Me and My Shadow – An Example of the Amazing Hebrew Language

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…'” (Genesis 1:26)

The Hebrew language is amazing. There are gems in the text you will never see reading in any other language – English, German, French. It doesn’t matter. Here is an example!

The Hebrew word for “in our image” is “betzalmenu בצלמנו .” The word “tzelem צלם” is from an unused word, which means “to shade” according to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon. Here is the detailed definition: “images (of tumours, mice, heathen gods); image or likeness (of resemblance).”

“Tzelem” is related to the word “Tzel צל”, which is the modern-day Hebrew word for “shadow”. This gives us a deeper understanding of “btzalmenu”, which means “in our shadow.” We were created in the shadow of God! When we think of this, how does a shadow form? It is when sunlight or any light hits an object, and the exact form of that object casts a shadow. If we think of a person who is moving, that shadow does exactly what the person does. If he or she is dancing, the shadow dances. If the person is running, the shadow runs. You get the picture. The shadow is an exact representation of the person. In a sense, we could say the shadow casts a reflection of the person. The shadow is proof that a person is there!

Here is another interesting factoid about the formation of shadows: the closer the object or person is to the light source, the bigger the shadow which is cast, and the further away the person or object, the smaller the shadow! The spiritual implication this teaches us is beautiful! The closer we are to our Creator, who is light, the bigger we will appear, and the more perfectly we will reflect Him! I am not talking about “bigger” in size or bigger in self-perception, but rather “bigger” in terms of Him and His qualities. At this point, I am thinking of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” What we do with our bodies, the way we walk with Hashem should reflect the way He walks. How we talk should reflect His talk. If we are to be in His likeness, we should be thinking and acting exactly the same as Him! If we do, people will see Him – that is the point.

There is one more person we should look at in the Bible who reflects the idea of being a shadow of our God. It is Betzalel בצלאל, who appears for the first time in the Torah in Exodus 31:

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘See, I have called by a name Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with a Godly spirit רוח אלהים, with wisdom, בחכמה , understanding תבין, and knowledge דעת , and with every craft.’ – Exodus 31:1-2

One of the meanings of Betzalel is “In the shadow of El (God).” The other remarkable thing about him is that he is the “son of Uri.” “Uri אורי” means “my light”. We have a perfect picture of the shadow which is cast by sunlight! But there’s more. The words that describe the Godly spirit of Betzalel in the Torah are the same words used to describe someone else:

And the spirit of the LORD רוח יהוה shall rest upon him – a spirit of wisdom חכמה and understanding בינה, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge דעת and the fear of the LORD. – Isaiah 11:2

These are the exact same words used to describe the words that are attributed to our Messiah Yeshua! Isn’t it interesting that one of the ways we refer people or beings who appear in the Torah, who are imbued with the same attributes as God or the Messiah as “a type or shadow”? It is fitting to mention at this point, there is no more perfect human shadow of the LORD than Yeshua. He only did what He saw the Father doing. He only said what He heard the Father say. He was indeed a perfect Son “in the Shadow” of Adonai.

Here’s the message: When God jumps, we should jump! Where He goes, we should go. What He says, we should say. When He forgives, we are to forgive. When He loves, we are to love. This is what it means to be created in His shadow. This includes what pertains to the Jewish people, even though the majority rejected Him by rejecting His Messiah. God is not Anti-Semitic. Neither should we be Anti-Semitic. He is not against Israel. Therefore, we should not be against Israel. He is in an unbreakable covenant with her – and that means today’s modern imperfect state of Israel!

If you belong to Yeshua, then you belong to Israel. Shaul said you have been grafted into the rich olive tree in Romans 11. That is Israel, the Jewish people. If you belong to Yeshua, you belong to the Jewish people! Shaul said you are no longer alienated from the commonwealth (greater) Israel and the covenants in Ephesians 2:11-19. You are a fellow citizen in the household of God – meaning Israel! We non-Jews are grafted into Israel. It is not the other way around. This is our identity. God did not create a ‘new’ Israel with Christians. Instead, He took all those who are not Jewish who believe in His Messiah and made them co-heirs and co-citizens in His Kingdom with Israel. Through the Jewish Messiah, we bear the name Israel, but not in a way of replacing Israel. Rather, we are to be a people who recognizes the debt we owe to the Jewish people, and we are to support them in their calling. This includes financial giving, and if we are giving to the Jewish people, the priority would be to give first to the household of faith!

Just as Israel is to be an exact representation of Him, so are we. When His light shines on us, is this what people see? Do they see in our ‘shadow’ a Yeshua who came first to save the lost sheep of Israel? Do people see a ‘shadow’ representing an authentic Jewish Messiah teaching a gospel in a Jewish context? Are we ‘carrying our Jewish brothers and sisters on our shoulders’ — supporting them in their calling to be a ‘Light to the Nations?’ Do we pray for them? Do we even think about them? Do we recognize the debt we owe them? This is what it means to be “in His shadow.” After all, our God refers to Himself as “the God of Israel” 201 times in the Bible. Shouldn’t we see ourselves as part of “Israel” if He is our God, and we belong to Him? I submit to you that to represent ourselves as anything else is to represent a different Gospel. Who does your shadow look like?