Then God said, “Let us make mankind...(Genesis 1:26)

Hello all. I have a question. Can we translate the hebrew naaseh from Genesis 1:26 as „We will” not just as ”Let us„? When i see „Let us” i see a direct speaking to another being about what they do; and only this interpretation i see. But if we can tranalate „We will” other interpretation may arise as i make clar below:

And God said(to the angels): We will(that is Iahve's beings) make man....

So the meaning above is that God speak to the Angels about what He and the Spirit(or the Trinity as others believe) want to do. So is a difference, for me, if we said "Let us make man" and "We will make man" because, for me, "Let us make man" mean that the one who speak and the one he's talking to make man. But if we tranalate "We will make man..." besides that it may mean what I just said, it may also mean that the speaker is talking to someone else about what he is going to do with another being.(for example as i talk with u about what i and my wife will do: We will buy a house(not i and You but i and my wife) and after this we will make a child).

But this meaning, i guess, can stand only if we CAN tranalate the hebrew word as "we will" not just as "let us". Can we?

God bless u all.

  • Why do you think God was speaking to angels ? Your interpolation ("to the angels") is not in the text of scripture.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 9:16
  • Why not? It is posible. In Genesis 1:29 dont is written "And God said to man..." But this is true that this is to man addressed. So... Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 10:05
  • Your question seems to touch upon the concept of inclusive vs. exclusive we, a grammatical feature absent from either ancient Hebrew or Indo-European languages, such as Greek and Latin (and their modern day descendants).
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 12:12

2 Answers 2


נַעֲשֶׂה (naʿaseh) can mean either "let us make/do" or "we will make/do" (e.g., Ex 19:8). Its cohortative form is the same as its normal yiqtol form and thus one cannot determine its sense by the grammatical form alone in this case. It is by context that נַעֲשֶׂה is to be understood as a cohortative and thus mean "Let us make". God's creative speech acts are commands. The distinctive jussive form for the verbs in vv. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 22, 24 and the imperative forms in vv. 22, 28 make this clear. Due to this context, it is best to understand נַעֲשֶׂה as a self-directed command such as "Let us make" rather than as an indicative statement about what the referent will do in the future.

  • Thank u for this. So it can mean both. I will think about what are u said about context. Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 21:49

The relevant word נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה (na-‘ă-śeh) is Imperfect Cohortative for both singular and plural. The cohortative mood expresses the speaker's desire, intention, self-encouragement, or determination to perform a certain action. In several cases it reflects the meaning of will, desire, judgment, premonition and permission.

In the LXX Greek translation, where ποιήσωμεν is used, and in Latin this is rendered faciamus, which is 1st person plural in both cases.

Until recently, the traditional Christian interpretation has seen in the 1st pers. plur. a reference to the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. This of course only holds water if you retroactively assign this interpretation to a text pre-dating the NT by centuries.

There are also scholars who see this as being a survival of polytheism in the text.

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