Spring Run Presbyterian Church

ANDREW: Who was Cain’s wife?

I am preaching in Genesis. However, I am not answering every question that comes out of the Genesis narrative. It is important to remember that Genesis does not intend to give us every detail to all the questions we have about the beginning of things. It is written to the Israelites to tell them about the God who rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and what relationship he has to them. My sermons are aimed at giving you a historical and redemptive overview of how God has worked in his world. So we see God’s Creation, the Intrusion of Sin and its devastating effects, and the promise of God that someone will defeat sin and Satan and bring victory for humanity.

As I read through Genesis I have questions that make me very curious. One such question is, ‘Where did Cain find a wife?” The short answer is one of his sisters. That raises more questions. What sister? Isn’t it against the law to marry your sister?

What sister?
Genesis 5:4 tells us, “After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had others sons and daughters.” During their lives, Adam and Eve had a number of male and female children. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that, “The number of Adam’s children, as says the old tradition, was thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters.”  The Bible does not tell us how many children were born to Adam and Eve. However, since the Duggars have 19 kids with a short life span, it is entirely believable that Adam and Eve could have had hundreds since they lived so long (Adam lived for 930 years—Genesis 5:5).

Isn’t it against the law to marry your sister?
The law of Moses does forbid marriage between close relatives (Leviticus 18-20), but that was not until much later in history. If you were part of the second generation of the human race you would have no choice but to marry a close relative. Since Adam and Eve were made perfect there would be no mistakes in their genes. So Cain could marry his sister with no imperfect genes. Over time the genetic mistakes would accumulate introducing more deformity and disease. That is why God told Moses to write the law forbidding close marriage—so that it would help restrain the effect of sin and prevent the high risk of deformity. Plus the human race was large enough so one would not need to marry a close relative.

So what? Well, now you have an answer about Cain’s wife. And we see in God’s law the aspect of grace. His law is gracious because it helps restrain the effects of sin. And it should make us long for a day when God will make all things new.

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