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God In The Feminine

And to you who fear My Name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise and healing in Her wings, and you shall go out and spring about1 as calves of a stall. (a more literal translation of Malachi 4:2)

but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)

Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: (Proverbs 8:1)

I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength. (Proverbs 8:12-14)

And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning`made them male and female,' . . . ? (Matthew 19:4)

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, He made the first two humans “in His image2 (Genesis 1:27), as it is written,

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26)

When speaking of the creation of mankind, the Gods (Us, Our, Our, see He is Holy Gods) created “them” in Their (Us, Our, Our) image.3 It wasn't just Adam who was created in His image. It was Eve as well, as she is included here in Genesis 1:26 by the phrase which comes immediately after “Our likeness,” “let them . . . .”4 The Gods, that is, the One and Only True God (Deuteronomy 6:4), is both male and female.

The term used in Genesis 1:26 for “image” (צֶלֶם [tselem]) in the Hebrew Bible is always used for a physical image.5 The term used in Genesis 1:26 for “likeness” (דְּמוּת [demut]) in the Hebrew Bible is used for something that physically is like and looks like another, or has the characteristic of another, as in Psalm 58:4 “like” the poison of a serpent.6 Both terms are used in Genesis 5:3 for Seth, how he was in Adam's image and likeness.

And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:3)

Even Wikipedia picks up on what is revealed in Genesis 1:26 stating,

Genesis 1:26-27 says that the elohim were male and female, and humans were made in their image. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_of_God, under “Abrahamic religions”)

Genesis 1:26-27 doesn't quite put it like that, but they obviously got the drift of the passage. The humans were indeed made, male and female, in the image and likeness of the Elohim (the Gods). The passage is clearly plural (Us, Our, Our), and the only plurality in what is made are two humans, male and female.

It is not that Wikipedia is a godly source for truth. But, it is as Paul quoted some of the idolatrous people of his time, saying,

as also some of your own poets have said, “For we are also His offspring.” (Acts 17:28)7

The wicked are capable of noting truth.8 Genesis 1:26 is a well-known passage that is often missed - the simple, yet profound revelation therein, that God is indeed both male and female. Both are “His image” (Genesis 1:27). Both are Their image, the “Our image” of Elohim (אֱלֹהִ֔ים ['elohiym] Genesis 1:26).

Moreover, in Acts 17 Paul uses a very interesting argument for persuading the idolaters of his day away from their false Gods and onto the true God. He argues (immediately after Acts 17:28 above),

Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. (Acts 17:29)

Why should “we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone”? Because we are His offspring. Offspring resembles from whom they come.

Paul points to understanding the “Divine Nature,”9 in other words, to understanding God, by looking at mankind. Since, Paul argues, “we are the offspring of God.” What do you see when you look at mankind? You don't see, as Paul says, “gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising.” What you see are humans, both male and female.

Furthermore, “Adam” (אָדָם, âdâm) is a term used in the Bible for both the name of the first man, Adam (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:45),10and for mankind (e.g. Job 36:25, 28; 37:7;11 38:26; etc.), both male and female, as it is here used in Genesis 1:26. What is translated as “man” in Genesis 1:26 is the Hebrew term אָדָם, (âdâm) “Adam.” Similarly, Genesis 5:2 more literally reads,

Male and female He created them, and blessed them and called their name Adam in the day they were created.

Here too, as in Genesis 1:26, “Adam” refers to both the male and the female, who were created in Their image.

So from the very start, in the very first chapter of the Bible, God reveals Himself to be both male and female, as both are made in His image, in Their image (Us, Our, Our), and this is revealed elsewhere in Scripture.

