Where did Cain get his wife in the Book of Genesis? Did God create another woman besides Adam and Eve? Did Cain marry a fallen angel? Or did Cain marry one of his sisters or relatives, and if so, wouldn’t this be incest? Doesn’t the Bible preach against incest?
These are all great questions to ponder. The Bible never reveals where Cain got his wife, or what his wife’s name was. The first mention of Cain’s wife occurs in Genesis Chapter 4, verse 17:
And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
The verse above follows right after Cain is cursed by God, and he leaves to settle in the land of Nod, east of Eden. No information about his wife is given before this verse.
Since the Bible is silent on the origins of Cain’s wife, we are only able to speculate. The most likely explanation for where Cain got his wife is that she was a sister (or niece). This is also the most widely supported idea among Christians. There are a couple of alternatives that have been put forth as well (mostly by cults or ancient Hewbrew writings), but the most Biblical answer is that it was his sister or niece.
Where Cain Got His Wife
The three most common theories for where Cain’s wife came from include the following:
- Cain’s wife was a sister (or possibly a niece)
- Cain’s wife was a fallen angel
- Cain’s wife was another woman created by God after Adam and Eve
Did Cain Marry His Sister?
The most commonly held belief among Christians is that Cain’s wife was simply one of his sisters. While the Bible does not give a complete account of the order or names of Adam and Eve’s children, it does say that “he [Adam] had other sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4). Also, God had already given the command to Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Thus, God wanted them to procreate and He must have known that their children would have been forced to marry each other to continue this process until enough people were descended to allow for more distant marriages.
This would not have been uncommon, and in fact, it may be helpful to remember that Abraham and Sarah were half brother and sister (they had the same father, different mothers).
And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
There are generally two objections to the view that Cain married his sister: Incest is forbidden in the Bible, and the potential for birth defects would have been high.
While the Bible certainly forbids incest many hundreds of years later in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:6), a command Christians should still obey today, marrying a sister was not forbidden during the time of Cain. There was no direct command forbidding the marrying of a sister or close relative until the law was given by Moses, specifically in Leviticus 18. On the contrary, they were told to “be fruitful and multiply.”
Regarding birth defects, the Bible makes it clear that before the fall man’s genetic makeup was much different. For one thing, humans didn’t die before the fall. Also, even after the fall, we see that man lived for many hundreds of years (with Methuselah being the longest living person recorded in the Bible at 969 years old). Eventually, man’s genetic code became less and less resilient, and God eventually says:
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
Seeing how God shortened man’s lifespan to 120 years, there must have surely been significant changes in the genetic makeup of man. That, along with the added consequences of sin and the fall of man, ensured that at some point man would be much less resilient than he used to be, and more and more errors would enter the genome. Due to these errors, close marriages today can result in severe retardation or birth defects. This is perhaps the reason why God forbade close marriages by the time of Moses, but allowed marrying one’s sibling during the time of Adam and Eve.
Was Cain’s Wife a Fallen Angel?
A less popular theory is that Cain took a fallen angel as a wife. The Bible says that when Satan rebelled, he took 1/3 of the angels of heaven with him (Revelation 12:4). It is true that the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis could refer to fallen angels that had sexual intercourse with mankind:
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
It is important to note a couple of things about the verse above when considering if this is where Cain got his wife: First, this is a somewhat controversial passage, but it is referring to the intermingling of fallen angels and humans in some way, so as to pervert the lineage of the coming Messiah. The most likely explanation is that demons possessed humans and then had sexual relations outside of their own Godly line (Seth’s line).
However, God’s word tells us in the New Testament that angels, in their original form, do not marry (or have sexual relations) as humans do (Matthew 22:30). So it is unclear if fallen angels have the capability to even procreate, but if they did, they’d certainly need to possess the body of a human. Thus, this does not explain how Cain would have taken an angel as a wife.
Second, this verse says that the “sons of God came in unto the daughters of men.” Cain was a man, not a woman. So if fallen angels did procreate, then it seems it was men who were doing it, and the Bible clearly says Cain was a son of Adam and Eve–not a fallen angel. So this verse does not support the notion of Cain marrying a fallen angel at all.
So this theory has no real Biblical support, and it is not a feasible solution for Cain’s wife.
Did God Create Another Woman for Cain?
The least plausible theory is that God simply created more women for Adam and Eve’s offspring to mate with. Some have even suggested that God created another woman before Eve, named “Lilith.” Unfortunately, this notion is not supported by the scriptures. The Bible clearly teaches that Eve was the first woman, and Adam even names her “Eve,” which means, “The mother of all living.” If Eve is the mother of all living, there is a clear implication that God expected Adam and Eve to procreate to fill the whole earth. Their children would have HAD to marry (initially, at least).
Furthermore, the Bible never suggests that God created another human being for Cain, Abel, or Seth to take as a wife. In fact, all descendants come from them up until the time of Noah, and after the flood, all of the future generations come from Noah and his family.
If we suggest God created another woman for Cain, then what about Adam and Eve’s other children? God would have had to supply them with newly created humans, too. Therefore, there is no evidence to suggest God created additional humans.
Conclusion: Cain Most Likely Married His Sister
Cain likely married a sister or a niece. God had commanded to be fruitful and multiply, He had not yet given a command against marrying a sister (that didn’t happen until Moses’ time), and the genetic makeup of man was clearly different at this time due to the old ages of the patriarchs and the ability to procreate in close relations without severe birth defects.
Nevertheless, Christians today should not marry close relatives such as siblings, as we now live under a different moral law, and man’s genetic makeup will not allow for close reproductive capabilities without high risks of birth defects and retardation. With over 7 billion people on the planet, there are plenty of “fish” in the sea–no incest is necessary at this point.
And while the question of who Cain’ wife was is interesting, the important question is this: Have you been saved? The Bible teaches that all men have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. God will one day judge the Earth again. Have you placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ? Are you forgiven for your sins? If not, I urge you to seek God’s face and put your faith in Christ. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.