Table of ContentsForeword, Preface, and Introduction
The biblical answer to racism
Many skeptics have claimed that for Cain to find a wife, there must have been other ‘races’ of people on the earth who were not descendants of Adam and Eve. To many people, this question is a stumbling block to accepting the creation account of Genesis and its record of only one man and woman at the beginning of history. This issue is also critical to the integrity of the Gospel message, as we shall see. Read Genesis 4:1–5:5 for the necessary background to this topic:
And Adam knew Eve his wife. And she conceived and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she bore again, his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
And in the end of days, it happened, Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. And Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat of it. And the Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering, but He did not have respect to Cain and to his offering. And Cain glowed with anger, and his face fell. And the Lord said to Cain, Why have you angrily glowed? And why did your face fall? If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at the door; and its desire is for you, and you shall rule over it.
And Cain talked with his brother Abel. And it happened when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is your brother Abel? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? And He said, What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to Me from the ground. And now you are cursed more than the ground which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will not again give its strength to you. And you shall be a vagabond and a fugitive in the earth.
And Cain said to the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold! You have driven me out from the face of the earth today, and I shall be hidden from Your face. And I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth, and it shall be that anyone who finds me shall kill me.
And the Lord said to him, Therefore whoever kills Cain shall be avenged seven times. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain so that anyone who found him should not kill him.
And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and lived in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. And Irad was born to Enoch. And Irad fathered Mehujael. And Mehujael fathered Methusael. And Methusael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives to himself. The name of the first one was Adah, and the name of the other was Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents, and with cattle. And his brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those playing the harp and the organ. And Zillah also bore Tubal-Cain, the hammerer of every engraving tool of bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.
And Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice, wives of Lamech, listen to my speech. For I have killed a man because of my wound, and a young man because of my hurt. For Cain is avenged seven times, and Lamech seventy-seven times.
And Adam knew his wife again. And she bore a son, and called his name Seth. For she said, God has appointed me another seed instead of Abel, because Cain killed him. And there was also a son born to Seth, and he called his name Enos. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord. This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them. And He called their name Adam in the day when they were created.
And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years and fathered a son in his own likeness, after his own image. And he called his name Seth. And the days of Adam after he had fathered Seth were eight hundred years. And he fathered sons and daughters. And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years. And he died (Gen. 4:1–5:5).
In order to answer the question ‘Where did Cain get his wife?’ we first need to cover some crucial background information concerning the meaning of the Gospel. Consider Romans 5:12:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
We also read in 1 Corinthians 15:45 that Adam was ‘the first man.’ God did not start by making a ‘batch’ of men and women.
The Bible makes it clear that only the descendants of Adam can be saved. Romans 5 teaches that we sin because Adam brought sin into the world. The death penalty, which Adam received as judgment for his sin of rebellion, has also been passed on to all his descendants.1
Since Adam was the head of the human race, when he ‘fell,’ we who were ‘in the loins’ of Adam ‘fell’ also. Thus, we are all separated from God. The final consequence of sin would be separation from God in our sinful state forever. The good news, however, is that there is a way for us to return to God!
Because a man brought sin and death into the world, the human race (all descendants of Adam) needed a sinless Man to pay the penalty for sin and the resulting judgment of death. But the Bible teaches that ‘all have sinned’ (Rom. 3:23, 5:12). What was the solution?
God provided the solution—a way to deliver man from his wretched state. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15 that God provided another Adam! The Son of God became a man—a perfect Man—yet still our relation! He is called ‘ the last Adam’ (1 Cor. 15:45), because He took the place of the first Adam. He became the ‘new head’ and, because He was sinless, was able to pay the penalty for sin:
For since death is through man, the resurrection of the dead also is through a Man. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor. 15:21–22).
Christ suffered death (the penalty for sin) on the cross, shedding His blood (‘and without shedding of blood is no remission,’ Heb. 9:22) so that those who put their trust in His work on the cross can come in repentance of their sin of rebellion (in Adam) and be reconciled to God.
Thus, only descendants of the first man Adam can be saved.
The Bible describes all human beings as sinners and as being all related: ‘And He has made all nations of men of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth’ (Acts 17:26). The Gospel only makes sense if all humans who have ever lived (except for the first woman) are descendants of the first man, Adam. Eve, in a sense, was a ‘descendant’ of Adam in that she was made from his flesh and thus had some biological connection to him (Gen. 2:21–23). If this were not so, then the Gospel could not be explained or defended.
