In Genesis 1:28, God said that we would have dominion over all the animals on this planet. But what does dominion mean? I read quite a few commentaries on this passage and none of them explained it very well. In order to acquire a deeper understanding, I thought I should discover what the original Hebrew word used in this passage was. My research led me to the Ancient Hebrew Research Center. They publish an E-magazine called "Biblical Hebrew". My research confirmed what I initially thought, and I am by no means an authority on the bible. What I read really made sense to me and put my desire to advocate for animal welfare in a different light. The information I found is from their May 2006 issue.
The word subdue in Genesis 1:28 is “kavash” in Hebrew. Kavash is a verb that means “to subdue”. However, the meaning of kavash is broader than subdue and so it is important to have a more complete picture of the Hebrew word. The noun form of this word is "kevesh" which means a footstool or a place where one places their foot. The verb kavash literally means to place your foot on the neck of your conquered enemy and signifies the submission of the conquered to his conqueror. Figuratively, this verb means to bring a people or nation into submission (Num 32:29). This word can also mean to bring under control (Mic 7:19). Incidentally, this is the same word we use today when we say "put the kabash on it" which means to make an end of something or to "subdue" it.
While the word kavash means to subdue, there is another word used in the passage that may further explain God's command. The Hebrew word for "to have dominion" is the verb "radah." Our normal understanding of "having dominion" over another is to rule over them but this idea is found, instead, in Hebrew in the verb malak. The Hebrew verb radah is related to other words which mean descend, go down, wander and spread. This verb literally means to rule by going down and walking among one's subjects as an equal.
The use of the two Hebrew verbs "kavash" and "radah" implies that man is to rule over the animals as his subjects, not as a dictator but a benevolent leader. Man is also to walk among his subjects and build a relationship with them so that they can provide for man and so that man can learn from them.
Have a relationship with them? Walk among them? Learn from them? Nothing could be more true when we are talking about animals that serve us as our companions. Yet, the continued mistreatment and slaughter of these creatures continues.
So, getting back to my original thought, why am I giving so much time and energy to advocate for animals and not Christ? The fact of the matter is, I am advocating for Christ while I advocate for animals. I am seeking truth and justice for the animals he told us to learn from. I may not discuss Christ all the time while advocating but I honestly think people can see a difference in how I approach the subject. I believe people can see a difference in the way I speak or write about advocating for animals. The fact is, I will speak about Christ if I am prompted. But since I feel so compelled to work for justice concerning companion animals, I truly believe that this is my calling and my mission in this life. I may not know why I have been called to speak for animals in this lifetime but I surely will find out in the next. So for anyone who thinks I am spending too much time on animals, my question to you is what do you fill your time with and, if you believe in God, how does it relate to what you're doing with your life?