The Hebrew word ‘rada’ is translated DOMINION (you know… dominate!) in our traditional Bibles.
You know… it says it right in the beginning of Genesis, in one of the most famous and first commands God gives to people: ‘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)
But, DOMINATE is an inaccurate translation because it leaves out a very important aspect of the original meaning of ‘rada’: it must be understood in the context of nurture and care-giving.
While we are at it, the Hebrew word ‘kabas’ is translated SUBDUE in this command, but may be better understood as cultivate, nurture, or bring to full potential.
What does all this mean? God is Green! And God wants us to be too. Far from being ‘dominators’ and ‘subduers’ we are commanded to be life-bearers, nurturers and cultivators of this planet.
Like most Americans… I need help with this, and it is on my list of ‘resolutions’ and life-changes I am beginning to make starting September 1st. We consume a lot of stuff in America. We use a lot of land, energy, food, oil, trees, water, air, rocks, metal, animals, and plants… and then we throw away a lot of garbage, garbage, garbage.
I hardly think this is what God had in mind when God said: and fill the earth and cultivate it to its full potential; and nurture the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every living thing that moves upon the earth.
I don’t want to be a greedy consumer anymore… I don’t want to dominate and subdue.
I want to be a care-giver of the Earth and its resources and resident plants and animals… I want to cultivate it to its full potential.