Made In The Image Of God

by Lambert Dolphin

 

An investigation into the nature of man and human sexuality properly begins in the Book of Beginnings, Genesis. Indeed, the God-given model for sexual identity, for marriage (the oldest of all human institutions), and for the structure of society (under God) stretches back to the very time of creation:

"Then 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 birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them...the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'" (Gen. 1:26,27; 2:22-25)

The name of God used in Genesis 1 is Elohim, a uniplural noun. El is singular, Eloah is dual, whereas Elohim apparently implies three or more persons. Yet the three Persons of the Godhead act as One God in all they undertake in creation, in redemption and in the management of the universe we live in (Ref 1). The creation of man was not an afterthought in the mind of God. From the beginning the plan and design of the cosmos had human being in view. The universe is God's house and men number among the inhabitants, in fact we are the highest of God's creations.

Countless volumes have been written on what is meant by the statement that man is man in the image and likeness of God. This complex subject will not be examined in detail here, but only noted in passing. God is a Spirit and not a material being---we do not look like God physically. The image of our Creator which we all bear is primarily an invisible, inner likeness. In regard to attributes of personality, mind, creativity, capacity for love and express emotions, the existence of will, conscience, imagination, memory and moral responsibility, and capacity for worship---God has made us very much like Himself.

What is more important-for our discussion is that God also made the first man male and female. In paraphrasing Genesis 1:26, 27 we could say that God created (bara) the first individual human being as male/female. The creation of the man Adam was accompanied by the simultaneous creation of Eve. Thus, the first man was originally Adam/Eve. Bara is a Hebrew word used only of God in the Bible. Man can himself invent and create because he has been made like his Creator, but only God can bring into existence the things that do not exists, only God can create ex nihilo, (out of nothing). God speaks and matter springs into existence or life into being where previously there had been nothingness. The word bara is therefore unique to God.

Genesis 2:22-25 elaborates on the creation of man. Adam, the probable original author of this section of scripture, tells us that his body was first formed (yatsar) from the dust of the earth (Ref 2). Yatsar means to mold as a potter molds the clay, (see Jer 18:2ff). Man was thus created ( bara ), but in the process his body was also molded and fashioned by the hands of the Master Potter. Next, Elohim breathed into the man's body the breath (ruach) of life and man became a living being (nephesh, soul). One can think of the soul of man as springing up from the interaction of spirit and body. The soul is the realm of personality, of mind, emotions, will, and conscience. Man is thus both a material being, and also a spiritual creation of God. We are intended to live simultaneously into two worlds: the physical and the spiritual. The Bible reveals that man is a tripartite being, body, soul, and spirit. The presence of a living spirit in us is what determines the difference between a corpse and a living person (see James 2:26).

The description in Genesis 2 of the origin of the woman Eve is preceded by Adam's naming of the animals. He was to study and analyze the thousands of kinds of animals God had made. He was to choose names that suited the characteristics of each of the animals. Adam's training was intended by God to show him his relationship to nature and help him in role of exercising dominion and stewardship over the earth. The animals were already divided into male and female animals, birds, fish, so sexuality did exist at this time. But, Adam found no counterpart to himself in the animal kingdom. There was no one there who "corresponded to him." For the first time, God declared that something in the creation was not good. "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper (''azer) corresponding to him." "Not good" does not imply that evil existed in the universe at that time. God is saying that further creative activity was now appropriate to bring the creation into its intended state of completeness. (By the way we must assume that it was God who taught Adam speech and language).

The originally one human being Adam/Eve was now to be separated into two---differentiated in two separate persons. Both Adam and Eve already existed as a single unit---as the word bara implies. Having already created (bara) the soul and spirit of Adam/Eve, and after having molded the body of the first man, God now makes a division of this one compound man into male and female. Placing Adam into a deep sleep, God took a rib from the side of Adam and made a woman. The Hebrew root (banah), translated made, described God's making of Eve by taking her out of Adam/Eve. Banah means to construct or build, as when one builds a house or constructs an Ark---this word implies creative artisanship by God. Adam was formed but Eve was made!

In summary, after God made "Adam/Eve" in His own image, He subsequently separated the man whom He had made into two---Adam and Eve. Thus, an original unity of "man" was replaced by a division into two complementary opposites. The image of God in our race is therefore carried by the man and the women in equal weight. Whatever other terms we may wish to associate with man being made in the image and likeness of God, the existence of two separate sexes is a very important part of the image of God which we, as men and women, jointly bear. It is as if half of life is to be understood and interpreted from a man's point of view and half from a woman's point of view. These two points of view are not identical, they are complementary!

The existence of two sexes and the fact that it takes male and female persons to adequately reflect the nature of God implies that the Being of God is as much masculine as it is feminine. This is a difficult concept because God Himself does not describe Himself as a sexual being. All the persons of the Godhead are called by masculine nouns and pronouns in our English Bibles. Furthermore the godhead consists of a union of three Persons, not two, as in human marriage. We will have more to say about the inner nature of God as containing both masculine and feminine attributes as we move along in our study.

