The Genesis Gap Sidetrack

Is It Really Re-plenish?


Fill or Re-Fill?

When reading through the King James Bible from the beginning, the first place where a gap could be suggested to a modern reader is in Gen 1:28,

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth..."

The key word being "replenish." When a modern reader sees the word "replenish" he naturally thinks the world is to be re-filled with people by Adam and Eve. And, of course, for the earth to be refilled, that means that it must have been previously full at one point and then subsequently emptied for some reason. Thus this one word appears to make the Genesis Gap tenable, but there are a few problems.

Even though we use replenish today almost exclusively to re-fill something or do something again, that is not its primary definition and was not its definition at all in 1611. Here is what the current (2019)  Merriam-Webster dictionary has to say,

Replenish verb
1   a : to fill with persons or animals : STOCK
     b archaic : to supply fully : PERFECT
     c : to fill with inspiration or power : NOURISH
2   a : to fill or build up again
    //replenished his glass
    b : to make good : REPLACE

Notice how definition 1b is "to supply fully"? This is precisely what it means in Gen 1:28 and 9:1 in the KJB. It does not mean to refill, but to fill fully, completely or abundantly. Webster's 1828 dictionary is essentially the same: "To fill; to stock with numbers or abundance." Replenish is a form of the word "replete." which means "fully or abundantly provided or filled."

According to the Oxford English Dictionary "replenish" was not used in the sense of "refill" until 1632, 21 years after the AV was published. (One source says it was used in a poetic sense as refill in 1612, but Gen 1:28 is not poetry.) As for the word's origin this resource states,

Origin
Late Middle English (in the sense ‘supply abundantly’): from Old French repleniss-, lengthened stem of replenir, from re- ‘again’ (also expressing intensive force) + plenir ‘fill’ (from Latin plenus ‘full’).

Notice how it originally meant to ‘supply abundantly’ and the 're' prefix can express "intensive force" instead of "again."

Furthermore, every other time replenish is used in the KJB it always means to "fill" thoroughly or abundantly and not necessarily "refill" (Gen 9:1, Isa 2:6, 23:2, Jer 31:25, Eze 26:2, 27:25). That an instance, such as Gen 9:1, may also happen to be a refill is irrelevant. Filling something does not mean it could not have been filled before; it just means it does not require that it have been filled before.

Witness of the Earlier English Bibles

As any student of the history of the English Bible should know, the KJB was based upon the earlier English Bibles. Here is how several of the earlier Bibles rendered Genesis 1:28,

"...and fille ye the erthe," (Wycliffe, 1388)
"...and fyll the erth" (Tyndale, 1530)
"...and fyll the earth, and subdue it," (Coverdale, 1535)
"...& fyl the erth," (Matthews, 1537)
"...and fill the earth," (Geneva, 1560)

However, the King James translators, as directed by King James himself, were to primarily follow the Bishops Bible of 1568-1602,

"...and replenishe the earth, (Bishops, 1568)

But the Bishops Bible was mostly based upon the Great Bible of 1539 which was the first royally authorized English Bible,

"...and replenyshe the erth," (Great, 1539)

So the usage of replenish is not original with the KJB but can be directly traced to the Great Bible of 1539. The King James translators followed their directive and used the term "replenish" instead of "fill." Moreover, it is clear to see the terms "fill" and "replenish" are used interchangeably.

As soon as these facts are stated some of the brethren will go into "damage control" and make all kinds of baseless claims. Some will say, "The KJB coined the usage of replenish as refill. It is advanced revelation...." Hardly, as we mentioned, the modern usage didn't begin until 1632. It took many more years for it to be in common use as such. Others will still insist that replenish in Gen 9:1, which happens to also be a refilling, proves a refilling in Gen 1:28, but this is flawed reasoning and wishful thinking. How many times have you filled your car up with gasoline when it was also a refilling? However, none of those times proves that any previous time it was filled was a refill. Likewise, replenish in Gen 9:1 does not in any way define the word in Gen 1:28. That the earth had people on it before Noah is irrelevant.

"But the Re Prefix Demands..."

Some Gapist brethren will go in to a re- prefix tirade claiming the re always means to do something again, but this is not the case. According to Wiktionary the prefix re- can be used in one of three ways, as:

To do again (reapply, remake, renew, etc.) and to go back (recede, return, regress, etc.) are common usages today, but the prefix re used to do completely or thoroughly is also in frequent usage today and was even more common in 1611. Actually, it was the original usage in replenish (see here). The re prefix intensified the base word. Yet today there are many words with the "re" prefix where it is not used as "again" or "back" but as an intensifier. The Bible word "reverence" is one. It is formed from the old word "vereri" which means to "respect" or "hold in awe" while the "re" intensifies the action (see here). The Bible term "repent" is another example. It comes from the same root as penitence which means sorrow or remorse, but by adding the re prefix it intensifies the sorrow to the point the person is willing to change his behavior (see here). Thus in the KJB in all three cases "re" acts to intensify the root action with the only difference being the prefix in "replenish" has added the meaning "again" over the years while the prefix in "reverence" and "repent" has not.

