Genesis 4:26
And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
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(26) He called his name Enos.—Heb., Enosh, that is, man. We thus find language growing. Up to this time there had been two names for man: Adam, which also in Assyrian—another Semitic dialect—has the same meaning, as Sir H. Rawlinson has shown: and Ish, a being. (See on Genesis 2:23.) We have now Enosh, which, according to Fürst and others, signifies mortal; but of this there is no proof. Most probably it is the generic word for man. and is used as such in the Aramaic dialects. Thus in Syriac and Chaldee our Lord is styled bar-enosh, the son of man: not the son of a mortal, but the son of man absolutely.

Then began men (Heb., then it was begun) to call upon the name of the Lord (Jehovah).—That is, the notion of Divinity began now to be attached to this name, and even in their worship men called upon God as Jehovah. Eve, as we have seen, attached no such idea to it; and when, in Genesis 4:3, we read that Cain and Abel brought an offering to Jehovah, these are the words of the narrator, who in the story of the fall had expressly styled the Deity Jehovah-Elohim, that is, Jehovah-God, or more exactly, “the coming God,” in order to show that Elohim and Jehovah are one. Two hundred and thirty-five years had elapsed between the birth of Cain and that of Enos, and men had learned a truer appreciation of the promise given to their primal mother, in Genesis 3:15, than she herself had when she supposed that her first child was to win back for her the Paradise. Probably they had no exact doctrinal views about His person and nature; it was the office of prophecy “by divers portions” to give these (Hebrews 1:1). But they had been taught that “He who should be” was Divine, and to be worshipped. It is the hopeless error of commentators to suppose that Eve, and Enos, and others, knew all that is now known, and all that the inspired narrator knew. They thus do violence to the plainest language of Holy Scripture, and involve its interpretation in utter confusion. Read without these preconceived notions, the sense is plain: that the name Jehovah had now become a title of the Deity, whereas previously no such sacredness had been attached to it. It was long afterwards, in the days of Moses, that it became the personal name of the covenant God of the Jews.

Genesis 4:26. And to Seth was born a son called Enos, which is the general name for all men, and speaks the weakness, frailty, and misery of man’s state. Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord — Doubtless God’s name was called upon before: but now, 1st, The worshippers of God began to do more in religion than they had done; perhaps not more than had been done at first, but more than had been done since the defection of Cain. Now men began to worship God, not only in their closets and families, but in public and solemn assemblies. 2nd, The worshippers of God began to distinguish themselves: so the margin reads it. Then began men to be called by the name of the Lord — or, to call themselves by it. Now Cain and those that had deserted religion had built a city, and begun to declare for irreligion, and called themselves the sons of men. Those that adhered to God began to declare for him and his worship, and called themselves the sons of God.

4:25,26 Our first parents were comforted in their affliction by the birth of a son, whom they called Seth, that is, 'set,' 'settled,' or 'placed;' in his seed mankind should continue to the end of time, and from him the Messiah should descend. While Cain, the head of the apostacy, is made a wanderer, Seth, from whom the true church was to come, is one fixed. In Christ and his church is the only true settlement. Seth walked in the steps of his martyred brother Abel; he was a partaker of like precious faith in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and so became a fresh witness of the grace and influence of God the Holy Spirit. God gave Adam and Eve to see the revival of religion in their family. The worshippers of God began to do more in religion; some, by an open profession of true religion, protested against the wickedness of the world around. The worse others are, the better we should be, and the more zealous. Then began the distinction between professors and profane, which has been kept up ever since, and will be, while the world stands.A son is born to Sheth also, whom he calls Enosh. In this name there is probably an allusion to the meaning of sickliness and dependence which belongs to the root. These qualities were now found to be characteristic of man in his present state.

The closing sentence signalizes a remarkable event, which took place at the birth of Enosh, about two hundred and forty years after the creation of Adam. "Then was it begun to call upon the name of the Lord." The solemn invocation of God by his proper name in audible and social prayer and praise is the most usual meaning of the phrase now before us, and is to be adopted unless there be something in the context or the circumstances demanding another meaning. This involves also the first of the meanings given above, as we call God by his name in oral worship. It includes the third in one of its forms, as in praise we proclaim the name of our God. And it leads to the second, as those who call on the name of the Lord are themselves called the children of God.

