I wanted to write about a topic that doesn’t really get discussed a lot, but nonetheless still fascinates me.
Namely, what is the justification for Cain’s paranoia over being killed? Genesis 4:14 says “… and it shall come to pass that anyone who shall find me [Cain] shall slay me.” Up until this point of the narrative we are only informed of three other people living on earth: Adam, Eve and Abel (whom Cain just slew). The text doesn’t quite “gell” that Cain would be indicating “anyone” to meaning specifically his parents. If Cain’s paranoia is irrational, then why does God affirm his statement in the next verse: Genesis 4:15 “And the Lord said, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold. And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest any that finding him should kill him.” The other question is where does Cain get his unnamed wife? To this last question, I will only get too later.
To study up on this question I’m going back to Eve’s comment that she made after bearing Cain: Genesis 4:1 “And Adam knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.” I’ve read many commentators on this verse, and the vast majority interpreted Eve’s comment to imply that this is her very first child.
- “I have gotten a man…” this implies surprise, and joy, at her capability of producing life. Would this comment make sense if this was already her tenth child being born?
- By the word “man” it implies that Eve didn’t have yet the need for verbiage to distinguish the difference between “man” and “child”, so she said “I have gotten a man”.
Commentators are also in general agreement that she is referring back to what happened in the Garden, when God promised Eve that her seed would “bruise the head of the serpent”… i.e., vanquishing evil. This is indicative of the last phrase, “from the Lord” or rather “with the help of the Lord”. If this is the case she will sorely be disappointed.
Next I will read Eve’s other comment, referring to the birth of Seth: Genesis 4:25 “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain hath slew.” used in conjunction with Genesis 5:3 "And Adam lived 130 years and begot a son … and called his name Seth."
This knowledge tells us two important things:
Cain and Abel are both born prior to the birth of Seth, which took place in year 130 YAA (years after Adam)
Abel’s death took place prior to the birth of Seth, as well as Cain’s paranoia over being killed by other people.
Here we start to have a timeline for events. All these events took place sometime prior to year 130. Using the Genesis genealogies as our model we can infer that people were most often, bearing children in ages 65 - 500 years old (youngest breeders being Enoch and Mahalaleel, oldest breeder being Noah). The average time for begetting children would be 157, if you include Noah, or 119 if you don’t include him. If we are optimistic about Adam and Eve, then we can say Eve started bearing children, somewhere around the neighborhood of 65 years old — the youngest age recorded in Genesis 5.
If you accept my arguments in point #1 and point #2, then odds are Cain is Eve’s first child, and he was born somewhere around the neighborhood of year 65. If we are being optimistic yet again for “the case of Cain’s paranoia”, let’s say that Abel’s murder took place when Cain was 65, in the year 130 (the oldest possible age Cain could be before Seth was born in year 130). If we assume that after the birth of Cain and Abel, Eve is pumping out babies as fast as humanly possible (i.e., 1 baby per 9 months) then at the very most amount of people we can expect living at this time , excluding Adam and Eve, are 86 (or (65 x 12) / 9), all of whom are younger than him.
However all of these are optimistic assumptions and are constructed in the favor of supporting Cain’s fear of being killed by other people. No one really imagines that the Cain & Abel Episode took place when they were in their sixties. A more realistic picture is them in their 20s or, at most, 30s. So that number drops down significantly to around 26 (or (20 x 12) / 9) other people out there in the world, all of whom are, again, younger than Cain, many of whom would be toddlers.
Reading Adam and Eve’s comment yet again, let’s analyze further: “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain hath slew.”
Nothing in the language of this verse, or in Eve’s detailed description, would imply that Eve had any children between the time she bore Cain&Abel to the time she bore Seth. God hath appointed me “another seed” instead of Abel (i.e., to replace Abel), whom Cain slew. As it to say her seed were few and far between. One might say she could have had a few children in between that time. But does her comment make sense if she, say, had 10-20 children in between that time? Possibly… but that explanation seems forced to me.