Now, no doubt, the Lord overwhelmingly identifies Himself in the masculine (“He” etc.), even calling Himself a Man (e.g. Exodus 15:3), even two Men (e.g. John 8:17-18), even three Men (Genesis 18:1-22). But, He also identifies Himself as female as well.12

For example, in Malachi 4:2 the “Sun of Righteousness13 is female, which is a phrase which speaks of God. God is a Sun (Psalm 84:11)14 and He is Righteousness (John 16:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30).15 This “Sun of Righteousness” in Malachi 4:2 is God, and She is clearly female. The verb “arise” (וְזָרְחָ֙ה) is feminine (literally, “she shall arise”)16 and the pronominal suffix “Her” for “Her wings” is feminine as well (בִּכְנָפֶ֑יהָ “in Her wings”).17

Moreover, the term for “Sun” in Malachi 4:2 is שֶׁמֶשׁ (shemesh) which is the most common word for sun in the Hebrew Bible,18 and it is used as both a female or male term. For example, in Genesis 15:17; Exodus 22:3; 2 Samuel 2:24; Psalm 104:22; Song of Solomon 1:6; Isaiah 38:8; Jeremiah 15:9 (written);19 Micah 3:6; and Nahum 3:17, it is used as a female term with feminine verbs (some of the same verbs as when used as a masculine)20 and in 2 Samuel 12:11 with a feminine demonstrative pronoun.21 In Genesis 19:23; 28:11; 32:32; Exodus 16:21; Leviticus 22:7; Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 23:4; Psalm 104:19;22 Ecclesiastes 1:5 (2x); Isaiah 13:10;23 60:20; Jeremiah 15:9 (read);24 and Joel 2:31(H 3:4), it is used as a male term with masculine verbs. Thus, there is no demand, based on its usage in the Hebrew Bible, that it be necessarily used as a female term in Malachi 4:2.

Likewise, God is called the “Dayspring” in Luke 1:78 (NKJV; KJV). This is the feminine Greek noun ἀνατολὴ (anatolê). The NAS translates it “Sunrise.” Everywhere else in the NT it refers to the east (Matthew 2:1-2, 9; 8:11; 24:27; Mark 16:20 CT; Luke 13:29; Revelation 7:2; 16:12; 21:13).

Another example of the femininity of God is found in Wisdom. Christ, in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9), is both the Word of God (John 1:1, 14) and God (John 20:28), and the Word of God (Scripture) is Wisdom (e.g. Luke 11:49). God is Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24) and Understanding (Proverbs 8:14), and Wisdom and Understanding is a “She” (Proverbs 1:20-21; 3:13-18; 4:5-9; 8:1-3; 9:1-4).25

In Proverbs the female Wisdom is contrasted with the woman of foolishness.26 Both call out (Proverbs 9:3/15). Both are at the highest places of the city” (Proverbs 9:3/14). Both target the “simple” (Proverbs 9:4/16). Both seek to persuade the simple to “turn in here” (Proverbs 9:4/16). So, God (in the female, Wisdom) is contrasted with a human in the female, a woman of folly.27

Furthermore, what humans need, first and foremost, is Wisdom (God), as it is written,

Wisdom is the principal thing;28Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7; see also 4:5)

And when we have found and obtained Wisdom, we are told to call Her (God) our “sister.”

Say to wisdom, You are my sister,29and call understanding your kinswoman30 (Proverbs 7:4 AKJV).

So, for the believer, Jesus, in whom dwells all the fulness of God, the Word of God, Scripture, Wisdom, God Himself and Herself, is both our brother (Matthew 25:40) and our sister (Proverbs 7:4), and even our mother (Galatians 4:26).

God is also “the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26), as it is written,

but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Galatians 4:26)

In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she31 will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jeremiah 33:16)

Jerusalem here is called a “she,” and she is called, “The Lord our righteousness.”32 So, here again, the Lord is called a “she.”

As the Jerusalem on earth is God Himself (Psalm 48:12-13; 137:5-6; Jeremiah 33:16), so is the Jerusalem above (Hebrews 12:22). God does not change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). He existed as Jerusalem before the world began, as it is written,

Indeed before the day was, I am He (Isaiah 43:13).

And, He is also She.