Some change is here intimated in the mode of approaching God in worship. The gist of the sentence, however, does not lie in the name "Yahweh". For this term was not then new in itself, as it was used by Eve at the birth of Cain; nor was it new in this connection, as the phrase now appears for the first time, and Yahweh is the ordinary term employed in it ever afterward to denote the true God. As a proper name, Yahweh is the fit and customary word to enter into a solemn invocation. It is, as we have seen, highly significant. It speaks of the Self-existent One, the Author of all existing things, and in particular of man; the Self-manifest, who has shown himself merciful and gracious to the returning penitent, and with him keeps promise and covenant. Hence, it is the custom itself of calling on the name of Yahweh, of addressing God by his proper name, which is here said to have been commenced.

At first sight, with our habits and associations, it seems a very strange thing that calling upon the name of the Lord should only begin two hundred and forty years after the creation of man. But let us endeavor to divest ourselves of these limitations, and rise to the primeval simplicity of man's thoughts in regard to God. We read of God speaking to man in paradise, but not of man speaking to God. In the examination that preceded the sentence passed upon the transgressors, we hear Adam and Eve replying to the questions of God, but not venturing to open a conversation with the Most High. If the feeling of reverence and solemn awe did not permit such a liberty before the fall, much more would the super-added sense of guilt after that event restrain man from making any advances toward the infinitely holy Being whom he had so wantonly offended. The rebuking examination, the judicial sentence, and the necessary execution of this sentence in its preliminary form, were so prominent and impressive as to throw into the background any intimations of the divine mercy with which they were accompanied. The latter, however, were not unnoticed, or without a salutary effect on the primeval pair. Adam believed the indications of mercy, whether in word or deed, which God gave him. Faith was prompt and natural in that early stage of comparative nearness to God, to his manifest presence and his conspicuous wonders of creative power. It was also a native tendency of the human breast, and would be so still, had we not become so sophisticated by education that doubt has come to be the prominent attitude of our minds. This faith of the first pair led to confession; not directly, however, to God, but indirectly in the names Adam gave his wife, and Eve her first-born son. Here humble, distant, self-condemning faith solilloquizes, or, at most, the penitent pair converse in humble hope about the mercy of the Most High.

The bringing of an offering to God was a step in advance of this penitent, humble, submissive, self-accusing faith. It was the exact counterpart and representation by a well-devised symbol of the nature of the offerer's faith. It was therefore a confession of faith and certain accompanying feelings toward God by a symbolic act. It was quite natural that this mute sign should precede the actual address. The consequences, however, of the approach of Cain and Habel were calculated to deepen again the feeling of dread, and to strike the onlooker mute in the presence of the High and Holy One. Still would this be so in that infantile state of man when one thought would take full possession of the soul, until another was plainly and directly brought before the attention. In this simple, unsophisticated state of the penitent, we can conceive him to resign himself passively to the merciful will of that Maker whom he has grievously offended, without venturing to breathe a wish or even to lift up a note of thanksgiving. Such mute acquiescence in the divine will for two hundred and forty years was well-befitting the humble penitents of that infantile age, standing in solemn awe under a sense of their own demerit and of the infinite holiness of the Majesty on high. There were even an eloquent pathos and power in that tacit reverence suited to move the heart of the All-searching Spirit more than ten thousand voices less deeply penetrated with a sense of the guilt of sin and the beauty of holiness.

At length, however, Sheth was given to Eve, and accepted by her as a substitute for Habel. Enosh, the child of sorrow, was born to him. Collateral with this line of descent, and all the anxieties and desires which it involved, was the growth of a class of men who were of the spirit of Cain, and receded further and further from God. In these circumstances of growing iniquity on the one hand, and growing faith on the other, believing reason comes to conceive the full import of the mercy of God, freely and fully accepts of pardon, and realizes the peace and privilege which it bestows. Growing man now comprehends all that is implied in the proper name of God, יהוה yehovâh, "Jehovah," the Author of being, of promise, and of performance. He finds a tongue, and ventures to express the desires and feelings that have been long pent up in his breast, and are now bursting for utterance. These petitions and confessions are now made in an audible voice, and with a holy urgency and courage rising above the depressing sense of self-abasement to the confidence of peace and gratitude. These adorations are also presented in a social capacity, and thereby acquire a public notoriety. The father, the older of the house, is the master of words, and he becomes the spokesman of the brotherhood in this new relationship into which they have spontaneously entered with their Father in heaven. The spirit of adoption has prompted the confiding and endearing terms, "Abba, Father," and now the winged words ascend to heaven, conveying the adorations and aspirations of the assembled saints. The new form of worship attracts the attention of the early world, and the record is made, "Then began they to call upon the name of the Lord," that keepeth covenant and mercy.

