God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. –Genesis 1:28
Dear members and friends,
In Genesis, God said to humans, “Have dominion over … every living thing that moves upon the earth.” As everything that is written in the Bible, this verse also has a deeper meaning, particularly the expression, “have dominion”. When we say to someone, “have a cup of tea,” this does not mean that a cup of tea will magically appear in their hand or that the person will have automatic ownership of the cup of tea. Rather, this is often an invitation to provide a cup of tea for them if they so desire. In other words, when God said, “have dominion” over every living creature on earth, this does not mean that humans were given a birthright to rule over all the other creatures on earth, but rather an invitation to establish a proper relationship with them.
The Hebrew word for dominion is radah, meaning “to rule” or “to subjugate.” In the ancient world, “to rule” did not mean to have power over people as tyrant, but as protector. That is why in the Sumerian literature, Sumerian kings were often described as the shepherds of their people. In this context, the command from the Creator to humans is not to become exploiting tyrants over other creatures, but to be wise protectors of them.
“To subjugate” means, according to an English dictionary, “to bring under domination or control, especially by conquest.” When living creatures become the objects of conquest, there is definitely a spiritual implication embedded in this expression. According to Swedenborg, these other living creatures on earth could symbolize all feelings and emotions, especially wild ones, that roam on the surface of our inner world. All these creatures (all feelings and emotions) needs to be subjugated by humans, because humans symbolize the union of higher love that is from the Creator and higher wisdom that is the expression of higher love. This is the true meaning of being a human who is created in the image and likeness of Creator: to be the union of higher love and wisdom.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee