Michelangelo - God the Father, The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, The Vatican, 1509.

The following three passages in Hebrew are from the Book of Genesis and describe God's creation of man and woman after his creation of the world. The first passage is Genesis 1:26-27, which relates that God created mankind in our image and likeness. The idea of human dignity, that we are created in the image of God (1:27), supports the theological basis for human equality and the fundamental principle of liberty in Western Christian civilization, as written in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.

The expression "our image" has led to great speculation as to its meaning. Is the expression the "royal plural," or is God the Father as King of Heaven addressing his heavenly court? Some Fathers of the Church believed it raised the possibility of the Holy Trinity. The name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was revealed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament of the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20).

Note that the word בָּרָא - bara', the Hebrew word for create, is written three times in 1:27, the first time in the waw-consecutive form   וַיִּבְרָא - and he created. God blessed man and commissioned man to be fruitful and multiply, to fill and rule the earth.

The second passage is Genesis 2:7 - "Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being."

The third passage is Genesis 2:18-25, where God noted that "it is not good for the man to be alone." Whereas it took God only one line to form man, God took some time to create woman! It is natural for a man and woman to unite in love and harmony for continuity of God's creation, the human race.

God gave the man the authority to name everything, a sign of dominion over the world.

God gave us the breath of life.
Our dominion over the earth implies responsibility.
It is for us to treasure life and the earth.

A unique feature of Biblical Hebrew is the use of the waw-consecutive or waw-conversive form of a verb in a narrative, as in these passages from Genesis. For example, in Genesis 2:7, the Hebrew word יָצַר - yatsar, means to form or fashion, and in the waw-consecutive וַיִִּיצֶר - and he formed. The word in Genesis 2:22 is וַיִּבֶן - and he built, the waw consecutive of בָּנָה - banah, to build. The waw-consecutive is formed by the Qal imperfect of a verb with the waw prefix - ו. While the imperfect generally conveys the future, the addition of the waw converts the sentence to the past. Likewise, the addition of the waw to the Qal perfect, which normally conveys the past, converts the sentence from the past to the future.

Another feature of Biblical Hebrew is the construct relationship of two nouns joined together to express the genitive case, as there is no preposition in Biblical Hebrew to express the word of. The possessive relationship corresponds in Biblical Hebrew to the construct chain. Two (or more) nouns side by side serve to mark this grammatical relationship. For example, in the expression   נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים - the breath of life, the first word נִשְׁמַת is in the construct state, and the second word חַיִּים is in the absolute state. The lexical (or dictionary) form of a noun is always in the absolute state. Please note that the construct form of a noun is often different from its absolute state (see Key).

An interlinear translation is provided for the first and second passage. Remember Hebrew is read from right to left, so the English translation follows the same pattern. The key to the second passage will help you understand the waw-consecutive and construct forms. To encourage you to read the actual Hebrew, the third passage has the translation to follow the passage. The links at the end will provide further information.


Genesis 1:26-28, God created man in his image and likeness.


Genesis 2:7 - God gave man the breath of life.


to form יָצַר
and he formed (waw-consecutive) וַיִּיצֶר
the man הָאָדָם
dust עָפָר
from the ground מִן־הָאֲדָמָה
to breathe, to blow נָפַח
and he breathed (waw-consecutive)     וַיִּפַּח
in his nostrils בְּאַפָּיו
breath נְשָׁמָה
the breath of (construct form) נִשְׁמַת
life (absolute form) חַיִּים
to become הָיָה
and he became (waw-consecutive) וַיְהִי
being, soul, life נֶפֶשׁ
living חַיָּה


Genesis 2:18-25, And God created woman, in Hebrew.

18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone;
I will make him a helper fit for him."
19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air,
and brought them to the man to see what he would call them;
and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field;
but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him.
21 So 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;
22 and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
23 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."
24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.