What does it mean: "Then men began to call on the name of the LORD?
Gen 4:26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.
Seth begot Enosh at 105 years and had other sons and daughters (Gen 5:6-7). The lineage is recorded in1 Chron. 1:1-4 Adam, Seth, EnoshCainan, Mahalalel, Jared,Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It is also listed going the Messiah back to Adam and his creator in Lk.3:38 (the Son of God).
Genesis 4:26 “Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.”
This can have two meanings, to call upon the name of God, addressing him by his proper name or it can even mean they began to call him by other names, or his right name in a wrong manner.
Scholars are split, some say in these days God began to move the hearts of the godly to restore religion, which the wicked suppressed. There was an organized and public worship of God, a revival. This view also developed into the Sethites, as "the sons of God.”
Genesis 5 gives the generations and then moves into Genesis 6 where God has planned judgment on mankind because of how corrupt he was.
The problem with this is if there is a public invocation of the name of the Lord that began with Enos it did not last to the flood, a period of about 1,200 years. When we look at the historical record we find everyone becoming corrupt and only a few are noted to walk with God. When one reads the record there are very few that called on the Lord or walked with him; one would think we would see more.
After the fall, in the ancient world prior to Noah, only one man is recorded in the Bible to have walked with the Lord (Gen. 5:22); Enoch (Heb. 11:5). Enoch the 7th from Adam is the son of Jared through the lineage of Seth (Gen. 5:3-18). Gen.5:22 “and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah; he fathered Methuselah who was prophesied the flood would come when he died. God took Enoch. He was removed from the earth in this time period where the corruption on earth was increasing. He walked with God (for 300 years), something not said of another during his day.
After 182 years Lamech has a son: He called his name Noah: saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed” (Genesis 5:29). Then we read Gen.6:9 “This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.”
God called Noah the only one righteous, he alone obeyed the Lord in the ancient world of his time (Gen. 6:8, 13). Genesis 6:11-13 “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”
So we have a just a few people mentioned through a certain lineage that are keeping what was learned, passed down from Grandfather Adam in how to worship God correctly.
Genesis 4:26 many have contended that huwchal, which is translated "began", should be rendered began profanely, or then profanation began, from this time the origin of idolatry began.
OT:2490 chalal (khaw-lal'); a primitive root [compare OT:2470]; properly, to bore, i.e. (by implication) to wound, to dissolve; figuratively, to profane (a person, place or thing), to break (one's word), to begin (as if by an "opening wedge"); denom. (from OT:2485) to play (the flute): (New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary).
Adam Clarke's Commentary has a view that other hold as well, "Then began men to call themselves by the name of the Lord."
Still othere see this the opposite of a good thing. The Targum of Onkelos translates the clause in Genesis 4:26, `then the children of men ceased to invoke the name of the Lord.' And some others, `then began men to profane or blaspheme the name of the Lord.' Dr. Benisch has embodied in his new translation the view of Jewish writers, which is this, `then it was begun to call idols by the name of the Eternal." (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)
This word is used more than 225 times in the Old Testament. As a verb, chalal is used in what seem to be two quite different ways. In one sense, the word means "to pollute" or "to profane." In the second usage the word has the sense of "to begin."
Vines: “The most frequent use of this Hebrew root is in the sense of "to pollute, defile." This may be a ritual defilement, such as that resulting from contact with a dead body Leviticus 21:4, or the ceremonial profaning of the sacred altar by the use of tools in order to shape the stones Exodus 20:25. Holy places may be profaned Ezekiel 7:24; the name of God Ezekiel 20:9 and even God Himself Ezekiel 22:26 may be profaned. The word is often used to describe the defilement which results from illicit sexual acts, such as harlotry Leviticus 21:9 or violation of one's father's bed Genesis 49:4-- the first occurrence.
In more than 50 instances, this root is used in the sense of "to begin." Perhaps the most important of such uses is found in Genesis 4:26. There it is stated that after the birth of Seth, who was born to Adam and Eve after the murder of Abel by Cain, "men began to call upon the name of the Lord" (RSV). The Septuagint translates it something like this: "he hoped [trusted] to call on the name of the Lord God." The Jerusalem Bible says: "This man was the first to invoke the name of Yahweh." One must ask whether the writer meant to say that it was not until the birth of Enosh, the son of Seth, that people "began" to call on the name of the Lord altogether, or whether he meant that this was the first time the name Yahweh was used. In view of the accounts in Genesis 1-3, neither of these seems likely. Perhaps the writer is simply saying that in contrast to the apparent non-God- fearing attitude expressed by Cain, the generation beginning with Seth and his son Enosh was known for its God-fearing way of life. Perhaps, in view of the passive intensive verb form used here, the meaning is something like this: "Then it was begun again to call on the name of the Lord. (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
To understand this phrase leaves people on two different sides. This can be understood as the decline.
It is then in Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Finding only Noah is left as righteous in a span of only 1,656 years which leads to the judgement.
This appears to go along with Paul stating in Romans 1:21 although they knew God , they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful," V:28 they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting." Or we have a few families in the ancient past the God did not mention in the Scripture as those who opposed the wicked antedeluvian world. I leave the conclusion to you.