God’s command to the fish and the birds after he created them was to procreate. Genesis 1:22-23 says, “And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.” This is the first time anything is “blessed” by God in the Bible. We see it again with man at the end of the chapter. What is the nature of God’s blessing? Is it like Spokes, “life long and prosper?” Well, kind of but it seems more closely related to reproduction. Reyburn says, “Most interpreters are agreed that God’s blessing in the creation story is the gift of reproduction.”[1]

Through the whole Old Testament we see the desire for children. We see the promise to Abraham was to multiply greatly and to have as many children as there are grains of sand or stars in the sky. We can understand how the absence of children is a curse while the presence of many children is a great blessing.  After Leah gave birth and Rachel remained barren she cried out to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.”

It seems that in many cases in the bible, God’s blessings involve offspring. But it’s not just children it’s offspring that produces wealth like cattle and sheep. Deuteronomy 28:4 includes this blessing. “Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.” God’s blessing involves increase! As we’ll see in Genesis 24:60, When Rebekah was leaving her family to become Isaac’s wife her family, “…blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands.” Some translations suggest it’s thousands of millions, but the point is the blessing involved a fruitful and ever increasing life! This blessing is also seen when the people pronounce their blessing upon Boaz when he assumes the responsibility of Ruth and her mother in law. Ruth 4:11 says, “The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.”

[1] Reyburn, William David, and Euan McG. Fry. 1998. A Handbook on Genesis. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.