Halley’s Study Bible on Genesis 1, 11, and 14
With content gleaned from Halley’s Bible Handbook (Zondervan, 2014)—the most popular Bible handbook of all time and available as one of more than 40 study resources with your membership in Bible Gateway Plus—Halley’s Study Bible (Zondervan, 2020) helps you understand the Bible through articles, study notes, charts, maps, and photos next to related Scripture.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Journey Through God’s Word With a Knowledgeable Guide: Halley’s Study Bible]
WHAT IS THE “IMAGE OF GOD”?
Passages such as Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9 show that the image of God in humans was not lost at the time of the fall, and that even those who are not part of the people of God possess it. The phrase “image of God” is not used frequently in Scripture, and its exact meaning is difficult to determine.
Some have suggested that it may refer to some spiritual, mental, and/or psychological quality in humans, such as the ability to think, to feel emotions, or to choose (= free will).
Others stress the context of Genesis 1:26–27, where the emphasis is on humans “ruling” over God’s creation. From the context it is possible to suggest that as God created, so those who are bestowed with his image are also to be “creators”; for example, the first humans were commanded to name the animals and to “be fruitful and . . . multiply” (Genesis 9:7).
Finally, some stress the “relational” quality of the triune Godhead that is hinted at in the phrases in Genesis 1:26: “let us” and “our image.” They suggest that just as there are relationships within the Godhead, so too humans have the ability to enter into relationship with God and with humans, and that this is what the image is. (However, this characteristic of the Godhead is not fully revealed until much later—e.g., John 1:1–5.)
It may be that a correct understanding of the concept actually includes aspects of more than one of the above interpretations. A major point to be remembered is that we, as humans created in God’s image, are related to God in a special way that is not shared by animal life. And as humans we need to remember that we all are bearers of that image—which, of course, should influence how we treat each other.
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THE GARDEN OF EDEN
In chapter 1 the Creator is called “God” (Elohim), the “generic” name of the Supreme Being. Here it is “the Lord God” (Yahweh Elohim), his personal name. It is the first step in God’s revelation of himself.
No rain, but “streams” (vv. 5–6). The translation “mist” may be preferable. It would mean that for a while, the earth was watered by heavy fogs, because the earth’s surface was so warm, and consequent vapors so dense, that cooling raindrops on the far outer fringes of the clouds would turn to vapor again before they reached the earth.
The tree of life (v. 9; 3:22) indicates that immortality is dependent on something outside ourselves. This tree will again be accessible to those who belong to Christ at the end (Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14).
The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (vv. 9, 17) was “good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (3:6). Whatever the exact nature of this tree—literal, figurative, or symbolic—the essence of Adam and Eve’s sin was this: they wanted to transfer control of their lives from God to themselves. God had, in substance, told them they could do anything they wanted to, except for that one thing. As long as they were in right relationship with God—in other words, as long as they recognized God as their creator and master—they experienced life as God had intended it to be, and they were truly the crown of God’s creation. They were completely satisfied with this life until Satan, in the form of a serpent, deceived them into thinking that if they were like God and knew what he knows, life would be even better. Once this seed of deception had been planted, they became dissatisfied. They wanted to “be like God” (3:5). They wanted to be their own masters and sole masters of God’s creation. Is that not the essence of human sin? From the beginning, God designed humans to live forever; the one condition was obedience to God. Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be deceived by the enemy and in turn disobeyed God. Then began the long, slow process of redemption, by a Savior through whom we may regain our lost estate.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Halley’s Study Bible on John 1]
THE TOWER OF BABEL
The confusion of languages occurred in the fourth generation after the flood, about the time of the birth of Peleg (10:25), which was 101 years after the flood and 326 years before the call of Abraham. It was God’s method of dispersing the race so that the kingdom man was creating would never exclude God’s kingdom.
The purpose behind the Tower of Babel was similar to that of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The people wanted to build a migdal, a fortified city, with “a tower that reaches to the heavens” (vv. 3–4)—that is, they wanted to be autonomous and grab divine power. They wanted to transcend their human limitations.
The significance of the Tower of Babel becomes clear when we look at it in contrast to the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), which is its counterpoint.
The priest-king of Salem (Jerusalem). Hebrew tradition says that he was Shem, the son of Noah and survivor of the flood, who was still alive—earth’s oldest living man. He was a priest, in the patriarchal age, of the whole race. If so, it is a hint that God had already chosen, right after the flood, Jerusalem to be the scene of human redemption. Whoever he was, as both a priest and king, Melchizedek was a picture and “type” of Christ (Psalm 110; Hebrews 5–7). We do know that he conferred a blessing on Abraham and that Abraham’s response was to give him tithes, which was a tenth part of everything he possessed. Many Christians today follow Abraham’s example by offering their tithes to God through their churches and other ministries. Surely they, too, receive God’s blessings.
Publisher of the NIV Halley’s Study Bible is HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
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