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.
Join the conversation (38 comments)
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!
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.
How do you pronounce the word tzelem. Is the “t” silent?
Hi, Paul. Tzelem or tselem. There is a letter in Hebrew TZADIK it make a sound that TS together would make.
A great insight, it’s all these things which make Hebrew study so interesting!
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.
With some nuanceing I agree. Dr. Eli
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.
welcome to our study group! Dr. Eli
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”?
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
Very, very good! Loved this study!
Marlene, wonderful to have you with us! Let your friends know about this group too. Dr. Eli
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.
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
I once heard the word Betzalel equals the number 153 in gematria. It proceeds?
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
Thank you Dr Eli
Thank you, Venessa! Let’s keep thinking together! Dr. Eli
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.
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