For purposes of discussion let us a build a model of sexual identity based on what we have examined thus far concerning the creation of man and woman as described in Genesis 1 and 2. First, let us divide man and woman into conscious and unconscious realms. Consciousness is related to awareness and priorities in life that we are. God has made us in such a way that many of our bodily and emotional functions run automatically without our conscious control or intervention. Heart rate rises or falls to meet the energy demands of our activity, we digest our food, and we breathe automatically. Instincts alert us concerning hunger and thirst.

Our brain's memory banks record virtually everything we learn and experience and store these records in centers of immediate recall or for later retrieval from deeper archival sources. Memory is both conscious and unconscious. Under the stress of a sudden accident, many people gain temporary total recall and see their entire life story running before their mind's eye---on a fast-forward, instant-replay mode.

We respond emotionally to situations in life with shame, fear, guilt, joy, tears, or depression. Over most of these reactions we have little control. The are built-in or they are conditioned responses shaped by past response patterns. Our memory circuits record not only experiences but associated colors, odors, sensations and emotions experienced at the time. Unpleasant experiences and traumatic experiences in life tend to be repressed (buried in the unconscious). Pleasureful vs. painful experiences produce conditioned responses in us which become more or less automatic.

Finally, we are fallen creatures and subject to deeply self-centered motivations, lusts, cravings, rage, hatred, murder, envy, sloth, covetousness and the like. Accompanying our fallen nature is the blindness of pride, self-deceit and closets of inner darkness where the Enemy has established strongholds of bondage to habits, obsessions, destructive behavior patterns---and so on. Thus it will be necessary to discuss both unfallen and then fallen masculinity and femininity in order to arrive at a realistic model of our humanity and our sexuality. Our goal is discover the path to wholeness and completeness.


Figure 1. (Above) Adam and Eve after Eve was taken out of Adam. The two sexes are depicted as having conscious and unconscious dimensions to their lives. Thus personality characteristics that are dominant in a typical man's life are present, but "recessive" or "unconscious" in a woman's psyche, and vice versa. This is only a model but it helps us to understand how God has designed the two sexes as mirrors for one another. The existence of a "Collective" unconscious is disputed except for the OT reference that all men "are bound up together in the bundle of the living." The interaction between the sexes is designed to help us attain to a state of individual wholeness in life. In marriage, God has designed the two sexes to achieve a profound union ("the two shall become one flesh"). This union can be thought of as occurring at both the conscious and unconscious levels.

The moment we introduce the terms "conscious" and unconscious" into our modeling approach, we immediately draw into the discussion one or more schools of psychological thought. Since these prevailing schools derive from secular models for the most part, we want to stress once more that our desire is to create a reasonable model in order to better see ourselves. There are a number of Christian teachers today who object to all psychological models and insist that we rely on the Bible alone for our understanding of reality. We disagree with that viewpoint. As long as the Bible sits in judgment over the knowledge we acquire from observation and secular sources, we can expect to be on a sound track.

For example we know that men range widely in their degree of assertiveness, or aggressiveness. By drawing caricatures of masculinity and femininity we will call attention to polar opposites knowing well that no real person fits these archetypal models. Our purpose is to point out that no man is all "masculine" and that no woman is all "feminine" but that men are normally more in touch with their masculinity and women with their femininity, but that each sex has received a heritage of both sets of qualities.

It is logical to think of this first in biological terms. Each parent contributes 50% of the genetic inheritance of the embryonic child. 50% of our biological heritage comes from our mother's side of the family and 50% from our father's. (Our sexuality, as is well known, is determined by the male sperm, whether it is xx or xy as far as the sex-determining chromosome is determined).

At birth we are instantly identified as boy or girl and our parents begin to raise us differently. Hormonal differences set into play even before birth move us towards essential male/female differences. At an early age we see ourselves as separate persons from our mothers and begin to identify with mother or father as far as our gender identity is concerned.

However each one of us can say-whether we are men or women---"I am like my mother and I am like my father, both parents have influenced me." The fact that I resemble both my parents in certain character traits and behavior patterns is another way of stating that I have received from both parents both a genetic biological inheritance, and then, secondly, that I have been molded or shaped in growing up by both male and female role models.

According to the Bible, man and woman are alike in spirit, but not in soul and body. (For this reason the term "man" or "brothers" is often generic in the Bible when doctrinal teaching is in mind). The physical, anatomical differences between the sexes are well known. However man and woman are also quite different as far as the soul is concerned. One possible way of differentiating between men and women in terms of priorities and specialties is suggested by the following table. God has built a vast wealth of variety and diversity into the human gene pool. Many variations in physical characteristics as well as some personality and emotional characteristics are governed by genetic factors. In terms of behavior, there are wide ranges in what can be considered normal masculinity and femininity.

