Impumlo - The Nose

Biblical Anatomy Part 4 - The Nose

This could very well be the last article (for a while) in what has become a larger Xhosa Anatomy study. In previous posts (Part I, II and III), we have covered large ground in discussing three of the (most) vital organs in the body, the heart (ntliziyo), the kidneys (zintso) and lastly the liver (sibindi). This time we will move up to the culmination point, where the ones on the inside seem to meet, in a manner of speaking, in the breath of life and sense of smell the Nose (imphumlo or impumlo). Now the nose (impumlo) is commonly overlooked in our day and age, and people that possess some levels of smell and scent recognition, are blessed enough too end up making good living from their talent, as wine tasters, perfume experts or what have you. The nose isn't that much of focused upon as a `sense` today, as many people walk around with clogged up sinuses or have other health issues blocking their true perception and sense of smell. Nothing new there.

You will however be amazed on the amount of time the term Nose (or breath of life and its variations) actually appear in Scripture. Let this article have you think about how much it actually do affect us, in the daily, even without being completely aware of its inherent powers on the human soul or psyché (whatever belief system you have tuned in from), it is serious enough to be a great theme in the Metaphorical treasury so readily available in Scripture. First lets look at some definitions, and boy there`s plenty of`em. The word `impumlo` and its variations is mentioned copious times in the Old Books, but is not always translated as nose, in fact many of these, rather strange, appears as a play on the word for nose, lets for instance look at the verse Genesis 2,7:


`And So NiNi formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.`

`U So NiNi na NiNi wambumba umntu ngothuli lwasemhlabeni, waphefumlela emathatheni akhe impefumlo yobomi; umntu ke waba ngumphefumlo ophilileyo.`

In the above, the word for nostrils (impefumlo), is translated (directly from Xhosa) as `soul`, `breath` or actually can also mean `wings`. Impumlo can also be associated with involvement, meaning to breathe on a topic (shed light or life on it), phefumla means breathe. Another definition is situational, when one perhaps does not want to be involved, and one is said to agree through the nose, `uvuma ngee mpumlo` (the word mpumlo can also mean `the rest`).


I dont know about you, but to me, aka geeky linguist - thats interesting ! It reveals another intricately connected part of the human body, just as sacred as the other parts we`ve already covered, which is so much more than a smell identifier. We sure are well put tighter. Off course these organs are largely overlooked in this day and age, both in medicine and otherwise - in talking about the nose and the close by situated little butterfly-shaped organ, seated in the throat, known as the thyroid. The word `impefumlo`, being a particular play on the word (impumlo and the nose), can mean many different things depending on its context and form. We`ve already covered words such as `soul`, `breath`, `nose` or `nostrils. But how about replacing the verse above with `wings`, which actually is the more accurate direct translation in this verse. So, what wings are we talking about here?

Ok, you gotta admit this is pretty cool and can only be recognised as the work of God. You see, there is a butterfly-shaped organ, that, on closer, inspection may actually look like a set of wings... If you read about the importance of the thyroid (and the cooperation of the glands in general, pituitary, pineal and thyroid), you should be able to make the connection between the breath (or nose) and thyroid, without damaging your head space too much. Whatever its current condition, I must warn you that the processes of the glands are amazingly complicated and not understood at all in modern medicine ! :)

Now, lets try to connect some sense of feeling or emotion to the this part of the human, through Impumlo (nose or thyroid), if you will. The first that comes up in Scripture is actually feelings of anger or direct scoffing, and verses that talked about flaring nostrils (or flaring wings). This is a feeling generally felt, in its tracks anyways, in the nose (flaring nostrils) and upper chest area or lower abdomen for some, depending on the person, heavy breathing is a usually a sign of the discomfort that comes with anger. You know just general scoffing. I will admit, this is not much to go on, I mean, to make further elaborations, we need more. The thing is, there is way more, way more than we can handle. Lets look at the recognition of smells.


Lets look at another example, in Genesis 8,20-21:


`Then Noah built an altar to So NiNi, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And So NiNi smelled a soothing aroma. Then So NiNi said in His heart (the mind), “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.`

`UNowa wamakhela u So NiNi isibingelelo, wathabatha kwizinto zonke ezizitho zine ezihlambulukileyo, nakwiintaka zonke ezihlambulukileyo, wanyusa amadini anyukayo esibingelelweni eso. UThixo weva ivumba elithozamisayo, wathi u So NiNi entliziyweni yakhe, Andisayi kuphinda ndilitshabhise ihlabathi ngenxa yomntu, ngokuba ukuyila kwentliziyo yomntu kubi kwasebutsheni bakhe; andisayi kuphinda ndizibhubhise zonke izinto eziphilileyo, njengoko ndenze ngako.`

