The Torah tells us that Adam was created in the divine image (Gen 1.26-27; 5; 9.6). If the divinity had a body, then we would suppose this means that Adam was created as the divinity's Doppelgänger, but a corporal deity is foreign to both tradition and reason so the Torah must have something else in mind. I have seen several interpretation of Adam's divine image, but perhaps someone might be so kind as to summarize the major opinions in a convenient list for the enlightenment of all.

  • @JoelK Chaim of Volozhin appears to take the contextual approach adopted by earlier authorities like Saadia Gaon that see "divine image" as a reference to Adam's dominion over much of Creation. This is contextual because in Genesis 1, the image is immediately followed by the Creator describing Adam as the ruler of terrestrial realm.
    – user19234
    Dec 6, 2021 at 9:50
  • Yair Lorberbaum, doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107477940 discusses rabbinic sources relating to this question.
    – user19234
    Dec 6, 2021 at 10:38
  • Jacob Jervell archive.org/details/imagodeigen126fi0000jerv discusses "Late Jewish" (meaning post-biblical) sources on the question.
    – user19234
    Dec 6, 2021 at 10:47

1 Answer 1


I have seen the following interpretations:

  1. Superior intellect (Philo and Maimonides)

  2. Immortality (Book of Wisdom)

  3. Chosen by the creator for special dignity (Saadia Gaon)

  4. Dominion over the earth and all its inhabitants (Saadia Gaon)

  5. ֹAngels and other divine beings appear like noble humans to the prophets as humans are the closest things to angels imaginable (Judah Halevi)

  6. Free will (Jacob ben Wolf Kranz)

  • 1
    Free will?.....
    – robev
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:35
  • There are much earlier sources which say divine image = free will, I believe.
    – robev
    Dec 8, 2021 at 19:28
  • For example, the Seforno?
    – robev
    Dec 8, 2021 at 19:33
  • In the link I provided he discusses free will
    – robev
    Dec 9, 2021 at 21:46
  • Some claim that Judah Loew ben Bezalel defines the divine image as free will, but in fact he says this is a consequence of the image rather the essence of the image. See sefaria.org/…
    – user19234
    Feb 18, 2022 at 11:39

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