Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Insights from Hebrew Poetry

My small group met on Monday evening of this week and one of our members, Grace, led a single-installment discussion on marriage (our group is a mix of marrieds and singles, all young adults).

She drew out attention to Genesis 1:27. This verse is indented, indicating it is a verse of poetry.

So God created man in his own image, / in the image of God he created him; / male and female he created them.

Grace then mentioned two other verses, which are likewise verses of poetry.

A foolish son is grief to his father / and bitterness to her who bore him. Proverbs 17:25

But he was pierced for our transgressions; / he was crushed for our iniquities. Isaiah 53:5a

The point is most clear in the Isaiah verse: the two lines of the verse state essentially the same idea: pierced/crushed and transgressions/iniquities. In the Proverb, grief/bitterness and father/her who bore him or parents.

Thus, in the Genesis verse, which uses the same poetic construction, the parallel terms are "image of God" and "male and female."

The conclusion: male and female, as distinct parts, form a whole, and that whole is the image of God.

Now, is an individual man or woman not the image of God? By no means. Every human being is worthy of full honor and dignity as God's image-bearer from the moment of conception. But male and female together - in marriage - also form the image of God. Grace gave a parallel example: each Person of the Trinity is fully God, and the Trinity as a unit is fully God.

Thanks, Grace, for those insights!

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