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The word translated `began' is the Hebrew verb chalal but the idea of `beginning' is
entirely secondary. Chalal primarily means `to perforate or pierce through' (Gesenius),
thus `to wound' Psa. 109: 22; Isa. 53: 5. From this primitive meaning comes the derived
sense of `laying open, giving access to' and so `to profane' as we might a sanctuary
(Lev. 19: 8), and is actually used of `profaning seed' (Lev. 21: 15). Moreover chalal is
translated in the A.V. `be defiled, polluted, profaned, and prostitute', seventy times, so
that its true significance is beyond dispute.
The word chalal occurs in Genesis just eight times, and we give the references in
order to provide every help possible in arriving at a true understanding of the passage
"Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD." (Gen. 4: 26).
"When men began to multiply." (6: 1).
"Noah began to be an husbandman." (9: 20).
"Nimrod . . . . . began to be a mighty one." (10: 8).
"This they begin to do." (11: 6).
"The seven years of dearth began to come." (41: 54).
"He searched, and began at the eldest." (44: 12).
"Reuben . . . . . then defilest thou it." (49: 3, 4).
It is not without significance that the one occasion in Genesis where the verb chalal
is translated `defile', the reference is to Reuben who committed such a vile sin against
his father and his mother that he lost excellency of the firstborn's position. Here was a
most definite attempt to pollute the seed, and is but one of many similar attempts that
are recorded in the book of Genesis which we must see later. The second reference,
Gen. 6: 1, is recorded as a preface to the violation of God's will by `the sons of God',
another attack upon the seed. Even the innocent record `Noah began to be an
husbandman' is but a preface to his drunkenness and the illegitimate begetting of Canaan
(Gen. 9: 20-27), and Nimrod stands as the head of the abomination that is associated
with Babylon throughout the entire Word of God. Gen. 4: 26 also is connected with
Babylonian rebellion `this they begin to do' being balanced by `which they have
imagined to do'.
"Eminent and learned men are of opinion that the word rendered `began' should be
translated `began profanely'; and that the spirit of inspiration has recorded the fact in this
place, as being the first public step in that course of audacious impiety which was rapidly
manifesting itself, and by which the ambitious and infidel leaders arrogated to themselves
the name, prerogatives, and attributes of Divinity" (Robert Jamieson, D.D.).
In effect, the spirit of Anti-christ was already abroad, and led on to the deluge. The
line of Cain might be extinct, but the Enemy of truth was still alive, and was preparing
the minds of men for the next invasion of humanity by the attack upon the purity of the
seed as revealed in Gen. 6:
The next occurrence of the word `seed' in Genesis is found in chapter 7:, where
the purpose of the Ark is indicated `to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth'
(Gen. 7: 1-3). Something most terrible must have taken place since the days of Enos for