 MASCULINITY
LOGOS


FEMININITY
SOPHIA

Paternal Instincts

Leads, takes charge

Initiates: Hunts, Ranges, Thrusts

Values logical thinking, Logos-centered mind

Bases decisions on reasoning more than emotions or intuition

Assertive, aggressive, outgoing towards the world

Provides outside support and protects (as a soldier)

Feels ill-at-ease in passive, receptive roles

May undervalue importance of emotions and intuition

Specialist in "Doingness," "Withoutness"

Mechanistic, scientific, digital-thinking

Divided left and right brain

 

Maternal Instincts

Responder

Follower

Shelters, nurtures, heals

Values emotions highly, relationship orientation

Heightened intuitive ability and perception

Sophia-based thinking

At ease in a passive, receptive role

Takes leadership with difficulty when male leader defaults

Natural concern for the present quality of life

Specialist in "Beingness" and "Withinness"

Nestles, nurtures, shelters, traps

Artistic, creative, analog thinking

More unified left and right brain, wholistic thinking

To be certain that our meanings are clear, "masculinity" is not identical with "manliness" and "femininity" is not identical with being all-woman. Masculinity and femininity are abstract qualities. For example we have stated by means of the above table that masculinity specializes in initiating and femininity specializes in responding. It is obvious that both men and women constantly both initiate and respond. But we can say that God is the most fully masculine Being who exists because "from him...are all things."

God is also love, according to the Apostle John. This means that the Persons of the godhead dwell together in relationships of love. The universe is designed to operate on the principle of both giving and receiving love. Thus initiating and responding are complementary opposites.

We are defined masculinity in our table as characterized by Logos truth. Jesus is called the Word of God (logos) in John's Gospel. Logos truth is truth spelled out in logical, rational statements. Jesus is the Word of God, He is the Truth because in Him God has spelled out truth in human form. The Bible is called the written Word of God. Scripture consists of sequential statements, one following another, all self-consistent, all designed to appeal to the logical mind. This is especially true of the New Testament. (The Old Testament relies on stories and historical narratives to illustrate truth in preference to doctrinal statements strung out in logos fashion).

The Bible also presents truth in the form of pictures. Truth can be intuitively perceived, or revealed as direct inner experience in the heart. (In fact we must understand truth in our hearts if it is to do us any good, head knowledge in and of itself is of no avail. Also, truth which is not acted upon is lost). Truth perceived in its non-verbal, intuitive mode can we called Wisdom. Hence we have characterized femininity as specializing in Sophia knowledge. In Solomon's Proverbs Wisdom is personified as a woman. In a separate essay we discuss the biological differences in the female brain of the human species as compared to the male brain. The closer interconnected wiring between the two halves of the brain in women causes them to think more wholistically. Because of the fall, when "Eve was deceived" a woman's intuition is not infallible. Hence God has assigned Adam, and male elders in the church the task of comparing truth in Logos form in order to guard the family and the church from error which creeps in constantly. Men specialize in being "logical" and most men can set aside their intuition and emotions and the entire right-side of their brains in the process. Of course this means that men are vulnerable to pride and stubbornness, and so on.

Masculinity specializes in "doingness" and femininity in "beingness." Men derive a great deal of their sense of purpose in the world from their work, their competitive strivings in the world. Men are therefore hunters and warriors who engage in hunting, thrusting and ranging. This comes easily to them---by nature---because such characteristics are archetypically masculine. Archetypal femininity in contrast specializes in nurturing, sheltering, nesting, healing. Men tend to measure themselves by how much they accomplish. Women tend to measure themselves by the quality of their relationships.

Our premise is that men come equipped with a dominant set of masculine characteristics and a recessive set of feminine characteristics. A whole man gets in touch with his "other half within himself." A whole man succeeds in integrating these "two halves" of his psycho-sexual inheritance.

A man who is only in touch with his masculinity is likely to be driven, cold, hard-nosed, uncompromising, overly competitive. A woman who knows nothing of her masculine heritage is likely to be a passive wall-flower, helpless, driven by her emotions and often depend on others for almost everything.

Men who "get in touch" with their femininity do not become effeminate. In fact effeminacy in men means a man is especially unaware and usually enslaved by his inner feminine inheritance. Whole men are strong and brave and assertive when the situation demands strength, courage, and self-sacrifice. But he is also tender, meek, humble, able to cry and show compassion and tenderness. From the Bible we immediately recognize that Jesus is the whole man with whom we are to identify.

Women who get in touch with the masculine heritage, which they have received from their fathers as it were, do not become coarse and tough and competitive as if they were as male as any man. Integration of the other half adds poise, self-confidence, and dignity to a woman's life actually enhancing her true femininity and causing men to respect her even more highly and to seek her wisdom and help in making life's decisions.

The Fall of Adam and Eve has Ruined the Human Race

The human race is fallen, self-centered, corrupted and mortally damaged by the sin of Adam. All aspects of our humanity have been affected. For the sake of discussion one can make a table of what might be considered archetypal aspects of our fallen sexuality. The table below is suggested as a model for discussion purposes and is not a description of specific men or women, obviously!

 NEGATIVE MASCULINITY  NEGATIVE FEMININITY

 

Beast-like

Authoritarian, domineering, ruthless, despotic

Lords it over others

Devalues importance of emotions

Overly logical, methodical, rigid

Cold, indifferent, impersonal, unapproachable

Demands respect of subordinates

Intimidates others or rules them by fear

Unforgiving, and unwilling to be a team-member

Boring, unimaginative, overly self-controlled

Overly logical, unable to be spontaneous

Willing to compromise to gain position or power

A beast, tyrant or a despot

Harlot-like

Possessive, controlling,

Manipulative, contriving

Irrational in rejecting logic, emotionally controlled

Gives love or affection but extracts a price

Selfishly concerned with appearances and prestige

Entraps others for her own purposes

Demands attention and recognition

A witch, sorceress or seductress

 

 


Once we make allowances for a fallen world and inherent self-centeredness in both sexes it begins to be clear that the relationship between the sexes ought to be impossible and totally without hope. Probably this would be so, were it not for the grace of God and the redemption God has made available to mankind---beginning with his restoration and re-creation of Adam and Eve after their fall.



