Cain’s Fear of people and his wife

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….”Gen 4:1-2

Following the birth of the two boys the record moves immediately into the sad tale of Abel’s murder.  Cain is exiled and Scripture records Cain’s fear when he says:

…every one that findeth me shall slay me” Gen 4:14

Cain does flee from his family and in exile proceeds to start a family:

And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.  And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived…”  Gen 4:16-17

The record then provides more detail about the offspring of Adam and Eve.  In Gen 4:25

And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.”

All of this gives us some serious questions.  The record gives two sons to Adam and Eve, only two.  Then after the murder of Abel, Seth is born, ie the third son.  Eve perceives this son as a replacement seed for Abel – which kind of demonstrates she did not have a million other sons.

The further question from the record is where did Cain’s wife come from.  The usual answer provided to where Cain’s wife came from is that she was one of his sisters.  The answer is gleaned from Gen 5:3-4[1]

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters

However the pattern of Gen 5 is clear and distinct and we should be guided by scripture rather than jumping to the answers we want:

Father Time to firstborn Firstborn Rest of life More children
Adam 130 Seth 800 Sons and daughters
Seth 105 Enos 807 Sons and daughters
Enos 90 Cainan 815 Sons and daughters
Cainan 70 Mahalaleel 840 Sons and daughters
Mahalaleel 65 Jared 830 Sons and daughters
Jared 162 Enoch 800 Sons and daughters
Enoch 65 Methuselah 300 Sons and daughters
Methuselah 187 Lamech 782 Sons and daughters
Lamech 182 Noah 595 Sons and daughters
Noah 500 Shem 450 Ham & Japheth

The chapter presents the firstborn followed by other children being born.  Seth is presented as the replacement firstborn for Abel – consistent with Gen 4:25.

The argument that Cain feared his brethren suggests the order of Gen 5:4 is incorrect and actually there were other sons born before Seth.  Cain obviously feared someone but per the record in Gen 5 and the literalist reading of Gen 1-3, there was no-one bar Adam & Eve alive.  Assuming Cain was 20 years old (I don’t know how to estimate his age), there were no male siblings to fear and none had been born for a considerable period of time.  The record doesn’t fit the literalist reading – the irony is the literalist changes the record to suit their conclusion.

Regarding Cain’s wife, it is possible the record is only focussed on the firstborn male meaning conceptually there could have been sisters born pre Seth to provide a wife for Cain – however this isn’t the simple reading of Gen 4.  Again the literalist must read into or change the record to match their beliefs.

In addition to modifying the text, the literalist faces another problem.  The simple facts at the end of the archaeologist’s shovel.  Eg Archaeologists have excavated much of ancient Jericho.  This excites bible lovers everywhere as we gain insight into the city and the record about Rahab’s house in Joshua.  However the same work has uncovered evidence of Jericho being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world going back 7,000BC [2].  The picture below is the Jericho Tower [3].  This fits well with the record of Cain being afraid of outsiders and building a city for protection, certainly it fits better than him being afraid of unborn siblings.


This passage alone is not for EC as such but it is a major problem in the literalist position.  While demanding a certain approach to Scripture, they are forced to break their own rules to answer some long-standing questions.  The evidence and record fit more readily into an EC explanation than a traditional literal Gen 1-3 reading.  It’s not an overwhelming piece of evidence in isolation.  It does show the literalist reader making assumptions and even changes to the record to fit their preferred view rather than allow other humans in the earth.

[1] Eg Walker CC “Answers to Correspondents”  The Christadelphian Volume 42 page 318 (1905) and Whittaker, H  “Does the Bible Contradict Itself”  The Testimony Magazine  Volume 34  Page 400 (1964)






3 thoughts on “Cain’s Fear of people and his wife

  1. Pingback: Post list – to make it easier :) | Christadelphians Origins Discussion

  2. Pingback: The Lampstand July 2017 – who did Cain marry? | Christadelphians Origins Discussion

  3. Pingback: Yes Cain married a hominid | Christadelphians Origins Discussion

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