I was lost and I had no way to save myself.
In 1980, over lunch at my cousin’s delicatessen in Dallas, two businessmen shared with me Isaiah 53:6, “We all like sheep have gone astray. Each of us turned to his own way. So, Adonai has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” I walked into that deli lost and astray and I walked out of that deli restored to God. I became a living being, I was born again!
Almost 38 years later, the joy remains, but there are still times that this dust, our flesh, challenges us and weighs us down. David wrote in Psalm 119:25, “My soul clings to the dust. Revive me according to Your word!” The Hebrew word davak denotes cleaving and clinging, to be joined to the ground. Life becomes so burdensome that we don’t really know what else to do. A few verses later, that same Hebrew word is used in Psalm 119:31, “I cling (davakti) to your testimonies, Adonai, do not put me to shame!” The psalmist notes that revival through God’s word, His testimonies, is the answer.
Creation was the most awesome event in the spectrum of time, and it is brought to fulfillment through Messiah Yeshua’s life, death and resurrection. As Rav Shaul writes to the Corinthians, the first man is of the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven.
If God can bring forth humanity from dust, just imagine what He can do with your life!
All Scripture references are from Tree of Life Version (TLV).