The Hebrew word “עָפָר” (aphar) is used to describe dry or loose earth, surface of ground, powder of anything that is thrashed, debris of ruined city, earth of grave, mortar (dried mud for plastering houses), and especially material of human body.

Figuratively it is used to express abundance, worthlessness, and simile of scattered/dispersed and precisely self-abasement (humiliation of oneself). During this season of Lent, the word “aphar” reminds us “for dust we are and to dust we will return (Gen. 3:19).”

Therefore, let us enter into the act of self-abasement and realize that we are fragile, fallible and nothing but dust/ashes.

Source: BDB, KAHAL

Dr. Aravind Jeyakumar Moniraj is serving as the Associate Professor and HOD, Department of Old Testament at Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute in Chennai.

For Other Articles by Dr Aravind
“Breathe the Breath of God”