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Every Man a King

One good reason for keeping clear in our minds (as suggested above) that God is not pudding-ish but personal is this: We are made in His image, and we are meant to live as persons, not as puddings. Genesis says (9:6; 1:26-28) that man is made “in the image of God,” and the notion is so familiar that even we who believe it devoutly may begin to take it for granted. So it’s good to be reminded that in that phrase we are paid a supreme compliment and raised to a high station. A writer in Bible Review (Feb. 1999) points out that this verbal formula about the “image of God” occurs often in ancient inscriptions from such neighbors of Israel as Assyria and Egypt. But in those texts this lineage is claimed only for kings and pharaohs: The ruler is said to be in the “image of Enlil” or in the “image of Bel” or in the “image of Marduk” or in the “image of Amun.” But in the Old Testament, says the writer, such a relationship to the divine “is applied not just to the king but to all mankind.” The employment in Genesis of this “regal vocabulary,” says scholar Nahum Sarna, means that “each person bears the stamp of royalty.”

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