Who was Cain’s Wife?

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Bob

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Genesis 4:17—Cain made love to his wife . . . .

The bible does not say who she was or where she came from. Many commentaries have suggestions concerning her origin and how subsequently the Earth was populated. A possible conclusion is that the bible doesn’t say because it is not important. (If it had been important, God would have told us!)

On the other hand, we could combine the biblical narrative with scientific understanding, for a different perspective. Per this speculation, perhaps Cain married a homo sapiens from an existing local tribe.

Background—human evolution: Anthropologists tell us (not without controversy) that homo sapiens emerged, as a primate physically like us, some 300,000 years ago. However, behaviorally modern (Upper Paleolithic) homo sapiens emerged later, some 50,000 years ago. Anthropologists distinguish modern homo sapiens from earlier homo sapiens by, for example, an improved tool kit, creative arts (musical instruments, art), and personal ornaments.

From a Judeo-Christian scientific point of view, God created the first physical homo sapiens (~300,000 BC), and later He created Adam and Eve as the first modern Homo sapiens with a soul (us), who not only had expanded abilities, but with whom God could communicate.

In this scenario, Cain’s wife would have been one of the older homo sapiens, and by marrying Cain, engendered additional modern homo sapiens. (And so forth, for Adam and Eve’s other children.)

Although these speculations might only be interesting from an intellectual viewpoint, a better purpose might be for someone of faith to be able to carry on a reasonable conversation with secularists (whom, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we would like to turn to God).

My apologies if you consider these speculations biblical heresy, which is not my intention.

Any and all comments will be appreciated.
 

Aunty Jane

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The bible does not say who she was or where she came from. Many commentaries have suggestions concerning her origin and how subsequently the Earth was populated. A possible conclusion is that the bible doesn’t say because it is not important. (If it had been important, God would have told us!)

On the other hand, we could combine the biblical narrative with scientific understanding, for a different perspective. Per this speculation, perhaps Cain married a homo sapiens from an existing local tribe.
This is a question I pondered once, but have since resolved to my satisfaction.

Examining the scriptures I believe that they answer the question.

Genesis chapters 3 & 4 present the following information:
(1) Eve was “the mother of everyone living“, including daughters who are are only mentioned in passing
(2) Time elapsed between the birth of Cain and his offering the sacrifice that was rejected by God.
(3) Following his banishment to become “a wanderer and a fugitive,” Cain worried that ‘anyone finding him’ might try to kill him, revealing the existence of others.
(4) God set up a sign to protect Cain, indicating that either his siblings or other relatives might try to kill him.
5) “Afterward,” Cain had intercourse with his wife in “the land of Fugitiveness.” (Genesis 3:20, 4:3, 12, 14-17)

That Cain married his sister or a later female descendant of Adam through the marriage of any of Adam’s sons or daughters is viewed by some societies today as unthinkable. This is usually because of societal taboos or fear of genetic defects. But God’s laws concerning incest were not written until 1513 BCE.
Before the law was written, it was not unusual for close relatives to marry….Abraham for example married his half sister. Isaac married the daughter of his father’s brother….his first cousin.
 
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Although these speculations might only be interesting from an intellectual viewpoint, a better purpose might be for someone of faith to be able to carry on a reasonable conversation with secularists (whom, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we would like to turn to God).

My apologies if you consider these speculations biblical heresy, which is not my intention.

Any and all comments will be appreciated.
Another take on Genesis is, like Job, it is not literally or historically true but allegorically true.

My study of culture over the last 15 years reveals that our culture falsely equates fiction with not being true. Ancient cultures did not think this way. The reason so many stories of ancient times endure is because they tell the truth about human nature - even if it is a fictional account. The Illiad and the story of the Prodigal Son are like that.

In my opinion, the Illiad is the greatest book ever written by man. Have you read it? The word is over used today but it is the first and best epic story in the human experience. Let's consider three Archetypes: Paris, Agamemnon, and Odysseus, who represent what any man might do under similar circumstances.

Paris is how the story starts. He is a victim of 3 petty goddesses (Athena, Hera and Aphrodite). They pick him to choose who among the 3 is the most beautiful. Now, you know that no matter who Paris chooses, the other 2 goddesses will seek revenge. They represent forces of Chaos.

The goddesses openly bribe him in front of the others. Athena overs him wealth. Hera offers him military success. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, shows him the most beautiful women who ever lived to fall in love with him, Helen. He falls for her bribe. Trouble is, she's already married but under the spell of Aphrodite, she runs off with Paris.

Enter her husband, Agamemnon. Not too happy. He 'launches a 1,000 ships' to get her back, from among other Greek kings.

After 10 years of fighting a stalemate, unable to penetrate the walls of Troy, our hero Odysseus comes up with a scheme to trick the Trojans that the Greeks have given up. Odysseus is a good fighter but not the best. It is not his brawn but his brain that makes him the hero.

All of this is fiction but nonetheless truly reveals human nature. We relate to the characters because they could be any man.

In recent years I've often thought about the plight of Adam. He is not portrayed in a sympathetic light. However, I can imagine his angst in the love of his life, the literal only woman in the world, choosing to die in disobeying God. Preferring death to loneliness, he ate of the forbidden fruit.

