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Let Us Make Humankind – “Us”?

Genesis 1:36 “And G-d said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.””

A question frequently asked is who is meant by “Us ”. After all, Jews and Noahides believe in the fact that G-d is one. It is the basic foundation and the second principle of faith as the Rambam writes:

“The belief in G‑d’s absolute and unparalleled unity.”

Jews pray the Shema Israel, Hashem, Echad every day, saying:

Hear Israel, our G-d is One.

Noahide can recite the prayer of acceptance of God’s Unity and Kingship every day, saying: Almighty G-d, we accept upon ourselves that which is written in your Torah: “You sall know this day and take to your heart that G-d [alone] is G-d, in the heavens above and on the earth below- there is none other!

G-d is one, and only can be on, and not two or more. When there were the possibility of multiple gods, the would be limited to some type of spiritual body and form, and would have limitations. But G-d has non Body of Form As Rambam writes:

“The belief in G-d’s non-corporeality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling.”

And G-d has non limits or boundaries. He is everywhere, as Psalms 136:7-8 says:

“Where can I escape from Your spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I descend to Sheol, You are there too”

And nothing is beyond His reach or ability, as Jeremiah 32:17 says:

“Ah, L-rd G-D! You made heaven and earth with Your great might and outstretched arm. Nothing is too wondrous for You!

Then why does it say to “Our” and not to “My “image

There are several wonderful points of view on this.

From Rasbam we can learn that G-d here shows His humility and consults with His angels about the creation of man. We see more often in the Tenach that when G-d speaks as the Creator-King and speaks to His ministering angels who are with Him and to whom He refers, a plural is used. See for example: Genesis 3; 22, 11: 7, Isaiah 6: 8, 1 Kings 22: 19-23, Job 15: 8, and Jeremiah 23:18.

From Ramban we can learn how precious man is to G-d. Everything was created from nothing on the first day of creation, and on the other days everything came to further development. Except with man, man received special attention from G-d in His work of creation. He made him with extra care and attention because everything what was made, came from the physical of the earth. But man was made from the dust of the earth but also received the breath of life from G-d, which makes him a spiritual being and a physical being. “Us” refers to G-d and the earth.

Or Hachaim points out that G-d has 13 attributes [such as grace, mercy etc.] and that He created man with these attributes and with His Name, Elokim, expressing judgment.

The next verse immediately shows the Oneness of G-d, for when man is created it is G-d who does so, in a grammatical singular form. So that there can be no misunderstanding that there is really only One G-d.

“And God created humankind in the divine image,

creating it in the image of God…”

By Angelique Sijbolts


Sefaria: Or HaChaim on Genesis 1:26:1, Ramban on Genesis 1:26:1, The Divine Code p. 42, Seven Gates of Righteous Knowledge p. 187, The Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith,Lets get biblical: volume 2

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