Genesis 4:17 states,
|“And Cain knew his wife…”|
Where did Cain get his wife?
First of all, we are commanded in Leviticus 18:9 not to have sexual relations with one’s sister; this is where I suspect the basis for the question is coming from. However, since the world began with only one male and one female, and since common Biblical thought is that all came through them, then there is a fundamental problem. The problem is: How does God expect humans to increase and multiply on the earth without breaking His command not to have sexual relations with one’s sister (Leviticus 18:9) or Father or Mother (Leviticus 18:6-7).
While the written Law does not seem to be recorded until Moses’ time, there was probably an oral giving of the Law (this is important because it is in the law that we are told not to marry our sister; AKA: commit incest). This is because there are instances before the giving of the written law that show obedience to it. For example, several verses prior to the murder of Abel, Cain and Abel offered sacrifices. Abel’s sacrifice of meat was accepted (by God), however, Cain’s offering of vegetables and/or fruit was not (this was most likely because Abel offered blood as he was supposed to whereas Cain offered veggies and/or fruit…not much blood in those). Cain was very angry and God then asked Cain why he was angry and said that if he had done what was right he would have been accepted. Therefore, since Abel knew how to do sacrifices, and since there was a right thing for Cain to do, there must have been a giving of the Law prior to when it was written down by Moses.
This instance is not alone; there are more instances of keeping the Law elsewhere.
It is, however, debatable as to whether Cain married his sister. This is because we are not told the time frame for which Cain killed Abel. Therefore, Abel, Seth, or other sons that Adam and Eve may have had, may have married one of their sisters and then continued marrying and having kids until Cain picks his wife. Therefore, Cain could have married a cousin or some other Biblically appropriate relative. People may argue this in an effort to say that Cain did not commit incest. This, however, would mean that one of Adam and Eve’s other children would have married their sibling. Therefore this idea does not solve the problem.
The Blue Letter Bible addresses this conundrum:
“The Bible says Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when Seth was born. He then lived another eight hundred years. God had promised Eve that he would greatly multiply her conception (Genesis 3:16). In fact Jewish tradition states that Adam had 33 sons and 23 daughters! Therefore many people could have existed at the time when Cain killed Abel. It has been conservatively estimated that 32,000 people could have been alive at that time this event occurred.”
Even if Jewish tradition is correct and the previous point was true, it doesn’t change the fact that according to what was recorded in Scripture; at least two of the children of Adam and Eve – or one of the children with their parent – must have committed incest.
While the Bible does not specifically say who she (Cain’s wife) was, an extra-biblical book called the Book of Jubilees says, “And Cain took ’Âwân his sister to be his wife…” This text states that Cain married his sister. Therefore according to the Book of Jubilees Cain married his sister.
You may have seen the argument addressing this topic that states that since Adam, Eve, Cain, and people of that time frame were so close to creation, there were little or no mutations. That is to say, that the blood lines were so clean, new, fresh, and unpolluted that there was no reason not to marry your sister. However, this by no means solves the problem.
Because I am stating opinions, I might as well point out a rabbit hole. If we go to Genesis 4:14, we see that Cain was afraid of others killing him. Here is the verse (he is talking to God after being cursed),
“Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
God protects Cain with a mark so that when people found him they would not kill him.
But who was Cain afraid of?
Some have suggested that as God created Eve from Adam (using Adams rib) He also had created others. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that perhaps God created another “pair” of humans. If so, this could solve our problem with incest. Moses wrote (recorded) the first five books of the Bible, maybe he just decided, neglected, didn’t know about them, or forgot to record the alleged other humans. However, I can see no Biblical evidence for the creation of other humans.
There is another way to explain Cain’s fear. It is not recorded that Cain was the first child, it also does not say that Abel came right after Cain, and it is not recorded that Seth came directly after Abel. If Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters not mentioned by Moses, then Cain could have been afraid of his siblings taking revenge upon him (though it may not have been recorded by Moses, Josephus who lived around the time of Christ claimed that Adam and Eve had twenty-three sons and twenty-three daughters).
Therefore, with what is written in our Bibles and/or the Book of Jubilees, is appears that Cain married his sister. In reference to the idea that God created new humans (both the brand-new idea and the rib idea), there is very little (if any) scripture to support this. In fact, there may even be less scripture agreement for this than for Cain marring his sister. That rabbit hole presents a whole host of hermeneutical issues and it seems to create more problems than it solves.
In this post I have addressed the conundrum that though the Law had been given, man was forced to break the Law in order to increase and multiply. Therefore, I should like to do a Part 2 for this study in which I would present a theologically sound answer to this problem.