Cain's wife and ofther humans

It is the general interpreted tradition that Adam and Eve are the original parents of all humanity and then that their sin infected all their offspring. But that leads to a puzzle when we read Genesis 4. After Cain has done the evil deed of killing Able he is sent out into the world where he finds a wife and other people. He is frighted of meeting others and so God marks him out for protection.

Where did the wife and other humans come from? if Adam and Eve were physically the parents of all it would mean Cain married a sister. If there were other humans he met who were not his brothers and sisters then Adam and Eve were not the parents of all humanity

A good reason I think to consider the Genesis stories as symbolic rather than historical.


Actually some YEC will come right out and say incest was OK until the population got big enough to allow you to marry a very distant cousin instead of your brother/sister. Of course the same problem also happens after the flood you just start out with a slightly larger group.

I haven’t heard a YEC explain why Cain would be afraid of being murdered by his family members.

Growing up I remember Ken Ham had produced a booklet (this was before the Internet) specifically addressing “Where Cain Got His Wife” (short answer: yes, incest, but that was okay back then because there were fewer genetic mistakes in the population). As a kid I always wondered why Cain’s wife was such a big deal… for me it was a case of having the question answered way before it could have been asked, which was also the case for most apologetics I learned.

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As many have posted on this Forum, Genesis can be considered symbolic but it still can contain valuable history. I have concluded that Adam and Eve should be considered symbolic to a degree, since they were the first of the modern humans; i.e. creatures with minds sufficiently developed to enter into covenant with their creator. They were, however, members of a large population of Homo sapiens whose minds had not yet been so endowed. Recent archeological evidence–cave paintings and sculpture, elaborate grave goods, etc.–indicates that this transition, this acquisition of culture and language, took place suddenly. It was as if one or more of them (perhaps even just a couple) had their brain(s) ‘programmed’ to invent language and operate as minds. Certainly their brains were ‘over-designed’ for simple survival in early stone age times, and yet, as biologist assure us, their brains were, genetically, essentially the same as ours, who have designed machines to send us fantastic pictures of the storms on the planet Jupiter. [Note: I realize that a Rocket Scientist would fail to survive if suddenly faced with the need to build a shelter and hunt mammoths in the Ice Ace. But the skills to do so certainly do not require the intellect needed in today’s society.]

Of course it is currently a scientific 'cop out’ to say that a Homo sapiens brain was ‘programmed’, but comparing it to a computer is still an amazingly appropriate analogy. And when (not just if) the biological mechanism for the rewiring of the brain’s neural networks is elaborated, that won’t eliminate God’s role in the process. Humans will just have taken a tiny step in what Einstein referred to as “knowing the mind of God”. In wanting to become co-creators with Him.
Al Leo

So far I haven’t heard anyone mention what the real point is about Cain’s wife. The Bible is full of rules for who one can and can’t marry. Obviously, one’s brother or sister is out. So the question is, why doesn’t Leviticus mention Genesis and explain it this way or that?

What we really see in Genesis is the borrowing of a pagan story, with modifications … but just enough to make a point or two … not enough modifications to make sense out of the whole lot.

The scribe of Genesis was in a bind. He couldn’t discuss Leviticus, because Leviticus isn’t supposed to have been written yet. But Leviticus is so well known, he can’t put new sections in Leviticus that reference Genesis.

All the scribe could do was hope people didn’t ask these questions…

That is an interesting idea… I shall have to look into it more myself.

But even if Cain married his sister, that still wouldn’t make it all that unusual, biblically speaking. Even Abraham married his (half) sister, and he’s one of the greatest of the patriarchs. Moses’s father married his aunt. Perhaps the Levitical law resulted in some changes in what may have been the standard way of doing things. I would assume that up until that point, there would be no inherent “moral law” prohibiting people from, say, eating shellfish. So I don’t know if it makes sense to apply the Levitical law in an ex post facto manner…

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So… the reason you aren’t surprised by Cain’s married life is because of Abraham’s married life… both stories being from the Book of Genesis?

