The God-Man

The Hebrew Scriptures also teach the concept of a God-Man. Not man making himself God, but God appearing on earth as a man. One example is Zechariah 13:7a which states in the first part of the verse:

Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,(NASB)[1]

The key word in the sentence is the word translated “My Associate.” That word is translated “who is close to me” by the NIV.

Dr. Fruchtenbaum evaluates the word as meaning “my equal” and comments:

This man is God’s equal and God’s equal must be God Himself. On one hand, His humanity is stressed: …the man; and then His deity is stressed: that is my equal.[2]

The Bible Knowledge Commentary concurs in their comments using the NIV rendering:

The LORD added that this Shepherd is the Man who is close to Me. The Hebrew word translated “who is close to me” is found elsewhere only in Leviticus (6:2, 18:20, etc) where it refers to a “near relative”… In Zechariah 13:7, the LORD is claiming identity of nature or unity in essence with His Shepherd, thus strongly affirming the Messiah’s deity.[3]

In contrast to the NASB and NIV is the Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh version of 1997:

O sword! Rouse yourself against My shepherd,
The man i-in charge of My flock-i[4]

As you can see the rendering of the key Hebrew word is very different from the NASB or the NIV. Why is their rendering so different? A reason is given in a footnote. IN the electronic version I own, that phrase is bracketed by two superscripted “i’s.” The explanation given in the footnote is “meaning of Hebrew uncertain.” This is quite an amazing position to take. No one else seem to have a problem wiht the word, including the Jewish Publication Society (JPS). In the JPS produced “The Holy Scriptures” (1917, 1945, 1955), the word is rendered “the man that is near to me.” Likewise:

  • Soncino Books of the Bible (text rendering):
  • the man that is near unto me

  • Soncino Books of the Bible (commentary rendering):
  • the man that is my fellow

  • Septuagint :
  • citizen, freeman, fellow citizen

  • American Standard Version :
  • my fellow

  • Revised Standard Version :
  • the man who stands next to me

  • New Living Translation :
  • my partner

  • The Contemporary English Version :
  • friend

  • King James :
  • my fellow

  • New American Standard :
  • my associate

  • New International Version :
  • The man who is close to me

  • The New King James Version :
  • my companion

  • Brown Driver and Brigs Lexicon :
  • associate, fellow, relation

  • Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament :
  • associate, fellow, relation

  • New American Standard Hebrew-American and Greek Dictionaries :
  • associate, fellow, relation

  • Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon :
  • relation, neighbor, associate, fellow

These other works have no trouble understanding this word. The 1997 Tanakh does not seem to be able to face the impact and meaning of the text. They almost seem to want to obscure it. However, the God-Man concept is there and supports the idea of complex, indivisible unity in the Godhead. The God-Man concept is also found in Micah 5:2, Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 80:17, and Psalm 110:1. Micah 5:2 states that the Messiah has existed from eternity past, indicating that He is God, as well as being born in Bethlehem which indicates that He is also a man. In Zechariah 12:10, Israel will look to God, whom they pierced. In Psalm 80:17 and Psalm 110:1, the Messiah will be seated at the place of honor and equality, God’s right hand.

Here is one final thought that is helpful from Rabbi Albo. In J. David Bleich’s book, With Perfect Faith, he quotes Rabbi Albo explaining his understanding of how the prophets receive their revelation. Albo uses Bereshit Rabbah:

A Cuthean asked Rabbi Meir, is it possible that God, of whom It’s written, ‘Don’t I fill heaven and earth?’ should have spoken to Moses from between the staves of the ark? Said Rabbi Meir, bring me large mirrors. When he brought them, R. Meir said to him, look at your reflection. He looked, and he saw they were large. Then he said, bring me small mirrors. He looked and he saw they were small. Then R. Meir said, If you, a man of flesh and blood can change yourself into many shapes at your pleasure, surely God who created the world can do so.

As in the mirrors a thing appears different in form, large or small, straight or crooked, bright or obscure, according to the nature of the mirrors through which the thing is seen, i.e. according as the mirrors are large or small, straight or crooked, clear or obscure, though the thing itself does not change, so God appears to the prophets under many and various forms according to the brightness and purity of the media, though God Himself does not multiply or change. The change and multiplicity come from the media, as in the illustration of the mirrors.5

The connection here is that fact that Albo has nicely stated that God has revealed Himself to man through a variety of media, a cloud, a fire, etc. The media He chose to use in the case of the Messiah is a human body. God did not multiply Himself or change. He simply used a particular medium of expression. The God-Man concept is not contrary to Scripture and it maintains the evidence for complex, indivisible unity.

  1. ^ New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995 (Zec. 13:7). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation

  2. ^ Fruchtenbaum, p. 11

  3. ^ Walvoord, Electronic edition.
  4. i- Meaning of Heb. uncertain

    -i Meaning of Heb. uncertain

  5. ^ vJewish Publication Society. (1997, c1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures: A new translation of the Holy Scriptures according to the traditional Hebrew text. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

  6. ^ Bleich, pp. 334-335