Where Did Cain Get His Wife?
The short answer is: He got her from the same pool of prospective marital candidates from which we get our wives and husbands—from the children of Adam and Eve. The Bible is clear. Adam was the progenitor of the human race (Rom. 5:12-14), and Eve was “the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20) No human being has been produced who was not a son of Adam or daughter of Eve.
But 6,000 years later, this may confuse us. Haven’t we been rightly taught that incest is repulsive? After all, who in his right mind would think of marrying his sister! For we know the danger of marrying close relatives. Close relatives are more likely to carry the same genetic flaws as we. Marriage thereby increases the odds of passing those weaknesses onto our children as birth defects and other genetic disorders. Most of us are aware of the joint and skin problems of designer dogs inbred too closely. But similar problems arise in human families. One well-known genetic disease that circulated among European royalty in the 19th century, through marriages between first cousins, was hemophilia.
Cain, of course, had no need to be concerned about these issues. For one thing, the gene pool hadn’t had time to decay as it has since then. Nor was there was a specific commandment from God forbidding marriage between close relatives. In fact, most of the patriarchs married close relatives. Abram married his half-sister Sarai. Isaac and Jacob married their cousins. It wasn’t until God gave the Law to Israel that taboos against incest were enacted, to safeguard his people against birth defects (the gene pool having rapidly degraded by this time) and protect from adopting the immoral practices of their pagan neighbors.
So Cain married his sister. Genesis 5:4 says in addition to Cain and later Seth, Adam and Eve had many other children. Jewish tradition says Eve bore Adam 23 children. Of course, she had longer to do so than mothers today. If Adam lived 930 years, Eve likely lived a long life as well, giving her hundreds of years to raise children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and…you get the point.
The Bible proceeds to trace seven generations of Cain’s family (Gen. 4:16-24), many of whom were very successful in their careers. Jabal became a wealthy businessman making tents and raising livestock. Jubal was the father of all who compose music and craft musical instruments. Tubal-Cain made everyone’s life more comfortable by developing the technology of forging bronze and iron. But it was not a happy family. Moses, author of Genesis, picks two representatives of the lines of Cain and Seth to exemplify the quality of their family life. Enoch, the seventh from Adam through Seth, walked with God and was taken to heaven without dying because his life pleased God (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5). But of Cain’s family, nothing is said about their love for God, for they had none. Instead, we’re told that Lamech, the seventh from Adam through Cain, took two wives (the first polygamist), murdered a young man for wounding him, and boasted that if Cain is avenged seven times, then “Lamech is avenged 77 times.”