Ten Christian Prooftexts:
The misuse of Hebrew Scriptures
And Gd 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.
One sees the same problem (as we saw in Gen. 1:1) resulting in a plural reference to Gd, in another verse commonly used by Christians in an attempt to prove that their concept of the trinity is to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Because the above also refers to Gd in the plural, 'Let US make man.' Christians will claim that this plural reference to Gd indicates the trinity. However the same objection mentioned above regarding Genesis 1:1 can also be applied here. Just because the term 'us,' referring to Gd is in the plural, it does not necessarily have to referring to a trinity. Plurals are more than one, and this plural can also be interpreted to mean 2 or 3 or 3 million. It can be interpreted by Hindus to indicate the multiplicity of their gods, as well.
To understand the Jewish interpretation of this verse, please note that preceding this verse, Gd had called upon the Earth to aid Him in the creation of plant life as well as animate life:
And Gd said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and Gd saw that it was good. [Genesis 1:11-12]
And Gd said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And Gd made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and Gd saw that it was good. [Genesis 1:24-25]
Judaism believes that human beings are made up of both flesh and blood (the material) as well as the soul (the spiritual). The Earth provides the material while Gd provides the spiritual. Furthermore, when a person dies, Judaism believes that the flesh and blood of the deceased goes back to the earth, while the soul returns to Gd. This is seen in Ecclesiastes, where it explicitly states this:
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto Gd who gave it. [Ecclesiastes 12:7]
From the Jewish perspective, in saying, 'Let us make man,' Gd was speaking to the Earth, which is evidenced in the biblical account just a few verses before when he also used the Earth in the Creation of plants and animals.
Questions? Email Rabbi Stuart Federow