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Although "creature" is now usually defined as "a living organism characterized by voluntary movement" (WordWeb Dictionary from Princeton University), the English word originated from a root which meant anything created.

The single English word "creature" is used to translate three different Hebrew words. The first, pronounced sheh-retz, means teeming, or a great mass. It is used only in Genesis 1:20 to describe the creation of aquatic life i.e. teeming schools of fish.

The very next verse, Genesis 1:21, although also translated as "creature," was actually a different Hebrew word, pronounced neh-fesh. It meant breathing (see the Fact Finder question below to understand how "soul" is based upon that word which meant breathing creature); it was used to describe whales, land animals and birds.

"1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [i.e. the Hebrew word which meant teeming] that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature [i.e. the Hebrew word which meant breathing] that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:20-21 KJV)

"The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God"

As demonstrated in the verses quoted above, the original Biblical language sometimes provides much greater detail than any "one size fits all" single word that is used to translate a variety of actual words from the Holy Scriptures. We nevertheless are able to understand all that we need to from those translated words, if at the same time we make an effort to learn what the original words actually meant.

The Holy Scriptures The New Testament was written in Greek. Does that compound the challenge of understanding the Hebrew words? For the most part, no. The writers of the New Testament taught from the Hebrew Scriptures - which was the only "Bible" that they had. They didn't change anything because God's Truth was not theirs to change.

Are humans "creatures"? Does the Hebrew word neh-fesh, which means breathing creature (and from which the idea of "soul" originated - see the Fact Finder question below) apply to humans also? Yes, it does. It even applies to the human birth of The Messiah, Who was the Creator (as sent by The Father - see Christ The Creator) of all creatures.

"1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Colossians 1:15-17 KJV)

The "creature" reference the verses quoted above are dual in meaning, just as is the directly-related "1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:26-27 KJV). Consider the new creatures that are being created by the process of salvation that is being carried out in repentant physical creatures:

"8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." (Romans 8:21-23 KJV)

"5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 KJV)

Fact Finder: Is a "soul" any living, breathing creature than can die?
See Dead Souls

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