Arguments Against:

Some may argue against the feminine forms as if God somehow was limited to the language at hand. But, they forget that God is the One who made the language, and He is the One choosing what words to use. It is all by design (Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 46:10; Romans 11:36).

Similarly, in considering language, it is typical for the male form to cover both the male and female subjects. “Man” is often used to mean, male and female of the human race, though only the “man” is mentioned; just as the use of the term “Adam” is used in the Hebrew Bible. Thus, being there is more than One in the Godhead (e.g. Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; etc.), it should not be surprising that the male gender dominates, as it does typically in languages.

Furthermore, some may argue that Eve was created almost as an after thought. After all, God said after He created the male,

It is not good that man33 should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him. (Genesis 2:18)

It should be noted, though, that God was not alone as well (“Us,” “Our,” “Our”). Genesis two simply records the process in which He created “them” (Genesis 1:26 ).

Some may argue using 1 Corinthians 11:7 where man is called “the image and glory of God,” and the woman is called, “the glory of man,” as if to imply the woman was not made in God's image as well. Yet, 1 Corinthians 11:7 does not say that.34 The woman is simply noted as the glory of the one who is the glory of Another. 1 Corinthians 11:7 does not remove the woman from being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).

For example, James 3:9, speaking of the tongue, says,

With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

These words are not solely regarding the male gender of the human race, as Genesis 9:6 likewise declares,

Whoever sheds the blood of the Adam, by the Adam his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made the Adam. (a more literal translation of Genesis 9:6)

The Adam (הָֽאָדָ֔ם) here refers to all mankind, both male and female, as in Genesis 6:1; Job 7:20; Proverbs 27:20; Ecclesiastes 3:11 (“one”), 19 (2x);35 7:2; etc..

Finally, although men argue against the revelation of God (Genesis 1:26; etc.), Paul says man knows otherwise and is “without excuse.”

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead,36 so that they are without excuse, (Romans 1:20).

Paul argues even the Godhead can be understood by what has been made. Male and female is quite a theme in “the things that are made,” and it is common knowledge that humans are made in His image, in Their image (Genesis 1:26); but men “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18-19).

Endnotes:

1“and spring about”; KJV “grow up”; NKJV “grow fat”; NAS “skip about” - וּפִשְׁתֶּ֖ם (uphishtem) – this verb is only found also in Jeremiah 50:11 (“grown fat”); Nahum 3:18 (“scattered”); Habakkuk 1:8 (“charge ahead”; KJV “spread themselves”; NAS “come galloping”).

Newadvent.org has listed as a footnote with its Knox Translation for Malachi 4:2:

[1] Literally, ‘But to you that fear my name a sun of justice shall rise, and healing in her wings; and you shall go out, and leap like calves from the stall’. (www.newadvent.org/bible/mal004.htm, bold and underlining added)

2“in His image” - בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ (betsalmo)

3This is clearly a plural passage, “Let Us make” - נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה (na`aseh); “Our image” - בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ (betslmênu); “according to Our likeness” - כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ (kidmutênu).

4“let them have dominion” - יִרְדּוּ (yirdu) – plural masculine verb

5Genesis 1:27; 5:3; 9:6; Numbers 33:52; 1 Samuel 6:5 (2x), 11; 2 Kings 11:18; 2 Chronicles 23:17; Psalm 39:6 (“shadow” NKJV); 73:20; Ezekiel 7:20; 16:17; 23:14; Amos 5:26.

6Genesis 5:1, 3; 2 Kings 16:10 (“design” of the altar NKJV); 2 Chronicles 4:3 (“likeness” of oxen); Isaiah 13:4 (The noise “like” that of many people); Isaiah 40:18 (To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?); Ezekiel 1:5 (2x), 10, 16 (“likeness), 22 (“likeness”), 26 (“likeness” 3x), 28 (“likeness”); 8:2 (“likeness”); 10:1 (“likeness”), 10 (“looked” alike), 21-22 (“likeness”); 23:15 (“like”); Daniel 10:16.

