As has been suggested at the beginning of the previous chapters, it is best to read the following verses several times and compare them with other translations before beginning this portion of our study.
20. Then God said, " Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens."
21. And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
22. And God blessed them saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth."
23. And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
Here we see the creation of the sea life and that of the birds.
Here also is a very important understanding of God's creation. God's inspired word uses the Hebrew word "neh-fesh" for these animals. He is saying that they all have souls. Note how verse 20 reads in a more literal translation.
20. And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarmers having a living soul [neh-fesh khah-yawh], and let the birds fly around over the earth, on the face of the expanse of the heavens."
The fact that God used both the words "neh-fesh", and "khah-yawh" together gives greater emphasis to our understanding, for the word "neh-fesh" alone implies a living being, or soul, and "khah-yawh", which also means living, gives us the meaning of a "truly living, feeling, responding and animated soul". When and if we truly come to understand this all important aspect of the creation of the animals, we will also come to understand our similarities with them and learn to respect them as our fellow beings, and even kindred souls. And since they are created as we humans are, as living souls, we should likewise come to love and respect each other.
Our major problem has been that Man does not like to consider that animals also have souls, for when he does, he must also consider his responsibility to them. We are all God's creatures. Note here in verse 21 that God again states that the animals also were created after their kind, therefore, limiting variation.
Consider the mule. It is a neuter animal. It cannot reproduce. It is the offspring of a donkey and a horse. Could God be telling us something?
Also in verse 21, we see the repeating of the expression, "and God saw that it was good". There was nothing evil in any of His creation. These creatures, these beings, these living souls were created for good. And, as we will see, they were not created to be used, abused or exploited; they were created to enjoy the life that God created for them.
In verse 22, God blessed the animals, and spoke to them. If they didn't possess the created qualities of soul and spirit, there would be no need for God to do this. God could have just created more of the same, or commanded them to multiply, but God spoke to them directly, "Be fruitful and multiply. . . ".
Note that God blessed "them", not "it". He did not bless His creation of fish and birds. He blessed the individual animals, and spoke to them. This is an act of love. And without a soul, the animals would have had no understanding of this connection to God. And because they also have life, they also have a spirit.
Some say that because the Lord spoke to the earth for His creation in verse 24, "to bring forth", that it suggests that the animals are immediately bound to the ground and only indirectly related to God, in contrast to man.
But it says the same here in verse 20, and then in verse 21, it says, "God created" [baw-raw], and as we have seen before in our study, only God can create [baw-raw] from something that did not exist before. No created thing or being of God can also create [baw-raw]. Thus, what they are saying, must be incorrect.
In our study of the sixth day, we will discuss more on this point. Just remember, that the Bible is not a science book; it is a book of our personal relationship with God, and that requires faith.
John Foster brings this thought together in his discussion on "The Discipline of Study".
'Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge of the truth will set us free. "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Good feelings will not set us free. Ecstatic experiences will not free us. Getting "high on Jesus" will not free us. Without a knowledge of the truth, we will not be free.'
'All of us know persons who have taken some course of study or attained some academic degree who parade their information in an offensive manner. We should feel profound sorrow for such people. They do not understand the Spiritual Discipline of study. They have mistaken the accumulation of information for knowledge. They equate the spouting of words with wisdom. How tragic! The apostle John defines eternal life as the knowledge of God. "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Even a touch of this experiential knowledge is sufficient to give us a profound sense of humility.'
We need to learn to seek God's answers through faith and prayer, and the answers we get will bring immense satisfaction, peace, and eternal life.
1. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrvpha-Revised Standard Version, (New York, Oxford University Press, 1971 & 1977), Genesis 1:24-25n.
2. Foster, Richard J., Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth - Revised Edition, (San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1988), 63.
3. Celebration of Discipline, 66.