Image Of God (hebrew Insight)


At the beginning of the Bible we are told that human beings are an honored part of God’s creation. In fact, we are told that God created man in His own image! The Hebrew word for image is “tselem” which is derived from a shorter Hebrew word, “tzel”, meaning “shadow.” Do you see the connection? When the beams of light fall upon anything, a shadow (tzel) appears next to it. According to the Bible, a human being is nothing less than the image (tzelem) of God because in many ways he/she wondrously reflects/shadows God’s perfection and beauty.

Another intriguing way in which we can see this connection is reflected in name “Bezalel.” Literally, Bezalel (Betzalel) means “in the shadow of God”. He was person appointed by God to create the Tabernacle and all its furnishings (Ex.31). The Tabernacle and everything inside it allowed the Ancient Israelites to approach God in order to worship.

When a human being worships the God of Heaven and Earth it is as if he or she steps into the very shadow of God, becoming part of it, reflecting God’s perfection and beauty.

© Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. All rights reserved.

About the author

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

You might also be interested in:

Three Plus Four: Jacob

By Julia Blum

Three Plus Four: Isaac

By Julia Blum

Join the conversation (38 comments)

Leave a Reply

  1. Allan

    Thank you Dr.Eli,
    I have a question as i journey through this path about being conformed to the image of His son Jesus.
    if there is no shadow of turning in Him, who is the Light and Father-source- of lights, how then can He cast a shadow of Himself unless He is subjected to “another light”?
    Appreciate your response.

  2. Tse Ming Wai

    You said: Another intriguing way in which we can see this connection is reflected in name “Bezalel.” Literally, Bezalel (Betzalel) means “in the shadow of God”. He was person appointed by God to create the Tabernacle and all its furnishings (Ex.31). The Tabernacle and everything inside it allowed the Ancient Israelites to approach God in order to worship.
    What is the Hebrew word for tabernacle. How are the ideas connected?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      The word is ohel (אוֹהֶל). There is no grammatical connection here. In John 1:14 “14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Dwelt with us could also be translated as pitched a tent or tabernacled.

  3. save

    Thanks Dr Eli… just leave me freaked out at every topic….eye opening opportunity for me…thanks and keep me posted…

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I assume in this context freaked out is a positive reference :-). Blessings and much peace, Dr. Eli

  4. RamonAntonio

    Great insight and very novel for me. The relation of image to shadow is striking and in the end seems obviously evident.

    One of the first experiments to explain particle phisycs specially quantum theory made use of a source of light and a grid. The light that passed the grid produced regularly spaced shadows which could only be explained if the light itself was a continous series of waves and not a series of things called photons. So, the light, being itself a contious expression of energy, thus having no intrinsic shadow, indeed creates ashadow when passing through a grid.

    If we take the concept of grid as Creation, then it follows that God, although having no shadows Himself, indeed casts a shadow of Himself in Creation specially in his creature “par excellence”: the adama, ie., humanity. The shadow then, is a direct consequence of the act of creation by God and the explanation in the Bible is, by itself, the operations manual of Creation.

    A quantum Creation? Lets continue the saga in this exciting journey through Jewish roots exegesis of the Gospels…

  5. James

    I wonder if this is what the church means when we say were seeking to be in the presence of God. Is this what the New Testament would refer to being full of the Spirit. where you are a vessel that is filled up by the spirit of God because you have being in His presence His life is reproduced in us . after it”s kind.Jesus was full of power and aware when it went out from Him . In Acts people put out the sick for peters shadow to fall on them . Why did they believe it to be a copy of peter or were they simply displaying great faith?

  6. Kim Kincher

    Father in Heaven, help us to be true shadows of Your love, comfort, compassion and healing in this suffering world. Forgive us for the times we have fallen short and have not reflected Your true image to the world. Help us to live as Your people. Help us to love the things You love and to hate what You hate. Help us to worship You and serve You in the ways You want us to, not in the ways we assume You want us to. Give us new hearts to love and obey You.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg


    2. Angel

      great way to prey to God , may he keep filling your life with true worship like that

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Dear friend, welcome to Jewish Studies for Christians. Thank you for your first comment. Dr. Eli

  7. Carolyn Anderson

    Thank you for this study. It gives me a better understanding of God’s word.
    The the tabernacle was a type and shadow.
    Thanks again.