Regarding primogeniture, a custom extending to the founding of America, the Bible mocks the wisdom 3 times.
  • Cain. The 1st human born is a murderer.
  • Ishmael. Sara foolishly tried to "help" God fulfill his promise by concocting an illegitimate son of Abraham. Ismael is the father of the Muslims who fight against the legitimate descendants of Abraham to this day. The cause of the lack of Middle East peace.
  • Esau: Tricked by his mother out of his rightful inheritance because she preferred the baby of the family. Her duplicity is minimized and Esau is known today for trading his inheritance for a bowl of soup.
Don't you see the parallel in the archtypes of the Bible to the Illiad? Cain is jealous, like Agamemnon. Ishmael was a victim of circumstance, like Paris. Esau, the converse of Odysseus, was the recipient of a trick and prone to rash decision-making as were the Trojans.

Hope this helps.
 
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Bob

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This is a question I pondered once, but have since resolved to my satisfaction.

Examining the scriptures I believe that they answer the question.

Genesis chapters 3 & 4 present the following information:
(1) Eve was “the mother of everyone living“, including daughters who are are only mentioned in passing
(2) Time elapsed between the birth of Cain and his offering the sacrifice that was rejected by God.
(3) Following his banishment to become “a wanderer and a fugitive,” Cain worried that ‘anyone finding him’ might try to kill him, revealing the existence of others.
(4) God set up a sign to protect Cain, indicating that either his siblings or other relatives might try to kill him.
5) “Afterward,” Cain had intercourse with his wife in “the land of Fugitiveness.” (Genesis 3:20, 4:3, 12, 14-17)

That Cain married his sister or a later female descendant of Adam through the marriage of any of Adam’s sons or daughters is viewed by some societies today as unthinkable. This is usually because of societal taboos or fear of genetic defects. But God’s laws concerning incest were not written until 1513 BCE.
Before the law was written, it was not unusual for close relatives to marry….Abraham for example married his half sister. Isaac married the daughter of his father’s brother….his first cousin.
Thank you for taking time to read my speculation and write a well-reasoned response.

Regarding Eve being the mother of all people today, which I agree, is it not also true that Sarai/Sarah could be considered the mother of the twelve tribes? Yet, Isaac did not marry a sibling.

Should you be interested, a number of authors of faith have written excellent books on the intersection of science and faith: e.g., John Polkinghorne and Ian Barbour (“Faith and Science & Understanding” by Polkinghorne).

Hope all is well “down under”!
Peace and blessings.
 
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Bob

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Another take on Genesis is, like Job, it is not literally or historically true but allegorically true.

My study of culture over the last 15 years reveals that our culture falsely equates fiction with not being true. Ancient cultures did not think this way. The reason so many stories of ancient times endure is because they tell the truth about human nature - even if it is a fictional account. The Illiad and the story of the Prodigal Son are like that.

In my opinion, the Illiad is the greatest book ever written by man. Have you read it? The word is over used today but it is the first and best epic story in the human experience. Let's consider three Archetypes: Paris, Agamemnon, and Odysseus, who represent what any man might do under similar circumstances.

Paris is how the story starts. He is a victim of 3 petty goddesses (Athena, Hera and Aphrodite). They pick him to choose who among the 3 is the most beautiful. Now, you know that no matter who Paris chooses, the other 3 goddesses will seek revenge. They represent forces of Chaos.

The goddesses openly bribe him in front of the others. Athena overs him wealth. Hera offers him military success. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, shows him the most beautiful women who ever lived to fall in love with him, Helen. He falls for her bribe. Trouble is, she's already married but under the spell of Aphrodite, she runs off with Paris.

Enter her husband, Agamemnon. Not too happy. He 'launches a 1,000 ships' to get her back, from among other Greek kings.

After 10 years of fighting a stalemate, unable to penetrate the walls of Troy, our hero Odysseus comes up with a scheme to trick the Trojans that the Greeks have given up. Odysseus is a good fighter but not the best. It is not his brawn but his brain that makes him the hero.

All of this is fiction but nonetheless truly reveals human nature. We relate to the characters because they could be any man.

In recent years I've often thought about the plight of Adam. He is not portrayed in a sympathetic light. However, I can imagine his angst in the love of his life, the literal only woman in the world, choosing to die in disobeying God. Preferring death to loneliness, he ate of the forbidden fruit.

Regarding primogeniture, a custom extending to the founding of America, the Bible mocks the wisdom 3 times.
  • Cain. The 1st human born is a murderer.
  • Ishmael. Sara foolishly tried to "help" God fulfill his promise by concocting an illegitimate son of Abraham. Ismael is the father of the Muslims who fight against the legitimate descendants of Abraham to this day. The cause of the lack of Middle East peace.
  • Esau: Tricked by his mother out of his rightful inheritance because she preferred the baby of the family. Her duplicity is minimized and Esau is known today for trading his inheritance for a bowl of soup.
Don't you see the parallel in the archtypes of the Bible to the Illiad? Cain is jealous, like Agamemnon. Ishmael was a victim of circumstance, like Paris. Esau, the converse of Odysseus, was the recipient of a trick and prone to rash decision-making as were the Trojans.

Hope this helps.
Thank you kindly for taking time to read my speculation and craft a lengthy, cogent reply, with which I am in general agreement.
The biblical examples you cite remind us that God is in charge of human history, and He will use all people (even bad actors and those who reject Him) to bring about His purposes.
Peace and blessings.