I would say Genesis is a very strange book.

Well, I wouldn’t argue with that. But I’m sure I would say the same about pretty much any literature from the time period, and they’d say the same about ours if they were still around.


I think my point is that you don’t find Cain to be that exceptional when you compare him to yet another person of the same scribal tradition - Genesis.

The editor of Genesis had some real challenges… and he (they?) met them in ways that had to be consistent with each other … even if Genesis was not consistent with the other books.

Just because a historical fact is recorded in the Bible doesn’t mean God approved of it. The example that prompted the preacher to say that was having multiple wives.

If the Genesis story really was historically true then I suppose we would have to infer all other mentioned humans were the children of Adam and Eve. There would be no other option.The Genesis writer for reasons best known to himself omits to say anything about any extra children of Adam and Eve.

However I don’t believe it is a real factual history as we would recognise and I go with the idea that the writer took over a similar story from elsewhere, borrowing it and adapting it to serve his theological purpose.

I really do not see a neccessity of trying to maintain the early chapters of Genesis as a real history of humanity, I think that trying to maintain its history is from the fear that saying it is “mythical” and not historically accurate denegrates the bible and casts doubt upon its contents. I think that fear is unfounded. Mythical stories can carry a message without needing to be proven historically.

I had hoped to get a reply from my post to you (4/11; Aug.18) offering an explanation of how the Genesis story of Cain’s wife and the people of Nod fits in with modern archeology and the proposition that modern human behavior first appeared when a (very) small segment of the population of Homo sapiens living some 50K yrs ago had their brains ‘programmed’ to become Minds. Then procreation need not involve incestuous sex, and ‘modern humanity’ could be propagated NON-sexually through language and education.
Al Leo

Well biologically speaking there may be several theories about how Homo Sapiens became genetically and physiologically separated from their ancestor stock, and how mental faculties changed and developed among an initial gene pool.

But here again I would say that the actual biology of the situation is not relevant in relation to the Genesis text because the text is a theologically interpretative story and not a factual history. Problems of with biological relations surrunding the early chapters of Genesis only occur if we try and turn a theologically meaningful religous text into historical one.

What’s wrong in thinking the Genesis writer used some traditional story from another source and was “inpired” to change it to paint a new picture of human and divine relations? It does not detract from the existential fact of human sinfullness that sometime occured, and still occured, including desires to be gods and know everything (Adam and Eve) and the presence of jealousy and murder (Cain). That deviation from God’s commands leads involves faulty desires and actions. To me that is more fruitful way fo dealing with the story. Adam, Eve, Cain and Able represent all of us as we, not actual “once upon a time” people.

Where do you find your brother or sister? In the room next door. He found his in the land a bit over. I would be frightened to see my brother in the room next door if I just killed my other brother. Wouldn’t you?

Or a good reason to look deeper into the text. They lived to be ~900 back then. You could have quite a few family members running around by then. There is few if any mentions of a woman in genealogies, but obviously, they had to have female children. Who is to say there weren’t other girls before or after Cain.

Lets go off on an example (that would get really confusing without names) tangent to say at age 20 (or the adult age they were when the fall occurred) had 5 girls (2abcde). So at age 25 she now has 5 girls. And at age 26, she has Cain (2f)and 27 Abel (2g). By the time Cain and Abel are working in the field, they could be 15 or 30, but lets go with 100. Though we don’t have the slightest clue how old they were. By now Cain mated with girl (2e) who was 15 years old when Cain was 14, they names kid 3a and a year later 3b. 3a will always be 14 years younger than cain and 3b 13 younger. 15 years later they have 4a (one of them even could have mated with eve?) So now we are 100 years into the life of Cain and there could be over 100 people on this earth.

There are plenty of people that are probably living somewhat of a distance away so they can farm and not overlap land and exhaust water/animals. That still probably meet at family reunions and like Abel. And when they find out you killed him, they might be pretty angry, and you would be frightened of them. Especially if you were elderly and weaker than these young spry ones were. He couldn’t have been that strong if he had to sneak up on Able to kill him.

