Where Did Cain Get His Wife?

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  • Predominant theory: Cain married one of his sisters.
  • Grounded in Genesis: Adam and Eve’s children intermarried.
  • Reflects early human population dynamics in biblical context.


The question of where Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, found his wife has been a topic of curiosity, debate, and theological examination for centuries. This query arises from the Biblical narrative in the book of Genesis, particularly when scrutinizing the early human genealogy and the sparse details provided about the earliest families.

1. The Problem: A Biblical Conundrum

The problem stems from the Biblical account in Genesis, which details the creation of the first humans, Adam and Eve, and their subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The narrative progresses to tell of their first children, Cain and Abel. Genesis 4:1-2 states, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel.” This passage introduces the first two sons of Adam and Eve, setting the stage for the subsequent events.

The issue arises after Cain kills Abel and is consequently exiled by God. Genesis 4:16-17 records, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.” The narrative presents a sudden and unexplained appearance of Cain’s wife, without any prior mention of other human beings besides Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. This absence of information leads to the question: If Adam and Eve were the first humans and Cain and Abel were their only recorded children, where did Cain find his wife?

2. The Solution: A Closer Look at Genesis

The solution to this question lies in a more comprehensive understanding of the early chapters of Genesis and the context of ancient genealogical records. The key is found in Genesis 5:4, which states, “After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters.” This verse reveals that Adam and Eve had other children besides Cain, Abel, and Seth, their third son. Although these sons and daughters are not named or individually accounted for in the Biblical narrative, their existence is crucial in explaining Cain’s wife.

The logical conclusion, based on this information, is that Cain married one of his sisters. In the context of the early human family, this was not only a necessity for the continuation of the human race but also was not addressed as morally or ethically problematic in the narrative. The lack of any prohibitions against such unions at this early stage of human history suggests that the cultural and ethical norms regarding marriage within one’s immediate family had not yet been established or were not applicable in the same way they would be later.

Furthermore, it is important to consider that the genealogies presented in the Bible often served specific theological and historical purposes and were not necessarily intended to be comprehensive historical accounts. The focus on key figures and lineages often meant the omission of many family members, especially women and younger siblings, who did not directly contribute to the particular narrative or theological point being made.

In conclusion, the question of where Cain found his wife is resolved by understanding the broader context of the Genesis narrative and the nature of ancient genealogical records. Cain’s wife was likely one of his unnamed sisters, a conclusion that aligns with the Biblical text and the historical and cultural context of the period. While this might seem unusual or problematic from a modern perspective, it was a necessary and unremarkable aspect of life in the earliest human societies, as depicted in the Biblical account.

More Answers to “Contradictions” in the Bible

To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.

These books are also excellent resources:

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