  8. Gail Smit

    Excellent article. Hebrew brings the Bible to life. God is beyond our understanding, but the Hebrew understanding brings a richness no other language can bring. Keep up the good work, Dr Eli.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks, Gail.

  9. Sheila

    Love the photo for this post!

  10. samuel

    Dr.Lizorkin-Eyzemberg shalom,Gracias por permitir aceptarme a su grupo de estudio, donde se ampliaran mis conocimientos Bíblicos y mi crecimiento espiritual.El tema EN SU PROPIA IMAGEN: LA SOMBRA DE DIOS,es muy interesante y profundizadas por personas preparadas como usted.Que DI-S lo Bendiga.

  11. Mädeli C

    I have believed that as human beings we posses the ‘components’ of God: body, mind/soul and spirit, like the Persons in the Trinity – is this a faulty belief? If we are an image or shadow of God, that makes the idea sound less dimentional. On the other hand, in view of everything in this realm being a shadow of the same thing in the eternal ‘realm’, it makes more sense.
    Thank you for your teaching!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      In theology we speak of communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. In other words something about like creativity for example transfers to us, while other things like omnipresence (being present everywhere) does not.

  12. Paul

    How do you pronounce the word tzelem. Is the “t” silent?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Hi, Paul. Tzelem or tselem. There is a letter in Hebrew TZADIK it make a sound that TS together would make.

  13. Scott Graydon

    A great insight, it’s all these things which make Hebrew study so interesting!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg


  14. Bill Martinez

    Dr. Eli, thanks, for the Hebrew for “in His image:

    The first Adam, in His shadow, is like God in that he is a living soul, with a mind, a will, and emotions. The last Adam, in His shadow, in addition to the soul, was made like him in spirit in that he perfectly reflects God’s character through his life obedience to God’s Word. He is the “express image of God’s person.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      With some nuanceing I agree. Dr. Eli

  15. jared

    Wow, what a blessing. We had this same talk at our church. Everyone was caught up in the english meaning of the phrase in His image. I was asked them, but do you know the Hebrew meaning of the phrase In His Image. I really want and need to learn more Hebrew, for my eyes will be opened even more if I knew more.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      welcome to our study group! Dr. Eli

  16. Patsy Seo

    I have been trying to understand what “made in God’s image means” Your translation of the Hebrew helps but I still have a question. A Graven Image of God creates a shadow. God is more like the Sun with the ability to appear in any form we mortals are willing to accept. What sort of shadow is cast by the sun? Could the Hebrew be translated as “ray” rather than “shadow”?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Patsy, hi. “graven” image of God creates a shadow. NO, NO, NO :-). This is not what I meant. I meant that God itself has his shadow/s (if we can speak of it this way). The shadow/s are his image/s. Let’s keep on thinking together. Dr. Eli

  17. Marlene

    Very, very good! Loved this study!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Marlene, wonderful to have you with us! Let your friends know about this group too. Dr. Eli

  18. Deborah G.

    I am reminded of Hebrews 8:5:
    They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (NIV)

    I wonder if the author of Hebrews knew of the significance of the name of the earthly builder of the tabernacle. I am thinking he did. Very interesting.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I can not imagine otherwise. Remember the author of Hebrews who though he wrote in Greek, also knew Hebrew. In Hebrew Bezalel (Betzalel) in the shadow of God is rather obvious! Dr. Eli

  19. Paulo Mendes Glória

    Dr, Eli,
    I once heard the word Betzalel equals the number 153 in gematria. It proceeds?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Paulo, shalom! As many of this groups participants know. I am highly doubtful of gematria in general, but there some places and gematria connections make me think perhaps there some truth to it after all. Dr. Eli

  20. Venessa

    So inspiring.

    Thank you Dr Eli

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you, Venessa! Let’s keep thinking together! Dr. Eli

      1. Janice

        I heard a teaching that says. There is no darkness in God, therefore how can He have a shadow…then it was explained that we are made in His image and therefore, when His splendor and Glory shines..because we are in Him and He in us that the shadow cast is from us…alluding to we are the shadow hidden in the Almighty.

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Janice, the key to understanding this is that we are not talking about a physical body with physical shadow. We are talking about something real and true, but metaphorical. Dr. Eli