Who Did Cain Marry? Where Did His Wife Come From?

Have you ever stopped to ponder just like I have, about how the initial humans in Biblical times, specifically during Adam and Eve’s era, sourced their partners? From where did they originate? Certainly, the choices for spouses among the offspring and subsequent generations of Adam and Eve were relatively limited. In this discussion, we will focus on uncovering the origins of Cain’s wife.

Cain Marries His Wife After Killing Abel

The Bible tells us that after Cain kills Abel, he marries his wife.

And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and born Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son – Enoch.

Genesis 4:17

Now the book of Genesis in the Protestant Christian Bible doesn’t tell us much else about Cain’s wife.

The ancient Jewish Book of Jubliees tells us Cain’s wife’s name was Awan, and she was the daughter of Adam and Eve. In other words, it tells us Cain married his sister.

cain with his wife

Although Protestant Christians don’t view the Book of Jubilees as Biblical canon – and there are some ideas that don’t align with our theology – much of its history is in alignment with the Book of Genesis. So few Christians take issue with the idea that Cain married his sister Awan.

But even if you were to outright reject the Book of Jubilees, we can assume Cain married a sister or close family member.

Where Did Cain’s Wife Come From?

As mentioned, the Bible isn’t specific on who Cain’s wife was nor where she came from. But the Jewish Book of Jubliees tells us Cain’s wife was his sister Awan, the daughter of Adam and Eve.

Genesis records Adam and Eve as having three sons: Cain, Abel, and Seth. Though some believe Cain and Abel may have been twins, it’s not clear from the creation narrative in Genesis. The Bible doesn’t mention any other children, but one would have to assume they had many others. It’s possible that all their other children were girls, which is why they weren’t recorded. But it’s also possible they had a few other sons as well.

If you reject the Book of Jubilees and the idea that Cain married his sister, you may assume a couple of other alternatives:

  • Pre-Adamic Humanity: Some people hold the view that there were other humans around prior to Adam and Eve. Many of these people view the creation story as a literary device that tells the story of God and humanity, but might not be exactly how things went down. If this were the case, Cain’s wife could have been a descendent of a family who had been around for awhile. But the Bible gives no evidence for this. 1 Corinthians 15:45 tells us that Adam was “the first man.” Genesis 3:20 states that Eve “was the mother of all the living.” We have no reason to believe this.
  • A Long Time Span: Another view is that Cain and Abel’s conflict could have happened when they were in their hundreds (after all, the first family of the Bible lived a very long time). In that case, Seth or Abel could have had children and we could be a few generations in. In that case, there could have been a considerable number of people alive at that point, meaning Cain’s wife would still have been a family member, but not as closely related. This is very possible.

What About Incest?

If you don’t hold to the idea that other humans were around prior to Adam and Eve – you believe the creation story was more than a creation myth – you have to assume Cain (and his brothers) all married within their family. But doesn’t God forbid incest in Leviticus?

He does, but the law has not been given yet. And how else would Adam and Eve’s family multiplied? It was the only way. We also see other examples of marriages within the family prior to Moses giving the law. Abraham, for example, married his half-sister Sarah (Genesis 20:12) while Moses’ father Amram, married his father’s sister, his aunt Jochabed (Exodus 6:20).

Cain Married a Sister or Niece

Regardless what you believe about the Book of Jubilees, if you hold true to the Bible, you have to assume Cain married a sister or a niece. The scriptures are clear. We know that Cain goes onto wander the earth after the murder and that he was fearful – but at least we know he married and had a family around him.

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