Spin-off discussion about Cain's wife

Hi Cody,

Thanks for taking the time to respond, you’ve given me plenty to think about. Whilst I gather my thoughts can I ask you to take a look at the this paragraph:

You appear to contradict yourself and, whilst I think I know what you are saying, I don’t want to presume. Would you mind clarifying so I can understand your case a little better, please?

Also perhaps, a mod would be kind enough to fork out little chat about Cain’s wife off into a separate thread (including this post)? That way I won’t take this current thread about Adam off-topic.

Whilst we wait, two quick observations, and then a couple of questions:

Firstly, I’m not convinced you’ve answered my question:

I’m guessing it wasn’t on purpose, but could you answer it directly for me, please?

Secondly, you said in your reply:

First Question: Why is it OK for you to appeal to a semantic range to ague that ‘city’ actually means “he simply began to build encampment or settlement.” But it is presumably not OK for me to appeal to a semantic range to argue that ‘city’ means he really did build a city? Or, for that matter, that ‘adam’ in Genesis 1 means an undisclosed number of human beings?

Second Question: Perhaps, I am missing something here, but it doesn’t seem fair that I must follow you in always taking the so called plain meaning of the Genesis 1-2 text (adam in Gen 1 and Adam 2 in Gen are the same), but you are allowed to depart from the plain meaning when it no longer supports your argument (E.g. what Cain built and where his wife came from). Can you see where I am coming from here, @Cody_G? I hope you can.

All the best, Liam

But you can appeal to Gen 6:1-2 for latter the understanding. And what would else can we expect? For Genesis 4:16-17 to specifically say that Cain was NOT marrying his sister? What, after all, would be the default for the readers at the time this text was written?

You have to admit it is a little strange to talk about someone going to build a city for a group of complete strangers. But it is just as far fetched that he would build a city for just three people. The usual reason one builds a city is neither of these but because one is a leader of a large group of people. Now it would seem remarkable that Cain would become a leader of many people but apparently this was not unusual for the descendants of Adam Gen 6:4 (the inspiration of God made them leadership material no doubt). The real question of course is where did these people come from, just like all the people filling the earth that Cain is so afraid of in Gen 4:14. It is already absurd in Gen 4:14 to insist that all of these people came from Adam and Eve, and so the most natural reading of the text would be that those of this city in Gen 4:17 didn’t come from Adam and Eve either.

I know I am repeating myself but here is the foundation of my thought process.
Genesis 5:1 “This is the book of the generations of Adam." (Which Adam is this? The next 2 verses tells which one.) “In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; 2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” (So scripture just quoted itself from chapter 1 to explain itself. The Adam that this is the book of generations of, is the Adam in chapter 1.
(Now it continues on with the generations of that first Adam.) "3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.” So the man that had offspring named Cain, Abel, Seth ect. was the man in Genesis one, not a population of humans. Obviously it was also the man in Genesis 2.
You have to understand and accept this before you go any farther.
I hope that was clear enough, I’m sure i’m not the best at getting across my thoughts.

My statement about the possible meanings of the word city was just taken from Strong’s Concordance. Whether it ended up being an encampment, small town, or huge city I don’t know, but you don’t build a city in a day, start with an encampment and it becomes a town and after years of work you can build a huge city. It just says Cain built a city. The above explanation of who Adam was gives no point of reference though to start to imagine all these other humans coming to help build and to live with Cain. Again, the guy in Gen 1 is the same guy in Gen 2 and the same one who’s generations are declared in Gen 5.

So in response to your second question. If you don’t take the explanation that Gen 5 gives of who Adam was, then it leaves doors open for speculation. But since there was only one man and one woman at the beginning, then where Cain got his wife is self explanatory. If God had expanded the account of Cain and his wife like we have an expanded account of Abraham and Sarah, we would find out after awhile just like we did with Abraham, that he married his niece or sister or half sister in Abraham’s case.

Thanks Liam

Thank for your reply @Cody_G. Another good follow up post, clearly, you’ve done a lot of thinking about this. I’m also grateful for you taking the time to reply; I’m clear on where you are coming from now. Thank you for your patience.

Personally, I’m still not convinced that Gen 1 and 2 are talking about the same person. You are of course welcome to disagree with me, and I am happy with that. My personal opinion is that what is required of us is to believe that God is the creator of all things, the exact means or mechanism he used to do that is open to friendly discussion. What I take issue with is when folk want to make a complex argument in which there are a range of options seem, a, simple and/or, b, make holding one of those options a test of orthodoxy. Rather, I am of the opinion that (within reason) a Christian can hold whatever view of the creation of man/Adam that they like so long as they have thought through the implications of said view and do not dogmatic push it on other as THE view which is faithful to Scripture.

I have come to the conclusion about the relationship between Gen 1 & 2 by examining a range of evidence (a non-exhaustive list, in no particular order):

  1. Textual evidence - the lack of continuity between Gen 1 & 2, especially in the presentations of God and the order of events.

