Who Was Cain's Wife?

I recently asked Google what the most asked Bible-related questions were. I was surprised at some of the questions that came up. Some of them, such as the origin of Cain's wife, I have heard before. Others, I had not. I have heard skeptics ask "Where did Cain's wife come from?" This is, from my understanding, supposed to be a jab at the idea that mankind is a special creation of God. This question came up in the famous "Scopes Trial" in 1925. The idea is that, if Adam and Eve were the only human beings, and Cain got a wife, and we have no record of his wife, that therefore we cannot trust the biblical record. In syllogism form, it may look something like this:

I. If there were no human beings other than Adam, Eve, and their two sons, then Cain could not have gotten a wife.

II. There were no human beings other than Adam, Eve, and their two sons.

III. Therefore, Cain could not have gotten a wife.

IV. If Cain could not have gotten a wife, then the biblical account is unreliable.

V. Therefore, the biblical account is unreliable.

I honestly think that this holds no weight as an objection to humankind as a special creation of God. The issue, as we will see, is that premise II above is false. The biblical text does seem to indicate that there were other human beings around at the time of Cain. However, because this is apparently such a common question, I am going to take the time to answer it.

Before we try to answer this question, however, I think it is important to understand that any answer that would be given must be held tentatively. That is, there is no passage of Scripture that says, "Cain's wife came about in this way......." Rather, everything that we say must be understood to be an inference from the information in front of us. As we should all know, inferences can never provide us with absolute certainty about any issue.

There are two main schools of thought in regards to this question. The first school of thought holds that God created a spouse especially for Cain. Many people who hold to this school of thought have Leviticus 18:6-18 in mind when they espouse this view. This view keeps the laws against intermarrying with close relatives in view. However, the problem with this view is that what should be the case is not always what is the case. Furthermore, this view creates some theological problems. If, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:22, that all have died in Adam, and since all will be made alive in Christ, it follows that there cannot be a person on earth that is not descended from Adam and Eve. This is the case whether you take an old earth view or a young earth view. A person who created apart from Adam would not share in his condemnation, but would not be redeemed by Christ, either.

The second school of thought, and the one to which I subscribe, holds that Cain intermarried with one of Adam and Eve's other children (or grandchildren). The biblical account seems to indicate that there were other people around, at least by the time that Cain killed Abel. The fear of being killed by other people was indicative of the fact that other people were around (Genesis 4:14). Furthermore, the text does indicate that Adam and Eve had other sons, as well as daughters (Genesis 5:4). This means that Cain probably married his sister. Again, any interpretation here must be held tentatively. However, the main point that I am trying to make is that an objection to Scripture based on Cain's wife is ultimately baseless.


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