God - hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel - Eve must have received on this occasion some Divine communication, else how could she have known that this son was appointed in the place of Abel, to continue that holy line by which the Messiah was to come? From this we see that the line of the Messiah was determined from the beginning, and that it was not first fixed in the days of Abraham; for the promise was then only renewed, and that branch of his family designated by which the sacred line was to be continued. And it is worthy of remark, that Seth's posterity alone continued after the flood, when all the other families of the earth were destroyed, Noah being the tenth descendant from Adam through Seth.
Though all these persons are mentioned in the following chapter, I shall produce them here in the order of their succession:
In order to keep this line distinct, we find particular care was taken that, where there were two or more sons in a family, the one through whom God particularly designed to bring his Son into the world was, by some especial providence, pointed out. Thus in the family of Adam, Seth was chosen; in the family of Noah, Shem; in the family of Abraham, Isaac; and in that of David, Solomon and Nathan. All these things God watched over by an especial providence from the beginning, that when Jesus Christ should come it might be clearly seen that he came by the promise, through grace, and not by nature.
- XX. Sheth
25. שׁת shēt Sheth, “placed, put.”
26. אנישׁ 'enôsh Enosh, “man, sickly.” בשׁם קרא qero' beshēm means, first, to call an object by its name Isaiah 40:26; Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 45:3-4; second, to call an object by the name of another, who is the parent, leader, husband, owner Numbers 32:42; Judges 18:29; Psalm 49:12; Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 44:5; Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 65:1; third, to proclaim the name of Exodus 33:19; Exodus 35:5-6; fourth, to call upon the name of God, to address him by his proper name with an audible voice in the form of prayer. This is the most common meaning of the phrase. In this sense it is followed by Yahweh as the proper name of the true God among the Hebrews. It is not to be forgotten that names were still significant, at this early period.
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 that are on terms of 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.
The narrative here reverts to a point subsequent to the death of Habel, when another son is born to Adam, whom his mother Eve regards as a substitute for Habel, and names Sheth in allusion to that circumstance. She is in a sadder, humbler frame than when she named her first-born, and therefore does not employ the personal name of the Lord. Yet her heart is not so much downcast as when she called her second son a breath. Her faith in God is sedate and pensive, and hence she uses the more distant and general term אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym God.
Yet there is a special significance in the form of expression she employs. “For God” hath given me another seed instead of Habel. He is to be instead of Habel, and God-fearing like Habel. 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 seed of the serpent, because they are of his spirit, so 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 Genesis 6:1.
A son is born to Sheth 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. “Then was it begun to call upon the name of the Lord.” 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, and is to be adopted unless there be something in the context or the circumstances demanding another meaning. This involves also 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 the Lord are themselves called the children of God.
Some change is here intimated in the mode of approaching God in worship. The gist of the sentence, however, does not lie in the name “Yahweh”. For this 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 Yahweh is the ordinary term employed in it ever afterward to denote the true God. As a proper name, Yahweh 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 One, 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 Yahweh, 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 the Lord 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 primeval simplicity of man‘s thoughts in regard to 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 restrain 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, were not unnoticed, or without a salutary effect on the primeval pair. Adam believed 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 come to be 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 first-born son. Here humble, distant, self-condemning faith solilloquizes, or, at most, the penitent pair converse in humble hope about the mercy of the Most High.
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 toward 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 Habel were calculated to deepen again the feeling of dread, and to strike the onlooker mute 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 suited 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, Sheth was given to Eve, and accepted by her as a substitute for Habel. Enosh, the child of sorrow, was born to him. Collateral with this line of descent, and all the anxieties and desires 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, יהוה yehovâh “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 older 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 the Lord,” that keepeth 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, of conscious acceptance, of freedom, of hope, of love. This is a far nobler attainment than the invention of all the arts of life. It is the return from that revulsive 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 Yahweh, 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 Sheth, of which this paragraph speaks, began to be distinguished as the followers of the Lord; whereas others at the same time had forgotten the Lord, and renounced even the form of reverence for him. The seed of the woman was now distinguished from the seed of the serpent. The latter are in a spiritual sense called “the seed of the serpent,” because they cling to the principles of the tempter; and the former may in the same sense 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 have persisted in the primeval apostasy, and are no longer associated with their fellows in acknowledging their common Maker.
