3) Gen 4:26: Another birth announcement creates a bookend for Gen 4. It says, “To Seth also a son was born. And he called his name Enosh.”

This is the first instance in Genesis which records the father as the one who named his child.[1]

Adam expressed his authority and responsibility to protect by naming the animals and—after the fall—his wife (Gen 2:19–20; Gen 3:20).[2]

Yet, Eve had designated their sons as “Cain” and “Seth” (Gen 4:1; Gen 4:25).[3]

In Hebrew, the verb form of Enosh (anash) means “to be weak,” “to be feeble,” or “to be sick.” While Enosh typically means “human,” in some passages the nuance of the word implies frailty and mortality (2 Sam 12:15; Ps 103:15–16; Job 7:1–3).[4]

Enosh’s recognition of his human weakness may have evoked his dependence upon God.[5]

Moses continued, writing, “Then it was that humanity began to call on the name of Yahweh.”

The text notes that worship of the Lord began during Enosh’s lifetime of 905 years (Gen 5:11). It does not specify that he initiated it.[6]

People switched their focus from glorifying humanity—as in the lineage of Cain (Gen 4:17–24)—to exalting God.[7]

Although Cain and Abel brought offerings to God (Gen 4:3–4), here divine worship occurred on a regular basis.[8]

Therefore, ritual adoration of the Lord did not begin in Moses’s era (Exod 27:20–28:1). Instead, Israel’s priests restored a much earlier devotion.[9]

Elsewhere in Genesis, “to call on the name of the Lord” involved prayer and sacrifice upon an altar (Gen 12:7–8; Gen 13:2–4; Gen 21:32–33; Gen 26:23–25).[10]

In the rest of the Old Testament, the phrase refers to requesting deliverance (Ps 105:1–4; Ps 116:1–4; 2 Ki 5:11) or proclaiming God’s attributes and his activities (Isa 12:4–6).

By calling upon the name of the Lord, we meet with him (Isa 64:5–7), give him our allegiance (Isa 44:5), and acknowledge him as our God. While we call upon him, he designates us as his own (Zech 13:9).[11]

Thus, the people depicted here enjoyed a relationship with the Lord, depending upon him to fulfill his promise of a redeemer (Gen 3:15).[12]

Surprisingly, the name “Yahweh” appears in this verse. God did not make his name known as “I AM,” the English translation of “Yahweh,” until Exod 3:13–15 (Cf. Exod 6:2–3).[13]

A careful reading of Gen 12–50 affirms that none of the patriarchs knew the Lord by his personal name.[14] Instead, Moses asserted that not all people abandoned the worship of God as civilizations developed.[15]

Giving names carried great import in the early chapters of Genesis. Unlike with humanity, no one bestowed the designation of the Lord upon him. The name of Yahweh transcends all others. His name alone deserves our worship and adoration.[16]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Gen 4:26. What does it mean to “call upon the name of the Lord”? Do you think there is a connection between Enosh’s name meaning “frail” or “weak” and the beginning of regularly-occurring worship? Why or why not? How does your frailty cause you to bring honor to God’s name?

 

 

 

 

Go to Confession and Belief

 

[Related posts include A Parade of Animals (Gen 2:19–20); An Equal and Adequate Partner (Gen 2:21–23); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); A Renewed Covenant (Gen 3:20); Eve Acquires a Man (Gen 4:1); A Servant of the Ground and a Shepherd of a Flock (Gen 4:2‒5); Cain Dedicated a City (Gen 4:17); Advancements in Civilization (Gen 4:20–22); An Appointed Son (Gen 4:25); and  Author and Date of Genesis]

[Click here to go to Chapter 3: Calling on the Name of the Lord (Genesis 4:25–26)]

 

[1]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 115.

[2]Note that in Gen 2:23, Adam recognized that the woman was his feminine counterpart rather than naming her. The term he used for her is simply the feminine form of the word for “man.”

[3]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 242.

[4]F. Maass, “אֱנוֹשׁ” (enosh), TDOT 1:345-8, 345–6.

[5]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 101.

[6]Walton, Genesis, 279.

[7]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 101.

[8]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 116.

[9]Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary, 116.

[10]Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary, 116.

[11]Walton, Genesis, 279.

[12]Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 193.

[13]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 243.

[14]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 116.

[15]Walton, Genesis, 279.

[16]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 243–4.