FEED MY SHEEP Chapter 2, Adam Fails as King
Written by: Camping, Harold Posted on: 05/07/2003
Category: Bible Studies
ADAM FAILS AS KING
We have thus far determined that the Bible teaches that there was no
death before the fall of Adam amongst the creatures (man and animals) with
the breath of life. Thus, we sense that no aspects of the curse of
sin (storms, thorns, thistles, earthquakes, decay, etc.) were present
before the fall. We, at this point, are very comfortable with all of the
teachings of the Bible relating to creation and our first parents.
Everything was good. The animals and man were herbivorous (Gen.
l:29,30). Thorns and thistles came after sin (Gen.3:18). The six days of
creation must have been twenty-four hour periods as the Bible seems to
indicate, for long periods of time would have required death. Even Romans 8
fits beautifully into this understanding as we read there that creation
itself was subjected to futility (Rom.8:20).
The command to subdue the earth must, therfore, have been strictly
for our first parents and must have no relationship to the believer today.
But wait a moment. We still haven't faced the question of the timing of
Lucifer's fall into sin. If he sinned before Adam was created, couldn't it
still be possible that some part of the earth was still cursed? Then to
subdue it could still have meaning for the believer today.
In this chapter we shall study more intently the meaning of "subdue it"
and in so doing also discover the timing of Lucifer's fall into sin. We
shall then be better prepared to begin to study more specifically the task of
the believer today.
Fill The Earth
In seeking light on the phrase "subdue it," let us look briefly at
other statments in Genesis 1 relating to our first parent's
responsibility toward the world. Perhaps, by studying these we may get
some insight into the meaning of the phrase "subdue it."
The first phrase we should look at is the phrase `be fruitful and
multiply and fill the earth'(1) (Gen. 1:28). We see this phrase does
not relate in any sense to a mandate to conquer, or to subdue. This
language is employed to indicate God's blessing upon man who would fill
the earth with progeny. Not only is it a blessing to man to see his seed,
but a mandate is surely implied here that this should be one of his goals in
Identical language is employed in Genesis 1:22 after God created the
fish. There we read:
And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and
fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the
The fish, of course, do not conquer or subdue the sea. They simply,
under the blessing of God, multiply and fill the sea which is the environment
in which they exist. This phrase, then, does not help us to understand the
command to subdue the earth.
Till And Keep The Garden
A second phrase that relates to Adam and his work before his fall into
sin is the command given to Adam in Genesis 2:15:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to
till it and keep it.
In this command Adam is told to till the garden and keep it. Let us
examine these tasks. The word "keep" is the Hebrew word shamar which means
to keep, observe, take heed (Young's Analytical Concordance of the Bible).
Shamar is translated as "keep" at least 284 times in the Old Testament.
Keep my commandments, keep all the words of this law, are typical Old
Testament sentences employing shamar. The implication is that of
maintaining the present state of affairs. There is no suggestion in this
word of bringing into subjection or bringing into control that which is out
of control. Adam was to maintain a creation that was good and perfect. This
command is, therfore, also unrelated to the word "subdue."
The command to dress or till the garden is the other part of Genesis
2:15. The word "to dress" or "till" is the Hebrew word abad.(2) It really
is the opposite of a word like "subdue" or "dominion." It is
translated some 214 times in the Bible as "serve." It tells us that Adam
was to work in the garden, tilling it and doing what was necessary to
maintain production. It also carries no implication of Lordship over the
earth, or of having the earth in a state of subjection to man. Rather, it
implies that man was to maintain that which was already good and perfect.
Dominion Over The Creatures
Thus far then, we have discovered no statement in the Biblical record of
man before the fall that relates to this intriguing command to subdue the
earth. There is one word, however, that appears to be quite related to it.
That is the word "dominion." In Gen. 1:26 we read:
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over
all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon
And immediately following the command to subdue the earth we read (Gen.
