Is Genesis 1:26 Translated Properly?

Jason Dulle


I have heard that an exact translation of some Hebrew words to English are not exact. One particular Oneness author believes that a singular meaning may be present in Genesis 1:26 "I will make man...." I have also heard that in this particular instance that the pronouns "us" and "our" are not present, but implied by the plurality of these Hebrew words.

My questions is could God be speaking about creation of ALL men, not justAdam? God forms the spirit of man within everyone who was ever born (Zech 12:1). If God was speaking about creating billions of people throughout time, could these words be pluralized to reflect this, and the pronouns exist only because these words are not accurately translated into the English?



The way the Hebrew language works, there are no pronouns separate from verbs or nouns. The pronouns are attached to the end of words to indicate who is possessing the noun or verb. In Genesis 1:26, both the verb "make" (asah) and the noun "image" (tselem) are in the plural. The verb is in the first person plural form (indicated by the absence of a suffix in this case), which cannot be understood in any other way than "let us make." The phrase "in our image" is all one word in Hebrew (btselemnou). "In" comes from the Hebrew prefix "b," (Hebrew letter beth) and the "our" comes from the suffix "nou." This noun has a first-person plural pronominal ending which cannot be interpreted in any other way than in a plural sense. I know why some would like to find a way around the plural usage in this verse, but there is no grammatical evidence that would teach anything to the contrary. I do not believe this verse is problematic, however. I deal with this usage of the plural, along with other OT plural verses in my paper titled, Plural Pronouns Used For God.

The only way we could understand this verse to be referring to all humanity is if the word for "man" was in the plural; however, it is not. It is the singular form. The plural usage in this verse is in reference to God, not man. There are no humans in existence yet, and yet God says "Let us makeman in our image."


I have mulled over your explanation of why Genesis 1:26 cannot refer to all of mankind, because the word "man" is in singular form. However, there are still three questions I have regarding this verse, and I would appreciate your answer to them.
(1) Even though "man" is in the singular, God says "let them" have dominion. "them"
refers back to the word "man".
(2) The word "man" comes from the Hebrew word "adam" which means "mankind". cannot all of mankind be spoken of in a singular sense, even though it includes many people?
(3) Even though I do not trust the Amplified version, it nevertheless translates this word "mankind".

Please understand, I am not trying to be right because of my position, but I want to be right because of the truth, no matter what. Please answer these questions so that I can throw this "theory" in the trash if it is incorrect!


Most definitely the Hebrew word adam (man) is used in the sense of mankind in the Scripture, being viewed as one entity. That I do not doubt. This is irrelevant to the plural pronoun issue of Genesis 1:26, however. The plural pronouns are used in reference to God, not adam-"Let us make man in our image." It does not say "Let me make men in my image." The plural usage is most definitely being used for someone other than man in this passage. There is no grammatical way for us to view the plural pronouns as applying to man.


I will except your explanation, but let me run one last thought by you.. When we read Genesis, we see God speaking into existence the total purpose of his creation. For instance, God not only spoke the trees into existence, but also how they would procreate themselves with their "seed". Thus in a prophetic sense, God foretold how they would multiply.

Could God be speaking the procreation of man into existence in Genesis 1:26? Notice that God said, "And let them have dominion". The word "them" includes all of mankind, who would have had dominion over all of the earth.

Who personally created you? It was both God and your parents. Your parents, through procreation, created you, but God also created you individually (Zechariah 12:1). Everyone who ever had offspring helped God create the human race. God can see beyond time, and he realized this when he spoke into existence the procreation of man. He realized that individual human beings would help Him propagate the species. Unlike the rest of his creation, they were individuals. Therefore, the word "us" in Genesis 1:26 includes every human being that ever helped the human race "go forth and multiply".


I see what you are saying, but I do not believe the interpretation makes logical sense. If it were true that the plural pronouns are referring to God and mankind, then we would have God speaking to humanity, before humanity was even created. It may be argued that God speaks things which are not as though they were, but there is yet another problem. If humanity is included in the plural pronouns, then how can God make man in the image of us, if the us includes humanity? Is humanity being made in the image of God and humanity? Such would be circular reasoning, but this would be the logical conclusion of the proposed interpretation. We are made in the image of God, not our own image.

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