Why wasn’t it alright? It was never forbidden until later on in the law, when it was unnecessary. But was necessary before the law, since there was so few people. You could maybe claim genetic mutation and deformities, but people also lived 900 years back then, clearly God was doing something different then.

I explained that above, it would be perfectly justifiable of being afraid of being murdered by other family members that may have liked Abel and that that what you did was bad. Or in self-defense, or preservation of family, killed you before you tried to kill another family member in cold blood.


I won’t argue that. I rivals some of the worst episodes of Game of Thrones. You have blood, gore, violence, sex, incest, rape, you name it, it is in there. The Bible isn’t a book of perfection to mimic, it is a story telling, that is allowed to show all facets of life, the good and the bad, to show how good the good is and how bad the bad is. Just because it is in the Bible doesn’t make it morally good. But like it or not, it still tells a story and gives us a reference on why we are in the situation we are in today and how to fix it.

I can’t find anywhere that Genesis is inconsistent with any other book of the Bible. Just because it isn’t explained and is unknown with certainty, doesn’t mean it is inconsistent.

exactly, or David having and affair and then ordering a hit on the husband.

Just like most all writers omit females from genealogies. It’s not an omission of intent, you just can’t fit every literal even in there. Some of them help the narrative of the story. Maybe if he didn’t put that in there about Cain’s wife, people would questions how he had a son? Just because you can’t find the reason for why something is there, doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason. Maybe it isn’t for us, rather for them. As Biologos says, the Bible was written for all, to not to all.

There is no necessity per se, it just makes the most logcal sense for some.

I disagree, but understand where you are coming from.

I don’t think it is a fear personally, but I have said in other forums, that I do think this fear is unfounded but understandable and their foundation is in the wrong place. I would be scared to if my foundation was in something and someone attempted to shake my weak foundation. Because all foundations are weak but in Christ.

I agree, it doesn’t have to be historical to have value, I just happen to think it was historical. I like to debate, I enjoy the mental workout. However the fact that it is historically accurate or just inspired stories has no bearing on how I live or the meaning of life. I would hate for anyone to be turned off by God and be insulted by a Christian because of the way they interpret certain scripture. As very few interpret the gospel differently, and that is the meat and potatoes.


You are engaging in linguistic folly. The appearance of inconsistency is essentially anchored in what apparent conflicts are left unexplained or un-reconciled. If you listen to a-tonal jazz, trying to tell someone who is not a jazz fan that the music is brilliantly harmonious - - we just can’t tell that it is - - is not much of an explanation.

Inconsistencies in Genesis?

  1. We learn of the 12 sons of Israel. These 12 sons create 12 tribes. There is virtually no historical precedent for such a thing happening. It’s virtually impossible. But I’m not going to tarry on this issue.

  2. One of the tribes is Simeon, and we learn in later books that this tribe settles south of Judah. And Judah has the lion’s share of the tribe of Levites. Judah also has the Benjaminites.

So let’s count them:

Simeon - 1
Judah - 1
Benjamin - 1
and optionally, the Levites, either 1 or 0.

So the Tribe of Judah has at least 3 tribes. So how is it that the Northern Kingdom is said to have Ten Tribes? If Judah has 3, maybe even 4, then Israel could only have 9 tribes, or maybe only 8!
Otherwise, you have to explain how a tribe living south of Judah can be part of the Northern Kingdom!

  1. Abraham’s interaction with the Philistines on the coast south of Tyre is only possible once the Philistines occupy the coastal strip, and eventually reinforce it with more Philistine kindred from the islands and other trading posts. By most anyone’s estimate, this could not happen much sooner than 1130 BCE. Some argue the Philistines lived in that location centuries before then - - but how would such a thing go unnoticed when Egypt is heavily taxing the Cannanites in their “rear territory”, while they run emissaries and troops through the land to supervise their northern border in Syria?

