- Throughout this passage, there is a sense of great abundance being created. God uses phrases like: "let the water teem with living creatures...be fruitful....increase in number....fill the water".
- "great creatures of the sea" This phrase was used in Canaanite mythology to refer to a dreaded sea monster. It was seen as a symbol for 'chaos', for powerful forces beyond control. In the Old Testament, the prophets used this as a metaphor for powerful hostile forces or nations. Here are some verses about this sea creature or 'leviathan':
"Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook
[I thought it was interesting that whatever sea creature this leviathan is, it seems that it would be mere foolishness to attempt to capture him with conventional methods such as fishhooks, ropes, spears or even harpoons. Whatever it is must have had a very tough outer hide, or was so huge that even the hope of subduing him is out of the question. In contrast, however, God is perfectly able to control the leviathan, as we see in these verses.]
[These verses emphasize many of the aspects which we have been talking about lately -- how God created day and night, sun and moon, seasons, etc. Did you note that the Leviathan mentioned above seems to be at least a dual-headed beast? Near Eastern creation myths depicted the primeval waters as a many-headed monster which the creator had to overcome in order to establish his own order to the world. Although some would say that the imagery here is borrowed from such myths, perhaps it was the myth-makers who borrowed the imagery from events which took place between the Creator and his creation, including this Leviathan. Although sometimes the leviathan concept was used as a metaphor to depict nations which were hostile to God, it seems that there actually was such a powerful creature which God as its creator was fully able to control.
Also, when the verses above speak about how God crushed Leviathan's head and gave him as food for desert creatures, it made me wonder if at the time of the Flood such creatures had been dashed to death by the torrential flooding and then deposited upon the desert floor and eaten by desert creatures as the flood waters receded. The later is just speculation on my part, but if so, then these verses have a dual application -- to events which actually happened as well as imagery which depicts God's triumph over nations which opposed him. At any rate, the point is quite clear: God is fully in control and is able to triumph over anything or anyone who might oppose him.]
In Genesis chapter 1:20-23, though, such creatures are simply seen as part of God's creation. In fact, Psalm 104:24-26 portrays this sea creature or 'leviathan' in this way:
- 'let birds fly above the earth' While the sea frames the lower half of creation, the sky above is filled with creatures of its own.
- The phrase 'according to their kind' or 'according to its kind' appears again. There are distinct types of creatures, not ones which have evolved from a common ancestor. They are contemporaries, existing at the same time.
- 'God blessed them' By God's blessing, creatures fill the sky and the seas. God's rule is one of life and goodness.