7Paul was clearly speaking to and of idolaters, as Acts 17:16f reveals.

8In Titus 1:12 Paul likewise quotes a deceiver (Titus 1:10 “deceivers”) saying,

One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."

And then Paul writes, “This testimony is true” (Titus 1:13). So, even though Paul marked them as deceivers, he nonetheless quotes one of those deceivers, “a prophet” even, as noting truth.

9“Divine Nature” NKJV; “Godhead” KJV - θεῖον (theiov) found also only in 2 Peter 1:3-4.

10“the first man Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45, ὁ πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος Ἀδὰμ)

11The “man” in Job 37:7 is “Adam” (אָדָם, âdâm). The “men” is אַנְשֵׁ֥י ('anshêy).

12In Zechariah 5:9 there are two mystery women that are not identified. Are these part of the Godhead? The Horses are in chapter 1. With an entire Kingdom that was never created but has always been (Hebrews 12:27-28), who knows Who all and What all is in the Godhead?

13Sun of Righteousness” in the Hebrew is שֶׁ֣מֶשׁ צְדָקָ֔ה (shemesh tsedâqâh, Malachi 3:20 in the Hebrew text).

14Note also Isaiah 60:19; Matthew 17:2; Acts 26:13; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 1:5; Revelation 1:16; 10:1; 21:23; 22:5.

151 Corinthians 1:30 speaking of Christ says, “who became for us wisdom from God-- and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Nonetheless, Jesus has always been wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (Hebrews 13:8).

16This same verb is used in the masculine with the sun (שֶׁמֶשׁ) as it's subject in Genesis 32:32; 2 Samuel 23:4; Ecclesiastes 1:5; and in the feminine also in Exodus 22:2; Psalm 104:22; and Nahum 3:17.

17 Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers for Malachi 4:2 says,

The fathers and early commentators have understood Christ by the Sun of Righteousness, and they are so far right that it is the period of His advent that is referred to; but there can be no personal reference to Him in the expression, since “sun” is feminine in Hebrew; and the literal rendering of the word translated “in his wings” is “in her wings.” (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/malachi/4.htm)

So, the commentator rejects “the Sun of Righteousness” as a “personal reference to Him,” even though “all the fulness of the Godhead” dwells in Christ “bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

18 Other words translated "sun" are: חַמָּה (chammâh) – a noun for "heat" of the sun (Psalm 19:7 KJV; NKJV), but it is elsewhere used in the sense of the sun itself and translated as "sun" in Job 30:28; Song of Solomon 6:10; Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 30:26 (2x) [all places referenced]. Another noun for "heat" is חֹם (chom) and an adjective for "hot" is חָם (châm) [This is Noah's son's name, Ham, חָ֥ם (Gen 5:32)].

נֹגַהּ (nogah) – "sun" NKJV (not KJV) - Proverbs 4:18 "like the shining sun"; KJV "as the shining light" כְּא֣וֹר נֹ֑גַהּ - KJV is more accurate. The Hebrew word for light is there (א֣וֹר) and the word נֹגַהּ (nogah) is the idea of "brightness" (e.g. Amos 5:20 KJV; NKJV) or "shining" (e.g. 2 Samuel 23:4 KJV; NKJV).

אוֹר ('or) – "sun" – Job 31:26 KJV (1611 note "Heb. the light"); NKJV (note "Lit. light")

חֶרֶס (cheres) - “sun” - Judges 8:13; 14:18; Job 9:7

מִזְרָח (mizrâch) - “sunrise” (e.g. Numbers 2:3 “raising of the sun” KJV; NKJV)

19(written) = what is written in the text, which is בָּאָה (“she went in”).

