Why only now should it be that “the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth” (Gen 9:2)?

The observation seems to imply that animals were not previously afraid of man. This seems unlikely, however, not only from a scientific point of view but from a narrative one; there was no hint of it earlier, and the suggestion does not seem to serve any obvious role in God’s plan. So I propose to look for a different way to understand the statement, and it is not hard to find one. Along with “be fruitful, and multiply” in Gen 1:28, God bade man to “replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion” over animal creation. And here in the present passage there is a similar injunction to fruitfulness as well as a statement that “every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you” (Gen 9:3). So perhaps this is just another way to state that man has dominion over the beasts of the earth; fearing man, they are able to be dominated by man. So the claim, I suggest, is not that man and beast were previously on more polite terms, nor that man had somehow become more dreadful or that animals had become more timid, but instead a reiteration has license to rule the natural world as God’s representative.