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In the Image of God
Video 2 of 5
You see that actually in Deuteronomy where 40 years after the revelation at Sinai, Moses goes back and tells the people over and over again - I mean take a look at these words; G-d spoke to you at Mount Sinai; Mitoch ha'eish - He spoke to you out of fire. Kol devarim atem shomim - you heard a voice; Utemunah einchem ro'im zulati kol - and you did not see any image whatsoever. Your experience of G-d was just hearing words, there was nothing there. G-d does not exist in the physical realm, you didn't see anything physical, there was nothing physical to see. Zulati kol - all you did was you heard a voice. Then later on; Venishmartem me'od - you should be very, very careful; Lenafshoteichem, ki lo ra'item kol temunah - remember that when you were at Sinai you did not see anything, you didn't see any picture; Bayom diber Hashem aleichem b'Chorev - when G-d spoke to you at Mount Chorev; Mitoch ha'eish - out of the fire. There was nothing that you saw and therefore; Pen tashchitun - lest you corrupt yourselves; V'asitem lachem pessel - and you make for yourselves some sort of idol; Temunat kol semel - some sort of symbol, some sort of image; Tavnit zachar oi nekeiva - something male or something female. Anything in the world that you would take to represent G-d, is all a corruption, that's all false.
In other words, you may be tempted to try to envisage G-d in some sort of way, to try to relate to Him in some sort of human terms and therefore to ascribe human qualities to Him, to make Him into a male or make Him into a female, or that Charlton Heston-type character. Even to represent Him as an animal; Asher ba'aretz. Tavnit kol tzipor kanaf asher ta'uf bashomayim. Tavnit kol romess ba'adamah, tavnit kol dagah asher bamayim mitachat la'aretz - you might try to represent G-d as something within the animal world if you're desperate. But don't do that. In other words, there's a human desire to try to relate. We're human beings, we exist in the physical world, to try to relate to this other intelligence in a way that we can understand, but to try make G-d understandable that way is to corrupt Him. That's that word over here; Pen tashchitun - lest you corrupt yourselves. Don't do that. You have to maintain the pristine quality of what G-d actually is, you only heard words, you did not see anything.
So the problem of course is that if that's true what does it really mean that we were created in the image of G-d? There's this sort of paradox here. G-d has no image, G-d is completely metaphysical, beyond the physical, so if we're physical what does that mean that we're created in His image?
We can sort of philosophize about it, you can say a lot of things and people have said a lot of things. You might say well, maybe people are intelligent the way that G-d is intelligent. Maybe people communicate through language - we're the only animal that speaks, so maybe G-d can kind of speak like we can speak. Maybe people have a soul and our soul is a little piece of spirituality that comes from G-d. All of these are very attractive and very nice theories, but they're just that, they are theories and they just come really kind of out our heads without any real evidence as to what it is that the Biblical text itself means by these words when it says that man is created in the image of G-d. So the questions is, is there any evidence as to what the Bible itself actually means by this? How would we understand the Bible on its own terms suggesting that we're created in the image of G-d? What do we think this text actually means?
Okay, so I'm actually going to give this to you as a challenge. Here's the text that states that G-d created man in His image, and I want you to look at the rest of the text after that very first verse and see do you think there's any clues in the text explaining what that might mean? What it could mean that man is created in G-d's image? Take a look, let's see what you think, and let's compare notes.
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