Biblical Archaeology Review 39:6, November/December 2013

Biblical Views: Who Did Cain Marry?

By Mary Joan Winn Leith

Who was Cain’s wife? The Bible reports only that after killing Abel, “Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch” (Genesis 4:16–17). Since the Enlightenment this question has repeatedly come up in rhetoric against Biblical inerrancy.1 It is a good question. After all, Cain and Abel are apparently the only children of creation’s first couple, so where did this unnamed woman whom Cain marries in the land of Nod come from? And for that matter, if Adam, Eve and Cain are the only people yet living on the earth, why is Cain afraid that in his wanderings “anyone who meets me may kill me” (Genesis 4:14)? Who is out there at the moment to threaten him? Taking the Biblical text at face value, the first couple had no children prior to their expulsion from Eden, even if John Milton’s Paradise Lost (influenced by the Christian theologian Augustine) extols the perfection of Adam and Eve’s sexual relations in Eden before the fall.2

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