The common experience of "love at first sight" or "falling in love" is largely usually what psychologists call projection. In the mechanism of projection we see others at first in an idealistic way based on our unconscious expectations or past experiences. The process of becoming whole men and women in Christ aids us in seeing the other person as he or she really is. We were asked by God to learn to love others unselfishly and to give to them in ways that are edifying and redemptive. To do this, we must learn to discern between lust, selfish desire, need-love-and agape love which seeks the best for the Beloved no matter the cost to oneself. Romantic attractions, based on mutual projections, can be (and usually are) dysfunctional if not dealt with. Unhealthy mutual projections are suggested by the accompanying two diagrams (to be added later). In addition to a conscious relationships these projections constitute a kind of hidden agenda that may or may not work to the good of the parties involved. In the case of homosexuality there is an additional dysfunctional involvement by means of an unconscious identification with the archetype of the great mother, the goddess of pagan religion, as a later accompanying diagram depicts. All sexual immorality is idolatry no matter what form it takes.


The entrance of evil into the universe has thrown immense disorder into the natural world, and brought mortality to man. One of the central marks of sin in man is self-centeredness. All types of sin involve this kind of selfish action. The first Adam and his wife head the entire fallen race of mankind as we presently know man on earth. The Second, or Last Adam, "the man from heaven," is the head of a whole new race of redeemed mankind chosen out from among both Jews and Gentiles. The old creation is subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics---and man is subject to death because of sin, but all things are made new in Christ. Basic human selfishness is the subject of James 1:14,15, a revealing description of how fallen archetypal masculinity and femininity co-operate together in each one of us to "conceive" sin and "bring forth" death.

God's New Creation

When we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Master, we each become part of the new creation. Jesus, by the Holy Spirit takes up His residence in the center of our hearts to build within us a new life and a new kingdom.


After receiving Christ we are free to go our own way once again, in which case "self" is temporarily back on the throne of our hearts once again. In this case we become, once more, slaves of sin instead of free persons in Christ. The Apostle Paul prays for us in this way,

"...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend together with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:17-19)

We began by showing that the first woman, Eve, was taken out of the first man, Adam, and presented to him as a bride. Just as the "First Adam" was originally Adam/Eve, so the "Last Adam" is associated with a "Second Eve," the blood-bought church which is His bride, in a sense taken out His wounded side when He died on the cross.

Jesus is called "The Word of God" by the Apostle John, and Paul identifies Him as the "Wisdom of God." Solomon depicts Wisdom as a woman in the Book of Proverbs. This Wisdom was present at the foundation of the world, (Prov. 8:22-31). The image of God in man remains masculine/feminine in the new race of mankind Christ is bringing into being.

"Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure-for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" (Rev. 19:7-9)

Of course only heterosexuals can enter into a marriage, since a re-union of complementary opposites is what God intended from the beginning. Marriage is the oldest institution in society since it dates to the garden of Eden. The Law of Moses and God's dealings with His people Israel reveal the Lord's ongoing commitment to marriage. In fact in books such as Hosea, God pictures Himself as the Husband of Israel who laments over an increasingly spiritually-adulterous wife. Malachi closes the Old Testament by lamenting over divorce while reaffirming God's love for the family. Because of her spiritual adultery, God was reluctantly forced to put away his wife Israel under the terms of the Old Covenant. However because of the abundant forgiveness and mercy purchased by Jesus the Messiah, under the New Covenant God is able to enter into a new marriage relationship with both Israel---and many others of us as well, who are gentiles, and who were previously outside the bounds of God's covenant love.

God's goal for the individual is wholeness (holiness). This is achieved only by an inner reconciliation and union of our broken, fallen M/F condition inherited from Adam and Eve. No man is pure masculinity and no woman all femininity. Rather, wholeness implies a balance between these qualities in each of us. Our biological sexual identity tells us which set of M/F characteristics is dominant and which is secondary. Christians are destined for wholeness whether single or married, since "You are complete in Christ who is the head of all rule and authority." The New Testament reaffirms the central importance of marriage and the family. The church constitutes a new family of mankind as well, Christians are brothers and sisters who have one God and Father. The true church, "Jerusalem above," is "the mother of us all." (Gal. 4:26) The relationship between man and wife in marriage is compared to the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the church in Paul's letter to the Ephesians:

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church..." (Eph. 5:23-32)

Marriage pictures for us wholeness. This is to be more than the re-union of Adam and Eve but the creation of a mystical great communion and community between the Lord Jesus Christ and His people, the Bride of Christ. Inwardly in her relationship with the Lord Jesus, the church is feminine, that is submissive-a receptor, and responder. She is being made ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Individual believers love the Lord Jesus and follow Him in the same way that the Shulamite maiden follows Solomon in the love poem Song of Solomon. The Bridegroom calls to His bride,

"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned." (Song of Solomon 8:6,7).


