My notes on Bereisheet

Main reference: Rashi on Numbers, Pentateuch with Rashi’s commentary by M. Rosenbaum and A.M. Silbermann, 1929-1934 (English),

Parashat Bereisheet (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

Genesis 1

1:26   And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Comment: AI or artificial intelligence means man-made intelligence. AI systems are often made in “man’s image”, such as the perceptron, neural networks, and committee learning. A neural net contains hidden nodes that mimic biological neurons that are highly interconnected. I wonder if AI was inspired by the biblical concept of “GI” (Gd-made intelligence). We are Gd made intelligence. Just as AI is created to serve man, “GI” (man) is created to serve Gd.


1:27   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Comment: “GI” (Gd-made intelligence) is more advanced than AI (at its current stage), in the sense that Gd “coded” them to be in two genders, to be able to marry and reproduce. 


1:28   And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Comment: Gd defines the mission of “GI” (Gd-made intelligence). 


1:29   And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Comment: Gd supplies the source of energy / “batteries” / “electricity” for “GI” (Gd-made intelligence). 


Genesis 2

2:3   And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Comment: It is a great mercy for Gd to rest on the seventh day, even though He is not tired. Since man was created in Gd’s image, it is fitting for man to imitate his Creator, to work six days a week, and to rest on the seventh day. Even atheist countries such as modern China count days in seven-day weeks, and they allow at least one rest day every week. I grew up in atheist China and can testify that this is true. However, we were never told the reason why we rested one day every seven days, instead of resting, say, one day every five days or ten days. 

As believers, by resting on the seventh day, we proclaim our belief that the world has a Creator, and that He rested after His creation since everything is under His control.


Genesis 3

3:24   So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Comment: “the way of the tree of life”: I think it corresponds to the veil at the entrance to the holy of holies (Exodus 26:31-33). They have 3 similarities: 


  • Both are on the eastern side: The way of the tree of life is on the eastern side of the garden of Eden, and the veil is at the eastern entrance of the holy of holies.
  • Both involve the keyword Cherubims: The way of the tree of life is guarded by the Cherubims. The veil is made with a design of Cherubims: (Exodus 26:31) “And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made …”
  • Both involve forbiddenness of entrance: Just as Adam (after the original sin) was forbidden to go through the way of the tree of life,  ordinary people are forbidden to go through the veil to enter the holy of holies (Levites 16). 

Readers may feel sorry that mankind has lost access to the tree of life due to the original sin. How do we know that actually now the way to the tree of life is open?  The veil with the image of Cherubims at the entrance of the holy of holies was split up upon the death of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 27:50-52, causing dead people to come back to life.  This symbolizes the re-opening of the way to the tree of life. This did not happen until the original sin was atoned for by Jesus’ death.

The tree of life symbolizes God’s Word. How do we know this? Also from the keyword Cherubims. The Cherubims in the current verse are guarding the tree of life. The Cherubims in Exodus 25 and 26 guard Gd’s Word, which is symbolized by the 10 commandments, which are engraved on the two tablets, which are placed in the ark in the holy of holies.


Genesis 4

4:4   And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

Comment: Abel offering is the first biblical record of animal sacrifice, and also the first biblical record of a human killing an animal. Animals were not eaten then, since eating of animals would only start 9 generations later after the flood (Genesis 9:3). This might be the first time that mankind witnesses the death of any living being. They probably never knew what the process of death was like. 

The Torah didn’t explicitly explain why Gd preferred Abel’s animal offering to Cain’s grain offering (compare v.4:5). My guess is the following: By the ritual of animal sacrifice, Abel takes away the life of a lamb that he has raised, this demonstrates his belief that he himself is like a lamb who owes its life to its raiser. Gd is the master of all lives.


Genesis 5

5:27   And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

Comment: Methuselah was the longest living human being. He died when his grandson Noah was 600 years old, right before the flood came. To prove this, v.5:25 says that Methuselah begat Lamech at 187 years old, v.5:28-29 says Lamech begat Noah at 182 years old, so Methuselah was 187+182=369 years older than Noah. So when Methuselah died at age 969, Noah was 969-369=600 years old, when the flood came (v.7:11). Actually the name of Methuselah in Hebrew means “his death sent”. This alludes to a decree that the flood would come after Methuselah’s death. He lived the longest life since Gd was patient to wait for evil people to repent, before sending the flood to wipe away the evilness. (See also Rashi’s commentary on Genesis 7:4 .)

The correspondence among three different aspects: (1) the Hebrew meaning of Methuselah’s name, (2) the nontrivial computation showing that his year of death is the same as the year of the flood, as well as (3) his life being the longest ever (showing Gd’s patience),  forcefully demonstrate that the Bible is very deep in wisdom. 


Genesis 6

6:8   But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Comment: The Hebrew word for grace (Chein) is related to “for free” (Chinam)[1]. Our deed is not enough to win salvation. We need to rely on Gd’s grace. Even if Noah “was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (v.6:9), he still needed Gd’s grace for being saved from the flood. In fact his doing of good deeds was also due to God’s grace, this may be why Gd’s grace is mentioned first (in this verse), before mentioning Noah’s good deeds (in the next verse).