1. The Purpose
and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
The purpose of man’s creation is to let them have dominion. Having dominion is a consequence of the image, not the content of the image. God has dominion and, since man was created in God’s image, man is now given dominion over the earth. Man replaces Satan as the authority over the earth (Ps. 8:6–8; Heb. 2:5–9). It was noted previously that, in the original Creation of Genesis 1:1, Satan was given authority over the earth (Ezek. 28:11–19). When Satan fell, God judged him and the earth, resulting in the chaos of Genesis 1:2 and Satan’s loss of his dominion.
The passage then specifies the particular areas over which man is to exercise dominion: first, the fish of the sea, sea life; secondly, the birds of the heavens, bird life; thirdly, the cattle, domesticated animals; fourthly, all the earth, the physical earth; and fifth, every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth, amphibians and reptiles.
2. The Fulfillment
And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
The fulfillment of all these things is declared in three statements in verse 27: first, God created man; secondly, in the image of God created he him; and thirdly, male and female created he them. The phrase image of God is found four times in Genesis: in verse 26, twice in verse 27, and in 9:6. Here the verb bara is used three times to make clear that a high point is reached. First, it is used of man’s creation. Secondly, it is also used of the creation of the divine image. Thirdly, the word bara is used is to emphasize the creation of the two sexes, both on the sixth day. They were not divided into species, not after their kind, because both male and female have the image of God. Man was the final act of Creation and, according to rabbinic tradition, man was created last so that he would not be proud.
What was the status of man before the Fall? Before the Fall, the status of man was two things: first, he was posse non peccare, which is the Latin expression meaning “able not to sin”; secondly, he was also posse peccare, meaning “able to sin.” After the Fall, the status of man was that he became non posse non peccare, “not able not to sin.” In other words, he cannot help but sin.
3. The Edenic Covenant
The Edenic Covenant is found in two parts. The first part is contained in these verses, and the second part is found in Genesis 2:4–25. This is a study of the seven days of Creation, so it is concerned with only the first part.
4. The Blessing
And God blessed them.
The covenant is made between God and Adam, therefore, Adam stands as the representative head of the human race. Basically, Adam was given “power of attorney,” so his actions are our actions. While the word “covenant” is not used here, a look at Hosea 6:7 attests clearly to the fact that God viewed this arrangement as a covenant.
5. The Provisions
There are a number of provisions in the Edenic Covenant, including the four that appear here in these verses.
--The first provision is to populate the earth in verse 28b: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
The earth is now to be filled with humanity. Contrary to common thinking among some believers and non-believers alike, this clearly shows that sexual intercourse was not the first sin. And, furthermore, the fruit was not symbolic of sexual intercourse, because the command to multiply humanity is given before the Fall, and the multiplication of the human race comes by means of sexual intercourse. This affirms, indeed, that sexual intercourse was not the first sin. It is, in fact, blessed by God in its appropriate place: marriage.
-The second provision is to have authority over the material world in verse 28c: and subdue it.
Again, this authority over the material world was previously given to Satan, but it is now replaced by God’s switching the authority to man.
-The third provision is in verse 28d: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.
Adam is given authority over the animal kingdom and told to have dominion over three things: first, the fish of the sea; secondly, the birds of the heavens; and thirdly, every living thing that moves upon the earth. The first exercise of Adam’s special authority over the animal kingdom is when he names the animals in chapter 2.
-The fourth provision involves the diet of man and animals in verses 29–30. The instructions to man are in verse 29: And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.
Man had to be vegetarian because eating animals required their physical death, and physical death did not exist before Adam’s fall.
This was also true for all categories of the animal kingdom in verse 30: and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so.
The first category is: every beast of the earth; secondly: every bird of the heavens; and thirdly: everything that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food. So again, man and animals were all to be vegetarian. The verse concludes: and it was so.
And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
The result of the sixth day comes with the words: And God saw everything that he had made. Although the focus is on the work of the sixth day, the term everything includes the work of all six days. God states: and, behold, it was very good. He does not merely say, “It was good,” as it has been heretofore; now the word very is added, the first emphasis of the uniqueness of the sixth day.
The rabbis said the adverb very is added to denote that the perfection of the total Creation exceeds that of its separate parts. Again, the phrase also applies to the work of all six days.
6. The Conclusion
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Finally, there is the conclusion of the sixth day. For the first time, there is the definite article the before the number. Up to this verse, it has simply been one day, then, a second day, a third day, a fourth day, and so on. Here, it is not “a sixth day,” but the sixth day. This is the only time the definite article is used in this format, and it marks the second emphasis of the uniqueness of the sixth day. The third emphasis of the day’s uniqueness is that it receives the most detailed description.
Rabbinic theology offers its own view as to the definite article and the unique aspect. One famous rabbi, Rashi, said, “The definite article signifies that the whole of Creation was dependent upon the sixth day, that is, the sixth of the Jewish month of Sivan, when Israel accepted the Law. For if Israel had rejected the Law, the whole earth would have reverted back to a state of chaos and nothingness.”
e. The Significance of the Sixth Day for Men and Women
One final note about this sixth day concerns men and women. First, both were created on the same day as the crowning elements of Creation. Genesis 1 does not deal with the order of the creation of male and female, but the emphasis is that He created mankind, both male and female, on the same day. Secondly, both men and women have the image of God, given not only to the man, but also to the woman. Thirdly, both men and women were given the mandate of authority over the planet in the Edenic Covenant. To be sure, there was headship, nevertheless, both Adam and Eve were given the mandate of authority over the planet earth under the Edenic Covenant.
NOTES TAKEN FROM DR. FRUCHTENBAUM