Thus, there was only one man at the beginning—made from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7).
This also means that Cain’s wife was a descendant of Adam. She couldn’t have come from another ‘race’ of people and must be accounted for from Adam’s descendants.
In Genesis 3:20 we read, ‘And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.’ In other words, all people other than Adam are descendants of Eve—she was the first woman.
Eve was made from Adam’s side (Gen. 2:21–24)—this was a unique event. In the New Testament, Jesus (Matt. 19:4–6) and Paul (Eph. 5:31) use this historical and one-time event as the foundation for the marriage of one man and one woman.
Also, in Genesis 2:20 we are told that when Adam looked at the animals, he couldn’t find a mate—there was no one of his kind.
All this makes it obvious that there was only one woman, Adam’s wife, from the beginning. There could not have been other women who were not her descendants.
Thus, if Christians cannot defend that all humans (including Cain’s wife) can trace their ancestry ultimately to Adam and Eve, then how can they understand and explain the Gospel? How can they justify sending missionaries to every tribe and nation? One needs to be able to answer the question of Cain’s wife to illustrate that Christians can defend the Gospel and all that it teaches.
Cain was the first child of Adam and Eve recorded in Scripture (Gen. 4:1). He and his brothers, Abel (Gen. 4:2) and Seth (Gen. 4:25), were part of the first generation of children ever born on this earth. Even though these three males are specifically mentioned, Adam and Eve had other children.
In Genesis 5:4 we read a statement that sums up the life of Adam and Eve: ‘And the days of Adam after he had fathered Seth were eight hundred years. And he fathered sons and daughters.’
During their lives, Adam and Eve had a number of male and female children. In fact, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote, ‘The number of Adam’s children, as says the old tradition, was thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters.’2
Scripture doesn’t tell us how many children were born to Adam and Eve, but considering their long life spans—Adam lived for 930 years (Gen. 5:5)—it would seem logical to suggest there were many! Remember, they were commanded to ‘Be fruitful, and multiply’ (Gen. 1:28).
If we now work totally from Scripture, without any personal prejudices or other extra-biblical ideas, then back at the beginning, when there was only the first generation, brothers would have had to marry sisters or there wouldn’t have been any more generations!
We’re not told when Cain married or many of the details of other marriages and children, but we can say for certain that Cain’s wife was either one of his sisters or another close relative.
Many people immediately reject the conclusion that Adam and Eve’s sons and daughters married each other by appealing to the law against brother-sister intermarriage. Some say that you can’t marry your relation. Actually, if you don’t marry your relation, you don’t marry a human! A wife is related to her husband before they are married because all people are descendants of Adam and Eve—all are of one blood. Remember that Abraham was married to his half-sister (Gen. 20:12). God’s law prohibited such marriages (Lev. 18–20), but that law was given to Moses some 400 years later. Provided marriage was one man with one woman for life, there was no disobedience to God’s law originally (before the time of Moses) when close relatives (even brothers and sisters) married each other.
Today, brothers and sisters (and half-brothers and half-sisters, etc.) are not permitted by law to marry and have children. Now it is observed that children produced in a union between brother and sister have a greater chance of being deformed or mentally retarded. As a matter of fact, the closer the couple are in relationship, the more likely it is that any offspring will be deformed. Most people know this, but many are unaware of the easily understood mechanism involved.
Each person inherits a set of genes from his or her mother and father. Unfortunately, genes today contain many mistakes (because of sin and the Curse), and these mistakes show up in a variety of ways. For instance, research has linked many serious diseases to these mistakes—cystic fibrosis and hemophilia, for example. Less serious physical deformities may also be caused by these mistakes—for example, a missing nasal septum, shortsightedness, and so on. Let’s face it: the main reason we call each other normal is because we agree to do so!
Children inherit two sets of genes—one set from each parent. A brother and sister are likely to have similar mistakes in their genes because they are inherited from the same parents. If there were a union between such a brother and sister that produced offspring, the mistakes could pair together, resulting in two bad copies of a gene and such things as mental retardation and/or deformities in the children.
Conversely, the further away the parents are in relationship to each other, the more likely it is that they will have different mistakes in their genes. Children, inheriting one set of genes from each parent, are likely to end up with some of the pairs of genes containing one bad gene in each pair. The good gene tends to override the bad so that a deformity (a serious one, anyway) does not occur. Often the person carries the bad gene without any obvious defect. (Overall, though, the human race is slowly degenerating as mistakes—errors in copying DNA, called mutations—accumulate, generation after generation.)
