Monday, December 12, 2011

Fill the Earth

In Genesis 1:28, God commands the first humans to "fill the earth".  What does this mean?

If I ask someone "please fill this glass" with water, and he takes it and brings it back empty, then it's clear he did not do what I requested.  But if he holds the glass under the faucet endlessly, while the water spills over and runs on the floor, then my request has been disobeyed in a different way.

In other words, the commandment to "fill" something implies a limit - "now it is full". It is not a mandate to keep filling for ever.

In the context of Genesis, is the instruction "fill the earth" a limitation on the earlier instruction to "go forth and multiply", rather than a reaffirmation of it?

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