Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:26

Genesis 1:26
כו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל־הָאָרֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶמֶשׂ הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל־הָאָרֶץ:
Transliteration: Va-yomer elohim naaseh adam b’tsalmenu, ki-d’mutenu, v’yirdu vi-d’gat hayam u-v’of ha-shamaim u-va-b’hemah u-v’khal- ha-arets u-v’khal ha-remes ha-romes al-ha-arets.
Translation:    Gd said we shall make man in our image, according to our likeness, and they shall subjugate the fish of the sea and the flyer of the sky and the domestic animal and all the eart and all the creepers that creep on the earth.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
We shall make
Man, people
Image, form
Likeness, similitude
They shall subjugate
This verse has an irregular form.  While dag looks like a masculine noun, d’gat hayam shows that the construct state of dag is d’gat. 
There is an important culture capsule from the verb “we shall make” that I will discuss in the next lesson.
For now, what does “in our image, according to our likeness” mean?
Well, it can’t mean physical likeness.  The way people look, all the colors of hair and eyes and skin that we have, the differences in height and shape, mean that it would be illogical to claim that all people physically resemble Gd.
The similarity is in one thing, according to Jewish teachings.  We are like Gd in that we have free will.  We can do anything we want, regardless of the commandments.  I’ll discuss this more in the story of Qain and Hevel.
Who we are not like are angels.  It’s not just that we do wrong.  Angels do no wrong because they don’t have the concept of wrong and right, good and evil.  They come into existence for one reason, to accomplish some task assigned by Gd.  When they have accomplished that task, they disappear.  They never question the task, they simply carry it out.  This is one reason why the angel who wrestled with Yaaqov asked why Yaaqov wanted to know his name.  His name was irrelevant; he had accomplished his task and was about to disappear forever.  The idea of calling on an angel’s name for help is irrelevant because no angel can help anybody except Gd.  They do not serve mortals.  The only Being Who can help mortals, other than themselves, is Gd. 

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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