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Where Did Cain Get His Wife?

In the fourth chapter of Genesis, we read that two sons, Cain and Abel, were born to Adam and Eve. We also learn in the same chapter that, after the murder of Abel, “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch (Gen. 4:17).” Presumably, Cain married one of his sisters. Close intermarriage was not forbidden then. Indeed, it could have hardly been avoided in the early days of the human race. It was not until the time of Moses that the law against brother-sister marriages was spelled out.

Still, the question of where Cain got his wife is not quite solved, for it is not until after the birth of a later son, Seth, do we hear mention of Adam and Eve having any daughters. Genesis 5:4 says, “The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years; and he had other sons and daughters.” Is this text telling us that daughters were born only later to Adam and Eve? And if so, we return to the original question of where Cain got his wife.

The likely answer lies in the nature of ancient patriarchal society, which often excluded women from genealogical lists, since men were viewed as the originators of the family. It is not surprising, then, that there would be no daughters of Adam and Even mentioned in the text that speaks of Cain getting married. In fact, the names of the daughters aren’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

It is also evident that the Biblical text is compressing huge amounts of time. Adam is said to have lived to be 930 years old. Since, according to the text, he was already 130 years old when Seth was born, he could have had numerous daughters by that time.

A great deal of fascinating history must have gone unrecorded, at least in the Biblical text. Although the record is silent regarding the identity of Cain’s wife, it is clear that she has her place in the early history of the human race.