Another one in Leviticus 1,4-9:


`Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before So NiNi; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. Then the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to So NiNi.`

`Wocinezela ngesandla sakhe phezu kwentloko yedini elo linyukayo, limkholekise, limcamagushele; alixhele ithole elo lenkomo phambi ko So NiNi. Oonyana baka-Aron, ababingeleli, bolisondeza igazi balitshize, bajikelezise esibingelelweni esisemnyango wentente yokuhlangana. Makalihlinze indini elinyukayo, alityatye; oonyana baka-Aron umbingeleli babeke umlilo phezu kwesibingelelo, bacwangcise iinkuni phezu komlilo; bazicwangcise oonyana baka-Aron, ababingeleli, iinyama ezo, nentloko, nenqatha, phezu kweenkuni eziphezu komlilo ophezu kwesibingelelo. Ke zona izibilini zalo, neentungo zalo mazihlanjwe ngamanzi, aqhumisele ngezo nto zonke umbingeleli esibingelelweni. Lidini elinyukayo, kukudla kwasemlilweni, livumba elithozamisayo ku So NiNi elo.`

Now, many other verses (not the above) do connect the nose (and perhaps the thyroid) to feelings, such as anger or being the outlet of emotions felt in intense prayer or musical euphoria. Now, certain types of offerings do, as these verses reveal, travel up to the High Heavens as soothing aromas to So NiNi. And He does not only smell them, but the word `ukuva` actually means to hear (weva), which means, He both hears and smells your prayers. Now go figure. Were just getting started

The significance to the Nose and perception (hence the psychedelic image) of aromas is something so simple that everyone can understand it, although it does go as deep as you like. Lets take the phrase `soothing aroma`, which consists of the words `livumba` (or `iphunga`) meaning aroma and also sweet simultaneously, and `lithozamisayo` meaning appealing or pleasing. Now both of these are registered through the nose (impumlo), a place where you also can registrar anger or have an outlet for numerous emotions, again the same place where you understand and registrar smells. Yeah, did I mention the thyroid? It pretty much regulates all of your so-called hormone levels, digestive and others, I believe it is intricately connected with the mouth and heart, somehow, though I have not got that one figured out just yet. We`re amazingly good put together, mysteries everywhere... Praise So NiNi ! Now, how about sin and the smell of sin then...?

Now, what do we know about the general descriptions of sin, well, to be very blunt - they stink. Digg for yourself, and crosscheck these verses, that all talk about either stinking sins and or the opposite - soothing aromas: Joel 2,20 ; Job 41,20 ; Job 4,9 ; Lamentations 4,29 ; Psalm 115,6 ; 2. Samuel 22,16 ; Genesis 27,27 ; Job 27,3 ; Genesis 34,30 : 2. Samuel 16,21 and Amos 4,10.


Isaiah 65,5 is very graphic, and if you manage to read the entire chapter in a certain context, you`ll see it may very well be talking about the majority of believers today, and the smells they release, which stink up to High Heaven:


`Who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day.`

`besithi, Yima, ungasondeli kum; ngokuba ndingcwele kunawe. Abo bangumsi ezimpumlweni zam, umlilo otsha iimini zonke.`

Yes, people described in Isaiah are a smoke in So NiNis nose (or breath) all day long. You see, sin angers the Most High, and rightfully so as every sin is breaking one of His Commandments (John 3,4). Now we can easily as human beings relate because when we usually smell something bad, we seldom make our prettiest happy face or even utter words of any particular consideration....

Anyways, considering the ancient practise of offerings (prayers or animals), they where meant to rise up as a pleasant aroma. To get how this works have to understand that when the ancient Levites made the offerings at the altar, in the old days, they wanted to appease the anger of So NiNi through obedience, as He does not delight in anger, nor in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18,23). He wants all people to turn from their wicked ways and live. Furthermore, Micah 7,18-19 also reminds us that The Almighty is benevolent, The One who pardons sins, compassionate, not angry forever and will in the end cast all sins in the depth of the sea. Now this is an important part of the appeasement process in repenting and being obedient to Him. Just like faith in the sacrifice made by the Saviour, the sacrifice without repentance is worthless. remember what Luchanyana (John) was talking about, repent (turn) for the Kingdom is at Hand. So lets turn, lets turn together :)


Considering repentance, also makes you get a better grasp of these verses, being a blueprint on how to pray really:


Psalm 51, 15-17:


`Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.`

`Nkosi yam, vula imilebe yomlomo wam, Uyixele indumiso yakho umlomo wam. Ngokuba akunanze mibingelelo, bendiya kukunika; Akalikholo kuwe amadini anyukayo. Imibingelelo kaThixo ngumoya owaphukileyo, Intliziyo eyaphukileyo, etyumkileyo, Thixo, akuyi kuyidela.`

1. Samuel 15,22:

`So Samuel said: “Has So NiNi as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of So NiNi? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.`

`Wathi uSamuweli, U So NiNi unonelele amadini anyukayo nemibingelelo, ngangokuba enonelele ukuphulaphulwa kwezwi lika So NiNi, yini na? Yabona, ukuphulaphula kulungile ngaphezu kombingelelo, nokubaza iindlebe kulungile ngaphezu kwamanqatha eenkunzi zeegusha.`

So having a broken and contrite heart (a repentant heart) before Him is what He truly desires. The sacrifices are (kinda) just one of the ways you can display our obedience, however as David mentions in Psalm 51, the praises from our lips are in their own right sacrifices.


Take Hosea 14,2, for instance:


`Take words with you, And return to So NiNi, say to Him,“Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.`

`Thabathani niphathe amazwi, nibuyele ku So NiNi; yithini kuye, Sixolele bonke ubugwenxa, wamkele izinto zethu ezilungileyo, ukuze sinikele iinkunzi zeenkomo ezintsha, imibulelo yomlomo wethu.`

Some translations even use the more correct terms, the `bulls of our lips`.


Hebrews 13,15-16 gives some more clues on how this works :


`Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.`

`Ngoko masithi ngaye sinyuse ngamaxesha onke kuye uThixo umbingelelo wendumiso, oko kukuthi, isiqhamo somlomo olivumayo igama lakhe. Ke ukwenza okuhle nobudlelane, musani ukukulibala; kuba imibingelelo enjalo uyakholiswa kakuhle yiyo uThixo.`

If the above verses ring true in your ears, then you get it. You get why its so important to pray and give offerings through prayer. You see, an offering, a VERY pleasing and acceptable offering, was made many years ago for you and I. Regardless if you accept that fact or not, the `debt` of mankind was paid in full when He gave Himself up and the blood saves all believers from the old Wrath of God. The Son was a soothing aroma in the nostrils of The Almighty.


Ephesians 5,2:


`And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.`

`nihambe eluthandweni, kwanjengokuba naye uKristu wasithandayo, wazinikela ngenxa yethu, ukuba abe ngumnikelo nedini kuye uThixo, ukuba abe livumba elimnandi.`

And, off course, though this is the Gospel, Romans 5,6-9:


`For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.`

`Kuba uKristu uthe, sakubon’ ukuba sisengama-athalala, wabafela ngexesha elimisiweyo abangahloneli Thixo. Kuba kungangenkankulu ukuthi ubani afele ilungisa; kuba uthi mhlawumbi ubani abe nobuganga bokumfela olungileyo; ke yena uThixo uqondakalisa okwakhe ukusithanda ngokuthi, sakubon’ ukuba sisengaboni, uKristu asifele. Kokukhona sigwetyelwe nje ngegazi lakhe, siya kusindiswa ngaye kuyo ingqumbo.`

So, too summarise, and to be blunt yet again, if you believe in the Sacrifice of the Saviour, you dont stink anymore. The trick is to keep it that way through offerings (prayers).

In concluding, just as anger is seated in the nostrils, so too is the very appeasement of anger. Obedience and praise from your lips is a soothing aroma that quells the anger of So NiNi. He desires obedience and loves self control (Psalm 16,32), He does not enjoy animal sacrifices (Isaiah 66,3). Instead, He wants the bulls of our lips and obedience to the Word, accompany that with a contrite (broken and repentant heart) which pretty much includes all of us. You will be as a soothing aroma whenever you open your mouth to pray and make offerings.


In closing, Paul mentioned a certain Efafroditus in Phillippians 4,18, as being a soothing aroma (also `nephunga elithozamisayo` or `livumba elimnandi`), on account of his love and good work among his brethren.


This is a good example on how to live your life. Live it in such a way that it does not anger So NiNi, as our obedience is seen as a soothing aroma to calm the wrath of the Almighty. Remember Moses who several times interceded and stepped in between So NiNi and The Children of Israel, when He grew tired of their ways and sought to destroy them. The Saviour is our intermediary, not Moses. The Saviour gave Himself up so you and I could live, a blood offering to curb the anger of the Most High.


So, get your doctrine straight, along with your inmost parts, your heart, kidneys, liver and breath - start praying like you mean it, not with a double mind and blessings will abound.


Hope this has been a blessing to you


Uxolo lube nani

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