The church is also called "the Body of Christ." This is a masculine figure of the soldier, the warrior, the kingly. Jesus is the Head of the Body, He sends resurrection life and spiritual nourishment through the entire body. Wherever the Body of Christ is in the world, there also is the Lord Jesus. Jesus indwells His church. Thus in relationship to the world, the church is masculine. The church as seen by the world is a mighty army! Masculinity and femininity are thus inner and outer aspects of the same reality---which ultimately reflects something of the perfect union of the Persons in the godhead. Jesus has joined Himself to the church which is His Body---where the church is, there He is also.

"Who is this who looks forth like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
terrible as an army with banners?" (Song 6:10)


The sketch above is intended to show that the presence of Christ within the human heart brings and integrating, healing, peacemaking life-force within. In terms of the masculinity and femininity within each person, an inner marriage ought to be the result. This of course ties in with the ideas of wholeness presented above. Carl Jung wrote extensively about this union of masculinity and femininity within the individual as a conjunction of opposites from which he derived great mystical significance by linking this concept to medieval alchemy and to gnosticism. It is not necessary for us to excurse so far afield in our study. We are writing neither new theology or new psychology but merely attempting to hold the mirror of God's word before our eyes. Once the inherent differences between the sexes is perceived, once a person has made peace with God, it is time to get moving on one's own personal adventure of faith with the understanding that God intends to make each one of us whole persons-in fact to conform us to the very likeness of His Son.

NOTES

1. A number of excellent commentaries on Genesis are in print today. The author especially recommends James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1987. Boice is thorough and sound in scholarship in examining a wide range of views and interpretations of the text.

2. Although Moses compiled the Pentateuch about 1400 BC it is likely that he had written source documents available. This theory, often called the Toledoth hypothesis, suggests that the author of Chapter 1:1 through 2:4a was the Holy Spirit Himself since there was no human observer to record the events of creation week. Then, Adam could have actually left a written record which comprises Genesis 2:4b through 5:1. Noah evidently wrote down this section of Genesis and passed it on to his sons in written form. Noah's three sons seem to be credited with the section of Genesis which concludes with 10:1. Shem's contribution is reflected in the abbreviate account of Japheth's lineage (they were scattered abroad and probably lost touch with Shem), and the full detail preserved concerning the descendants of Shem. Terah perhaps kept the brief record from 11:10-27. The line of Ishmael is noted in the brief section that ends with the signature of 25:12. The divisions are marked by the term, "these are the generations of..." See also Genesis 25:19, 36:1, 36:9, and 37:2.

3. Keys to the Song of Solomon (190k)

4. Notes on God as Masculine, by Rick Young (richard_e_young@hotmail.com)

Question: Some have thought that because God is referred to by masculine pronouns that He is male. But the Bible teaches that God is spirit and has no gender. So why then is God referred to as a "He"?

Response: The reason why God is translated as a "He" in English is because in Hebrew nouns have only two genders: masculine and feminine. Now it is a mistake to associate masculine nouns as necessarily meaning "male" and feminine nouns as necessarily meaning "female." These two genders are only two groupings of words; most male items tend to fall into one grouping and most female items tend to fall into the other grouping. For example, in Hebrew, body parts that come in pairs (hands, eyes, etc) are typically feminine, whereas those body parts that come as single (nose, back, etc) are masculine. They have nothing at all to do with sex. "Elohiym," for example, is a masculine (note: NOT "male") noun. Thus, because the nouns associated with God are masculine does not necessarily imply that God is male anymore than the breast of a woman is male (the Hebrew word for breast, shad, is a masculine noun).

Nevertheless, to accurately translate the Hebrew and be true to the original the "he" is retained. It is clear in the Scriptures that God is neither male nor female; but to render God in English in the neuter (which Hebrew does not posses) would tend to give a false impression of God being an impersonal "it" and not a person. So I suppose in the best of all possible worlds "God" should have His own category which is neither masculine, feminine, or neuter. Perhaps we could call it the "divine" gender? I suppose the capitalization of "He" provides such a gender. But we are dealing with human language - so there we are. We have to communicate to people and not create a new language.

However, it is not quite accurate to say that God is neither male nor female. In a sense, male and female together represent God. That is, when God created Adam and Eve they together represented His image:

"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen 1:27);

and,

 "He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. (Gen 5:2).

Individually the male and female are an incomplete image of God. Together they represent God's image more clearly. Another aspect of this topic is the similes and metaphors used in the Bible to describe God. Figurative language in the Bible describes God in terms of such things as a father (Deut 32:6; Matt 5:45), a mother (Isa 66:13; 1 Cor 3:1-2), a king (Isa 33:22; I Tim 1:17), and even as a mother bird (Ps 36:7; Matt 23:37). It is important to realize that these things reflect aspects of God's nature and not the other way around. That is, fatherhood, motherhood, kingship, and the protective nature of a hen for her chicks, among others, are partial images of God's nature and relationship to us. None of them by themselves describe the full picture. However, some images are more accurate representations than others. Since man is made in God's image then either a father or mother would present a better picture than a mother hen.

