Who Is The Wife Of Cain In The Bible

Who is the wife of Cain in the Bible? The story of Cain and Abel has always been a popular story for theologians and curious laypeople to research. It’s a pretty interesting story, after all, with murder, deities, envy, and sibling rivalry. It has something for everyone — good or evil. But what most people want to know is “who is the wife of Cain in the Bible?” This article that determines who Cain’s wife was in the Bible will fulfill your curiosity on whomever the wife of Cain was.

Who is the wife of Cain in the Bible? The Bible is full of stories about characters, figures, and people that we don’t always get a chance to learn about. Most of us know that idolatry was the sin that caused God to curse Cain. We may even be aware that the root verse stating this is Genesis 4:16, but what do not know is that Cain married his sister. Today we are going to look at these facts and learn all about Cain’s wife and how she fits into the larger story.

The Bible presents several instances when the wife of a Genesis character is mentioned. In Genesis 4, the first wife of Adam is named as Eve; in Genesis 2, the second wife of Lamech is named as Adah while his first wife is referred to as Zillah. These are just two of the names of wives mentioned in the book of Genesis as there are several others.

Cain is the first child of Adam and Eve who hid among his kin in the East Country of Eden. God told Cain that sin was somehow connected to the land and goodness, which is why Cain chose to worship sin instead. Cain married his mother, Eve because she bore a son and he wanted one too; but he became discontent with the birth of his brother Abel, considering him inferior but both were equal in God’s eyes.

Who Is The Wife Of Cain In The Bible

While there are many examples of strong and inspiring men and women in Genesis, the book is also packed with stories of dysfunctional families, which is evidenced from the very beginning with the first family—Adam, Eve and their two children, Cain and Abel. In no short amount of time—just 16 verses after announcing the birth of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4—Cain has murdered his younger brother and is consequently exiled from the land. In theory, this would have dropped the world’s population from four down to three. The narrative continues in Genesis 4 with Cain settling in the land of Nod and having children with his wife. Who did Cain marry? Where did she come from? Are there other people outside of Eden? In the November/December 2013 issue of BAR, Mary Joan Winn Leith addresses these questions and explores the identity of the wife of Cain in “Who Did Cain Marry?”

Given that the wife of Cain is only mentioned once in the Old Testament, she would not be counted among the famous women in Genesis. Nevertheless, her identity is still worth investigating. Who did Cain marry? Mary Joan Winn Leith first explores the traditional Jewish and Christian answers that contend that the wife of Cain was another daughter of Adam and Eve. According to this reasoning, Cain would have married his sister—one of Abel’s twin sisters no less, according to the Genesis Rabbah.

Who Is The Wife Of Cain In The Bible

The book of Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. After Cain kills Abel and settles in the land of Nod, we read that “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch” (Gen 4:17). But where did Cain’s wife come from?

Since Adam, Eve, and their sons are the only humans the Bible has mentioned so far, the sudden appearance of Cain’s wife has troubled readers from ancient times to the present. This question even came up in the Scopes trial  in 1925: Clarence Darrow asked his opponent, William Jennings Bryan, “Did you ever discover where Cain got his wife?” as a way to question the Bible’s historical reliability. In answer to this, conservative readers point to a later verse, Gen 5:4, which states that Adam had “other sons and daughters,” arguing that Cain’s wife was his sister (or perhaps his niece) and that in the early days of humanity, marriage between brothers and sisters was both necessary and genetically safe.

Such “continuity problems” in the biblical plot cry out for explanation—if we expect the Bible to read like history in the modern sense. But these issues may not have troubled the Bible’s earliest writers, who were composing a different kind of literature. The story of Adam, Eve, and their children is a legend of origins, not a historical chronicle. And some episodes in the early chapters of Genesis circulated separately, probably orally, before they were compiled into a continuous story.

But it is not only modern readers who try to fill in gaps in Genesis. Some ancient Jewish writers who retell the story mention that Adam and Eve had daughters early on and even give them names. The book of Jubilees, a second-century B.C.E. retelling of Genesis, calls Eve’s daughter Awan; and the first-century C.E. writer Pseudo-Philo mentions a daughter named Noaba. It was common practice for early Jewish writers to supply names for female characters who were unnamed or outright missing in the biblical texts.

Later Jewish and Christian interpretations from the first few centuries of the Common Era are more elaborate. Some ancient readers speculated that there was more to Cain and Abel’s rivalry than God’s unexplained preference for Abel’s sacrifice (Gen 4:4), suggesting that it was a fight over a woman—their sister—that let to the first murder. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources all transmit some version of this motif, but the details vary widely. Some ancient sources, for example, say Cain and Abel each had a twin sister but fought over who would marry the one who was more beautiful; others give Abel two sisters and Cain only one. The midrash takes this motif further, saying that Cain and Abel fought over three things: how to divide property, in whose territory the temple would be built, and who would marry the additional twin sister born with Abel (Genesis Rabbah XXII.VII).    

These creative interpretations come from hundreds of years after Genesis was written down. They don’t reveal anything about what the first biblical writers were thinking or, even less, about what actually happened early in humankind’s history. But they do show the continued life of the biblical text in the hands of its interpreters: its gaps and silences become fertile ground for new traditions.

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