Why the plural pronouns? Some have suggested the 'Royal We' or
the 'Editorial We.' But 'We' is not a pronoun used
consistently by God, although this usage is not totally isolated
either. God also says, with reference to the tower of Babel,
"Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not
understand one another’s speech." (Genesis 11:7).
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
Even in the New Testament 'we' can be used for God: "Jesus answered and said unto
him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will
love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
(John 14:23). However, these 'we's' are isolated within a larger sea
of 'I's.' Why only here, if it is God's habit to use the 'Royal We?' Moreover, the
'Royal We' and 'Editorial We,' upon analysis, are not instances
where one single individual refers to himself as 'we.' The
speaker of the 'Editorial We' claims to serve as spokesman for others, and the
speaker of the 'Royal We' claims to embody the nation in his own
person. The movie 'Madness of King George' represents George
addressing himself as "England:" "Do it, England. Do it." (Madness of King George,
script). What would the comparable plural referent be for God?
'Allah' in the Koran is a 'we,' but Mohammed ibn Abdallah was an
unthinking copycat who may well have borrowed this Biblical usage
without understanding it, just as he borrowed the Christian
folk-tale of the 'Seven Sleepers' without realizing its implication:
that trinitarians were monotheists upon whom God's pleasure rested.
Is God here addressing the angels, as some of the Rabbis
conjectured?: "In other passages our Sages expressed it more decidedly: 'God
does nothing without consulting the host above'. . ." (Moses Maimonides,
The Guide for the Perplexed, p. 185). This viewpoint has not even yet
been abandoned: "According to the first chapter of Genesis the whole work of
creation finds its culmination in man, whose making is introduced by a
solemn appeal of God to the hosts of heaven: 'Let us make man in our
image, after our likeness.'" (Kaufmann Kohler, Jewish Theology, p. 206).
But this cannot be. The angels are not addressed as
creaturely assistants in the work of creation, because there were no
angelic co-creators. God created alone: "Thus says the LORD, your
Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb; I am the LORD, who
makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone; who
spread abroad the earth by Myself. . ." (Isaiah 44:24). The angels
are spectators of creation, not participants:
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?.
. .When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Was man made in the image of angels, or in the image of God? Can it
seriously be maintained that God needed angelic permission to proceed
with His work?:
"Rabbi Chanina says, 'It was not so! But when God was
about to create Adam, He consulted the ministering angels and said
unto them (Gen. i. 26), "Shall we make man in our image after
our likeness?' They replied, "For what good wilt thou create him?"
He responded, "That the righteous may rise out of him.". . .God
informed them only about the righteous, but He said nothing about
the wicked, otherwise the ministering angels would not have given
their consent that man should be created." (Bereshith Rabbah, chap.
8, Hebraic Literature: Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and
Kabbala, Kindle location 4028).
The Rabbis have neglected to explain what inconvenience would
have resulted from this creaturely failure to give consent. Is God
Those Rabbis who looked to the 'Torah' as the party
addressed were closer on the trail: "When the Holy One, blessed be
he, said to the Torah, 'Let us make man in our image after our
likeness,' the Torah answered, 'Master of all worlds, the world is thine, but the men thou dsirest to create are "of few days and full
of trouble" and will fall into the power of sin. . ."'" (Solomon
Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology, p. 323). The 'Torah' is the
Polytheists, of course, have their own explanation for the "we"
of Genesis 1:26, though the plain Bible teaching of monotheism
blocks their way: