God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (b)

See:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (a)

4:25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, for Cain slew him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to call upon the name of the LORD.

Seth has a son named Enosh, but no wife is mentioned, unlike Lamech who though in a discredited lineage mentions the names of his wives.

The “name of the Lord” seems to imply that the relationship with God is being made “personal” – now on a named basis do people approach God.   The claim that people begin to call upon the name of the Lord is unusual since earlier in Genesis 4:3 Cain and Abel are both offering sacrifice to the God who has a name.  LORD (Lord in all capital letters) in English bibles is used to replace the name of God (YHWH in the Hebrew) and follows the practice of Hebrew Scriptures where God’s Name is too sacred to actually say.   

“men began to call upon the name of the LORD.”    The scriptures do not give a totally consistent picture as to how Israel came to worship the God whose name is YHWH.  In Exodus 3:14, God first reveals His Name to Moses at the burning bush, which is why the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mt. Sinai is such a holy place.  But in Genesis 4:26 the implication is that from the earliest times people knew the Name of the Lord and worshipped the God whose name is YHWH – long before the Name was revealed on Sinai. How thy learned the Lord’s Name is not detailed in Genesis.  Certainly they didn’t learn the Name from scriptures as they weren’t even written yet.  But it is to be assumed that God wanted humans to call upon His Name and so He revealed it.  The holiness of God’s name is never in doubt throughout the scriptures.  God’s name (YHWH) is in the name of the Word incarnate, for the name “Jesus” means “YHWH saves.” 

Seth is honored in both Jewish and Christian tradition.   “Seth’s fervor for the Creator is sung throughout the world, for he served Him truly with a blameless life and disposition of soul.  Now in the land of the living, he cries aloud: ‘Holy are You, O Lord!’”  (From the Canon of the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers)

‘…began to call upon the name of the LORD.”     If this is meant to imply prayer, it is the first mention of prayer in Genesis.  There is no record of  Adam and Eve praying to the God who has a Name.   The word “prayer” in fact occurs only once in the entirety of Genesis in chapter 25.  The word “prayed” occurs only twice in Genesis, the first time in chapter 20.   There is very little mention of, let alone emphasis on, prayer in the Book of Genesis and none in the opening 11 chapters.  Abel, Cain and Noah will each offer sacrifice to God, which implies some type of ritual.   But prayer itself does not seem to have been a major part of their lives.   Is this perhaps because they still felt closeness to God that will be lost later as the effects of the fall widen the divide between humanity and divinity?  Noah is given in the building of the ark a superhuman project to complete but is not recorded as ever praying to God, or asking for God’s help or mercy.   No one before the Flood ever asks God for anything in prayer – for themselves or for others.   Nor does anyone ever offer thanksgiving to God or express any form of love for Him.  Cain’s lament in Genesis 4:13 that his punishment from the Lord is too severe is as close to prayer as we can find in these opening Genesis stories.

 Next:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (c)

2 thoughts on “God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (b)

  1. Pingback: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (a) « Fr. Ted’s Blog

  2. Pingback: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (c) « Fr. Ted’s Blog

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