The progress of moral evil in the antediluvian world was manifested in fratricide, in going out from the presence of the Lord, in personal violence, and in polygamy. The first is the normal 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 primeval 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. If we ask why they were not effectual, the answer is at hand. 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.
To Adam was given another son, to be the inheritor of the divine promise, the heir of the spiritual birthright. The name Seth, given to this son, signified “appointed,” or “compensation;” “for,” said the mother, “God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.” Seth was of more noble stature than Cain or Abel, and resembled Adam more closely than did his other sons. He was a worthy character, following in the steps of Abel. Yet he inherited no more natural goodness than did Cain. Concerning the creation of Adam it is said, “In the likeness of God made He him;” but man, after the Fall, “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image.” While Adam was created sinless, in the likeness of God, Seth, like Cain, inherited the fallen nature of his parents. But he received also the knowledge of the Redeemer and instruction in righteousness. By divine grace he served and honored God; and he labored, as Abel would have done, had he lived, to turn the minds of sinful men to revere and obey their Creator. PP 80.1
“To Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.” The faithful had worshiped God before; but as men increased, the distinction between the two classes became more marked. There was an open profession of loyalty to God on the part of one, as there was of contempt and disobedience on the part of the other. PP 80.2
Before the Fall our first parents had kept the Sabbath, which was instituted in Eden; and after their expulsion from Paradise they continued its observance. They had tasted the bitter fruits of disobedience, and had learned what every one that tramples upon God's commandments will sooner or later learn—that the divine precepts are sacred and immutable, and that the penalty of transgression will surely be inflicted. The Sabbath was honored by all the children of Adam that remained loyal to God. But Cain and his descendants did not respect the day upon which God had rested. They chose their own time for labor and for rest, regardless of Jehovah's express command. PP 80.3Read in context »
Those who venture to lightly esteem the day upon which Jehovah rested, the day which he sanctified and blessed, the day which he has commanded to be kept holy, will yet know that death is the reward of the transgressor. On account of the special honors God conferred upon the seventh day, he required his people to number by sevens lest they should forget their Creator who made the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. 3SG 53.1
The descendants of Cain were not careful to respect the day upon which God rested. They chose their own time for labor and for rest, regardless of Jehovah's special command. There were two distinct classes upon the earth. One class were in open rebellion against God's law; while the other class obeyed his commandments, and revered his Sabbath. 3SG 53.2Read in context »
Seth was of more noble stature than Cain or Abel, and resembled Adam more than any of his other sons. The descendants of Seth had separated themselves from the wicked descendants of Cain. They cherished the knowledge of God's will, while the ungodly race of Cain had no respect for God and his sacred commandments. But when men multiplied upon the earth, the descendants of Seth saw that the daughters of the descendants of Cain were very beautiful, and they departed from God and displeased him by taking wives as they chose of the idolatrous race of Cain. 3SG 60.1Read in context »
Seth was a worthy character, and was to take the place of Abel in right doing. Yet he was a son of Adam, like sinful Cain, and inherited from the nature of Adam no more natural goodness than did Cain. He was born in sin, but by the grace of God, in receiving the faithful instructions of his father Adam, he honored God in doing His will. He separated himself from the corrupt descendants of Cain and labored, as Abel would have done had he lived, to turn the minds of sinful men to revere and obey God. SR 57.1
Enoch was a holy man. He served God with singleness of heart. He realized the corruptions of the human family and separated himself from the descendants of Cain and reproved them for their great wickedness. There were those upon the earth who acknowledged God, who feared and worshiped Him. Yet righteous Enoch was so distressed with the increasing wickedness of the ungodly, that he would not daily associate with them, fearing that he should be affected by their infidelity and that his thoughts might not ever regard God with that holy reverence which was due His exalted character. His soul was vexed as he daily witnessed their trampling upon the authority of God. He chose to be separate from them, and spent much of his time in solitude, which he devoted to reflection and prayer. He waited before God and prayed to know His will more perfectly, that he might perform it. God communed with Enoch through His angels and gave him divine instruction. He made known to him that He would not always bear with man in his rebellion—that His purpose was to destroy the sinful race by bringing a flood of waters upon the earth. SR 57.2Read in context »