The land of Nod


Where is the land of Nod that Cain went to and where did the inhabitants come from for him to get a wife there?


Good questions.

  1. “Nod” isn’t a literal place name, according to Biblical scholars; apparently, it means something like “wander”. In other words, Cain was a wanderer for a while, found a wife on his travels (probably from another group of nomads), and then founded a city.

  2. There are several answers to this question.

a. The “traditional” one is that Cain married either his own sister (an unnamed daughter of Adam and Eve), a niece, or another descendant of Adam and Eve. The trouble with this is that it implies incest, but biology teaches us that none of us would be here without a little “interbreeding” (to put it nicely); moreover, the prohibition against incest entered Israelite culture only with the law of Moses, and was clearly seen as heinous in the time of the monarchy (see the story of Amnon and Tamar in 2 Samuel). This is also supported by Genesis 6, which talks about the “sons of God” (Seth’s descendants) and the “sons of men” (Cain’s descendants) interbreeding. Cain may have married a descendant of Seth. This doesn’t solve the incest problem, though. This is the explanation you’ll find in “traditional” Bible commentaries.

b. The “moderate” one is that we shouldn’t take the story too literally. Adam and Eve were certainly real persons (as Pope Pius XII pointed out in Humani Generis), but Cain’s story probably reflects an older tribal tradition (perhaps related to the Kenite tribe which Cain might have founded), or is an allegory for the defeat and conflict between hunter-gatherers and herdsmen (Abel) and the first agriculturists (Cain). This is the explanation you’ll find in “modern Catholic” Bible commentaries, like those of the New Jerusalem or New American Bibles.

c. The “liberal” one is that the story is purely allegorical; it is a retrojection of Israelite / Canaanite conflict into the past, or a borrowing from other Near Eastern mythologies. This is what you’ll find in “modern Biblical” commentaries, but the Church doesn’t look too kindly on this idea.

Personally, I like (b), but would obediently submit to (a) if the Church says so. © is a bit far-fetched. :slight_smile:


Its getting late over here so Im thinking of going to the ‘land of nod’ shortly.



D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 16. A fugitive, according to his sentence. Hebrew nod, which the Septuagint have taken for a proper name. “In the land of Naid, over against Eden,” (Haydock) or in the fields of Nyse, in Hyrcania, to the east of Eden and Armenia. (Calmet)


The Jewish writer Philo gives an interesting explanation. The land of Nod, which was opposite to Eden; means the tumult of the soul! So Philo presents a two city concept; the City of God or Eden, and the City of Man, or Nod! :smiley: Begin reading Philo! :smiley:


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