Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
June 3, 1997
Last Updated :
October 16, 2012
A Case Of Antediluvian Incest?, Different Approaches To Deal With Uncomfortable Truths, The Original Pair: Adam And Eve, Birth Of Cain And Abel, Time Gaps Between Biblical Events, Birth Of Seth, The Manner In Which Biblical Genealogies Are Written, Mention of Women In The Bible, Daughters Prior To Birth Of Cain?, Biblical Definition Of Marriage, Man's Wife Cannot Be His Own Mother, Apostle Paul Strongly Rebukes A Case Of Incest In Corinth, Cain Cursed By God Following His Murder Of Abel, Cain Separated From Adam And Eve, Pattern Of New Testament Church Was One Wife, Modern Wife-Swapping And Polygamy, Eve Became Subjected To Adam Due To Her Sin In The Garden of Eden, Marital Submission In First Century Church, Cain Takes An Unknown Wife Bears His Son Enoch And Builds A City, Did Cain Have Help Building City Of Enoch?, Virgin Mary Myth, Adam And Eve Begat Additional Children Besides Cain And Abel And Seth, Possibility Of Daughters Being Born Prior To Seth, Abraham's Wife Sarah Was His Half-Sister, Cain May Have Married One Of His Sisters, Abraham Deceives Both Pharaoh And Abimelech, Was Adam A Single Man Or A Race Of Men And Women?, Cain Became Fugitive And Vagabond In The Earth, From Whom?, Everyone Whosoever And Any, Cain Is Marked For Protection, Cain's Descendants Through Enoch, Closing Remarks, Resources
Some time ago, one of the members of the now-defunct Endtime Discussion Group Exchange -- E.D.G.E. -- Mailing List made the following interesting comments:
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"I'd like to add my 2 cents about the incest issue if I may. In the beginning there was Adam and Eve. We are all agreed on this right? Good I'll continue. Now remember that Adam and Eve were the only humans on earth at this time. After Adam and Eve fall and have kids something happens. What happens is there are now 4 humans on the earth, Adam, Eve, Able and Cain (the two boys). Now when Able and Cain get 2 a certain age, Cain kills his brother; now there's 3 humans on the earth. Now bear in mind that there's one female (Eve) and two males (Adam and Cain) on the earth. In Genesis 4:17 (NIV) it reads "Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch." Who did Cain "lay" with? His mother Eve. Thus the first case of incest. Had this not happened there's a good chance there would not be a human race today. It could've been confined to just the 3 Adam, Eve and Cain. So in the beginning it was ok for Cain to sleep with Eve. This is just my two cents."
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Undoubtedly, some people are going to cringe when they read the previous comments. After all, it is not something that you hear in your weekly church sermon, is it? We all have different ways of dealing with things which challenge our perspectives of reality and truth. Some of us just prefer to avoid the issue altogether. Others will take an offensive posture and adopt an accusatory attitude. Still others will endeavor to invent all kinds of interesting stories and speculations, as a way to explain why it could not be so. Instead of adopting any of these attitudes, as I explain in a number of my articles, the very best thing we can do is to take a closer look at the Scriptures, in order to determine what they really say regarding this controversial issue.
Did Cain actually engage in sexual intercourse with his own mother Eve, in order to jump start humanity, as this person claims? Or are we simply missing part of the picture here? I hope that this article will provide some possible alternative solutions. At the very least, I hope that it will motivate you to be willing to consider other possibilities.
In a chronological sense, given the manner in which the Bible is written -- at least in English -- it does appear that originally there were only two human beings; that is, Adam and Eve. After Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden which was East of Eden, we arrive at the birth of Adam and Eve's two sons, Cain and Abel. Concerning the birth of Cain and Abel, the Bible informs us of the following:
"And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground."
Genesis 4:1-2, KJV
One thing which we need to bare in mind is that, as modern readers of the Scriptures, we tend to organize things one right after the other in order to make a little more sense out of them. Because of this human tendency, sometimes we forget that there are actually large gaps or time periods between some Biblical events. Knowing when there is and is not a gap can sometimes be difficult to do. In the case of the birth of Cain and Abel, it is difficult to tell. My impression is that Abel may have been born some time after Cain; that is, at least a year or so later, given that Eve would need to recuperate from having Cain, plus allow nine months for Abel's gestation period. However, there is also the possibility that they were twins.