...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 word "dominion" which is the Hebrew word radah means to rule or
reign. It is, thus, at least somewhat related to the idea of subduing or
bringing in subjection. The word radah can be found twenty-four times in
the Bible. It is normally translated "dominion" or "rule." But
significantly, while in Genesis 1 it is used twice to indicate man is to
have dominion or rule of all other creatures, exclusive of man, it is never
used in this manner again. It is used to indicate rule over a slave
(Lev. 25:43, 25:46, and 25:53) rule over those who built Solomon's temple
(I Kings 5:16, I Kings 9:23, II Chron. 8:10); rule of the enemies of God
over God's people (Neh. 9:18, Lev. 26:17); rule of God's people over the
enemy (Judges 5:13, Numbers 24:19, Ps. 49:14, Isa. 14:2, Ps. 58:27); rule of
the enemies of God over the nations (Isa. 14:6, Ezek. 29:15); rule of
Christ over the nations (Isa 41-2, Ps. 110:2, Ps. 72:8); rule of false
priests over God's people (Jer. 5:31, Ezek. 34:4); rule of Solomon over the
land and kings between the Euphrates River and the Mediterranean Sea (I
What can possibly be the intention of God in using "radah" twice in
Genesis I to indicate man's relationship to the lesser creatures of the
world and then never repeating this? Instead God uses the same word to
emphasize man's relationship to man and to the nations.
Especially interesting, too, is the statement made to Noah after the
flood. Genesis 9:1 is almost identical to Genesis 1:28--, except that
where Adam is told to subdue the earth and dominion over its creatures,
Noah is given no such mandate. Rather he is told that God had put fear
and dread of man within the other creatures and into mans' hand they were
delivered. Why this complete change in language? Something drastic must
have happened between the events of Genesis 1:29 and those of Genesis 9:1,2.
The word "dominion" (radah) thus appears to introduce more questions
into our search for the meaning of the command to Adam to subdue the
earth. Since we sense that there is an intimate relationship between
"subdue" and "dominion" it is time to look forth rightly at the phrase
"subdue it." In so doing we will discover the answers to the questions
raised by the word radah, and we shall also discover the correlation
between the words "subdue" and "dominion." Moreover, we shall also find
answers to the questions concerned with the timing of Satan's fall, and the
possibility of death and decay being present in the world prior to Adam's
Adam Is To Subdue The Earth
We must logically look for our answers from the pages of Holy Writ. The
Bible is its own interpreter. It does offer a valid and beautiful
solution to the proper understanding of this key phrase "subdue it."
The word "subdue" which is the Hebrew word "kabash" is used twelve times in
the Old Testament in addition to this use in Genesis 1:28. It is
variously translated subdue, subjection, assault, etc. An examination of
these twelve usages will help greatly to understand the meaning of its use
in Genesis. Four times it is used to indicate mastery as in the
relationship of a master to a slave. These passages are:
Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children
are as their children; yet we are forcing our sons and our
daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already
been enslaved; but it is not in our power to help it, for
other men have our fields and our vineyards (Neh. 5:5).
But afterward they turned and took back the male and female
slaves they had set free, and brought them into subjection as
slaves (Jer. 34:11).
And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and
Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins
of your own against the Lord your God? (II Chron. 28:10).
But then you turned around and profaned my name when each of
you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set
free according to their desire, and you brought them into
subjection to be your slaves (Jer. 34:11).
Once it is used in the book of Esther when Haman threw himself on
the bed of Esther to plead for his life. The king, who entered the room,
suspected Haman was trying to seduce the Queen. We read in Esther 7:8:
And the king returned from the palace garden to the place
where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the
couch where Esther was and the king said, "Will he even
assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?" As the
words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face.
The word kabash translated "assault", therefore, in this instance
also means mastery over, or bringing into subjection even as in the case of
the master-slave relationship.
Five times the word kabash is used in relationship to the Israelites
and the land of Canaan.
And every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before
the Lord, until he has driven out his enemies from before him
and the land is subdued before the Lord; then after that you
shall return and be free of obligation to the Lord and to
Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the Lord
And Moses said to them, "If the sons of Gad and the sons of
Reuben, every man who is armed to battle before the Lord, will
pass with you over the Jordan and the land shall be subdued
before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a
possession (Num. 32:29).
Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled
at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; the land lay
subdued before them (Josh. 18:1).
Is not the Lord your God with you? And has he not given you
peace on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of
the land into my hand; and the land is subdued before the Lord
and his people (I Chron. 22:18).
These also King David dedicated to the Lord, together with the
silver and gold which he dedicated from all the nations he
subdued (II San. 8:11).
In these verses, too, the word subdued (kabash) is emphasizing mastery.
