Genesis 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness and let them have dominion over fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepth upon the earth.”
I was driving Daisy home from a doctor’s appointment. She is a woman of faith who believes that God does care for us. However, she was having a little difficulty believing this on this day as she had just received news from her doctor that she would need some pretty serious surgery. She was really feeling depressed over this matter and I happened to remember something I had studied in Jewish literature called yiredu. This is translated into our English Bible as dominion but the Jews have a different rendering for this word which I will explain a little later. I also recalled reading in Jewish literature that when a little bird lands near you and begins to sing and dance he is reminding you that the Holy Spirit is near. So I prayed a little prayer and asked God to send a little bird to greet us when we arrived at Daisy’s house.
As we pulled up to the house, sure enough there was a little robin waiting for us on Daisy’s porch. As we got out of the bus the robin began to sing and dance and I said to Daisy: “Oh, lookie there, a little bird singing and dancing on your porch. Daisy responded with, “Oh, he just wants to poop on my porch.” Then she walked up, waved her arms and said, “Scat!” I looked at the robin, he looked at me with such a sad little face and then he flew off.
As I look at all the Modern Christian Translations of the Bible I find that without exception everyone of the translations follow the common teaching that the word yiredu comes from the root word radah which means dominion, or to subdue, to rule over, to tread upon like in a winepress. An old rabbi, however, once pointed out to me that the root word is really yarad. When he told me that I instantly thought of the story in Acts where in the Aramaic the Holy Spirit necheth descended like a dove.
Seven hundred years after the birth of Christ the Masoretes put a chireq (one dot) under the Resh making this the root word radah which means to subdue. Had they put a tsere (two dots) under the Resh they would have the root word yarad which means to come down or lower oneself. The original inspired Word of God had no dots and I believe this old rabbi was correct in using the root word yarad (to lower oneself) rather than radah (to rule over). In the original Hebrew the word starts with a Yod which is a picture of a heavenly messenger or yarad which means to lower oneself and not a Resh which means to rule over.
Because Christianity followed in their own way and not the way of their Jewish heritage Christianity throughout the last 2,000 years, with notable exceptions like St. Francis of Assisi, missed out on a special blessing and spiritual experience. If you read the biography of St. Francis of Assisi you would discover that he would go to the woods to worship God with the animals. It is said that the animals wild and tame would approach him. Not because of St. Francis but because they wanted to be near their Creator that St. Francis worshipped. That is why you always see St. Francis of Assisi pictured with a bird on his shoulder and a wolf by his side. The story goes that a town was being attacked by a wolf and the town leaders came to St. Francis knowing his affinity for animals and asked if he could help. St. Francis went to the wolf and had a little conversation with the wolf and then reported to the town leaders that the wolf was just hungry and if they would feed him he would not attack. Thus, the town sort of adopted this wolf as a result of St. Francis’s conversation or yiredu with the wolf.
Perhaps it is my fault for Daisy missing out on this little blessing from God, perhaps I should have told her I prayed to God and called the little bird to be there for her but I didn’t want her to think I was crazy. Does it sound crazy? Maybe to us in our scientific, technological world, but the ancient Semites who had a very holistic view of the world and God’s creation, it did not sound crazy and once more that actually communicated with animals themselves. In ancient times hunters actually called the animals to them and then asked the animal’s permission to provide nourishment to his family. If the animal said that this was his purpose on earth, then the hunter brought home dinner.
In Genesis 2:19 God caused the animals to pass by Adam so he could ‘azer kenegedo to determine which ones could be before him. Our English translation use the word help meet. An ‘azer kenegedo is a gateway, or one who helps you find your way. In this exercise Adam was searching for an animal which would help him understand the reason for his existence to know how to love God. Eventually only by creating a woman could Adam really understand. But look close at the Hebrew wording here. Our translations say the animals came before him to see what he would call them. Actually, the word for call yiqera’ is in an imperfect form and is followed by the word lu to him. It is not what he would call them but what he call to them to him. There is a very strong argument that Adams spoke with the animals. Not is a vocal language but with his heart.
God created two important beings for man to help him understand his relationship with God, a woman and the animal kingdom. Jewish teaching never taught that a man was to dominate a woman only to be in a headship role. Yet for 2,000 years of church history women have been given a secondary role inferior to men even through the Bible clearly teaches we are all equal in God’s eyes. The enemy so perverted the leadership role of men that they have not been able to benefit from the role that a woman was created to perform in the first place and that was to be a gateway to understanding the love of God.
On top of that God created all living creatures to be an expression of His nature, His plans, and His loving care but we consider ourselves as those who would dominate the animal kingdom for our own benefit and abuse the creation of God when they were really created to teach us something about our relationship with God, if we only come down to their level. Ok, that little robin may poop on your porch. Poor little guy, he can’t help it but if that is all you are focused on, if the animal kingdom exist just for our sport, slaughter, and abuse then we have done the same thing with God’s gift of the animal kingdom as we have done with God’s gift of a woman we let our arrogance and pride blind us to the role of these helpers who will help us understand and know what the love of God is really like.
I don’t know what language Adam spoke in the Garden of Eden, I like to think it was Hebrew. If it was then Adam gave a very appropriate name for the dog, in the Hebrew the word for dog is Kalav which means like your heart. You want to learn about yiredu, start with Sparky your dog, come down to his level, look into his eyes and see the loyalty, affection, desire to be with you and the unconditional love and ask yourself, “What does that tell me about His creator?” Old Sparky just gave you an important lesson about your relationship with God.
Next time you see a little bird on your porch singing and dancing don’t worry about his poop. That can be cleaned up, don’t miss out on that little message that God is sending to you. Before long, once you overcome your feelings of arrogance and superiority over the animal kingdom you just might be praying to God and calling a little bird to come and cheer up your neighbor. If the little bird does come, offer to clean up his poop for your neighbor so he will not have that blinding him to God’s little message.