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, Genesis 1:28.
When new versions gang up to change a word in a verse, we need to wonder why. Both the NIV and the ESV are in agreement that it should read; Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, (ESV). Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it, (NIV). What both of them do is to change the word "replenish" with the word "fill". By now, I think that most of my readers realize that I am not apt to use manuscript evidence or to reason from within the translating process. My ministry is to show that the King James Bible is wholly sufficient for doctrine, and that even little changes hurt.
Before we proceed further, I need to dismiss a certain train of thought. Too many commentators fixate on the "re" of replenish. To them it is proof positive that to "replenish" is to plenish again. If someone is retarded, are they tarded again? If someone remains, are they maining again? If we reject something, are we jecting again? "Re" does not always mean to do again as in "redo". There are two definitions for replenish in the Oxford English dictionary. One does mean to fill again. The problem with that definition is that it does not enter the English Language until many years after the King James Bible. The other definition means; To stock or supply (a place) abundantly with people or animals.
For those who believe in the pre-Adamic earth, the Gap Theory or the Old Earth Theory, they too often put all of their eggs in the "replenish" basket. Keep in mind, I believe and teach a pre-Adamic Earth, and yet I reject using "replenish" as proof in the sense that the earth was plenished before. It violates rules of English. It is far easier to realize that Genesis starts with "In the beginning", not "at the beginning". You are not cramped for time in Genesis one. (Click here to read a post on that.) (And here.)
Instead of trying to build castles in the sand of unsound English, let us think again as to why the devil wanted to change that word. To "replenish" is not to "fill". It is to fill abundantly. It is God's commission to man for man to well stock the earth with men and animals. It is the direct intervention of men. I am reminded of the ridicule to which Ronald Reagan was subjected when he made the statement that there are more trees in North America today than when Columbus arrived. One book written to catalogue stupid political statements rated that statement as being excessively stupid. It turns out that President Reagan was correct. Because of man's unceasing vigilance in guarding against and fighting forest fires, there are now more trees in North America than 400 years ago. We are replenished with trees. It is part of the commission to man.
Even little word changes like changing "replenish" to "fill", cut away at the blessing of the King James Bible. It diminishes the responsibility and the role of man. Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished, Isaiah 23:2. The merchants of Zidon did not refill the inhabitants of the isles. They replenished them. That is the difference between capitalism and socialism. Under a capitalist system such as buying from merchants, there is an abundance of people and animals. Under a socialist system they might be filled but there is rarely an abundance.
If man is commissioned to "fill" the earth, then the population control people will blow a whistle and call it full. If man is commissioned to replenish the earth, we can keep stacking them in. In the early part of the 20th century, British agricultural experts concluded that the maximum number of people that all of Palestine could reasonably handle was about 600,000 people. Even that they considered a science fiction number requiring every square foot of land to be converted to farm land. That estimate was based on considering current farming techniques and the estimate included not only modern Israel, but all of modern day Jordan. Using the power of government they would have stopped immigration to Palestine. They considered it full. Then the Jews invented hydroponics and the land was replenished. Israel today sports cities of over 1,000,000 people. The British government thought in terms of filling the land, the Jews thought in terms of replenishing the land. (See A Peace to end All peace by David Fromkin.)
As a hint, instead of concentrating on the word "replenish" and making it something that it is not, look at the word "subdue". If the earth is really brand new and in idyllic condition, what needs subduing?