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Some Vocabulary Words Before the Commentary
Genesis 4:25. שֵׁת Seth, appointed, placed, put. Seth was the son of Adam and Eve, born when Adam was 130 years old. Eve named him Seth because, as she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” Likely, Seth was not the third child of Adam and Eve. If we look at Genesis 5:4, Adam had “sons and daughters,” which means that it is quite possible that some may have been born before Seth. Noah was a descendant of Seth, and so the entire race of mankind descended from Seth, none from Cain.
Genesis 4:26. אֱנֹושׁ Enosh, man, sickly. קְרֹא בְשֵׁם early period. אֱנוֹשׁ (ʾĕnôš) man, mortal man, person. (ASV, RSV similar).
The basic meaning of ʾĕnôš is “man” in the sense of “mankind.” The word can refer to an individual only in the most general sense (e.g., “blessed is the man who does this” [Isa 56:2]) and thus lacks the specificity of ʾîš [ish, ‘man’]. It is used mainly in the poetic material.
The verbal root of ʾĕnôš is uncertain. If it is a derivation of ʾānaš “to be weak, sick,” the basic emphasis would be on man’s weakness or mortality, a connotation permitted by some contexts, particularly those that emphasize man’s insignificance (e.g., Ps 8:4 [H 5]; Job 7:17). The word may be derived from a different root ʾns unattested in Hebrew but found in Arabic and Ugaritic. It has the connotation of friendliness or sociality in Arabic and the similar concept of companionability in Ugaritic. If derived from this root the basic emphasis of ʾĕnôš would be on man as a social being.
While it is true that the word frequently emphasizes man’s frailty and humanness, these concepts may derive from the theological framework in which the ancient Hebrews viewed mankind and not necessarily from an inherent root meaning. The word frequently has a general sense, and its usage in parallelism with other general terms for man such as ʾādām (Ps 73:5), bĕnêʾādām (Ps 144:3), and its use in association with “land of the living” (Job 28:13) would seem to argue for derivation from the unattested ʾnš. The stress would then be on man as he comprises the human race.
The basic meaning “mankind” is evident in such passages as Job 28:13; 36:24 [H 25]; Ps 90:3; Isa 13:12 and in Deut 32:26; Job 7:1; Isa 24:6 where it is used of man as the one who inhabits the earth.
A major theological concept underlying the use of this word is the fundamental distinction between God and man. Elihu sets forth this concept in his affirmation that God is greater than man (Job 33:12). The Psalmist calls on God to exercise his might so that man may recognize his insignificance before him (Ps 9:19–20 [H 20–21]). This fundamental difference is the basis of the affirmation in Ps 10:17–18 that “man who is of the earth” will no more strike terror. Man’s sphere is earth, not heaven. He is mortal, not divine, and so cannot prevail against God. The distinction is also evident in man’s mortality (Ps 90:3) and God’s immortality (vv. 2, 4). God’s nature as opposed to man’s is set forth in such questions as, “Do you see as man sees?” (Job 10:4) and, “Are your years the years of a man?” (Job 10:5).
Man’s insignificance in view of the vastness of the universe is set forth in the question, “What is man?” (Ps 8:4). His lot on earth is difficult (Job 7:1; 14:19), but he does enjoy God’s providences (Ps 104:15; cf. v. 14).
The word ʾĕnôš reminds man of his transience and of his lowly position before the Almighty.
Messiah is described as being like the son of man (ʾĕnôš Dan 7:13) a term which describes his close relationship to the human race. (Note in the Daniel passage that there might be a studied contrast to the four preceding symbols of Kingdoms which are beasts.)
This passage completes the account of Adam’s family. Henceforth, we generally meet with two parallel lines of narrative, as the human family is divided into two great branches with opposing interests and tendencies. The main line refers to the remnant of the race on open reconciliation with God, while a collateral line notes as far as necessary the state of those who have departed from the knowledge and love of the true God.
Genesis 4:25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
25 Adam knew his wife again; and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.”
 Meaning Adam had sexual relations with his wife
Genesis 4:25. The narrative here reverts to a point after the death of Abel, when another son is born to Adam, whom his mother Eve regards as a substitute for Abel, and names Seth [appointed] in allusion to that circumstance. She is in a sadder, humbler frame than when she named her firstborn and therefore does not employ the personal name of Jehovah. Yet, her heart is not so much downcast as when she called her second son a breath. Her faith in God is calm and reflective; hence, she uses the more distant and general term Elohim, God.
Yet there is a peculiar significance in the form of expression she employs. For God has given me another seed instead of Abel. He is to be instead of Abel and God-fearing like Abel. Far above this consideration, God hath given him. This son is from God. She regards him as God’s son. She receives this gift from God, and in faith, expects him to be the seed of God, the parent of a godly race. Her faith was not disappointed. His descendants earn the name of the sons of God. As the ungodly are called the serpent’s seed because they are of his spirit, the godly are designated the seed of God because they are of God’s Spirit. The Spirit of God strives and rules in them, and so they are, in the graphic language of Scripture, the sons of God (Gen. 6:1).