But over whom or what had they obtained mastery? Was it over the physical
land of Canaan as suggested by the phrase "land is subdued" or "land shall be
subdued." Had they gone into the land, reclaiming the wilderness, planting
vineyards and building cities? Having done all this, was the land
subdued or in subjection before them?
The fact is that this is precisely what they did not do. They were to
possess the land and these provisions of plants and buildings were
completely prepared for them with no effort of any kind on their part. In
Joshua 24:13 we read:
I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities
which you had not built, and you dwell therein; you eat the
fruit of vineyards and oliveyards which you did not plant.
To subdue the land of Canaan, therefore, must have reference to
something entirely different to that of subjugation of the physical land.
If we look again at these passages where kabash is used, we note that in each
case it deals with the subjugation of enemies. The land was subdued only
when the enemies within the land, who also claimed possession to the land,
had been destroyed from the land. Even as kabash is used to relate to mastery
over a slave, so, in these passages it used to indicate mastery over an
enemy. In neither case does it relate at all to material substances
such as a physical land.
It was an enemy who must be removed from this land flowing with milk
and honey. Until he was removed, the Israelites could not claim their
mastery over it. The land was not their possession in actuality
although it had been given to them as their right. When they stood
at the boundary of the land of Canaan they were to go in and subdue it. They
were to claim their rightful ownership, their Lordship, over this good and
wonderful land by destroying or enslaving the enemy who also claimed
ownership of the land.
When we look now at Genesis 1:28 we see that man is to "subdue it." The
word "it" without question refers to the earth. Thus the language employed
here is exactly parallel to that of "subdue the land" when Canaan was in
view. Adam was to "subdue the earth." We, therefore, must conclude that even
as in the case of subduing the land of Canaan, Adam was not to subdue a
physical land but an enemy of some kind. Adam was to enslave someone
or destroy someone. He was to become master over some other personality.
This person or persons could be an enemy who also wanted to possess the
land which had been given to him, even as the Amorites who claimed possession
to the land of Canaan were the enemy who were to be destroyed by the
Israelites as they subdued or subjugated (kabash) the land.
Note now the parallel that exists between the Israelites at the borders
of Canaan and Adam as the first man on this earth. The creation lay
before Adam. It was completed without his effort. Similarly, the land
of Canaan lay before the Israelites. It was a good land. The cities and
vineyards had been completed without any effort on their part.
Adam was promised by God that this creation was to be under his
dominion. He was to fill it with his progeny. The Israelites were told that
the land of Canaan had been given to them as an everlasting possession.
They simply were to go in and possess it.
Adam was told to subdue the land. An enemy threatened. He was to claim his
right to the land by bringing this enemy into subjection. Likewise,
the Israelites were to subdue the land of Canaan. The enemy who required
subjugation were the Canaanites who also wanted ownership of the land.
Israel would subdue the land--conquer this enemy--by being obedient to
God. Adam could also subdue the land--conquer the enemy who threatened--by
being obedient to God. The parallelism being the two situations of Adam and
Israel is certainly striking.
But who was this enemy in Eden? It surely was not someone who already
occupied the land, for the creation was good. The enemy was someone who had
become jealous of God. He, too, wanted to be a King. This enemy was one of
the highest of the angels, Lucifer. His envy would lead him to a terrible
act. The New Testament points to this envy and pride of Lucifer who
became the devil, Satan. In I Timothy 3:6 we read:
He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with
conceit and fall into condemnation of the devil.
And in James 3:14, 15 the Scriptures declare:
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your
hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom
is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly,
Apparently, the sin of pride was driving Lucifer to this overt act
of rebellion against God. And the creation of the world provided the golden
opportunity. If he could enslave man, he would automatically become King of
this beautiful creation. Since Adam had been given dominion over it, the
master of Adam would also be master of all which was subordinate to Adam.
But how could Adam subdue this potential enemy? How did the Israelites
subdue the land of Canaan? By obedience to God. In the measure they obeyed
God, they came into possession of the land of Canaan. God would lead in the
destruction of the enemy.
One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord
your God who fights for you, as he promised you (Josh. 23:10).