But of all of the figurative images used to describe God the most prevalent portray God in male roles: God as a husband to Israel, Christ as a groom to the Church, and God depicted as "father. The image of father is particularly prevalent with Jesus in the New Testament. And this is another reason why God is thought of in masculine terms. But why is this male image so deep-seated? Some suggest that a male-dominated society artificially imposed and promoted this image. But there is a less skeptical view that can be taken. Though both male and female are together representative of God, His relationship to humans seems to be primarily centered around a fatherly relationship. It is important to realize that this in no way detracts from that part of God that is reflected by the female. In the Mosaic Law both the father and mother are to be honored by the children (Ex 20:12); the fullness of God is honored and not just that part that is reflected by the male. The emphasis of God in male roles only indicates that God seems to relate and deal with humans in a way that we see illustrated by male roles.

Many have thought it significant that the first use of the word "love in the Bible speaks of the love of a father for his son (Gen 22:2).

Noted Added 9/9/2007. The Holy Spirit as "She"? For theological rather than linguistic reasons, some members of the committee were disturbed at referring to the Spirit of God as "she" in Hebrew. They argued that since the Bible consistently speaks of God as "he," the Spirit of God should be referred to in the same gender. The ambivalent gender of the word ruah in Biblical Hebrew would allow this. In response to the suggestion to render the gender of ruah as masculine, research was done in several areas, one of which was modern Hebrew usage. All dictionaries of modern Hebrew agreed that ruah is viewed as a feminine noun, although they did not relate to the specific problem of ruah 'elohim, the Spirit of God) or ruah hakodesh, the Holy Spirit. The committee then went to the Hebrew Scriptures, where it was found that ruah is treated as both masculine and feminine. In fact, in one particularly interesting verse, I Kings 19:11, the wind which Elijah saw at Horeb is described as ruah gedolah vehazak, a great and powerful wind, using one feminine and one masculine adjective to modify it. (from The Holy Spirit in the New Testament by Ray Pitz, http://jerusalemperspective.com/Default.aspx?tabid=27&ArticleID=1599).

Addendum

RENEWING THE VISION OF ZION: THE UNIVERSAL JOURNEY, by Yosef Ben Shlomo HaKohen, Root & Branch Association, Ltd. , Renewing the Vision of Zion Series -- Essay 32

LIBERATED YERUSHALIYIM, D.C. (David's Capital), (Fifth Day -- "Thursday"), 13 Tishrei, 5764, (Gregorian Date: October 9, 2003) (Hijri Date: 12 Shabaan, 1424), Root & Branch [mailto:rb@rb.org.il] [www.rb.org.il]:

The Compassionate One said to Abram, "Go to yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you". [Bereshit/Genesis 12:1]

Our journey to the Land of Zion began with a Divine call to Abram -- whose name will later be changed to Abraham -- to leave the familiar environment of his family and country and journey to a new land. The verse opens with the Hebrew words "Lech Lecha", which literally mean: "Go to Yourself". The Bible commentator of the late 16th and early 17th century, the K'li Yakar, interprets these words to mean: "Go to your essence". According to the K'li Yakar, Abraham is to rediscover his essence by returning to the land where "Adam" -- the human being -- was created. He quotes various midrashim which state that it was on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem where the soul and the body were joined together by the Creator to form the human being. Abraham's journey is therefore to be understood as a return to the land of the human being's primary roots. In order to gain a deeper understanding of this journey, we need to review a verse which begins to describe how "Elo-him" -- the Just One -- created the human being:

So the Just One created the Adam in His image, in the image of the Just One He created him; male and female He created them. [Bereshit/Genesis 1:27]

What is puzzling about the above verse is that the first half of the verse implies that the Just One created a single human being, as it states, "He created him", while the second half of this verse implies that the Just One created two human beings, as it states, "male and female He created them". One of the ways in which the Bible commentator, Rashi, resolves this difficulty is through citing the midrashic teaching that the Adam was first created as a single androgynous being with two faces and two sides - male and female. (1)

This interpretation can help us to understand the verses which describe the formation of the first woman:

So the Compassionate and Just One cast a deep sleep upon the Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his sides and He filled in flesh in its place. Then the Compassionate and Just One fashioned the side that he had taken from the Adam into a woman, and He brought her to the man. [Bereshit/Genesis 2:21-22]

The Creator took the female side of the Adam and formed a second being known as "woman". The Hebrew word for "side" in the above verses is tzela. The word tzela can also be translated as a "rib"; however, Rashi and the majority of our Bible commentators translate it as "side". (2)

Where was the androgynous being called "Adam" created? An answer can be found in the Midrash, which states that Adam was created at the site of the future Temple in Jerusalem:

With an abounding love did the Holy One, blessed be He, love the first human being, as He created him in a pure locality, in the place of the Temple. [Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 12]

This interpretation is found in other midrashic works, and it indicates that the journey to Zion is a return to the place where the human being was created. And the human being is a union of body and soul, as it is written:

And God formed the human of dust from the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and the human became a living being. [Bereshit/Genesis 2:7]

The journey to Zion is therefore a journey to the sacred mountain where the body and soul -- the physical and the spiritual -- became one. And one day, all human beings will journey to this sacred mountain:

It will happen at the end of days: The mountain of the Temple of the Compassionate One will be firmly established as the head of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills, and all the nations will stream to it. [Yeshayahu/Isaiah 2:2]

Shabbat Shalom, Shana Tova (Happy New Year) and Chag Sameach (Happy Sukkot) from Liberated Yerushaliyim,

Notes:

1. The teaching that the Adam was created as an androgynous being is found in Midrash Genesis Rabbah 8:1, as well as in various tractates of the Talmud, such as Babylonian Talmud/Tractates Brachos 6a and Eruvin 18a.