The justification for Cain being fearful that his siblings would murder him are built off the premise that in Genesis 5 it says that Adam and Eve had other children. But the text does not, however, say that these children were born between the birth of Cain and the birth of Seth, nor before the birth of Cain. In fact, the text implies just the opposite… that Seth was, in all likelihood, Eve’s third child. Secondly, the text does not say “my siblings will kill me”, being something that he was familiar with, but it says “anyone that finds me”, implying a general fear of being killed for the crime of murder.
Next we will be discussing the idea of “where did Can get his wife?” and “who is Cain’s wife?”
To the first question I will present two possibilities.
Option #1) He got his wife before he went into exile.
Option #2) He got his wife after he went into exile (presumably the land of Nod).
To Option #1, I have some serious difficulties. To say Cain got his wife before he went into exile, means that Cain brought his wife INTO exile with him. But Cain says "Anyone that will FIND me shall slay me". God then puts a mark on him saying, "Lest any that should FIND him shall slay him." This doesn’t seem to make room for an exile of Cain (plus his wife), but rather indicates that Cain alone went into exile. Secondly, Cain’s unnamed wife is mentioned immediately after his exile into the Land of Nod — implying that that’s the place where he got his wife.
But this makes problems more difficult. Now we seem to have two separate civilizations, when I just demonstrated that we can only optimistically expect 86 other people in the world given the data of Eve’s comment concerning Seth, and the data from the Genesis 5 genealogy. Did society break off into two groups at the very early stages of 80 people? worse, yet, a more likely scenario of 20 people?
The other question was “who was Cain’s wife?”. The most frequent answer is that Cain married his sister. But this answer is not an obvious one, and is the only reasonable answer you can expect, given the presumption that Adam and Eve are the first two people, and Cain (and his wife) are both first-generation people, from that original pair.
My first objection to this explanation is based off of Option #2 “He got his wife after he went into exile (presumably the land of Nod)”. If Cain married his sister in the land of Nod, then how did his sister get there in the first place? My other objection is why doesn’t the text explicitly say he married his sister? In verse 2 of the same chapter, it bothers to mention the relationship between Cain and Abel (they were brothers), and just 5 verses after Cain "knowing his wife" the text bothers to says “… and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.” Naamah’s whole entire role is inside this one little verse. She’s arguably the least significant character in all of Chapter 4, but we still know what her name was, and the fact that she was a sister to Tubalcain. With Cain’s wife we get none of that.
So let’s recap:
The premise is that Adam and Eve are the biological parents of humanity. The problem’s with this is, first of all, incest (which is called wicked in Leviticus 20:17)… would God purposely bring about humanity in this fashion? (I’ve discussed this already in previous posts). Second, according to Cain’s statements, and God’s subsequent affirmation of Cain’s statements, they’re other people out there in the world, that would wish to kill Cain, but according to my collected analysis of the Genesis 5 numbers, and Eve’s comments, we can only (very optimistically) expect there to be 86 other people in the world, all of whom are younger and related to Cain. A more reasonable amount of people would be somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty; and much less then that, depending on how realistic you think Eve’s comments are concerning the birth of Seth. Third, we can see quite plainly that there are two different civilizations going on in the very early stages of humanity… but how can this be if there are only, optimistically speaking, about a hundred people in existence, and realistically speaking, probably more likely 20 people? Fourth, Cain’s wife does not imply familiarity on Cain’s part. Unless one wants to say that Cain’s sister left early on to join this “other civilization”, when Cain was too young to remember her, and thus the unfamiliarity is justified.
I hope that I’ve demonstrated that in order to keep the premise alive, it requires heavy inferences, distortions, on the text, to make the scenario “work”. And even then, what you end up with is a unrealistic scenario of humanity breaking off into two separate groups, when there’s only so few people anyway, and for some unexplained reason.
Is it really a bigger leap in logic to simply say, that the scenario being painted in the early chapters of Genesis are mainly theological? rather than a literal-chronological history, that must be inferred (extrapolated), broken-down, put back together, just to keep a view of Genesis that is 100% literal?
I leave that for you to decide.