In the measure they disobeyed, they became slaves to the enemy in the
land. The several hundred years of history, recorded in the book of
Judges, give vivid testimony to their enslavement, which followed when they
did not obey God by destroying the enemy who also claimed ownership to the
Adam, of course, failed the test. Lucifer came into the garden and
the battle was joined. He apparently took on the form of a serpent for it
was the wisest of all the animals (Gen. 3:1). The Hebrew word for
"subtle" or "crafty" in the verse is translated most often in the Bible
as "prudent." Of all creation this wisest of all animals would most
easily be obeyed by Eve. He, of course, did not join the battle head on
with Adam. He carefully planned his strategy by capturing a lower echelon
ruler first. Then her obedience to Satan would insure victory over the king,
Adam, himself. Satan follows the same technique today as he seeks to
overthrow the work of Christ by working through the bride of Christ, the
I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I bethrothed you to
Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. But
I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure
devotion to Christ (IICor. 11:23).
Adam was to subdue the earth by destroying Satan. He could assure the
destruction of Satan by his perfect obedience to God. This understanding of
the word "subdue" (kabash) matches the usage of this word elsewhere in the
The implementation of this command was assured by the words of Genesis
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely
eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day
that you eat of it you shall die.
Here we see how God set up the testing arena. A tree was included
in the garden from which he was not to eat. This is where man and
Satan met to determine who was to be Lord of creation. As we continue
our study, we shall see how this battle affected both heaven and earth.
But at this point in our discussion we see clearly that the phrase
"subdue it" of Genesis 1:28 gives no aid or comfort to those who might
believe there was death in creation before Adam's fall. And the
understanding of this key phrase opens up a door to much other significant
truth that relates to a historical Adam.
But before we develop this thought further, let us address ourselves
to another question which also suggests the possibility of death in the
creation before the fall of Adam. If the angel, Lucifer, fell into sin and
had access to this earth, could not his sin also have brought death or
decay in some measure to the universe? Let us return to Eden to answer this
question. Let us attempt to determine the timetable of Lucifer's fall into
When Did Satan Fall?
In I John 3:8 we read, `the devil has sinned from the beginning.'
Was this the beginning of Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God
created?" Did it occur before the six days of creation? Then Satan must
have been created a sinful being, or his rebellion must have been so
close in time to the time specified in Genesis 1:1 that to all intents and
purposes it must have been alsmost simultaneous with the `beginning' of
Genesis 1:1. But other Biblical evidence points to a time when Satan or the
angel Lucifer did walk in perfection. This is suggested by the name given
to him in Isaiah 14:12, as well as the statement concerning him in this same
How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How
you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low.
This thought, of sin in the world of angels coming some time after
their creation, is also suggested by such Biblical statements as that
found in II Peter 2:4:
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast
them tnto hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to
be kept until the judgment.
Perhaps a clue to the timing of the angel Lucifer's sin can be found in
Mark 10:6. There we read:
But from the beginning of creation,
God made them male and female.
Note that this verse also speaks of beginning even as I John 3:8 spoke
of the beginning when Satan fell. But "beginning" in Mark 10:6 is
identified with Adam and Eve. This would suggest that possibly Satan did
not sin at least until Adam and Eve were created.
This concept of Satan's rebellion occurring at about the time of Eve's
sin is further strengthened when we witness God's curse upon him in Genesis
The Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals;
upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the
days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the
woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise
your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
In the case of man and creation it was at this moment in history
that the ground was cursed (Gen. 3:17-19), and man was condemned to return
to the dust. The parallel curse comes upon Satan. One could expect
then that Satan's fall was also simultaneous with that of man's.
Incidentally, we sometimes think of the curse of Genesis 3:14 as being
applicable to the animal which was the ancestor of the snake. The snake
may well be the descendant of a serpent which was cursed as a result of
it's involuntary involvement with the sin of Satan. But the curse in its
primary emphasis is on the serpent, the devil. Verse 15 has reference
only to Satan, and there is no change in the object of God's statement
between verse 14 and verse 15. Moreover, the Bible expressly calls Satan
a serpent in a number of places, a most notable place of which is
Revelation 12. Furthermore, in Isaiah 65:25, God speaks of the new heaven
and new earth, and in this context he speaks of dust being the serpent's
food. This can only be a fulfillment of the curse of Genesis 3:14.(3)
So the earth is cursed, man is cursed by death and travail in childbirth
and Satan is cursed. Satan and mankind stand equally guilty before God.
Upon both are pronounced the condemnation of God. Only man is given hope as
God intimates victory for mankind over Satan, as he&nbs
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