Adam Kadmon2

By James Trimm

Philo’s concept of the “Word” (Logos) is the “image of Elohim” which served as the pattern for the creation of man in Gen. 1:26-27. Philo writes:

…For God does not seem to have availed himself
of any other animal existing in creation as his model
in the formation of man; but to have been guided,
as I have said before, by his own Word (Logos) alone…
(Philo; On Creation XLVIII (139))

But the divine Word (Logos) which is above these
does not come into any visible appearance,
inasmuch as it is not like to any of the things
that come under the external senses,
but is itself an image of God,
the most ancient of all the objects of intellect
in the whole world, and that which is placed
in the closest proximity to the only truly existing God,
without any partition or distance being interposed
between them:
(On Flight and Finding XVIII (101))

Now, Bezaleel, being interpreted, means God in his shadow.
But the shadow of God is his Word (Logos), which he used
like an instrument when he was making the world.
And this shadow, and, as it were, model, is the archetype of other things. For, as God is himself the model of that image which he has now called a shadow, so also that image is the model of other things,
as he showed when he commenced giving the law to the Israelites,
and said, “And God made man according to the image of God.”[Gen. 1:26] as the image was modeled according to God, and as man was modeled according to the image, which thus received the power and character of the model.
(Allegorical Interpretations III 96)

For if it was necessary to examine the mortal body
of the priest that it ought not be imperfect through
any misfortune, much more was it necessary to look
into his immortal soul, which they say is fashioned
in the form of the living God. Now the image of God
is the Word (Logos), by which all the world was made.
(The Special Laws I, 81)

What is the man who was created? And how is that man
distinguished who was made after the image of God? (Gen. 2:7).
This man was created as perceptible to the senses,
and in the similitude of a Being appreciable only by the intellect;
but he who in respect of his form is intellectual and incorporeal,
is the similitude of the archetypal model as to appearance,
and he is the form of the principal character;
but this is the Word (Logos) of God, the first beginning of all things,
the original species or the archetypal idea,
the first measure of the universe.
(Q & A on Gen. I, 4)

Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god,
saying that he made man after the image of God,
and not that he made him after his own image? (Gen. 9:6).
Very appropriately and without any falsehood
was this oracular sentence uttered by God,
for no mortal thing could have been formed
on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe,
but only after the pattern of the second deity,
who is the Word (Logos) of the supreme Being;
since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it
the type of the divine Word (Logos); since in his first Word (Logos)
God is superior to the most rational possible nature.
But he who is superior to the Word (Logos) holds his rank
in a better and most singular pre-eminence, and how could
the creature possibly exhibit a likeness of him in himself?
Nevertheless he also wished to intimate this fact,
that God does rightly and correctly require vengeance,
in order to the defense of virtuous and consistent men,
because such bear in themselves a familiar acquaintance
with his Word (Logos), of which the human mind is
the similitude and form.
(Q & A on Gen. II 62)

This parallels what we read in the Targum:

And the Word (Memra) of YHWH
created man in his likeness,
in the likeness of YHWH, YHWH created,
male and female created He them.
(Targ. Jonathan Gen. 1:27)


We said before that Philo’s Word (Logos) parallels the SEFIROT of the Kabbalah in Rabbinic Judaism. In Kabbalah the SEFIROT are said to be manifested in “Adam Kadmon”. According to Genesis man was created in the “image of Elohim”. This “image of Elohim” was a manifestation of the Godhead, which served as a model for Adam.

…the form (image) of G-d in which He created man is actually G-d’s blueprint form for man. This “form” or “blueprint” consisted of G-d’s first thought in creation, and hence the highest level of creation. This is referred to as “Adam Kadmon” (Primeval Man).
(Bahir; Aryeh Kaplan; p. 95 in Kaplans commentary to Bahir 7)

“Adam Kadmon” means “before Adam” and refers to the “image of Elohim” after which we were created. Gershom Scholem writes:

In His active manifestations, the Godhead appears as the dynamic unity of the Sefiroth, portrayed as the “tree of the Sefiroth,” or the mystical human form (‘Adam Kadmon), who is none other than the concealed shape of Godhead itself.
(On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead; Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah; p. 39)

However, the Sefiroth do not appear only in the shape of the tree. They also appear in the form of Primal Man (‘Adam Kadmon),which corresponds to that of earthly man.
(ibid p. 43)

Thus he is not just the Tree and the Sefirot, he is Adam Kadmon, the image of Elohim:

The Holy One, blessed be He, has a son, whose glory (tifret) shines from one end of the world to another. He is a great and mighty tree, whose head reaches heaven, and whose roots are set in the holy ground, and his name is “Mispar” and his place is in the uppermost heaven,… as it is written, “The heavens declare (me-SaPRim) the glory (tifret) of God” (Ps. 19:1). Were it not for this “Mispar” there would be neither hosts Nor offspring in any of the worlds.
(Zohar 2:105a)

Adam Kadmon, however, was not just the image of Elohim. He was actually Elohim himself, as Gershom Scholem writes:

…God entered into the form of the Adam Kadmon…
(Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem p. 116)

The Adam Kadmon was “the likeness like the appearance of a man” which Ezekiel saw upon the throne (Ezek. 1:26) in his Merkavah vision (vision of the divine throne-chariot).

Remember, Philo tells us:

…So that the Word (Logos) is, as it were, the charioteer of the powers,…
(On Flight and Finding XIX 101)

In the so-called “New Testament” the “Word” is the Messiah Yeshua, of whom we read:

…the Messiah, who is the likeness of Elohim.
(2Cor. 4:4)

[his Son] who is the image of the invisible Elohim..
(Col. 1:15)

[the Son] who is the radiance of his glory,
and the image of his being…
(Heb. 1:3)

The identification of Messiah Yeshua with Adam Kadmon is also reflected in 1Cor. 15:45 where Yeshua is called “the last Adam”.


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