Is ‘Ashes to Ashes’ Mentioned in the Bible?
Although it sounds like a Bible verse (and is often assumed to be one), the exact phrase, “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust” is found nowhere in the Bible.
It is, however, derived major biblical themes that can be found in several passages in Scripture.
Genesis 2:7 says that “God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
Then, in Genesis 3:19, after Adam and Eve disobey God and sin’s curse spreads to all creation, God tells Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Just as man was fashioned from the dust of the ground, man was cursed to experience death and decay—returning to dust.
Solomon summarizes this concept in Ecclesiastes 3:20, “All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return” (see also Job 34:13).
In addition to dust and ashes referring to mankind’s origin and ultimate decay, it’s also used in Scripture to describe mankind’s weakness and unworthiness to stand before God. When Abraham talks to God in Genesis 18, asking him to spare Sodom, he says, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.”
In summary, the Bible uses dust and ashes to refer to mankind’s humble origin, feeble composition, and temporal nature. More broadly, the terms are used to convey poverty, humiliation, and lowliness.
In the Old Testament, covering oneself in sackcloth and ashes conveyed sorrow, debasement, and repentance (2 Sam 13:19; Esther 4:1,3; Isaiah 58:5; Daniel 9:3).
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