Genesis 1:28-31

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

The First Dispensation: Innocence. Man was created in innocence, placed in a perfect environment, subjected to a simple test, and warned of the consequences of disobedience. He was not compelled to sin but, tempted by Satan, he chose to disobey God. The woman was deceived; the man transgressed deliberately (1 Timothy 2:14). The stewardship of Innocence ended in the judgment of the expulsion from Eden (Genesis 3:24. — Scofield, page 4.

God’s blessing of man, as His blessing on the animals in v.22, is fundamentally concerned with the expansion of life. Unlike the animals, however, the life of man is not just physical, or biological, but also spiritual, centered in the divine Image—i.e., the soul—that was uniquely imparted by God to humanity. This blessing, therefore, as ideally intended by God, is expressed not just by the man being created and placed in a state of physical “perfection” or “wholeness” (both concepts are expressed by the same Hebrew word: shalom), but also in a state of spiritual “wholeness”—that is to say, in unbroken and complete relationship with His Creator-Father. — Wechsler, page 72.

subdue (v.28) — Man began with a mind that was perfect in its finite capacity for learning, but he did not begin knowing all the secrets of the universe. He is commanded to “subdue,” i.e., acquire a knowledge and mastery over his material environment, to bring its elements into the service of the race. — Scofield, page 4.

God instructed man to “subdue” the earth, and to “have dominion over … every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” These are military terms—first conquer, and then rule. In context, however, there is no actual conflict suggested, since everything God had made was pronounced “good.” The “cultural mandate,” as some have called it, is clearly a very expressive figure of speech for, first, intense study and, then, utilization of this knowledge. … This twofold commission to subdue and have dominion, to conquer and rule, embraces all productive human activities.

This command, therefore, established man as God’s steward over the created world and all things therein. “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou has put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea” (Psalm 8:6-8). However, as the writer of Hebrews says, commenting on this passage: “But now we see not yet all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:8). The problem is, of course, that man has failed in his stewardship. Instead of using the earth for good, under God, he has denied God and abused his stewardship.—Morris, pages 76-77.

The same command to subdue the land, moreover, is given by God to the Israelites with reference to the land of Canaan—a parallel which is unquestionably intended to strengthen the perception of Jacob’s descendants not only that the land of Canaan (as finally and most specifically delineated in Numbers 34) is theirs by divine right, but also that they are to live out the ideal of what pre-Fall humanity was meant to be and do. — Wechsler, page 73. 

It is clear from this passage that, in the original creation, it was not intended that either man or animals should eat animal food. As far as man was concerned, this was changed at the time of the Flood (Genesis 9:3). Whether some of the antediluvians ventured to do this against God’s command, we are not told, although it is a possibility (Jabal introduced cattle raising, Genesis 4:10). As far as carnivorous animals are concerned, their desire for meat must also have been a later development, either at the time of the Curse or after the Flood. — Morris, page 78.

In v.30 reference is also made to a third group of vegetation—i.e., the green plant—which is mentioned here for the first time, not because it was here created, but because it is only  now relevant for man—that is to say, relevant to his knowledge of what sustenance was necessary for the animals he was commanded to “rule” in v.28. — Wechsler, page 73. 

God had now completed His work, but, before settling down to “rest” in contemplation of what He had produced, as it were, He first surveyed it all and pronounced the whole creation to be “very good.” Six times before,  he had seen that what He had made was “good”; but now that it was complete, with every part in perfect harmony with every other part, all perfectly formed and with an abundance of inhabitants, He saw with great joy that it was all “literally) “exceedingly good.” On each previous day, the account had concluded by saying (literally) “the evening and the morning were a fifth day,” and so on; but now it says, “the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (the definite article occurring for the first time in this formula), thus also stressing completion of the work. — Morris, page 79.

This verse concludes the first chapter of Genesis but … this first chapter should really not have been marked as this point, but in the middle of verse 4 of Genesis 2. It is there that the first toledoth subscript appears: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.” It is likely … that this statement represents the subscript, or signature as it were, of the author of the section that has bone before. In this case, since there was no human author, no man having been present to observe the creation, no human name is attached as in the case of the other ten “toledoths” that occur later in Genesis. — Morris, page 80.

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