Truthfully, however, there just is not sufficient Scriptural evidence to prove it either way. The only thing we know with any degree of certainty is that both sons were born before Adam was one hundred and thirty years old; at which time Eve bore him a third son -- whom he named Seth -- as we see by this verse:
"And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew."
Genesis 4:25, KJV
What is important to us in this discussion is exactly what happened between the time that Cain slew his brother Abel, and the time that Seth was born. One thing we need to remember is that the Old Testament genealogies -- as well as the Gospels for that matter -- were written from the male dominant position; that is, according to who was the next in line to be the head of the household. According to Jewish tradition, these were almost always the male firstborns. One of the reasons for this approach was to show the lineage of the children of Israel. More importantly, however, it was to reveal the lineage of Jesus Christ, who is the "son" -- or descendant -- of King David. That is why we see so-and-so begat so-and-so, and father-son-father-son, etc.
This does not mean that woman were not born; it simply means that they were not mentioned quite as extensively, except in certain cases where they are named as the wife of a certain Patriarch. So, while it seems that there were no daughters born to Adam and Eve up until the time that Cain took a wife, we really cannot be too certain. Thus, we should not simply eliminate this possibility altogether. Not only that, if Cain slew Abel and was cursed and driven out by the Lord, do you really think that Eve would even want to engage in sex with her own son, or that Adam would have even permitted it? I don't think so. Not only that, but throughout the Book of Genesis, Eve is referred to either as "the woman", or as Adam's wife. In the second chapter of the Book of Genesis we read the following:
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
Genesis 2:24, KJV
From reading this verse, it is not clear if Adam is saying this, or if Moses -- the presumed writer of the Book -- is saying it. Whatever the case may be, Jesus echoed this same sentiment in the Gospels, as did the Apostle Paul in some of his Epistles, as we see by these verses:
"And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Matthew 19:5-6, KJV
"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Mark 10:6-9, KJV
"What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh."
1 Corinthians 6:16, KJV
"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh."
Ephesians 5:31, KJV
These verses are a very clear indication that in order for a man to acquire a wife, he must first leave his own father and mother. This implies, of course, that his wife cannot possibly be his own mother. In fact, when such a clear-cut case of mother-son incest did occur in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul had some very stern words to say regarding it, as we see by the following verses:
"It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?"
1 Corinthians 5:1-6, KJV
As we learn from the Book of Genesis, Cain was definitely forced to leave his father and mother, although it was not under ideal conditions. Let's take a really close look at what the Lord actually said right after He had exposed Cain for his heinous crime of murder:
"And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden."
Genesis 4:11-16, KJV
We can gather some important information from the previous verses. First of all, it appears that Cain was physically removed from where Adam and Eve were located. If this is indeed the case as it appears to be, then there would have been no physical opportunity for Cain to have engaged in sexual relations with his mother Eve. This fact agrees with the previous thought that from the very beginning, the Lord seems to have supported one-on-one relationships. While some of the Patriarchs and Israelite Kings did have more than one wife -- and often had problems as a result of it -- even in the New Testament Church plan, it is evident that having only one wife was the preferred status for the leaders of the Early Church. Consider these verses:
"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;"
1 Timothy 3:2, KJV
"Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well."
1 Timothy 3:12, KJV
"If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly."
Titus 1:6, KJV
Furthermore, if Adam is the one who actually said the words regarding a man leaving his father and his mother, cleaving to his wife and being one flesh, then I am more inclined to believe that he would not have allowed Cain to engage in sex with his wife Eve. Let's be honest here for a minute. Except for swingers, hippie communes -- do they really still exist? -- sex-related cults, etc., how many men do you personally know who would be willing to share their wives with other men, especially with their own sons? I don't doubt that Adam had the same feelings and protective instincts for his wife as men do today. While in some societies -- such as Muslim and Arab cultures -- it is permissible for a man to have multiple wives, how many of those men are willing to share those wives with other men?
In reading Genesis, we also know that as a result of her sin in the Garden of Eden, part of the punishment that the Lord pronounced upon Eve was that from that point forward, she was to be subject unto her husband Adam, as we can determine from the following verse:
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Genesis 3:16, KJV
As I more amply point out in other articles such as "Women Shepherds: The Family Sex Cult Exposed Again!", despite the so-called "women's lib" spirit which has pervaded in the USA and in other countries in our modern day, this husband-wife relationship in which a wife is expected to honor and submit herself to her husband has not changed since the days of the Garden of Eden. In fact, it was clearly taught, and rigidly observed, in the First Century Church as well, as we can determine by the following verses:
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Ephesians 5:21-33, KJV
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them."
