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In Judaism, Holy Spirit refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the universe or over God's creatures, in given contexts.[1][need quotation to verify][2][need quotation to verify]

The Hebrew language phrase ruach ha-kodesh (Hebrew: רוח הקודש, "holy spirit" also transliterated ruaḥ ha-qodesh) or a grammatical form of the phrase is used in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish writings to refer to the spirit of YHWH (רוח יהוה). The Hebrew terms ruacḥ qodshekha, "thy holy spirit" (רוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ), and ruacḥ qodshō, "his holy spirit" (רוּחַ קָדְשׁ֑וֹ) also occur. (When a possessive suffix is added the definite article ha is dropped.)


Hebrew BibleEdit

The precise term ruacḥ haqodesh itself does not occur in the Hebrew Scriptures, but the form of it with a possessive suffix occurs once in Psalm 51:11 and twice in the Book of Isaiah. (Isaiah 63:10–11) Those three times are the only occurrences that the phrase "holy spirit" is used in the Hebrew scriptures, although the noun ruacḥ (רוח, literally "breath" or "wind") in various combinations with "God" is used often, and the noun qodesh ("holiness") is also used often. The noun ruacḥ, much like the English word breath, can mean either wind or some invisible moving force ("spirit").

The following are some examples of the word ruacḥ (in reference to God's "spirit") in the Hebrew scriptures:

  • Genesis 1:2 (Schocken Bible - The Five Books of Moses) "Rushing-spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters."
  • 1 Samuel 16:13 (ASV) "And the Spirit of God came mightily upon David from that day forward."
  • Psalm 143:10 (KJV) "Thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness."
  • Isaiah 44:3 (KJV) "I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring."
  • Joel 2:28 (RV) "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy."

The first Hebrew scripture use of the phrase ruacḥ haqodesh (but in a modified form as explained above) in Psalm 51 contains a triple parallelism:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit (רוּחַ נָכֹון) within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit (רוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ) from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with a (רוּחַ נְדִיבָה) free spirit.[3]

The other two times that the expression occurs, in Isaiah 63 (R.V.), read:

But they rebelled, and grieved his holy spirit (רוּחַ קָדְשׁ֑וֹ); therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? where is he who put his holy spirit (רוּחַ קָדְשֽׁוֹ) in the midst of them?


The term is discussed in the Babylonian Talmud, Makkot 23b and elsewhere. Rabbinical use is discussed by Joseph Jacobs and Ludwig Blau in the article "Holy Spirit" in the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1911.[4]

The term ruacḥ haqodesh is found frequently in Talmudic and Midrashic literature. In some cases it signifies prophetic inspiration, while in others it is used as a hypostatization or a metonym for God.[1] The rabbinical understanding of the Holy Spirit has a certain degree of personification, but it remains, "a quality belonging to God, one of his attributes".[5]

In Rabbinic Judaism, the references to "the Spirit of God", the Holy Spirit of YHWH, abound, however apart from Kabbalistic mysticism it has rejected any idea of God as being either dualistic, tri-personal, or ontologically complex.[citation needed] The idea of God as a duality or trinity is considered shituf (or "not purely monotheistic").


The concept of Shekhinah ("presence") is also associated with Holy Spirit in Jewish tradition, such as in Yiddish song: Vel ich, sh'chine tsu dir kummen "Will I, Shekinah, to you come".[6]

Rashi taught that quasi-Sefirah Da'at is ruach haQodesh.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Alan Unterman and Rivka Horowitz,Ruach ha-Kodesh, Encyclopedia Judaica (CD-ROM Edition, Jerusalem: Judaica Multimedia/Keter, 1997).
  2. ^ Maimonides, Moses. Part II, Ch. 45: "The various classes of prophets." The Guide for the Perplexed. Trans. M. Friedländer. 2nd ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1956. pp. 242-244. Print.
  3. ^ John R. Levison The Spirit in First-Century Judaism 2002 p65 "Only Psalm 51, which contains no less than four occurrences of the word, im, permits the identification of the holy spirit with the human spirit.13 Three references occur in close succession in this psalm (51:10-12; MT 51:12-14):"
  4. ^ Article Jacobs J. Jewish Encyclopedia: Holy Spirit 1911
  5. ^ Joseph Abelson,The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature (London:Macmillan and Co., 1912).
  6. ^ Ruth Rubin Voices of a people: the story of Yiddish folksong p234
  7. ^ Chaim Kramer. Anatomy of the soul. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Jerusalem/New York, Breslov Research Institute, 1998 ISBN 0-930213-51-3