This is a continuation of The Golden Compass — Dust
I am pleased to say I could find no relationship between the Jewish concept of dust and Philip Pullman’s Dust. First, more on Philip Pullman’s Dust: it seems that there is some similarity between Pullman’s Dust and Buddhism’s dust. And Pullman will be producing a new book called ‘The Book of Dust’.
And now, back to Breishit for some thoughts on dust or afar(עָפָר):
Rav Frand has a post on the simile of dust :
The blessing of “k’afar ha’Aretz” represents the history of the Jews. Everybody tramples over the dust of the earth, but in the end the dust of the earth always remains on top. That same dust ultimately covers those who trample it.
One can read about Adam being made of clay, which is originally made of dust but then formed to become man in this post on Parshat Breishit:
Man was formed of the dust of every place on earth, and then kneaded into clay—whereas dust is diverse, yet uniform, clay is united.
Balashon has a post on the etymology of the word ‘Africa’, the source of which may be the word ‘afar’.
There is a Jewish concept called ‘avak lashon hara’, or the dust of evil language, but this uses the term avak and not afar. Avak lashon hara generally refers to traces of talk that may incite lashon hara, such as saying excessive praise.
Finally, on this Kol Torah post on Parshat VaYechi, Doniel Sherman explains how “For you are dust and to dust shall you return” refers to burial, in reference to Yaakov’s burial.