Colossians 3:17-19, KJV
"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
1 Timothy 2:9-14, KJV
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:"
1 Peter 3:1-5, KJV
Now, if Adam ruled over his wife, and if Eve was subject to him as the Lord clearly required her to do, it does not seem likely that Adam would have told his wife to go and engage in sexual intercourse with her son; the very son who had already committed coldblooded murder by killing his brother Abel. Thus, there is strong Scriptural evidence to conclude that this person's misguided belief that Eve was also Cain's wife is completely bogus. Regarding the actual event concerning how Cain came to take a wife, we are only told the following in the fourth chapter of Genesis:
"And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch."
Genesis 4:16-17, KJV
The previous verses help to fill in a few more of the gaps concerning this Biblical mystery. They likewise present some interesting possibilities. What we see here is that, after having been removed from wherever Adam and Eve were located at that time, Cain takes a wife, has a son named Enoch, and then he builds a city in honor of his son. I am mystified by the fact that Cain was able to single-handedly build a city. I have rationalized that maybe what the verse actually means is that Cain started a family, which itself was the beginning of what would become a city in the due course of time.
Another intriguing possibility is that the verse could mean that Cain had some help. Of course, by even suggesting this possibility, the picture becomes even more complicated. First we learn that Cain takes a mysterious wife of unknown origin, and now we have him building a city. So what is really going on here? How can these things possibly have occurred if there was only Adam and Eve, and Cain? To unravel this mystery, we are going to look at a few additional verses, and make a few assumptions and personal speculations. After I have shared my thoughts, you can decide what you have the faith to believe.
The first thing that we need to do is to destroy the popular myth which claims that Adam and Eve only had three children; that is, Cain and Abel, and then Seth. This is similar to the Roman Catholics' Virgin Mary myth which claims that Jesus was Joseph and Mary's only child; although technically-speaking, Joseph was not Jesus' biological father. Please refer to such articles as "The Family Life of Jesus Christ: Did Jesus Have Siblings?" in order to learn the Scriptural truth regarding this issue. Taking a closer look at Genesis chapter five, we read the following:
"And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:"
Genesis 5:4, KJV
This verse clearly indicates that Adam and Eve begat more children, in addition to Cain, Abel and Seth. Notice again how this verse only refers to Adam, with no mention of Eve. As I noted earlier, this is just the way that genealogical records were written, for the reasons which I have already stated. At this point, I am going to take a leap of faith by suggesting that if Adam and Eve had more children after Seth was born, perhaps they had some children prior to his birth as well. However, maybe these children are not mentioned in the Bible, because it was through Seth's bloodline that the righteous line of Noah would be born. As you will no doubt know, Noah was the man who God would use to repopulate the world over a millennium after the events in Eden had passed.
Now, if that possibility is too much for you to accept, then perhaps we can speculate that maybe Adam and Eve didn't have any male children between Cain and Abel, and Seth. Remember; we really don't know how old Adam and Eve were when Cain and Abel were born. All we know for certain is that they had Seth when Adam was one hundred and thirty years old, as we see by this verse:
"And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:"
Genesis 5:3, KJV
Please notice that I said maybe they did not beget any male children. If they had any female children prior to Seth's birth, would we even know about it? Given the way in which genealogies were recorded in the Bible, I suspect that we would not know. So then, I submit that one possibility is that Cain may have taken one of his sisters to be his wife; that is, a sister who followed him to Nod. Can I prove this point conclusively? Obviously not. However, allow me to point out that while it was prohibited for a man to take his father's wife to be his own wife in the Scriptures, marrying a close relative -- such as a half-sister -- seems to have been considered morally acceptable.
As I point out in the articles "My God is a Shocker" and "The Children of God and Politics", apparently, this is precisely what the Patriarch Abraham did. Not only did Abraham marry his half-sister -- Sarai -- but he then proceeded to trick Pharaoh -- the king of Egypt -- into thinking that Sarai was just his sister, in order to save his life. The Bible informs us that Sarah was rather beautiful. As a result, Abraham was afraid that the Egyptians might kill him, in order to take his wife and give her to Pharaoh. Thus, he told a little lie, as we see by the following verses:
"And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way."
