Cain and his wife?


I have had this question in my head which has been bothering me for sometime now, and hope someone could help me out here with this:

If God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as the first two human species ever lived, before proceeding to have Cain & Abel as their first sons. Where could Cain possibly find a wife outside of the Garden of Eden?

Thanks all.


It’s an old question. The answer is invariably that Adam and Eve had other children besides Cain, Abel and Seth.


… and also that incest wasn’t made against the rules until later.



The interesting thing about it is that some Jewish legends about Cain and Abel try to smoothen out this ‘difficulty’ of someone marrying his sister.

A key verse here is Genesis 4:2: “And again she bore his brother Abel.” The definite direct object marker 'eṯ occurs twice in the original Hebrew ('eṯ-'āḥîw 'eṯ-Hāḇel); some Jewish exegetes had interpreted this double object marker to signify that Eve gave birth to twins.

In one legend, Abel was born with a twin sister - it is this sister that Cain married. Any possible undertone of incest is avoided because in this version, Cain was not really Adam’s biological son; he was instead the fruit of the union between Eve and the fallen angel Sammael (which apparently explains why he was evil). Sometimes the suggestion that Abel had a twin sister was also attributed to Cain - Cain’s wife is here his twin sister. The incest clause is explained away by saying that the first family was exempted: “With love was the world built up before the Torah had been given” (cf. Psalm 89:2) Some even went so far as to suggest that Eve gave birth to quintuplets: “Only two entered the bed, and seven left it: Cain and his twin sister, Abel and his two twin sisters.” (Genesis Rabbah 22.2) Once again this is Jewish-style exegesis at work: the object marker 'eṯ - which is interpreted as a reference to unnamed offspring - occurs once during the birth of Cain ('eṯ-Qayin; 4:1), and twice during the birth of Abel ('eṯ-'āḥîw 'eṯ-Hāḇel; 4:2).

Introducing twins into the story also provides a more earthly reason as to why Cain killed Abel: in some stories, Cain and Abel both wanted the same woman - their sister (usually Abel’s twin). These legends also provide a way out of a theological dilemma that occurs in the standard explanation as to why Abel was killed: that God rejected Cain’s offering. (In other words, if Cain killed Abel because he was angry over God rejecting his offering, then God appears to be complicit for Abel’s murder.)


The length of female fertility, which produced overlapping generations, is the source of the rapid increase of available human beings both handsome males and beautiful females. :hug1:


^^^What they said.


To better understand this consider an anthrpological view of the concept of “tribe”. The members of a tribe usual see themselves as the only real people. For example, members of the Navajo tribe refer to their members as “Diné”, which means “the people”. Thus the to traditional Navajo you and I are not real people. This is why stealing from Europeans was not a real moral or ethical issues for most Native Americans during the early contact years. They could only steal from other humans, taking something from a non-human, such as a European, was not unlike taking a bone from a dog.

The Tribe of Israel, considered themselves to be “God’s people”, which implies that all other humans were not. Thus the massacre at Jericho was easy for the Tribe of Israel because not only was it ordered by God but also because the inhabitants of Jericho were not viewed as “people”. I would guess that Cain’s wife was not born of the People of Israel. Once she married Cain she became part of God’s people, she became fully human. All of which make her appear to pop in from nowhere.

When you read about the Tribe of Israel remember that it was indeed a tribe.

Hope that makes sense.



If the human race evolved from archaic species not ensouled, and the ensoulment of Adam and Eve are what constitutes their being made in God’s image, then is it not possible that there were other human-ish beings around that were simply not yet ensouled or were later?


Cain married his twin sister Avan. (Book of Jubilees)


Thank you for the interesting anthropological information. However, it does not affect Catholic Church teaching regarding Adam and Eve’s descendants. The Tribe of Israel consisted of their human descendants. Non-human, non-people creatures do not change into a fully human nature at some point in time. It is the spiritual soul directly created by God at conception, not at marriage, which brings about the true nature of the human person descended from the original fully-complete human nature of Adam.

