Let Us?

Q. Gen 11:5-7 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” Who was God talking to? Angels?

A. No, I don’t think it was angels. Historically there are three main interpretations. The “us” could refer to:

  • Angels, or
  • The “royal we” or “majestic plural”, or
  • The three Persons in One God, the Trinity, talking to each other.

Which is it?

First, let me cite the most well-known passages in Genesis besides 11:7 that have a plural pronoun when referring to a singular God:

  • Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
  • Gen 3:22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—

Here are my comments:

  • Gen 1:26 could NOT refer to angels, as nowhere in Scripture is it ever stated that man was created in the image of angels, only of God e.g.
    • Gen 1:27, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
    • Gen 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.
    • 1 Co 11:7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
  • Some commentators felt Gen 1:26, 3:22 & 11:7 have the “royal we”, or “majestic plural”, which uses a plural pronoun to refer to a single person who is a monarch e.g. Queen Victoria replied “we are not amused” upon hearing a tasteless joke. That’s possible, but unlikely, because:
    • Majestic plural is normally used by kings and royalty when speaking in an official capacity, or by those of lower rank when speaking of or to their superiors. But the context of the 3 passages do not require an official setting necessarily, and most certainly they are not spoken by someone with a lower rank.
    • More importantly, the earliest example of majestic plural found in literature is in the 3rd century. None of the early Church Fathers knew of this poetic device. They unanimously interpreted Gen 1:26 as the Father speaking to the Son. It is therefore a late literary device used by those who object to Trinity.
  • By elimination I am left with the three Persons in the Triune God conversing amongst themselves, which is my position on the subject.
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