Genesis 12:11-19, KJV
Not only did Abraham tell a bald-faced lie in order to save his life, but he convinced Sarah to go along with his little game of deception. Surprisingly, this was not the only time that Abraham used this ruse. He did the very same thing with Abimelech, who was the king of Gerar. As had occurred with the king of Egypt, Abraham's deception eventually came to light, and he confessed that Sarah was both his wife, as well as his half-sister, as we can see by the following verses:
". . . Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother."
Genesis 20:11b-13, KJV
Based on the previous evidence from the lives of Abraham and Sarah, the idea that Cain may have married one of his sisters appears to have a certain degree of Scriptural validity and merit. Of course, marrying one's sister is not the same as marrying one's half-sister, but the degree of separation is rather minimal. While most people will interpret the Book of Genesis in a very literal sense -- that is, one Adam and one Eve -- another school of thought also suggests that the name "Adam" may actually have been meant to be understood in the plural sense, as in the following verse:
"Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created."
Genesis 5:2, KJV
As you can see, this verse clearly states "and called their name Adam". Is the word "their" just a translational error? Is "their" implying the single pair Adam and Eve? Or is it possible that the names "Adam" and "Eve" designate something much greater than what most people are willing to accept? In other words, is it possible that "Adam" may be referring not to just one single man, but rather to an entire race of men? In similar fashion, could "Eve" be referring to their female counterparts?
No doubt, some of my readers will probably view this radical, unorthodox thought as heresy. However, be that as it may, it certainly would tie up a lot of the loose ends. For example, if we go back and look at the verses where the Lord condemns Cain, again we read the following:
"When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth."
Genesis 4:12, KJV
This verse forces us to ask ourselves some tough questions. For example, who is Cain going to be a fugitive from? From his parents Adam and Eve only? If they were the only three people who were alive on the Earth following the murder of Abel, this would make sense. However, please notice what we are told in the conversation that occurs between the Lord and Cain in verses fourteen and fifteen:
"Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him."
Genesis 4:14-15, KJV
If Adam and Eve and Cain were the only people who were alive at that time, who is the "everyone" that Cain is referring to in the verse? In like manner, to whom do the words "any" and "whosoever" refer to? Adam and Eve know who their son Cain is. Therefore, the mark would not be necessary if they are the only living humans on the Earth besides Cain himself. It seems evident that this mark was clearly meant to protect Cain from other people. So who are these other people? Were these simply forward-looking statements which were referring to people who were yet to be born? In my view, it does not seem likely. If we consider that Cain was already given the mark -- whatever it is -- by the Lord, it seems to indicate that it was to protect him from people who already existed at that time.
The remaining verses in this chapter indicate that through his son Enoch, Cain had descendants who took to themselves wives, just as the righteous line of Seth also took wives. All of these women -- including Cain's wife -- had to come from somewhere. There are only two possibilities in my view. Either Adam and Eve had a lot of female children -- who are not mentioned by name in the Scriptures, who later married their brothers, cousins, etc. -- or else Adam and Eve do not represent just one man and one woman, but rather a race of humans.
While I cannot provide a definitive answer to this dilemma, personally, I am inclined to reject the second possibility; because to suggest that there were other people living on the Earth besides Adam and Eve who were living in the Garden of Eden, is to basically turn our understanding of the story in Genesis -- and in effect the entire Bible -- upside down. I, for one, cannot accept that. Therefore, unless the Lord reveals to me otherwise, I lean towards the belief that Cain, Seth and their descendants married their own sisters. This practice must have continued on the Earth until there was a sufficient amount of people on the Earth to where they could better diversify their marriage relationships.
You may, or may not, agree with my position. Obviously, you are welcome to arrive at your own conclusions, based on the evidence which I have presented to you in this article. I am reminded of this verse:
". . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Romans 14:5b, KJV
With these thoughts I will bring this article to a close. I hope that you have found it informative, and I pray that it has been a blessing and an inspiration in your life. If you have enjoyed reading this article, please consider sharing its URL with your online friends. If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, etc, I would also appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thanks so much, and may God bless you abundantly!
For additional information and further study, you may want to refer to the list of reading resources below which were also mentioned in this article, or which are related to the topics which were discussed in this article. All of them are also located on this very same Bill's Bible Basics website:
Biblical Marriage Ceremonies
My God is a Shocker
The Children of God and Politics
The Family Life of Jesus Christ : Did Jesus Have Siblings?
Women Shepherds : The Family Sex Cult Exposed Again!