Therefore, it is out of ignorance Gapists contend that in 1611 re-plenish meant to plenish again ("plenish" being an old word for "fill") when the fact is it meant to plenish completely or abundantly. Furthermore, with many "re-" prefix words today the original "re-" meaning has been lost. As one source said, "the precise sense of re- is lost in secondary senses or weakened beyond recognition." There are 350 words in the KJB that begin with "re" and many of them do not refer to anything being done again or going back; i.e. read, require, remain, rebel, reward, rebuke, etc. The "re" argument of the Gap Proponents is an argument of desperation.

Biblical Parallels

Since the re prefix signifies to fill "abundantly," does the text of the Bible bear this out. Sure. One key attribute of the KJB is how it can define its own terms using parallel statements. Consider the following parallels,

"Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters. . ." (Gen 1:22)
"Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. . ." (Gen 1:28)
"Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Gen 9:1)
"Be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein." (Gen 9:7)

Notice how when the Lord restates his commission to Noah to replenish the earth that he tells him to "bring forth abundantly." There is not a hint of a re-filling in the command. The first verse in the parallel statements shows the key purpose for being "fruitful" is to "fill." The last verse shows it is to fill "abundantly." These bookends explain and define "replenish" in the two middle verses. See also Gen 1:20 and 1:21.

For an example of how the Lord's command was being fulfilled by Noah's posterity consider (Exo 1:7),

"And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied...."

There, again, is the term "abundantly" associated with fruitfulness and increase. The pattern is clear.

This definition of "replenish" as "fill abundantly" also fits perfectly with other places "replenish[ed]" is found,

"Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished." (Isa 23:2)
"The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas." (Ezek 27:25)

The "merchents of Zidon" filled the "inhabitants of the isle," and "the ships of Tarshish" filled Tyrus abundantly until it was "very glorious." There is not a hint of a refilling in the passages.

What About The Hebrew?

We have been able to show that in 1611 replenish means fill abundantly without resorting to the Hebrew, but for those with "originalitis," the Hebrew word "male" (H4390) which is translated as "replenish" NEVER means to refill (according Brown, Driver, Briggs, etc.). It always means "fill" in this context as in Gen 1:22 (see also Gen 6:11, 42:25; 44:1; 1Sam 16:1; 1Kin 18:33; Job 15:2; 38:39; Psa 83:16; Isa 27:6; etc.). Thus, since "male" cannot mean refill, the Gap proponents who insist it does are actually claiming the AV is not an accurate translation of the Hebrew! In their fervent quest to promote the Genesis Gap they are in fact undermining the Bible!

Furthermore, with the "re" in "replenish" being an intensifier, the places where the King James translators used "replenish" instead of "fill" shows they deemed those passages worthy of added emphasis. "Replenish" is not a synonym for simply "fill," it is a synonym for "fill completely, abundantly, or thoroughly." This is a distinction not found in the new translations that only use the term "fill," and also a distinction unacknowledged by the Gap Theorists. 

As for the brethren who claim replenish is an "advanced revelation" that was only recently revealed or understood. Are they saying that for the first 200 years or so after the KJB was published no one understood the truth of the term by believing it meant "fill abundantly"? Remember, in 1828 it was still primarily defined as "fill." If so, please explain your reasoning in light of next section below.

Consistency Anyone?

The Gap proponents who rely (another "re" word) on replenish as one of their main Genesis Gap arguments (one brazenly and ignorantly stated that replenish should settle the matter for any Bible Believer) will often show their hypocrisy with other archaic English words that have changed meaning over the years. Take "prevent" for instance. Today it means to stop or hinder something from happening. In 1611, however, it meant to pre-event, precede, or come before something. Look how using prevent in the modern sense can really mess up a passage. Psa 88:13 says,

But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

Is the prayer here stopping the Lord from doing something? Hardly. The verse is saying the person's prayer will come before the Lord. It will pre-event Him. Look at 1Th 4:15 for a more common example,

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

Is the passage saying that those who are alive at the Lord's coming or rapture not going to stop those who are dead or asleep? Not at all. It is saying they will not precede or go ahead of them. Another example of this is the word "let" in Rom 1:13 and "letteth" in 2Th 2:8. Today "let" means to allow something to happen, but in the 1600s it could mean exactly the opposite, that is, to hinder. If a modern KJB reader doesn't realize this he will not understand the verses correctly. Most Gap Proponents will be quick to explain the intended meaning with these archaic English word usages...except for replenish. Their duplicity is glaring. It is clear consistency is not a concern with some of the brethren, especially when they have a pet doctrine they are supporting. Fascinating isn't it?

Some of the more knowledgeable Gap Theorists will refrain from using the replenish argument since they understand it can backfire on them. However, others cannot resist since it lends itself so well to a "Gotcha" moment against those who don't know the true meaning.

Replenish With What?

Even if the Gap Theorists contentions about "replenish" were true most would still have a problem. When one refills or replenishes something in the current sense it is expected that the object be refilled with the same type of contents. If one is refilling an empty glass of water, it is expected, if not required, that it be refilled with the same substance: water. Filling it bleach or motor oil is not replenishing unless it is specifically stated that it should be replenished with something different.

The problem here with some of the Gap brethren is they claim only the "morning stars" and "sons of God" were with Lucifer on the pre-Adamic earth. They insist there were no men there. However, when God told Adam and Eve to "replenish the earth," they could only populate it with mankind like themselves. It would not be populated with the same type of creatures as before! Again, "replenish" only means to "fill abundantly." Understanding this solves all the problems

Ah, the messes some of the brethren get themselves into.


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