Here we perceive that the holy race has passed beyond its infancy. It has learned to speak with God in the language of faith, of conscious acceptance, of freedom, of hope, of love. This is a far nobler attainment than the invention of all the arts of life. It is the return from that revulsive dread with which the conscious sinner shrank back from the felt holiness of God. It is the drawing of the divine mercy and love let into the penitent soul, by which it has come to itself, and taken courage to return to the merciful Yahweh, and speak to him the language of penitence, of confession, of gratitude. These believing penitents, chiefly it is to be supposed in the line of Sheth, of which this paragraph speaks, began to be distinguished as the followers of the Lord; whereas others at the same time had forgotten the Lord, and renounced even the form of reverence for him. The seed of the woman was now distinguished from the seed of the serpent. The latter are in a spiritual sense called "the seed of the serpent," because they cling to the principles of the tempter; and the former may in the same sense be designated "the seed or sons of God," because they follow after him as the God of mercy and truth. Thus, the lamentable fact obtrudes itself upon our view that a portion of the human family have persisted in the primeval apostasy, and are no longer associated with their fellows in acknowledging their common Maker.

The progress of moral evil in the antediluvian world was manifested in fratricide, in going out from the presence of the Lord, in personal violence, and in polygamy. The first is the normal character of all murder; the second gave scope for the third, the daring and presumptuous violence of the strong; and the fourth ultimately led to an almost total corruption of manners. It is curious to observe that ungodliness, in the form of disobedience and departure from God and therefore of the practical breach of the first commandment, and unrighteousness in the form of murder, the crime of masterful passion and violence, which is the transgression of the first commandment concerning our neighbor, are the starting-points of sin in the world. They do not seem to have yet reached idolatry and adultery. This appears to point out that the prohibitions into which the law is developed in the Ten Commandments are arranged in the order of time as well as of nature.

The preceding chapters, if written in substance by Adam, formed the primeval Bible of mankind. But, whether written at that time or not, they contain the leading facts which occurred in the early history of man in relation to his Maker. These facts were well known to the antediluvian world, and formed the rule by which it was to be guided in approaching to God, presenting to him an acceptable offering, calling upon his name, and so walking with him in peace and love. Here we have all the needful germs of a gospel for the infantile race. If we ask why they were not effectual, the answer is at hand. They were effectual with a few, and are thereby proved sufficient to recover man from sin, and vindicate the mercy of God. But the All-wise Being, who made man a moral agent, must thoroughly guard his freedom, even in the dealings of mercy. And in the folly and madness of their self-will, some will revolt more and more. The history was written for our learning. Let its lessons be pondered. Let the accumulated experience of bygone wanderings recorded in the Book of God be our warning, to return at length with our whole heart to our merciful Father.

26. men began to call upon the name of the Lord—rather, by the name of the Lord. God's people, a name probably applied to them in contempt by the world. Enos properly signifies a miserable man, to note the great wickedness and wretchedness of that generation, which the Hebrew writers generally observe.

To call upon the name of the Lord; to pray unto God, to worship God in a more public and solemn manner; praying being here put for the whole worship of God, as Genesis 12:8, Genesis 26:25, and in many other places. According to the marginal version, the sense is this: Then when the world was universally corrupt, and had forsaken God and his service, good men grew more valiant and zealous for God, and did more publicly and avowedly own God, and began to distinguish and separate themselves from the ungodly world, and to call themselves and one another by the name of God, i.e. the sons, servants, or worshippers of God as they are expressly called; and that, as it seems, upon this occasion, Genesis 6:2. And in this sense this phrase is elsewhere taken, as Isaiah 43:7, Isaiah 44:5, Isaiah 65:1. Some render the place thus, Then began men to profane the name, i.e. the worship, of the Lord, by idolatry or superstition. But this seems neither to agree with the Hebrew phrase, nor to suit with this place, where he speaks of the posterity of Seth; who were the holy seed, and the only church of God then in the world.

And to Seth, to him also there was born a son,.... When he was an hundred and five years old, Genesis 5:6 and this is mentioned as a further proof and instance of God's goodness to Adam's family in this line, that there was a succession in it, where the true worship of God was kept, and from whence the Messiah was to arise, and as a pledge and confirmation of it:

and he called his name Enos; which is generally interpreted a weak, feeble, frail, mortal, miserable man; which Seth being sensible of, and observing the sorrows of human life, and especially an increase of them among good men through the growing corruptions of the age, gave this name to his son; though it may be observed, that the derivation of this name may be from the Arabic word "anas" (o), to be sociable and familiar; man being a sociable creature, not only in civil but in religious things, and so a reason of the name may be taken from what follows:

