Who was Cain's Wife?
I will never forget the first time a child asked me if Adam & Eve had belly buttons.
The child recently learned why humans have belly buttons in school.
As a child raised in Sunday School, he knew Adam and Eve were the first humans.
If belly buttons are the result of a child’s connection to his or her mother in the womb via an umbilical cord, would the first man and woman created by God have any need for one?
It was a wonderful question! These types of deep thoughts about Scripture and the history of creation are always wonderful.
They show you are thinking deeply about what you are reading and learning, and they often lead to great discussions!
Another popular question involves Adam and Eve’s children. People often wonder where Cain’s wife came from.
This is a good question because we know Adam and Eve had Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), and we know Cain eventually Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy.
We also know God punished Cain for his sin.
But, then, Scripture says, “So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch (Genesis 4:16-17).”
If Adam and Eve were the first (and only) humans and Cain was their son, then who was his wife? Let’s take a look at what the Bible says to find the answer.
What the Bible Says and What It Means
In Genesis, we learn Eve is called the “the mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20).”
After it is declared that Eve is the mother of all living, Scripture records the story of how she conceived and gave birth to her sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth (Genesis 4).
Then, in Genesis 5, we learn the genealogy from Adam to Noah. Pay attention to Genesis 5:4, “After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.”
Adam and Eve had other children beyond Cain, Abel, and Seth. In particular, they had daughters, many daughters.
Since they were the first and only people, we can safely assume this meant Cain’s wife was a relative, such as a sister, niece, or great-niece.
No Other People Groups
At the beginning of creation, there were no other people groups according to God’s great design.
Acts 17:26 says, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”
We are all descendants of Adam!
The Question of Inter-Family Marriage
Ultimately, this means Cain’s wife was a familial relation.
Some confusion occurs because there is Scripture that forbids sexual relations and inter-family marriage with family members (Leviticus 6).
As far as Scripture goes, it is important to understand that Levitical laws were made much later (during Moses’ generation).
The earliest humans, such as Cain, did not have any choice but to intermarry to conceive and populate the world.
Scripture reveals several inter-family marriages before Leviticus, including Abraham marrying his half-sister and Jacob marrying his cousins, Leah and Rachel.
Why Was Incest Acceptable Then and Not Now?
It is difficult for many to understand the idea of inter-family marriage because we know it as incest, which is forbidden.
Incest was later forbidden in the Bible (and through today) because it resulted in genetic abnormalities.
Got Questions explains, “The reason that incest today often results in genetic abnormalities is that when two people of similar genetics (i.e., a brother and sister) have children together, there is a high risk of their recessive characteristics becoming dominant. When people from different families have children, it is highly unlikely that both parents will carry the same recessive traits.”
In the beginning, Adam and Eve did not have genetic defects, which is why their children and their descendants were able to intermarry with less risk.