2. Another place in the Torah [Shemot/Exodus 26:20] where the world "tzela" means "side" is found in the story of how our ancestors built the Tabernacle: "For the second tzela of the Tabernacle to the north -- twenty planks".

3. Addendum: THE HUMAN SOUL: FEMALE SEXUALITY AND THE SOUL

Human Soul Series: Essay Twenty One B, [copyright (c) 2004] by Mr. Yosef Ben Shlomo HaKohen

"The mitzvos were given in order to refine human beings." [Teaching of the Talmudic sage, Rav, cited in Genesis Rabbah 44:1]

The mitzvos (commandments) of the Torah were given to refine human beings. Although most of the mitzvos are binding on both men and women, there are some mitzvos, such as Bris Milah (circumcision), which only men have an obligation to do. According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, if women were not given certain mitzvos to perform, it is because they do not need the particular form of refinement and purification that these mitzvos are supposed to bring. As a number of stories in the Torah indicate, states Rabbi Hirsch, women tend to have greater fervor and enthusiasm for the call to serve the Compassionate One. Men, however, require repeated exhortation to remain true to this call. Thus, they are given certain mitzvos, such as Bris Milah, which serve as a reminder of the Divine calling (please see Rabbi Hirsch's commentary to Vayikra/Leviticus 23:43).

The following personal story helped me to understand Rabbi Hirsch's comments: During the 1970's and early 80's, I was connected to a network of young Jewish men and women who were exploring their Jewish roots. They were progressive individuals who were concerned about the issues of the day, and they had various meetings and retreats where these issues were discussed from a Jewish perspective.

Once, the women demanded a meeting to discuss the issue of male sexual exploitation. At the meeting, the women complained that many "idealistic" men in the group became very friendly with them, slept with them, and as soon as the men get the sex they wanted, the women never heard from them again. I discovered that women in other progressive groups were voicing the same complaint about their "idealistic" male colleagues. The public discussion of this issue helped me to realize that the majority of women associate sex with love, nurturing, and a close relationship, while the majority of men tend to think of sex without necessarily associating it with love, nurturing, and a close relationship. Promiscuous sexual behavior is more prevalent among men than among women, and one does not have to be a sociologist to realize this. The difference between the way men and women approach sex can also affect the happiness of a marriage. As we shall discuss in the section, "Related Teachings", which appears at the end of this letter, the Torah obligates a husband to meet his wife's need for satisfying, loving and nurturing sexual relations.

Why do the majority of women tend to be more loving and caring then the majority of men with regard to their sexual relationships? It is because they are closer to the Shekinah -- the Divine Presence. According to Jewish tradition, the Shekinah expresses the "feminine" attributes of the Creator. Thus, She provides us with motherly love, compassion, empathy, nurturing, and protection. Our Sacred Scriptures contain references to some of these feminine Divine attributes. For example, the Compassionate One proclaims, "Like a person whose mother comforts him, so will I comfort you, and in Jerusalem you will be comforted" [Yeshayahu/Isaiah 66:13]. Our Mother loves us and yearns for us, even when She rebukes us for abandoning the sacred path of mitzvos. Thus, She proclaims: "Is not Ephraim My precious child, the child of My tender care? For even while I speak against him, I remember him constantly; therefore My innards yearn for him; I will surely have compassion upon him, spoke the Compassionate One" [Yirmiyahu/Jeremiah 31:19]. The classical Bible commentator, Rashi, in his commentary on this verse, writes, "These are the words of the Shekinah -- the Divine Presence".

In addition, states the Ramban, another classical Bible commentator, the Shekinah is called "tzedek" -- a biblical term for "justice" (please see Ramban commentary on Bereshit/Genesis 14:18). Why is the Shekinah called "tzedek"? According to Rabbi Hirsch, "tzedek" refers to the goal where every creature is entitled to receive the caring and nurturing it needs in order to fulfill its purpose within the creation (please see Rabbi Hirsch commentary on Bereshit/Genesis 15:6). This caring and nurturing is the goal of the Shekinah.