then began men to call upon the name of the Lord; not but that Adam and Abel, and all good men, had called upon the name of the Lord, and prayed to him, or worshipped him before this time personally, and in their families; but now the families of good men being larger, and more numerous, they joined together in social and public worship: or since it may be thought there were public assemblies for religious worship before this time, though it may be they had been neglected, and now were revived with more zeal and vigour; seeing the Cainites incorporating themselves, and joining families together, and building cities, and carrying on their civil and religious affairs among themselves, they also formed themselves into distinct bodies; and not only separated from them, but called themselves by a different name; for so the words may be rendered: "then began men to call themselves", or "to be called by the name of the Lord" (p); the sons of God, as distinct from the sons of men; which distinction may be observed in Genesis 6:2 and has been retained more or less ever since: some choose to translate the words, "then began men to call in the name of the Lord" (q); that is, to call upon God in the name of the Messiah, the Mediator between God and man; having now, since the birth of Seth, and especially of Enos, clearer notions of the promised seed, and of the use of him, and his name, in their addresses to God; see John 14:13. The Jews give a very different sense of these words; the Targum of Onkelos is,"then in his days the children of men ceased from praying in the name of the Lord;''and the Targum of Jonathan is,"this was the age, in the days of which they began to err, and they made themselves idols, and surnamed their idols by the name of the Word of the Lord;''with which agrees the note of Jarchi,"then they began to call the names of men, and the names of herbs, by the name of the blessed God, to make idols of them:''and some of them say, particularly Maimonides (r), that Enos himself erred, and fell into idolatry, and was the first inventor of images, by the mediation of which men prayed to God: but all this seems to be without foundation, and injurious to the character of this antediluvian patriarch; nor does it appear that idolatry obtained in the posterity of Seth, or among the people of God so early; nor is such an account agreeable to the history which Moses is giving of the family of Seth, in opposition to that of Cain; wherefore one or other of the former senses is best.

(o) "Consuevit, assuevit, et familiaris evasit", Golius, col. 169. (p) "vocari de nomine Jehovae", Piscator. (q) "Ad invocandum in nomine Domini", Montanus, "vel vocare in nomine Domini", Cartwright. (r) Hilchot Obede Cochabim, c. 1. sect. 1. R, Gedaliah, Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 74. 2. Juchasin, fol. 134. 2.

And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to {t} call upon the name of the LORD.

(t) In these days God began to move the hearts of the godly to restore religion, which had been suppressed by the wicked for a long time.

26. Enosh] This word, used in Hebrew poetry, means “man,” and is thus to be compared with Adam.

then began men] In the Hebrew it is impersonal, “then was a beginning made.” The origin of Jehovah worship is here connected with the line of Seth, and is probably intended to be contrasted with the origin of secular callings in the line of Cain.

to call upon] “Properly, as always, to call with, i.e. to use the name in invocations, in the manner of ancient cults, especially at times of sacrifice; cf. Genesis 12:8, Genesis 13:4, Genesis 21:33, Genesis 26:25.” (Driver.)

the name of the Lord] i.e. the name of Jehovah. This statement by J, who uses this title by preference, is in conflict with the statement that the name was first revealed to Moses (E), (P), Exodus 3:14; Exodus 6:2. But in view not only of this text, but also of recent cuneiform decipherments, shewing the probability that a form of the name was known in Babylonia before the time of Moses, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the name belongs, as the tradition of J evidently taught, to prehistoric antiquity.

Genesis 4:26"To Seth, to him also (הוּא גּם, intensive, vid., Ges. 121, 3) there was born a son, and he called his name Enosh." אנושׁ, from אנשׁ to be weak, faint, frail, designates man from his frail and mortal condition (Psalm 8:4; Psalm 90:3; Psalm 103:15, etc.). In this name, therefore, the feeling and knowledge of human weakness and frailty were expressed (the opposite of the pride and arrogance displayed by the Canaanitish family); and this feeling led to God, to that invocation of the name of Jehovah which commenced under Enos. יהוה בּשׁם קרא, literally to call in (or by) the name of Jehovah, is used for a solemn calling of the name of God. When applied to men, it denotes invocation (here and Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4, etc.); to God, calling out or proclaiming His name (Exodus 33:19; Exodus 34:5). The name of God signifies in general "the whole nature of God, by which He attests His personal presence in the relation into which He has entered with man, the divine self-manifestation, or the whole of that revealed side of the divine nature, which is turned towards man" (Oehler). We have here an account of the commencement of that worship of God which consists in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, or in the acknowledgment and celebration of the mercy and help of Jehovah. While the family of Cainites, by the erection of a city, and the invention and development of worldly arts and business, were laying the foundation for the kingdom of this world; the family of the Sethites began, by united invocation of the name of God of grace, to found and to erect the kingdom of God.
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