Over the past fifteen years of full-time involvement in the creation ministry, the question that has been asked more than any other is, "Where did Cain get his wife?"
When I'm a guest on Christian radio programs, invariably the host or a caller poses this question. I also am asked this question at seminars, at churches where I am a guest preacher, in homes I visit--it goes on and on. I even have the same thing happen in the secular world (e.g., non-Christian students in public schools and on secular-radio talk shows). I’ve been asked this same question so many times I almost feel like I know Cain and his wife as next-door neighbors!
The fact that I am asked about Cain’s wife so often by Christians and non-Christians, tells me three things:
First, the church, by and large, either has not given, or cannot give the answer to his question;
Second, this question is obviously a problem to many Christians, and the fact that they cannot answer it, causes many, I believe, to doubt that they can defend the book of Genesis. This also affects their witnessing to non-Christians;
Third, for many non-Christians, this is a stumbling block hindering them from believing that they can trust the Bible as being a true record of history, from the first book, Genesis, onwards.
But, besides the fact this is an easy question to answer, does it really matter whether or not we can answer it? Should we make an issue of this or not?
First of all, it is vitally important for the Christian to be able to answer this question, as it relates to defending the fact that all humans are descendants of Adam and Eve; and, secondly, that it is only their descendants that can be saved. Let me go through these two aspects in some detail.
1. All humans are descendants of Adam and Eve.
In Genesis 4:1,2, we read, "And Adam knew Eve his wife: and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel." And in Genesis 5:3, we read, "And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image: and called his name Seth."
In other words, we are told certain details about three sons born to Adam and Eve. It is recorded in Genesis 3:20, "And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living." Thus all human beings are descendants of the first woman, Eve. There were no other women—just one woman, Eve.
In I Corinthians 15:45, Paul tells us that "the first man Adam was made a living soul." In other words, Adam was the first man—there were no other men at the beginning. And in Acts 17:26, Paul states that the God who made the world "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."
All human beings are related, because they are all descendants of the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve.
As marriage in the Bible specifies one man for one woman for life, this means Christians have to be able to explain how Adam and Eve's sons could marry and have children to propagate the human race. Thus we need to be able to answer the question concerning Cain's wife.
One can actually answer this question with just a little Bible knowledge. Genesis 5:4 tells us that Adam and Eve "begat sons and daughters." Josephus, the Jewish historian, states that "The number of Adam's children, as says the old tradition, was thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters." The point, of course, is that Adam and Eve did have many children.
Therefore, brothers must have married sisters at the beginning. Remember that the law against close intermarriage was not given until the time of Moses—e.g. "none of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him" (Leviticus 18:6). There was nothing wrong with brother and sister marriages, originally. If you think about it, that is the only way to populate the world, starting with only one pair. Notice that Abraham married his half sister with no condemnation from God, even though this was later forbidden.
Also, as Adam and Eve were created perfect, their genes would have been perfect. As the curse God placed upon creation started to operate only after they sinned, their descendants would not have had many mistakes in their genes. These mistakes (harmful mutations) add up only after a long period of time.
So brothers and sisters (Adam and Eve's children) could have married and not had the problems of deformities in their offspring as might well happen today, if such close relatives married and had children. This is because today humans have lots of mistakes—because of the curse—in their genes. This may cause problems when matching pairs are inherited from both parents, as is much more likely with close intermarriage.
Some people, though, say that there must have been people other than Adam and Eve, because Cain went to the land of Nod and found his wife. First of all, the Scriptures quoted above make it obvious that there was only one man and one woman from whom came all other human beings.
Secondly, the Scripture says that Cain went to the Land of Nod and "knew" (had sexual relations with) his wife. John Calvin, in his commentary on Genesis, and most other conservative expositors, make the point that Cain was married before he went to the land of Nod.
Since men and women lived to be hundreds of years old in the primeval world, populations grew rapidly, and Cain had plenty of time to marry a sister (or possibly a niece), move to Nod, and build a city for his own descendants and others.
2. Only Adam and Eve's descendants can be saved.
The most important aspect of the topic is this: if we cannot defend the fact that all humans can trace their ancestry back to Adam and Eve, then the whole gospel message has problems.
When the first man, Adam, sinned, he forfeited his right to live with a holy God. God, who is infinitely just, had to judge this rebellion with death. Adam and all of his descendants would have been alienated from God forever. However, God, in his infinite mercy, provided a means of deliverance from sin and its final effect of eternal separation from the Creator God. In Hebrews 9:22, we learn that "without shedding of blood is no remission."
God required the shedding of blood for remission of sin. But, as Adam, the federal (representative) head of the human race brought sin and thus death into the world, another man (another representative, without sin, but also a member of the human race) was required to pay the penalty for sin—the penalty of death.
The Bible teaches, of course, that the atoning death of Christ was "for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2). In fact, it was only when "by one man sin entered into the world" that death came into the world and then "passed upon all men" (Romans 5:12).
Thus the idea that there were "pre-Adamite men" or other human-like creatures in the world unaffected by Adam's sin is theological nonsense. "As by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18).
Since all men and women are descendants of Adam and Eve and "all the world" has "become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19), and since "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11), all people—of every age and every place—can be saved, if they simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).
This wonderful solution to the problem of sin and death is beyond anything we finite humans could ever imagine. God made another Adam! He, Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, the perfect sinless son of God, came to earth to be a man born of a woman—a perfect man—man as God intended man to be. Paul calls Christ the "last Adam" (I Corinthians 15:45). The "God–man" died on the cross of Calvary and "became sin for us," and then was raised from the dead, so that we might have a living sacrifice—a new representative head. Only as we are united to him do we have the gift of eternal life with our Creator.
And just think of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He became a man (but is also God) and will remain a man, God and man in two distinct natures, but one person, forever, so we will have a Savior.
What a wonderful message! What a wonderful Savior! What a blessed redeemer! What a God of grace and mercy! Oh, how we should praise Him—and for those of us who do love and trust and serve Him, we will praise Him forever and ever.
This is why we send missionaries to the Australian Aborigines, and the New Guinea natives. This is why we are commanded to preach the gospel to "every creature." This is why we can talk about our brothers and sisters in Christ. And this is why we need to be able to answer questions such as, "Where did Cain get his wife?" without speculating that God created any (non-existent) "other people," or that there were "soul-less humans" at that time.