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The "us" and "our" in Genesis 1:26-27


Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 10, 5774
Does the "us" and "our" in Genesis 1:26-27 refer to God and the heavenly host of angels?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Though there are many and varied commentaries on these verse. You might be interested in seeing Rabbi Aryah Kaplan's translation and commentary on the Bible, called "The Living Torah". There he writes "Let us … G-d was speaking to all the forces of creation the He had brought into existence (Targum Yonathan; Ramban). Now that all the ingredients of creation had essentially been completed, all would participate in the creation of man, the crown of creation. Others interpret "we" in the majestic sense, and translate the verse, "I will make man in My image" (Emmonot ve Dayot 2:9; Ibn Ezra)". Rashi (the classical medieval commentator), though, writes along the lines you quoted, and says, "Let us make man: From here we learn the humility of the Holy One, blessed be He. Since man was created in the likeness of the angels, and they would envy him, He consulted them." And then goes on to say, "Let us make man: Even though they [the angels] did not assist Him in His creation, and there is an opportunity for the heretics to rebel (to misconstrue the plural as a basis for their heresies), Scripture did not hesitate to teach proper conduct and the trait of humility, that a great person should consult with and receive permission from a smaller one. Had it been written: “I shall make man,” we would not have learned that He was speaking with His tribunal, but to Himself. And the refutation to the heretics is written alongside it [i. e., in the following verse:]“And God created” and it does not say, “and they created.” - [from Gen. Rabbah 8:9]". Blessings.
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