The Plurals Bereishit - Genesis - Chapter 1

 

26 And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth."

 

Rashi’s commentary

Let us make man: From here we learn the humility of the Holy One, blessed be He. Since man was created in the likeness of the angels, and they would envy him, He consulted them. And when He judges kings, He consults with His Heavenly household, for so we find regarding Ahab, that Micah said to him, (I Kings 22:19): “I saw the Lord seated on His throne, and all the host of heaven were standing by Him, on His right and on His left.” Now do “left” or “right” apply to Him ?! But rather, [the passage means that] these [angels] were standing on the right to defend, and these [angels] were standing on the left to prosecute. Likewise, (Dan. 4:14): “By the decree of the destructive angels is the matter, and by the word of the holy ones is the edict.” Here too, He took counsel with His heavenly household. He said to them, “Among the heavenly beings, there are some in My likeness. If there are none in My likeness among the earthly beings, there will be envy among the creatures of the Creation. ” - [from Tanchuma, Shemoth 18; Gen. Rabbah 8:11, 14:13]   Let us make man: From here we learn the humility of the Holy One, blessed be He. Since man was created in the likeness of the angels, and they would envy him, He consulted them. And when He judges kings, He consults with His Heavenly household, for so we find regarding Ahab, that Micah said to him, (I Kings 22:19): “I saw the Lord seated on His throne, and all the host of heaven were standing by Him, on His right and on His left.” Now do “left” or “right” apply to Him ?! But rather, [the passage means that] these [angels] were standing on the right to defend, and these [angels] were standing on the left to prosecute. Likewise, (Dan. 4:14): “By the decree of the destructive angels is the matter, and by the word of the holy ones is the edict.” Here too, He took counsel with His heavenly household. He said to them, “Among the heavenly beings, there are some in My likeness. If there are none in My likeness among the earthly beings, there will be envy among the creatures of the Creation. ” - [from Tanchuma, Shemoth 18; Gen. Rabbah 8:11, 14:13]

Let us make man: Even though they [the angels] did not assist Him in His creation, and there is an opportunity for the heretics to rebel (to misconstrue the plural as a basis for their heresies), Scripture did not hesitate to teach proper conduct and the trait of humility, that a great person should consult with and receive permission from a smaller one. Had it been written: “I shall make man,” we would not have learned that He was speaking with His tribunal, but to Himself. And the refutation to the heretics is written alongside it [i. e., in the following verse:]“And God created (וַיִּבְרָא) ,” and it does not say,“and they created וַיִּבְרְאוּ.” - [from Gen. Rabbah 8:9]

in our image: in our form.

after our likeness: to understand and to discern.

Julius’s commentary

Clearly, we are not created in the physical image of G-d, because Judaism steadfastly maintains that G-d is incorporeal and has no physical appearance. Rambam points out that the Hebrew words translated as "image" and "likeness" in Gen. 1:27 do not refer to the physical form of a thing. The word for "image" in Gen. 1:27 is "tzelem," which refers to the nature or essence of a thing.

 

Rashi’s commentary continued

and they shall rule over the fish: Heb. וְיִרְדּוּ This expression contains both the meaning of ruling and the meaning of subservience. If he merits, he rules over the beasts and over the cattle. If he does not merit, he becomes subservient to them, and the beast rules over him. — [from Gen. Rabbah 8:12]