So, if Abraham could not have been socializing with the Philistines until 1130 BCE (or even after), that takes about 800 years out of the conventional chronology of the Old Testament!!! It means that whatever Exodus could have happened, it had to happen at the close of the Bronze Age, when the Egyptians no longer could patrol the Sinai and Canaan.

Frankly, this makes the chronology of the patriarchal material into a shambles.

Sorry but Genesis says Cain and Able were the first two offspring of Adam and Eve. Unless you want to say there is a part of the story not recorded.

Except you forget we were all created with a moral sense. That is why Cain knew the murder of his brother was wrong. It wasn’t against the law yet so why was he afraid? Incest also violates that same moral sense.

Which verse says that? It says Cain was the first son I thought, not first offspring? But even if he was the first offspring, throw a femal in there, 1 or 4 years later. 4 years isn’t much in the scheme of 100 years. There could have been many females and 100 human when Cain killed Abel.

KJV -And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

ASV - And the man knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah

She could have had 30 girls before then…though that many of 1 sex in a row is statistically unlikely. The Bible rarely mentions female in genealogies, so it doesn’t mention any females from Enoch to Noah ect. Surely they weran’t just having male sons and no female?

Just like the Bible has ‘challenges’ were Genesis isn’t historical ect. Atheism has challenges too.

Moral sense is not a moral compass though…That is the challenge with Atheism… If we were created with a moral sense, we want to do good things…what is good without it being defined? Hitler thought eliminating Jews was good. Some people think world peace is good, and it might be…but in order to attain world peace, we must kill all of those who don’t want world peace or who would prevent it from occurring. Do the ends justify the means? And then we would have to have to kill anyone who would attempt to disrupt that world peace, to maintain it would be ugly. What if that person you needed to kill to maintain world peace was defended by a friend, and now you need friends to stop them…and you are at war again, and world peace is over. World peace is impossible in this fallen world. And I am not justifying Hitler by any means, but if you think from his sick mind, he could have been attempting to be doing a great thing, to attain world peace, or if not Hitler, possibly some of the brain washed below him actually thought they were doing a good thing. There are those who (probably not any more) truly ignorant, and believed black people were inferior and less human. If that were the case, they were tainting our awesome human pool and getting rid of them would do the human race a favor.

Atheist claim that we are born with a moral sense (which is arguable) but we have no moral compass. Morality is in the mind us individuals. Sure you could claim that most know that rape and murder is wrong, but what if that person was Hitler, then would it be OK to murder him? Our morals change with no black and white truth. Do you think Hitler was born with a moral sense? What happened to it? What if there are others with that same warped/warp-able moral sense? Can we kill them, or imprison them? The atomic bomb killed tens of thousands to save millions, was that moral? Hitler could have been killing the millions to save the billions (human race). People mean well do bad things all the time.

The law tells us what is truth and is black and white (yet some even attempt to ‘interpret’ it their own way and kill in the name of). So if something so seemingly black and white is misconstrued, than how much more would the lack of anything be misconstrued.

What if a guy thought he was better than you, but was a moral guy. And since life is unfair, you got a promotion he would have been better suited for, or arguably deserved. Maybe he wouldn’t kill you, but within the confines of the ‘mass accepted moral goodness’ had a vendetta against you and got your fired or stretches some truth and gets your fired? It benefits him, its moral for his goodness.

I can’t think of every possible example, but you can’t have a moral sense with no moral compass. If the ends justify the means then is anything allowed in the meantime?

Though I don’t believe in a moral sense, that is why God gave us the 10 commandments. It wasn’t a law necessarily, more of a gauge or a thermometer of our souls. It showed how jacked up we are, and Jesus expands on these later.

It was never about not murdering…though that is bad, it was always about the heart or anger.

It was never about not stealing…though that was bad, it was about why one needs to steal. Does God not provide for us, to you trust Him enough to provide for you so you don’t need to steal? Or even to the extent of faith that God will provide for you that you give to the poor and needy.

