Genesis 4:25-26, The Gateway Transgression
Recently I suggested that the words of Lamech the descendant of Cain signaled “the beginning of the End.” In spite of Lamech being a brutal tyrant incapable of accepting any responsibility for his injustices, he and his sons were still able to influence the entire world. They taught them how to acquire wealth, developed agricultural tools and weaponry, and even taught them entertainment (cf. Gen. 4:20-22). However, not all influence is beneficial. The “fathers of” their innovations influenced the whole world, but only to the wrong side of the Great Flood. As Messiah Yeshua taught about that Pre-Flood world: “For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away…” (Matthew 24:38-39). In other words, the influence of Lamech and his sons advanced “eating and drinking” (through the keeping of livestock and the cutting of tools), and the music to accompany this feasting and harem-building.
So for all their ingenuity and gifts to the world, Lamech and his sons had no mind at all for the Living God. Neither did the rest of the world. Eventually, all would perish in the Great Flood.
It didn’t have to end that way, because it didn’t begin that way. Immediately after the words of Lamech we read:
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son, and called his name Seth: …For God has appointed me another seed instead of Abel, because Cain has slain him. (Genesis 4:25, DARBY)
I’ve written extensively how at first, Adam and Eve favored Cain instead of Abel, as Cain was firstborn, he was stronger, and had adopted his father’s trade – while Abel seemed more of an afterthought. However, Eve’s words (presumably hers) indicate that after the Almighty publicly favored Abel before Cain, Adam and Eve suddenly realized that God’s favor was more precious than anything Cain could provide. They realized that their “seed” was best served in the hands of one who could teach their posterity acceptance by the One True God.
So Adam and Eve saw that Cain just didn’t murder their son, but also generations of children who would’ve grown in the fear YHVH Elohim. Perhaps we should see it this way as well.
However, life moves on, so Adam and Eve bore Seth with the goal of raising him to live as his brother Abel had lived – in the fear of YHVH, the Almighty.
So if we know Adam and Eve sought to raise their posterity after Abel’s example, but only eight souls out of all their descendants actually survived the Great Flood, we would rightly deduce that men strayed from the path somewhere on the ancestral line.
And that’s exactly what the Scriptures teach:
Seth also fathered a son, whom he named Enosh. At that time, profaning the name of the LORD began. (Genesis 4:26, ISV)
A few Biblical translations are making editions (like the ISV version above) to portray this “beginning” (Heb. huchal) of “profaning” (qara – which means ‘calling’ or ‘profaning’), which has already been noted by several Christian commentators and the Jewish sages alike for thousands of years.
This translation better fits the surrounding context. Case in point, if we omit the genealogy of Adam to Noah (which is most of Genesis 5), we are left with these key points in succession of scripture:
- The history of Cain’s descendants, which culminates with Lamech’s violence and arrogance
- When men began to “profane” the name of YHVH
- When men began to multiply on the earth and were sensual, violent, evil, etc.
In other words, God’s word overwhelms us with the evil of Mankind leading up to the Great Flood. However, Genesis 4:26 specifically uses the Hebrew huchal to show how the latter state “began”.
If we desire wickedness, we scoff at the “Great Flood story”. ‘God destroy men who act exactly like me!? Preposterous!’ – so we dismiss this as fiction.
If we desire righteousness, we want to know how the latter state happened – a state SO BAD the Almighty said ‘I regret I made Man’! So, we look to Genesis 4:26 and understand that these multiple offenses huchal (began) when men profaned the name of YHVH. [Note: The Bible doesn’t actually say who profaned the Name; it passively says “at that time it was begun to profane in the name of YHVH.” This was likely worded this way so the reader would not think that it was Enosh who started it, but Mankind in general].
The first three of the Ten commandments includes “you shall have no other gods before Me… you shall not make a graven image… and you shall not bring my Name to nothingness” (cf. Exod. 20). These were spoken from Heaven and etched in stone. All three are related, as all three describe profaning the Name. Profaning the Name is a gateway transgression; a man’s future transgressions are rooted to this beginning – when a man forgets who the One True God is.
This is exactly what happened during the time of Enosh. Men forgot who God was, so the evil that followed was only a matter of time.
We don’t know if they made idols, or imagined up other gods for themselves. Or, in business dealings, perhaps they took oaths in the name of ‘YHVH’ while swindling one another. Perhaps they did all three. Whatever happened, what we can know with certainty is that this is the moment in history when Mankind began its downward spiral, stemming from profaning the Name of YHVH Elohim. ♦