THE STORY OF CAIN AND ABEL
And to do it I want to look at the story of Cain and his brother, Abel, in the Bible.
And as I think part of the problem and especially with this question we’re considering, we can be helped to answering it by taking a moment to reflect upon our approach to reading the Bible and especially the passage in Genesis chapter 4.
Here’s the passage:
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. (Genesis 4:1-5)
Of course, we know that Cain would go on to kill his brother over this. Thus, the first murder took place. And then now Cain’s story goes further…
Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. (Genesis 4:16-17)
“And Cain had relations with his wife.” But where did he get her?! That’s the question!
HOW WE READ THE BIBLE
Now this is where our approach to reading the Bible comes in. And we can read Genesis chapter 4 ~ and if you’re like me you might remember going to the dentist long ago and they used to have those Bible books for kids in their offices. (I’m dating myself.) And in those books there’s always the story of Adam and Eve. Right? And their picture was right there. And you would see Cain and Abel next to Adam and Eve’s side. (And they’re always portrayed as the model family, aren’t they?!)
But what do you really think when you see that picture? Well, you think, first of all, and if you’re like me, you think that Cain was the first person ever born. That’s what I think. Is that what you think? (Be honest.) Or you just think I’m a dummy. (Don’t answer that.)
And we can read Genesis chapter 4 that way is the point I’m trying to make, I’m convinced (at least those of us willing to admit to it), and with the statement of Eve going along with it. I mean, it just sounds like this is the first child she’s ever had with what Eve says…
“I have gotten a man-child with the help of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:1c)
And with those Bible books for children and their pictures in our mind from long ago, we can draw the conclusion (if you’re like me) that Cain is child #1 of Adam and Eve.
We have the same problem with the story of the Three Wisemen. There were only three. Right? Because there were just three gifts. Right? Gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Wrong.)
But I’m talking about the way we read the Bible. And we come to it with faulty thinking sometimes and with preconceived notions and traditional viewpoints passed down to us. And we sometimes fall into traps because of it. And so we need a once-over in our thinking. I believe some of us might. And it’ll help us to not fall into interpretative traps ~ a once-over in our thinking.
THERE HAD TO BE OTHER HUMAN BEINGS (ESPECIALLY GIRLS)
But getting back to Cain and the question that’s before us and aside from the misconceptions I just talked about.
And McDowell and Stewart’s book, “Answers To Tough Questions” really makes it clear the centrality of common sense and how we must not check out our brains when facing the challenge of explaining the Scriptures. (The Holy Spirit many times uses our common sense.)
And so for Cain to take a wife there had to be other human beings (and especially girls) on the planet.
And so the question really is (morphs into): How did these other girls get there?
And I want to introduce a couple more points to help answer this.
The first is: Eve is the mother of all. “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.” (Genesis 3:20)
The second point is: Adam had other sons and daughters. “Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:4)
And I submit to you that some of these other sons and daughters were born before Cain. They had to be.
WHERE CAIN GOT HIS WIFE
And so the answer to the question, “Where did Cain get his wife?,” well, Cain likely got his wife from his own family. Did you already know that? As authors McDowell and Stewart put it, “[Mrs. Cain] was [probably] a sister or niece or grand niece.”
And, of course, an important question arises out of this answer that we won’t take time to look at except in passing: the question of incest.
The bottom line is that there seems to have been an allowance for marrying inside the family long ago while today it is sin.
And we need look no further than to the Mosaic law ~ the law God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai (which came after the Flood of Noah’s day and after Adam and Eve and Cain and his wife, by the way). It is there that incest is both forbidden and condemned.
(Cain and Abel picture above in the public domain: click here.)