End of Genesis 4

At the end of Genesis chapter 4, the very last verse, after the fall, the Bible tells us that:

“Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time, men began to call on the name of the LORD.”

What does this last line mean? If I’m plaing a little fast and loose with the words, it sounds like between the death of Cain (or even the fall) and the birth of Enosh, humans were not looking to God at all. Yet, we know Abel did. Was Abel the only human looking to God? Adam and Eve were still alive at the time, so were they, despite having seen Eden, not calling on God? Is “calling on the name of the LORD” different than worship?

Anyone with any insight into this verse?

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@EvoFaith this is taken from Dr. Constable’s study notes:

Many commentators regard this verse as the first reference to prayer as we know it in the
Bible. Prayer is basic to man’s relationship with God, which is a major theme in Genesis.
However the phrase “call on the name of the Lord” usually refers to proclamation rather
than to prayer in the Pentateuch.249 Here it probably refers to the beginning of public
worship of Yahweh.

I hope it helps to answer your question.

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Thanks, Brian.
I tend to agree. I guess my question, though, is what was going on before? What were Adam, Eve, and their offspring doing in re God prior to this event? Abel seemed to get the point, and knew God’s will, but how is they weren’t praying to God?

Or am I missing the timeline?

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Hi @EvoFaith,

Thanks for being inquisitive when reading the Bible. Wish more people do the same too. Love the question.

The best explanation is that previously, Cain and Abel were making personal offerings to God. Here in Gen 4:26 was the first time mentioned that men engaged in public worship, as @brianlalor rightly puts it. See Psalm 116:17-19 as an example of “call upon the name of the Lord” as a corporate worship.

I hear some scholars differentiate that between the descendants of Cain and descendants of Seth. As prior to that verse was the account of Cain and his descendants in verse 17-24. And thus verse 25-26 was about the generation from Seth restoring the worship back to God.

Yet another view is that the author wanted to point out that the firstborn(not first child) right/blessing was transferred to Seth, after Cain’s falling away. Because it will be through Seth’s bloodline that Jesus will be born to (Luke 3:38). So the public worship was necessary to mention in order to establish that fact.
Additional trivia as a clue to this point: Seth means “appointed”, and Enosh means “people/person”, to make up God’s “appointed people”.

Today, calling on the name of the Lord is to declare ourselves believers (1 Cor 1:2).

I will be careful not to speculate on anything else beyond what is written.

Hope that helps with your question.

Blessings

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“To call on the name of the Lord” is a biblical phrase that means to express trust in the Lord for salvation. This phrase saturates the Bible. The greatest instance is in Joel 2:32, which Peter quoted in Acts 2:21 to characterize the Day of Pentecost. A great worship passage repeatedly using the phrase is found in Psalm 116.

The “calling on” part is in essence requesting salvation by faith. The “on the Lord’s name” part is a request made to the covenant Lord.

Finding this phrase in Genesis 4:26 is quite interesting. The chapter has the story of a man, Abel, who was martyred for his faith in the Lord. The conclusion to the story is that people reacted to Abel’s martyrdom by committing themselves to Abel’s God, not Cain’s (if he had one). Cain was worried about retribution, but the people around him were more interested in getting the Lord into their lives.

What is even more interesting is that this phrase provides the conclusion to the second major section on Genesis. Major sections are announced by the phrase “these are the generations of.” The Creation passage in 1:1-2:3 is an introductory passage (what a start to a book!) & doesn’t have the phrase. The first “generations” reference occurs in 2:4. The second is in 5:1. So calling on the Lord’s name comes as the conclusion to the first section. The section starts on a high note with the creation of Adam & Eve, then declines rapidly through the Fall in the Garden & the first murder. But this decline is reversed, in part, by the notice that people began calling on the name of the Lord, or looking to the Lord for salvation.

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Thanks, Roy.
Your response is spot on what I was looking for.

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Good points. Interesting indeed that Genesis 4 ends on a bit of a high note considering the general downer the chapter has been.
An interesting mirror to the proportion of people in Chapter 5 who follow the Lord (few, at the end, just Noah’s family) versus those that do not.

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