The Clue Phrase “Called His Name”
In Genesis 4 and 5, we read of the birth of Enosh to Seth. Why did
God use different language to describe this event in Genesis 4 from that
in Genesis 5? In Genesis 4:26, “And to Seth, to him also there was born
a son; and he called his name Enos.” [Note: All Scripture references
are from the King James Bible.] But the Bible says in Genesis 5:6, “And
Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos.” Why did God
use the phrase “called his name” in connection with the birth of Enos in
Genesis 4 but not in Genesis 5? It is obvious that the phrases “[Seth]
begat Enos” or “Methuselah begat Lamech” did not ensure that Enos
was the immediate son of Seth or Lamech of Methuselah. Many instances
can be found where a father-son relationship appears to be
indicated and yet other Scriptural evidence points to a more distant
ancestry. Matthew 1:1, where Jesus is referred to as the Son of David,
and David, the son of Abraham, is illustrative.
A more careful examination of the Scriptures reveals why the phrase
“called his name,” which is the Hebrew qara, was used. In every place
where this phrase is employed, there can be no doubt of the existing
relationship; invariably it is indicative of parent and child. Thus, the
Bible says, for example, in Genesis 21:3, “Abraham called the name of
his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.” We
read in Genesis 25:25, “And they called his name Esau,” and Isaiah
7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call
his name Immanuel.” In every instance where this “clue” phrase appears,
one can be certain that an immediate son is being described and
not a more remote descendant.
Thus, God’s use of this “clue” phrase assures us that Seth was the
immediate son of Adam (Gen. 4:25), Enos of Seth (Gen. 4:26), and
Noah of his father, Lamech (Gen. 5:28-29). What about the rest of the
names appearing in these genealogies under discussion? Two are decipherable.
Other Biblical evidence shows clearly that Shem was the immediate
son of Noah, even though the phrase “called his name” is not
used.1 The Bible shows, too, by other information that when Terah was
130 he became the father of Abram.2 But in the case of all the other
names listed in these chapters, there is no Biblical evidence of any kind
that points to an intermediate father-son relationship. In fact, there is
internal evidence within these accounts that points to other than immediate
An Ancient Calendar
In further reflection upon this situation, two Biblical notices should
be examined. The first is that of Genesis 7 and 8, where the dates of the
flood events are referenced to the age of Noah. Genesis 8:13 records:
And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first
month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the
Genesis 7:6 tells us:
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon
Could the calendars of ancient peoples have been tied to the life
spans of certain individuals?
The second notice is that of the New Testament where Christ declares
in Matthew 24:34:
This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
In this reference, Christ is speaking of events that will take place
just before His return. He is, therefore, insisting that “this generation”
will continue for at least almost two thousand years, for this much time
has now elapsed, and all the events of which He prophesied in Matthew
24 have not yet happened. As a matter of fact, this is the generation of
Jesus Christ. For instance, the year A.D. 1999 is the year of our Lord.4
The events of today are dated exactly as they were in Noah’s day, by
reference to the birth date of a person.
Since this method of dating events was practiced in Noah’s day,
was suggested by Jesus Himself, and is actually the practice used today,
could not this have been the method described in Genesis 5 and 11?
Is it not possible that these accounts are a calendar which gives the
name of the patriarch whose life span was the reference point of his
period or generation in history?This would make abundant sense because
it provides continuity and clarity in historical reckoning.
The Clue Phrase “Called His Name”