Who was Cain’s wife?

This is a question that has oddly perplexed Christians over the ages even though the answer is as plain as day in the book of Genesis. I saw the question just the other day posted at BlogCatalog. It seems to come up all the time, so I guess it won’t hurt to answer it one more time. The answer is right there in Genesis 5:4:

After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters.

Cain married his sister. There was no one else for him to marry, because all humans are descendants of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12). But what about the injunction against marrying close relatives? That didn’t come until the time of Moses, some two thousand years later. Since Adam and Eve were created perfect, the effects of sin and decay would not have been so pronounced in the genes of their immediate descendents. By the time of Moses, however, the accumulation of mutations would have made it unwise to marry a close relative.

That’s the short answer. The long answer is here.

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20 Responses to “Who was Cain’s wife?”

  1. Sicarii says:

    Totally correct, Casey.

    Which also brings up another point that a lot of skeptics love bringing up — that if we say that Cain’s wife was his sister, then the Bible teaches incest and other ills.

  2. MulledVine says:

    Nice concise answer.

  3. casey says:

    @Sicarii

    That objection is addressed in great length in the linked article.

  4. Sicarii says:

    I just noticed actually, lol!

    Thank you.

    Shalom!

  5. Scott says:

    Even without the injunctions against incest this is still a toughie. Assume that the fall never happens. Would God have simply made more people? Would incest never have been a problem? I like to think about these things.

  6. casey says:

    If the fall never happened, no, I don’t think incest would ever have been a problem. Everyone who was having sexual relations would have been married to their partner, so there wouldn’t be fathers sleeping with daughters or anything like that. God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, so I don’t think he would have made other people. It’s possible, of course, but I think he always intended for Adam and Eve to be the parents of all mankind.

  7. Mike says:

    I think this is the sort of problem one gets into if the Bible is taken literally. I expect I will be shouted down, but I’m really not sure whether Genesis is to be read in a literal way. That would save us from getting bogged down with such issues.

  8. Now I know why your blog title is call Caseys Critical Thinking, well I’d say keep thinking Critically but remember that man cannot understand everything that happened in Creation, we only have the Bible to teach us how to make Heaven.

    Godbless

  9. casey says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for stopping by. Don’t worry about getting shouted down. I’ll make sure the discussion remains civil. :)

    There are several problems with taking Genesis, and the Bible for that matter, figuratively. First, Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph is listed in Matthew, and it goes back to Adam. If Adam was only a figurative character, at what point on the genealogy does a figurative person get blessed with a literal child?

    If the whole Bible is to be taken as allegory, then what good does it do us? We would be free to interpret it any way we choose. If Jesus is not our literal savior, then what is the point of worshipping him?

  10. casey says:

    Thanks for the comment, channelofhealing. I understand what you’re saying, but what the Bible does say regarding the Creation we can take at face value. After all, God was there. ;)

  11. Mike says:

    If the whole Bible is to be taken as allegory, then what good does it do us? We would be free to interpret it any way we choose. I think that is the point. We ARE free to interpret and we HAVE to interpret for ourselves.We DO interpret all the time through all sorts of filters, including cultural. I do not think it is necessary to take absolutely everything literally. I have Christ in my life because I choose to believe the message of the whole of scripture and I have the Holy Spirit in my life to confirm my faith. The Jews had a particular world view and that is fine, but we do not have to have the same, and do not need to. Literal interpretation would mean all sorts of consequences, like putting disobedient children and homosexuals to death, not eating prawns etc etc.

  12. casey says:

    Hi Mike,

    You don’t think the Israelites literally avoided prawns or stoned people for sexual improprieties? I don’t understand how you can say those laws were figurative.

    I’m a little uncomfortable with the whole miracle thing, so what do you think, can I interpret the New Testament as figurative, too? Does it not take anything away from the Scriptures to believe that people felt bad when only a child came forward so the feeding of the 5,000 was just stingy people deciding to share what they had? Perhaps Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead literally. Maybe it was just a spiritual thing. Or maybe Jesus wasn’t a literal person. Is it okay to say that I believe in the principles taught by whoever wrote the New Testament but not the actual historicity of the events?

  13. Mike says:

    You have completely missed the point!! I was using the example of the OT laws to demonstrate that even YOU do not take the Bible literally. There are lots of OT laws that we have thrown out, with good reason. I know that Jesus rose from the dead, not just because I read it in a book, but because I experience him in my life.

    What about Revelation? Do you believe that a beast with ten horns, seven heads and crowns on each horn, will emerge from the sea? (Rev 13:1) Of course not, it’s allegorical. And who told you it is allegorical? No-one. You worked that out with your own intelligence.

  14. casey says:

    As a matter of fact, I do take the Bible literally. I think you are the one who is missing the point. Your argument about the OT laws is a matter of application, not whether or not they are literal or figurative. When God gives a covenant to a specific people, I am not arguing that the covenant should not be taken literally if I say the covenant does not apply to me. Some of the OT laws were given specifically to the Israelites, so not being an Israelite myself, I’m not arguing that the laws were meant figuratively if I do not follow them.

    What about Revelation? When someone says, “I had a vision,” I think it’s safe to say it’s not literal. And that’s my point, exactly. Where the Bible can be taken literally, it should be. When a literal reading makes sense contextually, it is best understood in that way.

  15. Mike says:

    You made good points there. I think I understand you a little more. I’m trying to think very carefully about what you said. I think words really are so inadequate to communicate what we really think, at least certainly in my case! Maybe the word ‘application’ is better than ‘literal’. Even the phrase ‘take the bible literally’ seems to be understood in different ways.

    Surely ALL the OT laws were given specifically to the Israelites? You have conceded that you do not follow all these laws because they do not all apply to you. All I am saying is that you have made a judgement in that case, an interpretation, and that people will differ in what interpretation they make. It is sad when Christians become divided over varying interpretations, or applications.

  16. Scott says:

    Lk. 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    26″What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

    28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    Those are the laws we must follow. As Gentiles we’re not required to follow the laws that were made as a covenant with Israel. And Peter’s vision in Acts 10 makes it clear to me that we don’t have to follow the Kosher laws.

  17. casey says:

    @Mike

    I see the OT laws as being divided into ceremonial, civil and moral laws. To make a long story short, the ceremonial and civil laws apply only to Israel, while the moral laws apply to everyone.

    Do you believe that the NT records Jesus’ words accurately? If so, when he talked about Adam and Eve, was he perpetuating the myth or did he actually believe in their historicity?

  18. Mike says:

    We don’t actually know whether he believed the historicity or not, he doesn’t say. I have no problem with Jesus referring to a myth, in the proper use of the word. ie. a sacred story communicating truth. That doesn’t make the story a lie or untrue.

  19. casey says:

    The onus is on you to show that Jesus did not believe the stories to be true. Anyone hearing him would assume that he did believe them to be true. In Mark 10:6 Jesus says, “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.'” You have no problem with him quoting from a myth and using it as if it were a fact? He said in John 5:46-47, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” Saying that Moses did not write true history but mythical stories is not the same thing as believing what he wrote.

    And you didn’t say what you thought about Jesus’ ancestry being traced back to a mythical character in Matthew 1.

  20. Mike says:

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I’m glad that we can agree that we have a truly wonderful God and saviour! I’ve enjoyed this exchange and have been challenged. Thank you.