Cain fathered a line of men who advanced civilization in many ways: the domestication of animals with Jabal, the advancement of music with Jubal, and the invention of metallurgy and instruments of war with Tubal Cain. It ends in polygamy, violence, and murder with Lamech. But as Gowan observes, “Cain the murderer, the city builder, the father of civilization, is not to be the ancestor of the rest of humanity, as the story is now told. His genealogy is broken off by announcing the birth of another child to Adam and Eve. His name is Seth, and his son’s name is Enosh, an old Hebrew word meaning “man.” This helps explain the fragmentary new family tree at the end of Cain’s story. Enosh can be a virtual synonym for Adam, so in effect, the human race is starting over.”[1] Genesis 4:26 says, “To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time, people began to call upon the name of the Lord.”

When Eve says the “God” had given her another son to replace Abel, she uses Elohim instead of God’s name, Yahweh, introduced earlier. This generation began to call on the name of God, which is his personal name, not the general concept of God. The last phrase has several different ways it might be understood. Courson mentions two of those ways. He says, “From Seth came those who called upon the name of the Lord, or literally those who were called by the name of the Lord.”[2] Ross adds a third possibility. He says, “In the days of Enosh, Seth’s son, men began to call on (better, ‘proclaim’) the name of the Lord (Yahweh).”[3] I’ve always seen it as “proclaiming” the name of the Lord. The name is now, as Ross observed, is “Yahweh,” the personal name for the creator God, not the general word Elohim, which is often used to refer to spiritual beings in general or at times God. We’ll see Abraham “calling out” in the name of the Lord later in the book also, and it seems to be used to mean “proclaim.”

I’m not sure, however, that it couldn’t mean both to proclaim and be known by the idea of “believing in” as well. Courson has an interesting argument for one of his views. He understands it to refer to their being referred to by others as believers in Yahweh. He argues, “In today’s terminology, they would be called ‘Christians.’ That’s us. We’re not Jubalites or Jabalites. We’re not musicians or entrepreneurs, or military men. We’re believers. That’s our identity. Oh, we might raise cattle or play a harp. But that’s not who we are. We find our sole identity, not in the line of Cain, but the line of Seth—as believers in the One who loves us.”[4]

[1] Gowan, Donald E. 1988. From Eden to Babel: A Commentary on the Book of Genesis 1–11. International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

[2] Courson, Jon. 2005. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume One: Genesis–Job. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Ross, Allen P. 1985. “Genesis.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, 1:35. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Courson, Jon. 2005. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume One: Genesis–Job. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.