The Old Testaments by Patrick Henry Reardon

The Old Testaments

Prior to listing the generations of Adam in Genesis 5, Holy Scripture makes a special note relative to his grandson, Enosh, at the end of the previous chapter. I believe the text of this note, which is obscure and uncertain, is worth extra attention.

The traditional Hebrew of the second half of Genesis 4:26—the Masoretic text—is 'az huchal liqero' beshem Adonai, which may be literally translated, "Then it was begun to call on the name of the Lord." Although a bit awkward, the sense of the statement is at least intelligible. The King James Version paraphrases it: "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord," and many translations provide a variant of that rendering. The curious thing about this reading is that the invocation of the Lord's name is not ascribed to Enosh himself.

St. Jerome's Latin version (Vulgate) of the first two words—iste coepit—presupposes a different underlying Hebrew reading: ze' hechel, meaning "He began [to call on the Lord's name]." The merit of this reading, surely, is that it ascribes to Enosh himself the invocation of the Lord's name.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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