Be fruitful and multiply

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Gott erschafft den Weltkreis by Rudolf von Ems

In Judaism, Christianity, and some other Abrahamic religions, the cultural mandate is the divine injunction found in Genesis 1:28, in which God, after having created the world and all in it, ascribes to humankind the tasks of filling, subduing, and ruling over the earth.[1][2] The cultural mandate includes the sentence "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth." The cultural mandate was given to Adam and Eve.[2]

The text finds an immediate interpretation in the opening chapter of the book of Exodus as the description of the Israelites in Egypt are alluded to as, "fruitful, increased greatly, multiplied, and extremely strong, so that the land was filled with them."[3]

In Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the mandate to "be fruitful and multiply" is interpreted as requiring every couple to have at least a son and a daughter.[4] Other Jewish groups (such as Reform Judaism) and individual Jews have interpreted this mandate differently. For example, Richard Friedman in his Commentary on the Torah (2001) claims that the mandate "be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth" has "been fulfilled."[5] The mandate is elaborated upon in numerous parts of the Talmud, for example in Kidushin.

In the interpretation of some denominations of Christianity, adherents should actively work to fulfill the mandate.[2] Within Christianity in general, the cultural mandate is most elaborately developed in the West by Neo-Calvinism, which explores the implications for modern, pluralistic society, of this Calvinistic assertion.

Despite "be fruitful and multiply" being the most important mitzvah, contraception is permitted in Judaism in appropriate circumstances such as difficult family situations. In instances like these, rabbis may allow women to start contraceptive methods.[citation needed]

Biblical text[edit]

The text of Genesis 1:28 states:

Version Text
Original Hebrew

וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם אֱלֹהִים פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁהָ וּרְדוּ בִּדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבְכָל חַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת עַל הָאָרֶץ
Wayəḇāreḵ ’ōṯām ’ĕlōhîm, wayyō’mer lāhem ’ĕlōhîm, "Pərû, ûrəḇû, ûmilə’û ’eṯ-hā’āreṣ, wəḵiḇəšuhā; ûrəḏû biḏəg̱aṯ hayyām, ûḇə‘ôp̱ haššāmayim, ûḇəḵāl-ḥayyāh hārōmeśeṯ ‘al-hā’āreṣ."

King James Bible And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
New International Version God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
New Living Translation Then God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mare, H.W., 1973. The Cultural Mandate and the New Testament Gospel Imperative. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 16, pp. 139-47.
  2. ^ a b c Wagner, C. Peter (1998). Church Growth and the Whole Gospel: A Biblical Mandate. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-1-57910-201-2.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Talmud, b. Yevamot
  5. ^ Friedman, Richard (2001). Commentary on the Torah. Harper.