Table of Contents
Part VI: A Translation of Genesis
1:1 - 2:4
The Creation of Man
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
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.
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
1 of 4
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
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,
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
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
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".
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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.