Addicted to novelty since 2001

Genesis and the Origin of Cain’s wife

Over at g.girl, the hostess is discussing how goofy Genesis–the first book of the Bible–is. I wrote a reply there, and thought I’d expand on it here:

Being agnostic, I like to think I’ve got a relatively objective perspective on Genesis. True, anybody who actually believes the Bible is literal truth must be something of a nutter. I mean, there’s not much to that argument what with 900 year-old-people and floods, etc.

Most moderate Christians, in my experience, treat much of the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) as parable. After all, what’s the message behind the flood myth? If you’re bad and wanton and what-have-you, you’ll be punished. Or, only those living pure lives, favoured by God, will endure. I’m not advocating these messages, just pointing out what they might be.

Obviously, at the centre of Christianity, are the teachings of Christ. So, the Old Testament is mostly back story.

Here’s a tidbit for you: I happened to be in church over Christmas, and, bored with the whole liturgy, I was leafing through Genesis. If you check out an early section, you’ll see that Cain slays Able. Shortly thereafter, he takes a wife. From Genesis 4:

16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. 17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Up to this point, there have only been four people on earth–Adam, Eve, Cain and Able. ‘Knew his wife’? Where’d the new missus come from?

I recently put this question (among others) to my wise uncle, Pastor Gerry. He explained that there were several theories about where Cain’s wife came from. The most popular was that Adam and Eve had many children, and so Cain’s wife was just unmentioned up to that point. I suppose that makes sense, though, if you ask me, it’s a pretty convenient explanation for a Biblical plot hole.

15 Responses to “Genesis and the Origin of Cain’s wife”

  1. harp

    I’ve wondered about Cain’s wife too, glad to hear it wasn’t just me. Ol’ Cain has to marry before conceiving too, doesn’t he?

    Growing up in Abbotsford (which was in Guiness’ book for having the most churches in a town…there must be over 100 by now…) I saw a lot of religion. It’s amazing how those pastors can get passages from the bible and make it say exactly what they mean, even though it seems in a different context if you read the whole ‘chapter’ or whatever its called.

  2. alexis

    For an interesting take on a biblical story, check out the book “Lamb” by Christopher Moore. It’s the life of Jesus as told by his childhood friend, Biff.

    It is amazingly well-written and made me laugh numerous times. From the picture you posted for “Cheeses of Nazareth”, I think you’d like it.

  3. d

    i’m going to ask my religious studies teacher about Cain’s wife tonight. he’s a Protestant minister, so he may have some insight.

  4. Heather

    I think, with the theory that Cain’s wife was another of Adam and Eve’s children makes a bit of sense to me, because in those days very few women made it into the records anyway. We were just for baby-making. ;)

  5. Guy Haas

    Ol’ harp says, above: “Ol’ Cain has to marry before conceiving too, doesn’t he?” Where in Genesis (or anywhere else in scripture) does it describe the process or act of marrying? Where is the rule laid down about a proper officiant? In fact, in the Hebrew Scriptures, marriage seems to be a property agreement between the “groom” and the father of the “bride.”

    I don’t know about Hebrew, but in many ancient languages the word for “husband” is the exact same one as that for “man.” So, “my husband” is simply “my man.”

  6. bree

    In my childhood church I was taught Cain’s wife was his sister – the ‘many children’ of Adam and Eve theory. The hypothesis is that incest was ok back then because humans were ‘closer to perfection.’

  7. gordon paterson

    there is a professor and renowned scientist from the sth. african university of cape town named Dr. Walter Veith and he has put out absolutely brilliant videos/books etc..regarding evalution/creation after listening and viewing some of his works, it goes beyond a shadow of a doubt that the bible is truth, l pray you at least make an attempt to view his works ,l think your life will be changed
    God bless
    Kindest Regards
    Gordon

  8. Anoymous

    Up was a miss type,:) If cain’s wife was his sister, wouldnt that be Insest? It might not be that since the earth was just recently created and Insest was probaly not thought upon.

    Then when I thouht possible God created more people after Adam and Eve, I doubt the he did, But the Bible has many missing explanation. Im mainly convinced that Cain’s wife was ust his sister.

  9. Dionie S Wasawas

    Ah, there was already called incest before but it was not given more impahasis i think, considering that men are so few yet. But tendency is certain that the wife of Cain was one of his race. We could just figure out that Genesis has just given us the figure how human being were created and bound by the law of God and further shown us what will be the punishment if a man transgresses the law of God. After the death of Abel, Cain was sent by God to the land of Node but during the time when the duo had a quarrel which resulted to a crime, they were already matured enough. What do we think the gap of years between Cain and Abel? Thus, only when Abel died, Seth was mentioned to have been born, as another son of Adam and Eve. Let us give due consideration maybe on the side of the unmentioned children of Adam and Eve which are possible because aside that they were blessed by God to go and multiply, we noticed also that more of the boys’ or men’s lives before have given more empahsis in any angel of the sriptures. This is my own opinion and you have yours. I’ve been scrutinizing the Bible long before which resulted to arguments but nothing happened. The only thing to remember, we got what the Lord is trying to drive at with regards to sin, and this has no relation with SALVATION. God Bless us all…

  10. blind assassin

    this isnt helpful at all for my bible report >.< but i would love to know more ^^

  11. Duston

    There are Jewish texts which discuss the wives of Cain and Able as being their sisters. Basically Adam and Eve bore two sets of fraternal twins and they married each other.

    That means we’re all inbred.

    Islam doesn’t really concern itself with those kinds of details, but I have researched some of it and come up with a valid response, that while Adam and Eve were the first of creation and they fell to earth that because of mankind’s entrance into sin and loss of immortality, that God created more people to populate the earth and that Cain would have married one of these women.

    Another postulation is that Adam and Eve were created and therefore perfect in every way physiologically speaking and therefore the kind of problems that are created with inbreeding today were not a problem then and did not become a problem for many generations so that all of humanity could be derived from two individuals without problem. Some recent, deeper exploration into the codex of DNA make this argument a more sound one.

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