Genesis 4:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to call upon the name of Jehovah.
Genesis 4:26. A son is born to Seth 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. At that time men began to call upon the name of Jehovah. Before the days of Enosh, Jehovah God had spoken with Adam. Abel had been making acceptable offerings to Jehovah. God had even spoken with Cain before his anger moved him to murder Abel. Hence, this start “to call upon the name of Jehovah” had to have been in a different way. It was not done with respect and followed by pure worship. It was likely not genuine respect in faith and pure worship as Abel had done more than 105 years before. (Gen. 4:26) After Abel the next man mentioned was not Enosh but Enoch, who ‘walked with God’ shows his approach was approved. (Gen. 5:24; Heb 11:5) The prophecy of Enoch found in Jude 14-15 shows widespread disrespect for God in his day. The Jerusalem Targum says: “That was the generation in whose days they began to err, and to make themselves idols, and surnamed their idols by the name of the Word of the Lord.” It may be that in Enosh’s time that men may have used Jehovah’s name for themselves or applying it to other men through whom they had falsely professed to come to God in worship. Then, again, it could be that they had applied God’s personal name to idols. So what began in the days of Enosh was a false form of worship wherein Jehovah’s name was misrepresented or inappropriately used.
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, but is not the case here in the days of Enosh according to the context or the circumstances demanding another meaning of perverting and wrongly using God’s name. This also involves 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 Jehovah are themselves called the sons of God.
Some change is here intimated in the mode of approaching God in worship. However, the gist of the sentence does not lie in the name Jehovah. For this, the 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 Jehovah is the ordinary term employed in it ever afterward to denote the true God. As a proper name, Jehovah 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, 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 Jehovah, 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 Jehovah 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 basic level of man’s thoughts concerning 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 restrains 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, was not unnoticed or without a beneficial effect on the first pair. Adam believed in 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 become 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 firstborn son. Here humble, distant, self-condemning faith speaks, or, at most, the penitent pair converse in humble hope about the mercy of the Most High. It must be admitted that some of these deductions are drawn from silence. For example, we do not know if Adam every spoke to God before the fall, which he could have, but it is simply not included in the record.
Adam was created with a vocabulary, as well as with the ability to invent or devise a new word or phrase and thus expand his vocabulary. Without a God-given vocabulary, Adam would have not been able to understand spoken instructions from his Creator, and he would have been just like the unreasoning animals. (Gen. 1:27-30; 2:16-20; compare 2Pe 2:12; Jude 10) So, while only well-informed, intelligent man, who was created different from all earth’s creatures has the ability of true speech, language did not originate with man but rather with Jehovah God, his Creator.—Compare Ex 4:11, 12.
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 towards 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 Abel were calculated to deepen the feeling of dread again, and to strike the onlooker dumb 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 fitted 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, Seth was given to Eve and accepted by her as a substitute for Abel. Enosh, the child of sorrow, was born to him. Collateral with this line of descent and all the anxieties and wants 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, 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 elder 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 Jehovah,” that keeps 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, conscious acceptance, freedom, hope, and of love. This is a far nobler attainment than the invention of all the arts of life. It is the return from that repulsive 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 Jehovah, 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 Seth, of which this paragraph speaks, began to be distinguished as the followers of Jehovah. In contrast, others at the same time had forgotten Jehovah and renounced even the form of reverence for him. The woman’s seed was now distinguished from the serpent’s seed. The latter is called the seed of the serpent in a spiritual sense because they cling to the principles of the tempter, and the former may 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 has persisted in the apostasy and is no longer associated with their fellows in acknowledging their common Maker.
The progress of moral evil in the antediluvian world was manifested in the killing of one’s brother, going out from the presence of Jehovah, personal violence, and in polygamy. The first is the typical 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 initial 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. The answer is at hand if we ask why they were not effectual. 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.
James G. Murphy and Edward D. Andrews
 Thomas E. Mccomiskey, “136 אנשׁ,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 59.
- Edward D Andrews, BIBLE DIFFICULTIES: How to Approach Difficulties In the Bible, Christian Publishing House. 2020.
- Edward D. Andrews, INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, Christian Publishing House, 2016.
- Gleason L. Archer, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan’s Understand the Bible Reference Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982).
- Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., “Appearance,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988).
- Hermann J. Austel, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999).
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).
- James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
- John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, vol. 1-4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989).
- John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
- Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).
- Thomas Howe; Norman L. Geisler. Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. Kindle Edition.
- Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Chronology, Old Testament,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988).
- W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996).