Information source. the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, paragraphs 355-373

Links to Catholic teaching


Since you brought Jubilees up I’m gonna expand on my last post a bit. Yes, Jubilees (mid-2nd century BC) does have Cain marrying Awan (“Wickedness”), his twin sister. Josephus explicitly makes a passing reference to Eve conceiving daughters, but does not give their names, nor mention whether one of them became Cain’s wife. A 1st-2nd century work mistakenly attributed to Philo (pseudo-Philo) says that Eve had a daughter named Noaba who was born after Cain but before Abel. The Testament of Adam (2nd century) gives the name as Lebuda. An Aramaic translation of the Torah, the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (somewhere between the 4th-8th century), is the one that mentions Cain being the offspring of Eve and Sammael and marrying Abel’s twin sister. The Genesis Rabbah (5th century or later) has Eve giving birth to quintuplets (Cain and his sister; Abel and his sisters); they were of separate births, but not of separate pregnancies. A Syriac Christian work, The Cave of Treasures (4th-6th c.), follows the Testament of Adam in giving Cain’s eventual wife’s name as Lebuda. In this version, Cain was born with a twin sister named Qelima while Lebuda was born with Abel. Adam and Eve planned for their sons to marry their respective twins, but Cain wanted Lebuda - which led him to kill Abel.


Marrying monkeys, besides the fact that sex is meant to be an expression of love rather than lust or affection, would be hardly a solution to a problem even if it did exist.
God told them to be fruitful and multiply and they did among the human beings that existed at the time.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we marry. That said, for almost all of the time that humanity has existed, there have been very serious problems with incest: physical problems in the offspring, psychological boundary damage, harm to family dynamics and society as a whole.
Incest is not condoned by God. Marriage between offspring of the same parent would have occurred I believe without causing the harm it does today.
I do not see the family unit that existed them as being like that of today, since there was no greater society in which to participate and define themselves.
Also, early on in the history of man, God would have been introducing the wide variety of positive genetic diversity among people that remains to this day.


Sorry, I wasn’t speaking of Monkeys. Maybe Neanderthals of which many possess Neanderthal DNA, including me, ooooguh, oooogah. :slight_smile:

Seriously, why not? We know that mankind has been around in physical form for millions of years. What if the story of the creation of man was symbolical? It says that God made man from the dust of the ground (bacteria, mites and pollen are the biggest amount of dust) and that He also breathed His spirit into him. Could this be an ensoulment that made mankind distinct from earlier archaic species? Or maybe even separated ensouled man from other modern men?

I don’t know, but Genesis is a legendary story that has who knows what kind of facts at its core. Just hate to think we had multiple generations of incest to kick the human race off.


The creation of man is true as revealed in scripture. That said we probably came into being a million years ago, but I don’t know; its a guess that I am comfortable with.

I see Neaderthals as persons and I do not agree with how they are defined by science as separate from the rest of us.
This is what science does though, as it ignores the soul and God.
Perhaps we should be talking about Homo spiritualis or Homo charitativus or Homo religiosus, rather than Homo sapiens.


How do we know that archaic homo sapiens had souls?

I just prefer that theory to one that requires incest for multiple generations.


To find out the real facts in the first three chapters of Genesis, one has to know the real facts taught by the Catholic Church. A pertinent example is this paragraph 355 from the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition. Actually, one should continue reading.

As for multiple generations of incest, perhaps three or possibly five, may have included limited sibling marriages, depending on the early overlapping of generations which increase the distance between marriage partners. By the way, incest was forbidden between parent and child for obvious reasons. The marriage between early siblings, without a history of many ancestors, would not account for the needed time for normal gene mutations necessary to produce problems.
CCC 355

**355 **“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is “in the image of God”; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created “male and female”; (IV) God established him in his friendship.


Without getting into all the side issues raised on this thread, may I simply address your basic question by suggesting a careful reading of the Scripture itself?

“Where could Cain possibly find a wife outside of the Garden of Eden?”

Many are perplexed because an unwarranted assumption is made here. The Scripture itself says:

“16. And Cain went out from the face of the Lord, and dwelt as a fugitive on the earth, at the east side of Eden. 17. And Cain knew his wife…” Douay-Rheims version.

Please note that it does not say that Cain found his wife east of Eden, but merely that he knew her. Presumably, she was already his wife when he left Eden, and he “knew” her, not by encountering her for the first time in a distant land, but in the biblical sense, of having marital relations with her, thereby, bringing forth Henoch … and so on.

Hence, a perfectly reasonable reading of the Genesis text does not imply at all that Cain found a wife outside of Eden, but that he simply brought his already married spouse with him when he left Eden.

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