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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI


Part VI: A Translation of Genesis 1:1 - 2:4


Genesis 1:26-31
The Creation of Man

Authorized Version:

     And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
     So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
     And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
     And God said, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of the tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
     And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
     And God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good.
     And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

      In view of the fact that the Authorized Version has rendered the Hebrew of these verses with great faithfulness for the most part, it did not seem appropriate simply to present in different type a rendering of our own which in the nature of the case would be virtually the same. However, there are one or two places where a change in the wording could perhaps contribute to a better understanding of the original, and these are therefore offered in due course. What follows is essentially commentary rather than translation.


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LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE AFTER OUR LIKENESS:      Three very important truths are implied in this statement, and they relate to a great mystery: the nature of the Trinity, three Persons in one Godhead. First of all, we have plurality indicated by the words, "Let us make man." It has been argued by some commentators that this is merely an example of what is termed "the plural of majesty".
     Queen Victoria was once told an off-colour joke. Her icy comment was "We are not amused." With devastating effect she used the plural when referring to herself. However, this practice, which has been common enough in Europe, is nowhere found in the Bible. It was not used, if we are to judge by the record of Scripture, by a single one of the monarchs of antiquity, including the pharaohs of Egypt or the emperors of Babylonia, Persia, Greece, or Rome. Nor is it found to my knowledge in any cuneiform documents. I do not think this is a valid explanation.
     It is clearly a revelation of the nature of the Godhead, and it is reinforced on a number of occasions subsequently: explicitly, as in Genesis 3:22; 11:7; and Isaiah 6:8; and implicitly in such passages as Isaiah 5:4-7; 61:1-2; and in many other places.
     As an alternative explanation it has been proposed that God was addressing the angelic hosts of heaven. But this would require us to believe that He was inviting them to join Him in his creation of man, a circumstance which is highly improbable.
     The second important fact revealed by this declaration of intent is that the Persons in the Godhead are equal. To propose that man should be formed in the image of a plurality of Persons without at the same time specifying which member of that plurality should be the model, is to make it very clear that all the members are equal.
     A third great truth is subsequently brought out when, after Adam had sinned, the Lord said, "Behold the man has become as one of us" (Genesis 3:22), by which statement we may learn that the Persons of the Godhead are separate and individual.

IMAGE . . . LIKENESS:      Many Bible scholars have taken the view that these words are in reality synonymous. However, it will be noticed in verse 27 that whereas man was indeed created in God's image, nothing is said about the likeness. In fact, the wording of verse 27, in which the phrase "image of God" appears twice, seems almost deliberately directed toward establishing the fact that the likeness was not at this time,

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completed. In verse 26 God did not say "Let Us create man in Our image after Our likeness," but rather "Let Us make man. . . ." Once again the word make is used where the image and likeness are both in view at once, but the word create is used in verse 27 where only the image is in view. It seems that in verse 26 the verb make has its more basic meaning of appointing.
     A study of the use of the two words, "image" and "likeness," throughout the rest of Scripture, both in the Old and the New Testaments, confirms that there is a vital distinction between the two. The image establishes ownership in this special sense that a son belongs to the Father. This sonship is always created or, when necessary, re-created (Colossians 3:10); the association between image and sonship is affirmed in Romans 8:29; in Matthew 22:20 it was the image on the coin which established to whom it belonged. While Adam was created in the image of God and thereby was constituted a son of God (Luke 1:38), Adam's children, by contrast, were in Adam's image and therefore sons of Adam by procreation (Genesis 5:3), and not sons of God. It will be noted in Genesis 5:3, however, that Adam's son was also in his own likeness as well as in his image.
     In Scripture likeness is not a matter of relationship but of similarity in character. While we are already sons ("even now," so the Greek of I John 3:2), the completion of the full plan of God whereby man was also to achieve likeness is finally guaranteed, as this verse points out. John says, "Beloved, we are even now the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." This is not a hope limited to the New Testament, for in Psalm 17:15 David said, "As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness."
What makes us sons of God is not that we were created, for cattle were created too: we are sons because we were created in His image. Having lost this image and accordingly the sonship that it signifies, a re-creation is necessary and is possible for all who have a saving faith. Thereby we may, as John 1:12 is careful to point out, "become the sons of God" once more.

LET THEM HAVE DOMINION:      The use of the plural pronoun them, means that God had in mind a race. This race was to have dominion over the earth, and it should be noted in verse 28 that its multiplication, its increase of population, was not to be an end in itself but to make such dominion possible. Unrestrained

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childbearing cannot be justified by an appeal to one part of this passage unless the second part is being equally served.

REPLENISH THE EARTH:     In Hebrew the meaning of this verb is merely "to fill" (male' ). It is desirable to point this out only because a few, holding the idea that the earth had once before been inhabitable until it was destroyed, have tried to strengthen this view by an appeal to the basic meaning of the English word "to replenish," i.e., "to fill again". It has also been pointed out that the same command was given to Noah after the destruction of his old world. However, here again the Hebrew original does not in itself convey this meaning of re-filling. Malah means simply "to fill".

EVERY HERB BEARING SEED:      Judging by the tooth patterns of animals from the world that had perished which we now know only as fossils, that world was composed of both herbivorous and carnivorous animals. It seems clear that the reconstituted world into which Adam was introduced was a herbivorous one only. After Adam's fall, in due course, our world reverted and became omnivorous.
     There is some evidence of this change in man himself. It may account for the fact that he suffers rather frequently from appendicitis, that organ once serving to aid him in the digestion of tough vegetable fiber which formed part of his diet. It is apparently homologous with a similar organ (the caecum) in certain animals which have remained entirely herbivorous. Man's diet is now such that the organ no longer serves the purpose for which it was created, and partial disuse results in a sometimes diseased condition.
     A carnivorous world seems now to be clear evidence of a fallen world, though this may not have been the case in the world which had been desolated prior to Genesis 1:2. In Isaiah 65:25 we are told that our world will revert to its intended herbivorous character when the Lord sets up His kingdom.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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