What Is the Bible’s View?
Where Did Cain Get His Wife?
“I HAVE been in the army nearly eight years and have asked many chaplains that question. None could answer it!” So explained a young Danish man to a visiting minister of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Why is this such a difficult question for many persons, including even clergymen?
To understand why, consider the way in which this question is often asked: ‘The Bible says that Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain killed his brother and went to another land where he took himself a wife and raised a family. If Adam and Eve were the only humans created by God, where did Cain get his wife?’
In framing the question in this way, it is evident that questioners think that Adam and Eve must not have originally been the only humans. So, they reason, Cain evidently obtained his wife from other peoples living on earth. However, this view is not in harmony with the Bible, which says: “Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she had to become the mother of everyone living.”—Gen. 3:20.
Many others, however, do not believe the Bible account of creation to be historical. Such worldly critics may, therefore, dismiss the question regarding where Cain got his wife as unworthy of consideration. They do not believe that Adam and Eve or their son Cain ever really existed.
Well, then, is the question regarding Cain and his wife a legitimate one? Do we have sound reason for believing that he and his parents really existed, and that the entire human family actually sprang from one common source, Adam and Eve?
Yes, this Bible view is in keeping with the evidence. Modern-day scientists have, in fact, indicated this. For example, in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Third Statement on Race, twenty-two experts say: “Mankind is one . . . all men belong to the same species, Homo sapiens. . . . all men are probably derived from the same common stock.”
Also, Professor Ruth Benedict and Dr. Gene Weltfish observe in the publication The Races of Mankind: “The Bible story of Adam and Eve, father and mother of the whole human race, told centuries ago the same truth that science has shown today: that all the peoples of the earth are a single family and have a common origin.”
Well, then, since this is the case, Where did Cain get his wife? Is there a logical Bible answer?
Yes, there is. It is pointed to in the very instructions given to Adam and Eve shortly after their creation, namely: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.”—Gen. 1:28.
Obedience to this command would require that Adam and Eve have children. Then these children, in turn, would marry and bear children. This process of reproduction by succeeding generations would need to continue in order to fill the earth in harmony with God’s purpose.
However, before Eve was pregnant with her first child Cain, both Adam and his wife sinned by disobeying God and were driven outside the garden of Eden. (Gen. 3:1-19) Where would Adam and Eve now live? The Bible tells us: “With that Jehovah God put [Adam] out of the garden of Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken. And so he drove the man out and posted at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning itself continually to guard the way to the tree of life.”—Gen. 3:23, 24.
From this it can be seen that Adam apparently went out to the east of the garden of Eden. It was here that, not only Cain and Abel were born, but the Bible also later mentions by name a third son, Seth. However, notice that Adam and Eve had other children as well. For Genesis 5:4 says: “And the days of Adam after his fathering Seth came to be eight hundred years. Meanwhile he became father to sons and daughters.”
This meant that Cain and Abel had sisters, and possibly other brothers not listed by name. These grew up together as earth’s original family.
Time passed. Finally, following the offering of sacrifices to God by two of the sons, Cain became jealous of Abel because God showed favor toward Abel and his sacrifice, but not toward Cain and his sacrifice. Cain allowed hatred to develop toward Abel and he murdered him.—Gen. 4:1-8; 1 John 3:10-12.
For this wicked deed God sentenced Cain to banishment, away from the rest of his relatives. The Bible says: “Cain went away from the face of Jehovah and took up residence in the land of Fugitiveness [called “the land of Nod” in some Bible translations] to the east of Eden.”—Gen. 4:9-16.
However, notice here that the Bible does not say that Cain found his wife in the land of Fugitiveness. It simply says: “Afterward Cain had intercourse with his wife and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch.”—Gen. 4:17.
Where, then, did Cain get his wife? It was obviously from among his own family. His wife was one of his fleshly sisters, a daughter of Adam and Eve. Cain was likely married at the time he killed Abel, or shortly thereafter took one of his sisters as a wife. They then traveled together to the land of Fugitiveness, where they took up residence and started their own family.
“But such a union is incest!” some may object. This objection reflects knowledge of the risk to children when brothers and sisters marry in our day. These are frequently born with some physical deformity or mental incapacity. Thus most lands today have laws forbidding marriage between close fleshly relatives.
It must be remembered, however, that circumstances were different in earlier times. Adam and Eve were created perfect, and the instruction for them ‘to multiply and fill the earth’ would necessarily require that their offspring marry one another and reproduce. (Gen. 1:28) But as perfect humans, their children would have been perfect as were their parents.
Even though Adam and Eve sinned and became imperfect, Cain and his brothers and sisters were still so near to physical perfection that the children they produced did not suffer the same adverse effects as do children born of such unions today. Even some 2,000 years afterward, God’s faithful servant Abraham married his half-sister Sarah, and God did not disapprove. (Gen. 20:12) It was yet another 450 years or so before God saw fit to provide his nation of Israel a body of laws that forbade incest on penalty of death. (Lev. 18:8-17) By that time imperfection had apparently developed to such an extent that no longer was it safe for close relatives to marry.
So, really, the question of where Cain got his wife is not a difficult one. The answer is provided right within the Bible, and it becomes obvious when the Bible account is read carefully.