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THEOLOGY > Man > Dominion Mandate > Form of the Mandate


“Let them have dominion” (Gen. 1:26) translates the verb, radhah, a word which means “to master” or “to trample down”; the verb is a masculine, plural, imperative. Thus the word is a command—this is why this concept of Dominion is called a “Mandate.”

So God’s word to the first couple was not a word of information, nor a presentation of an appeal, nor a statement of an option, but it was a command, a command from their Creator. They are told what to do with regards to the earth; they have no decision in the matter. There is no alternative, and their consent is not sought. They are simply informed of their responsibility.

Perhaps it should be pointed out that at the very beginning man was not given freedom of determination, but his creation and his place in creation was determined by the Creator. Adam was not consulted, nor was his approval required. God is exercising His prerogative; since the creation is His, He can do what He desires with His creation. God is Sovereign (see: God is Sovereign and Theistic Determinism).

Though it is a command, it is a gift; man is neither independent in his rule, nor is his rule absolute. Always man must realize that the exercise of this Mandate is in subordination to God, who is the One who owns and absolutely rules creation. The command to rule flows from the One who is Supreme. Though it is a mandate it is also a privilege.

The command is without exception; it is universal in the sense that no part of the earth is exempt from the rule of man. The command is not limiting; it is worldwide in scope, very expansive. This comprehensiveness reflects God’s control over all. As God rules the cosmos totally so man is to rule the earth completely.

It is a rule that is dynamic and forceful and not just a position that is without significance.

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 (Gen. 1:28).

The term “subdue” (kabash) is used of bringing a land and a people into subjection and forcing the people to serve those who bring about the subjection; see Num. 32:22, 29. The point is that the initial couple and future inhabitants of the earth were to investigate and use the earth so that it would benefit them; their rule is to be an active rule. The earth is for man; man is not for the earth.

In the command is God’s care for the man He has created; in the command is grace. Although the command serves the purpose of God, it is also for the advantage of man. Thus God is seen to be the good and gracious God.

At the very beginning man is instructed in the fact that God’s commands are not meant for evil but for good. Adam is learning that His commandments are not grievous—in fact, the Law is beneficial; in all of His commands there is a purpose. 

Return to: Dominion Mandate; Next Article: Purpose of the Mandate 

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