  2. Linguistic evidence - the ambiguous use of אָדָם (adam, in its various forms) in Gen 1 compare to the more specific uses in Gen 2 and following chapters.

  3. Ancient Near Eastern Literature - Comparison between Gen 1-2 and similar creation epics of the time imply that Gen 1 might have more to do with God creating a world-temple for himself and images (plural) to fill that temple than the material origins of the universe and life on earth. Again Gen 2 might have more to do with God creating a Garden holy of holies to dwell in and Adam being appointed priest to serve in it than the material origins of the human race through one man.

  4. Anthropology - All signs seem to point to humans originating out of Africa not the middle-east

  5. Culture - Adam probably wasn’t even the man’s real name since the original account would predate the emergence of Biblical Hebrew. This is likely true even if one assumes YEC since then the most likely origin of the Hebrew would be the Babel incident not Eden. The passages say they all spoke one language it gives no indication that this Language was biblical Hebrew and that it remained unaffected after the babel event.

  6. Science - fossil record, common decent, comparative embryology, astronomy, physics, geology, and many more all appear to point to a account of the origin of the universe, life and humanity than the events than Gen 1.

Having settled on this position (Gen 1 tells of God ‘making’ an undisclosed number of humans in Gen 1). I am now working through the implications of that position.

One of the implications of my position is how I understand Gen 5:1-3,

This is the written account of Adam’s family line.

When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.

3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.

The way I read it is as follows:

  • Line 1: A general introduction to the content of the section, the genealogy of Adam

  • Line 2: A brief restatement of Gen 1:26-27, which links Adam to undisclosed group of human ‘made’ in the Gen 1.

  • Line 3: The start of Adam’s genealogy proper.

As result, I also read the account of Cain in Gen 4 differently. And so there are implications for how I understand Cain’s fear of others, his move to Nod, his building enterprise and, of course, where he got his wife. Whilst t is entirely possible that Cain married his sister, incest is a sin and it wouldn’t be the only one outlined in Cain line, murder and polygamy also appear. But far more problematic is that fact that God set up Adam’s line knowing that Adam’s most direct descendants would have to engage in sexual activity with his only family members only for him to later outlaw incest as morally detestable under the law. And so I suggest that Cain married a women living among the community of humans on the edge of Eden or in Nod.

I’m not saying my position is without problems nor that I must be right and you must be wrong, I am simply putting it forward a valid option among many to explain not only the origins of humans, but also Cain actions and attitudes in Gen 4, and where he got his wife. Two biggest issues I still need to work through are 1. death prior to the fall and 2. the the New testament witness about Adam, 3, Making arguments based on ‘possibles’ and ‘might be’ can sound a bit wishy-washy (even to me sometimes). I won’t lie, these issues require some careful consideration and may even force me to consider another option entirely. If that is the case, no big deal.

So having both of us laid out our position, and our views on Cain, I wonder…

  • Are you willing to agree with me that my position above is a possible way of making sense of the relationship between Gen 1 and 2?

  • Can you see that the relationship between Gen 1 and the chapters that follow might not be as simple as it first appears?

  • Are you happy to admit that there may be more that one way of making sense of Cain’s actions in Gen 4 and were his wife came from?

  • What would you say are the difficult implications of your position that you still need to work through? What would you say are the biggest weakness?

Thanks as always for the stimulating conversation @Cody_G, I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Blessings, Liam :slight_smile:


I agree, I’ve never maintained my theories about the origin of Cain’s wife were watertight and if I gave this impression I do appologise. I do think though that it is a plausible option among many.

Yes, I think this is one of the biggest problems with YEC model trying to make sense of Cain’s actions a psychological state in Gen 4.

Thanks for chipping in. Blessings.

Liam, thanks for the response.

I believe I understand where you are coming from. As for my understanding of man at the beginning of creation in Genesis, I hope I have made it clear. The understanding of our father Adam’s beginnings and how his actions made humanity slaves to sin that abides in the carnal nature (flesh), is one of the revelations from God that shows us our need to be made safe from the results of those actions. The foundation for our need of Jesus the second adam is the first adam. Through trust and reliance in the work of the cross of Christ and following him as Lord, we can be freed from the power of sin in this life and the judgement on it after the resurrection. Through the death and resurrection of Christ I have been circumcised from the flesh and my spirit has been born again; no longer a part of the first Adam. I was in the first adam but no longer. Galatians 2: 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Romans 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

I assume you want to know God like myself or anyone else who desires freedom from sin wants to know God. But at the moment I don’t know if my continued thoughts would help as much as you crying out to God for understanding would help. There is a large gulf between me and most on this forum; there is no way that I have even a hint of belief that man eventually came into existence starting from nonliving matter which somehow eventually turned into beasts and then man. So it appears to me that when many people here talk about there being other people than Adam, what they mean is that there was a bunch of evolutionized beasts that somehow gained an awareness of God. Then if there really was an Adam and Eve it was just one of those couples that God chose to test or make an example of but most likely they were just a legend. A good proportion of the posters appear to consider Genesis to be just Jewish ANE literature with examples, lessons, moral stories, stories about the exploits of prophets and kings who may not have even lived; not Thus Sayith The Lord. Those ways of understanding the word of God do not create faith in me.

So as far as wanting to reevaluate the understanding of the scriptures that I expressed, I don’t have a desire to at this moment. From Genesis to Jesus to the apostle Paul, Adam is the first man, so from there I will not stray. I don’t know the lives of the people out in the world of the different forums and they don’t know mine. [content removed by moderator] I have no confidence in the natural (unregenerated) man’s ideas about God because, Rom 8: 6 “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”. So there is only so far I will go in a discussion on any topic on a forum and I would understand if others were the same way. So at this moment in time I will say, I have no more input on this topic.

Thank you for your interaction.I trust that Almighty God will give you knowledge and wisdom through the knowledge of Christ as you seek him. I’m sure we will interact again. Cody

Seems like redundancy here. I have commented in two other threads on this. A point about Eve, Eve was not created, but taken from Adam. Now this is also used as an argument that chapter two is metaphorical of an evolutionary event, and not historical. Suffice to say the impression is given that there is a contradiction on who exactly was created on the 6th day.

The name Adam seems to be indicative of the current human race from Babel on, but that does not mean there was no historical Adam or Eve. Adam claimed Eve was the “mother of all living”. Eve was not his mother, so that seems like hyperbole. Nor does it make sense that Adam and Eve were the sole means of other humans. Eve was not the mother of plural humans both male and female created even before she was taken from Adam.

A second point is the overlap and when the twins were brought into the world. From all indications Cain and Abel were birthed easily and before sin and death. After Adam was sent out, it is reasonable to assume Cain and Abel were left in charge of a garden where now an animal sacrifice was normal. Cain slew Abel, and then Cain was ejected from the Garden. Cain was pre fall humanity, and Seth was post fall outside of Eden. Africa is still west of the middle east, and probably not a continent nor was there likely a Mediterranean. The size of the Garden is not given, but understandably big enough for generations of offspring to settle in without crowding out all the other humans spread throughout the earth. Jerusalem founded by Shem was alledgedly the exact center of a single continent. Coming out of Africa does not matter, because there were other humans around this garden north, south, east and west, and “Africa” could have been northwest, west, or southwest of Eden before the earth was divided generations later.

Personally I think like Satan, Adam was representative of a created race of beings. Perhaps the chief. But all humans were created as God on earth which is a point not many here agree with. If Jesus was both Man and God, the second Adam, that would indicate there was an original purpose of humanity as God on earth. God created humans for that very purpose, but over time the offspring of those created in God’s image went the ways of Adam and his offspring to the point where only a single descendant of Adam, Noah, was found God like enough to obey God in Faith, saving his 3 sons and 4 females from unknown genealogical lines. Presumably the females were representative of humanity not directly descendant from Adam and Eve. I doubt that Cain was relinquished to marry any from the Garden as from all indications when the time came to marry, no one lived in Eden. We are told that there were daughters from other lines that married the sons of Adam. I do not think that Cain is the exception to that statement. Nor would Seth be either. It is possible that cousins from Seth and Cain did have offspring together. That seems to be a practice found later in Genesis. Both Abraham and Isaac were deceptive in claiming their wives were their sisters, but rebuked by the authority they were trying to deceive. From the very beginning there is all indications there were multiple family lines, without the need for incest, Adam’s hyperbole not withstanding.

Hey @Cody_G. Thanks for getting back to me. I think it is probably for the best if you and I leave our discussion there, and it appears you’d like to do the same. No problem. I’m happy with that too. :slight_smile: To carrying without going in circles I think we’d need a good couple of hours to verbally define key terms, outline doctrines and how they interact/are ranked, working definitions, and our philosophical approaches to science, knowledge, reason, etc.

And, likewise, for you, Cody. Blessings. Liam

Cain married his patrilineal cousin. This is evident through kinship analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the rulers listed in Genesis 4 and 5. Note that it is the cousin bride who names her first born son after her father. This is called the “cousin bride’s naming prerogative.” Adam had a contemporary named Enoch (Nok) which is why the names Adam and Enoch are paralleled in Psalm 8:4.

What is man (Enoch) that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man (ben adam) that you care for him?


Hi @Alice_Linsley, thank you so much for your reply. However, I am afraid I don’t follow would you mind expanding a little bit for me? Presumably, patrilineal cousin is a cousin from your father’s side? But I’m not entirely sure how that ties in with Gen 4 & 5.

Also, please could you unpack some more about Enoch being Adam’s contemporary? Sorry, if I’m missing something really obvious here - It’s been a long day!

Thanks in advance. L

There is a 7-part series on “The Social Structure of the Biblical Hebrew” that you would find helpful.