The creation accounts of Genesis are the introduction to the five foundation works which make up Israel’s covenant document, the Torah. The centrepiece of that is the covenant on Mount Sinai in Exodus, in which God gives the nation he’s called and rescued the promise of (a) a numerous people (b) a land and (c) blessings from his presence (in return for covenant obedience summarised in the Decalogue and under threat of punishment for disobedience in various places, especially Leviticus). The climax of Exodus is the descent of God to the tabernacle to dwell with his people. One key (and unique) feature is that Israel is called to demonstrate Yahweh’s glory to all the nations.
The Torah, which I believe has at the very least a core of Mosaic origin, echoes various aspects of typical covenant treaties of the time. Most obviously Deuteronomy, the restatement of the covenant on the edge of Canaan, has often been noted to embody all the features of an ANE treaty-covenant (such as those found in Hittite literature of the 2nd millennium) within itself. One feature of such treaties (including Deuteronomy) is a historical prologue outlining how the covenant came to be made. Over the Torah as a whole, that historical function is served by the book of Genesis, which explains what the book is intended for in Israel’s life.
Relating to that historical introduction, The Sinai covenant is, in effect, a restatement of the covenant with Abraham in Gen 12, when God called Israel’s ancestor Abraham, promising him … (a) a numerous people (b) a land and (c) blessings from God’s presence, which would extend to all the nations. Abraham calls on the Lord in worship at various sacred shrines, including of course Moriah where the Jerusalem temple was later built. Note, regarding fertility, that as Exodus begins the first verses hammer home time and again the abundant fulfilment of the “numerous people” part of the promise, whilst showing that blessing seems far away and the promised land an impossible dream – until God calls Moses.
But before all that, Abraham’s ancestor Noah and his family were the sole survivors of the Flood, and God made them a covenant too, including all life within it – promising (a) numerous people (and animals) (9.1,7) (b) a land (the whole earth, also 9.1,7) and blessing (9.12ff). Noah sacrifices to the Lord at Ararat in response. There are covenant stipulations and a (long-term) penalty clause for shed blood.
In that context, Gen 2-3 is easily seen to be the call of the first of Israel’s ancestors, Adam and Eve, to become a priesthood for Yahweh. It may or may not parallel the events of ch1 exactly, but taken with it it too constitutes a covenant which, like Noah’s, is for the whole creation, through mankind. It promises – as one should now expect – (a) numerous people (and living creatures), (b) a land – the whole world beneath the heavens, distributed to suitable functionaries but all under mankind’s suzerainty and (c) blessing under God. The cosmic temple concept of chapter 1 is well-attested in other ANE texts, but has been thoroughly researched and validiated by scholars like John H Walton and G K Beale.
Adam occupies a local sacred space, The Garden in Eden, resembling the temple precinct gardens common in the ANE, where Adam and Eve minister to God and have communion with him – indeed, uniquely (and here’s one place where distinction from pagan stories is most marked) Adam is the living image of the true God, whereas pagan gods have only lifeless idols in their temples. Note that for Adam too there is a covenant stipulation (not touching the tree of knowledge) and a penalty of death for breaking it. When Adam and Eve sin, their punishment turns the covenant to a curse in all three areas: (a) fertility is cursed in Eve, (b) Adam’s blessing is cursed in thorns,thistles and toil (parallel to Israel’s slavery, of course) and the land-promise is cursed by the exile from Eden, as Israel was (at the time of writing) in the wilderness and exiled from Canaan.
And that whole context, considering what the book of Genesis was written for as part of Moses’s Torah, ie establishing Israel as God’s covenant nation, is just one reason amongst several why the “multiplying after their kinds” has everything to do with blessing and fertility and filling the earth and nothing to do with anti-evolutionary polemic and the superfluous “fixed kinds” that Creation Science started to imagine some years after I became a Christian.
It truly is “amazing” how the Bible makes deeper and deeper sense the more you try to read it on its own terms!