Though the laws (outside of the 10 commandments) was used to the Israelite’s to make them a priesthood or an example of how one should live as a people of God, and to show us that we can’t uphold that law no matter how hard we try.

All of the commandments were thermometers to show us how disgusting our hearts really are. Idols, I don’t think it the Israelite’s who where just brought through a red sea by God, who was a pillar of smoke and cloud and delivered them from Egypt with plagues, was a golden calf. However a golden calf represents strength, as if they can make God who they want God to be. They wanted a strong God, so they made an idol of a strong god. We can’t control or define God, I am who I am, that is why we shouldn’t make Idols, they can’t capture who God is. Don’t covet because God will provide for anything you need, so no need to covet, be thankful and content. I could go on…

But the law is good as a guidepath/guidestone, that isn’t what gives us our morality either. The only moral thing is God. When we obey the greatest commandment to love Him with all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, that is where morality comes from. We can’t not covet apart from God, He is the reason we don’t covet, because faith in His provision. We can’t not steal apart from God. not just stealing possessions. You could steal someones glory or credit, you can steal someones reputation by spreading lies about them. But when you realize our security is in God, we don’t need the accolades of man, God accepts us who we are.

I am not saying I don’t violate many of these, I have flesh, and it is difficult. But what helps me not do those things best is when I stay close to God. I don’t think it was in this thread but I spoke of a fish out of water will die, so is a fish free to jump out? I am free to murder, but murder will harm me, Freedom is living by design, not by desire. When we follow our design, the Biblical guide-stones, we are free and living what most would call a ‘moral’ life. But if I do live a moral life, it is not from me, but from God. That way in all things we can boast in God. Why am I not in a wheel chair? Why do I have some level of intelligence? Why do I have a job making all of this money? Some say it was from working hard and picking themselves up by the bootstraps (and there is nothing wrong with working hard). But my beliefs is that God has blessed me with what He blessed me with, and anything I have I owe to Him. My good morality that I might show at times is due to Him.

But the heart is what makes one moral, not your actions. Your actions can be moral in appearance, but it could be selfish to live a life of comfort or a god-like calling to attempt to achieve world peace, or outright immoral.

Those that kill others in the name of God have a moral sense that they are helping God out. They are note, nor are they honoring God nor following His teachings. They also lack faith in the God they claim, that that God can’t accomplish this task without that. Though God can chose us to be a tool to accomplish something, I will never say God needs me to get anything done.

Morals are a construct of man. God shined a light on us with the display of the law, or measured our spiritual temperature with the law, but our temperature what the same before we measured it, the thermometer didn’t change the temp, it just let it be known. Moral is an attempt of man to make us holy. God is the only one who is holy, that term by definition is set apart (for God). Only God is holy, there are no actions that can make you holy, so we constructed ‘moral’ as doing good things. The Bible says all of our deeds (good and bad) are like filthy rags apart from God. The only reason we are holy is through the atonement of Jesus, justifying us and making us righteous before God.

So no, I don’t think there was any moral sense against incest back then before the law.

There is a reason they are not mentioned in genealogies, but this is supposed to be history and it is not a genealogy.

Good to know. Since we are no longer under the law I guess I can marry my mother now.


What is this reason? What do you call that list of Adam begot Cain who begot Enoch etc.? I thought that was called a genealogy? But call it history, a female is rarely mentioned, yet they existed. So we don’t know for sure how many females existed before Cain if any?

Well yeah, basically, you can effectively murder and rape and incest as a Christian (technically) and still go to heaven, though if you want to do those things, it is questionable if you really received the grace if God or ever wanted it. As the power of Jesus’s love will lead you to love Him back and live “morally”. Though as not under the law anymore, you don’t have to… though there are legal consequences or other consequences and deformities that can occur if you do that now.

God never wanted us to live “morally”. Jesus realized they didn’t understand this, and He told them it wa sale aye about the heart, not your actions. Good morals will come a a fruit or a good hearted tree.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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