The feminine attributes within women make it easier for them to emulate the feminine attributes of the Shekinah and to thereby achieve the life-affirming goal of the Shekinah: Tzedek! The Torah, however, wants men to also serve the life-affirming goal of the Shekinah. In this spirit, the Midrash teaches that before the Bris Milah can take place, the male baby must first honor the Shekinah! The Midrash teaches that Shabbos -- the sacred seventh day -- represents the Shekinah, and each male baby must first experience a Shabbos before we can bring the "offering" of his Bris Milah. In this way, the baby will have the opportunity to greet and honor the Shekinah -- the Shabbos Queen. This is why, explains the Midrash, circumcision takes place on the eighth day, for an eight day period has at least one Shabbos. The Midrash conveys this teaching with the following parable:

There was a king who decreed that before anyone could enter his presence, one would first have to see the queen. So too, the Holy One, Blessed He, said: "Do not bring before Me the offering until a Shabbos has passed. For each week contains a Shabbos, so there can be no Bris Milah (on the 8th day) without a Shabbos". [Leviticus Rabbah 27:9]

Ashkenazi Jews have a custom to have a celebration in honor of a newborn baby boy on the first Friday night of his life (Yorah Deah 265, Rama). According to a noted commentator on Torah law, known as the Taz, the reason for this celebration is found in the above Midrash. On Shabbos, the male baby is greeting the Queen -- the Shekinah -- before his Bris Milah takes place, and this is cause for celebration!

The Torah reveals that right after Abraham fulfilled the Covenant of Circumcision, "the Compassionate One appeared to him" [Bereshit/Genesis 18:1]. The Talmud explains that this was the appearance of the Shekinah. According to Rabbenu Bachya, a 13th century sage, this verse is conveying the following message: "By virtue of the mitzvah of circumcision, man receives the Shekinah" (Kad HaKemach - Bris Milah).

The above teachings help us to understand how the Covenant of Circumcision enables the man to return to his original state of wholeness, when all his drives expressed the Divine image. Through this covenant, masculine energy is dedicated to serving the Shekinah. This covenant therefore serves as a reminder that masculine energy is not to be used for the exploitation of others. Instead, it must be used for loving, nurturing, and protecting others. In this way, masculine energy joins with feminine energy in serving and protecting God's creation. And the male and the female will once again be united like they were in the Garden of Eden.

Shavua Tov from Liberated Yerushaliyim, Mr. Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

Advisory Board Member, Ecology Fellowship, Root & Branch Association, Ltd.
Advisory Board Member, Social Welfare Fellowship, Root & Branch Association, Ltd.
Author, "The Universal Jew" (Feldheim Publishers)
Editor, Shema Yisrael website: "Hazon: Our Universal Vision"
http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

Related Teachings:

Dr. Leo Levi, a Torah scholar and scientist who lives in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, is the author of a number of books, including "Modern Liberation: A Torah Perspective on Contemporary Lifestyles". This book has a fascinating chapter which gives a Torah perspective on sexual relations within marriage. As Dr. Levi remind us, through this holy union, "they shall become one flesh" [Bereshit/Genesis 2:24]; through this holy union, they become one being. Dr. Levi cites noted commentators who explain that this physical, psychological, and spiritual unification is special to humankind, the result of man and woman having been created originally as a single organism. Their sexual intimacy therefore reminds them of their essential oneness and reinforces it.

Dr. Levi cites sources within the Written Torah, Talmud, and Codes of Jewish law which indicate that there is a mitzvah for a husband to meet his wife's need for satisfying, loving, and nurturing sexual relations. This mitzvah -- known as "onah" -- includes not only the sex act, but also other expressions of affection. Dr. Levi writes, "This is in striking contrast to the pre-modern Western mores that viewed sex as the husband's right and the wife's duty". Dr. Levi adds, "That the mitzvah of onah goes beyond the obligation to be fruitful and multiply is evident from the fact that it applies also at times when reproduction is not possible, such as during pregnancy or after menopause".

As Dr. Levi reminds us, Judaism teaches that sexual relations should promote mutual joy. For example, since the wife usually requires more time for her arousal, the Sages stressed the importance of loving words and acts of endearment before the union. In this spirit, the Ramban gives the husband the following words of guidance: "You should first arouse her with words that draw close her heart and settle her mind and gladden her, in order to unite your mind with hers, and your intention with hers" (The Holy Letter 6). The husband and wife should remember, however, that their sexual union is a holy act; thus, they must avoid any preliminary conversation which contains mockery or vulgarity.

The following teaching regarding the husband's obligation is from Rav Ya'akov Yisrael Kanievsky, a leading sage of our generation who lives in Bnei Brak, Israel:

"According to the laws of the Torah, it is forbidden to unite in a manner that does not satisfy the wife; he is obligated to satisfy her with closeness, embrace, and kissing, until she desires the union; for else she is 'as one put before a lion who pounces and devours'. It is a serious sin to deprive one's wife of that which is her due".

The kabbalist, Rav Yitzchak Luria (the Ari), recommends that the couple remain united for some time, even after the seed is released. In this spirit, Rav Kanievsky writes that he who separates immediately is surely reprehensible because of the pain and the secret tears he causes his wife.

Since sexual relations between husband and wife should promote mutual joy, Dr. Levi also cites some Torah recommendations and guidelines for the wife. People in Israel who wish to get this book, can contact Dr. Levi at: mailto:levileo@jct.ac.il. Those outside of Israel should contact: Lambda Publications, 3709 13th Ave, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11218. Tel: (718) 972-5449. If you have any questions on the above teachings and laws regarding sexual relations, please ask a rabbi or write to Dr. Levi, who is also a rabbi.

Lambert Dolphin
lambert@ldolphin.org
Library
Originated February 27, 1991, revised July 16, 1994, and April 12, 1995. November 10, 2000. July 11, 2001. October 9, 2003. May 17, 2004. September 9, 2007.