20For example, in Genesis 15:17; 2 Samuel 2:24; and Micah 3:6 the feminine verb בָּאָה (bâ'âh) is used (“she went in”), whereas this same root word is used in Genesis 28:11; Leviticus 22:7; and Isaiah 60:20 in the masculine form (e.g. בָ֣א [vâ'] “he went in” Genesis 28:11). Likewise, Exodus 22:3; Psalm 104:22; and Nahum 3:17 the feminine form of the word “she rose” (e.g. זָרְחָ֥ה [zârchâh] Exodus 22:3) is used, whereas this same root word is used in Genesis 32:32; 2 Samuel 23:4; and Ecclesiastes 1:5 in the masculine form (e.g. זָרַח [zârach] “he rose” Ecclesiastes 1:5).

21“this sun” - הַשֶּׁ֥מֶשׁ הַזֹּֽאת (hashemesh hazzo't)

22More literally, “the sun knows his coming in” - שֶׁ֜֗מֶשׁ יָדַ֥ע מְבוֹאֽוֹ (shemesh yâda` mevo'o)

23More literally, “the sun shall darken in his going out” - חָשַׁ֤ךְ הַשֶּׁ֙מֶשׁ֙ בְּצֵאת֔וֹ (châshakh hashemesh betsê'to).

24(read) = what is thought to be the proper reading, which is בָּ֥א.

25Although “instruction,” מוּסָר (musâr), is a masculine form, “instruction” is also referred to in the feminine gender in Proverbs 4:13.

Take firm hold of instruction [מוּסָר], do not let go; Keep her [נִ֜צְּרֶ֗הָ], for she [הִיא] is your life. (Proverbs 4:13; for more on “instruction,” מוּסָר (musâr), see also Proverbs 6:23; 10:17; 12:1; 15:33; 19:20, 27; 23:23)

26Proverbs 9:13 - “A foolish woman” (NKJV; KJV); “The woman of folly” (NAS) - אֵ֣שֶׁת כְּ֭סִילוּת ('êshet kesiylut) – more literally, “woman of folly.”

27In Zechariah 5:7-8 a woman in a basket is identified as “Wickedness” הָרִשְׁעָ֔ה (hârish`âh), more literally “the wickedness” or, “the wicked one.” LXX has ἡ ἀνομία (hê avomia) “the lawless” or “the lawless one.”

28“principle thing” - רֵאשִׁית (rê'shiyt) – this is the same word for "beginning" in Genesis 1:1. Proverbs 4:7 is identical in concept as Matthew 6:33 – "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." The Kingdom and Wisdom are One and the Same.

29“my sister” - אֲחֹ֣תִי

30“nearest kin” NKJV; “kinswoman” KJV - מֹדָע (modâ`) only found here (in Ruth 2:1 what is “read” [qere] is מוֹדַ֣ע [moda`], but what is written [kethib] is מְיֻדָּע [meyuddâ`]). Here in Proverbs 7:4 a masculine form is used (מֹדָע) for a feminine noun (בִּינָה “understanding”). In Ruth 3:2 the feminine form is used for the masculine noun, Boaz. Boaz is called, “our relative,” מֹֽדַעְתָּ֔נוּ (moda`tânu). This feminine form, מֹדַעַת (moda`at) “relative,” is of the same root word as “kinswoman” מֹדָע (modâ`) and is only found here.

31“she will be called” - יִקְרָא־לָ֖הּ (yiqrâ'-lâh) more literally, “he will call to her,” or “he will call her”

32“The Lord our righteousness” - יְהוָ֥ה׀ צִדְקֵֽנוּ (yehvâh tsidqênu)

33“man” - הָֽאָדָ֖ם (hâ'âdâm) – more literally, “the Adam”

341 Corinthians 11:7 more literally reads,

For indeed man ought not to cover the head, being an image and glory of God, but woman is a glory of man.

35Ecclesiastes 3:19 more literally reads,

For what happens to the sons of the Adam also happens to the beast. And one thing happens to them: as this one dies, so this one dies, and there is one spirit to all. And the Adam has no advantage over the beast, for all is vanity.

36“Godhead” - θειότης (theiotês) – only found in Romans 1:20. “Godhead” in Colossians 2:9 is θεότητος (theotêtos) only found there.

 

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