Calling Upon The Name Of The Lord Genesis 4:26 -- By: Thomas A. Howe

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 09:1 (Spring 2011)
Article: Calling Upon The Name Of The Lord Genesis 4:26
Author: Thomas A. Howe

Calling Upon The Name Of The Lord Genesis 4:26

Thomas A. Howe, Ph.D.

During a small group meeting one Sunday evening a missionary was sharing some things about his work. During this presentation, I was intrigued by a question that the missionary posed after reading Gen. 4:26: “To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then they began to call upon the name of the Lord.” The observation that he made was this: “Something must have happened at this point to cause men to begin to call upon the name of the LORD.” This is the kind of observation that I love to pursue. The expression, “call upon the name of the Lord” (לִקְרֹא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה, liqrōʾ bᵉšēm yᵉhwāh), does not occur in the text of Genesis before this verse. There is a sense in which the very notion of calling upon the name of the Lord seems to be unnecessary in the previous context, because God is so close at hand. God speaks directly to Adam and Eve. God comes to the garden after they have sinned. God speaks directly to Cain about his sin. God seems to be so close at hand, that, before this observation, it seems almost out of place to talk about calling upon His name.

If this is correct, this statement signals a radical change in the relationship between God and mankind. What has occurred to bring about this situation and to make it necessary for men to call upon the Lord’s name?

The first place to look for an answer to this question is, perhaps, the context. Chapter 4 of Genesis seems to be a clearly defined unit. It begins with the statement, “Now the man knew Eve his wife and she conceived and brought forth Cain,” and it ends with a quite similar statement in verse 25: “Adam knew his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth. . . .” Also, this section seems to be divided into two distinct parts with a similar statement that occurs in verse 17: “Cain knew his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch.” The only other occurrence of the verb “to know” in this chapter is the statement by Cain in verse 9. In response to God’s inquiry, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain declares, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Section 1 ends at verse 16 with the observation, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord,” which corresponds by contrast to the final statement in section 2, verse 26, “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” The stitching, the strategic placement of the word ‘know’ (יָדַע, ya...

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