This fact of present-day life, however, did not apply to Adam and Eve. When the first two people were created, they were perfect. Everything God made was ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:31). That means their genes were perfect—no mistakes! But, when sin entered the world because of Adam (Gen. 3:6), God cursed the world so that the perfect creation then began to degenerate—that is, suffer death and decay (Rom. 8:22). Over a long period of time, this degeneration would have resulted in all sorts of mistakes occurring in the genetic material of living things.
Cain was in the first generation of children ever born. He (as well as his brothers and sisters) would have received virtually no imperfect genes from Adam or Eve, since the effects of sin and the Curse would have been minimal to start with. In that situation, brother and sister could have married (provided it was one man for one woman—which is what marriage is all about—Matt. 19:4–6) without any potential to produce deformed offspring.
By the time of Moses (about 2,500 years later), degenerative mistakes would have accumulated to such an extent in the human race that it would have been necessary for God to bring in the laws forbidding brother-sister (and close relative) marriage (Lev. 18–20).3 Also, there were plenty of people on the earth by now, so close relations did not have to marry.
In all, there appear to be three interrelated reasons for the introduction of laws forbidding close intermarriage:
As we have already discussed, there was the need to protect against the increasing potential to produce deformed offspring.
God’s laws were instrumental in keeping the Jewish nation strong, healthy and within the purposes of God.
These laws were a means of protecting the individual, the family structure and society at large. The psychological damage caused by parent/child incestuous relationships should not be minimized.
Cain and the land of Nod
Some claim that the passage in Genesis 4:16–17 means that Cain went to the land of Nod and found a wife. Thus, they conclude there must have been another race of people on the earth, who were not descendants of Adam, who produced Cain’s wife.
And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and lived in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch (Gen. 4: 16–17).
From what has been stated above, it is clear that all humans, Cain’s wife included, are descendants of Adam. However, this passage does not say that Cain went to the land of Nod and found a wife. John Calvin in commenting on these verses states: ‘From the context we may gather that Cain, before he slew his brother, had married a wife; otherwise Moses would now have related something respecting his marriage.’4
Cain was married before he went to the land of Nod. He didn’t find a wife there, but ‘knew’ (i.e., had sexual relations with) his wife there.5
Behold! You have driven me out from the face of the earth today, and I shall be hidden from Your face. And I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth, and it shall be that anyone who finds me shall kill me (Gen. 4:14).
Some claim that there had to be lots of people on the earth other than Adam and Eve’s descendants, otherwise Cain wouldn’t have been fearful of people wanting to slay him because he killed Abel.
First of all, why would a stranger want to kill Cain? Only a close relative of Abel would care enough.
Secondly, Cain and Abel were born quite some time before the event of Abel’s death. Genesis 4:3 states: ‘And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.’
Note the phrase ‘in the process of time.’ We know Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old (Gen. 5:3), and Eve saw him as a ‘replacement’ for Abel (Gen. 4:25). Therefore, the time period from Cain’s birth to Abel’s death may have been 100 years or more—allowing plenty of time for other children of Adam and Eve to marry and have children. By the time Abel was killed, there may have been a considerable number of descendants of Adam and Eve, making up several generations.
Some claim that for Cain to go to the land of Nod and build a city, he would have required a lot of technology that must have already been in that land, presumably developed by other ‘races.’ Adam and Eve’s descendants, however, were very intelligent people. We are told that Jubal made musical instruments such as the harp and organ (Gen. 4:21), and Tubal-Cain worked with brass and iron (Gen. 4:22).
Because of intense evolutionary indoctrination, many people today have the idea that their generation is the most ‘advanced’ that has ever lived on this planet. Just because we have jet airplanes and computers doesn’t mean we are the most advanced in intelligence. Modern technology is really a result of the accumulation of knowledge.
We must remember that our brains have suffered from 6,000 years (since Adam) of the Curse. We have greatly degenerated compared to people many generations ago. We may be nowhere near as intelligent or inventive as Adam and Eve’s children. Scripture gives us a glimpse of what appears to be relatively advanced technology almost from the beginning. Cain had the knowledge and talent to know how to build a city!
There is another angle to this: the Hebrew word translated ‘city’ does not necessarily suggest a huge metropolis. Rather, it could merely mean a place guarded by a watch.6 This would make sense for a person fearful of someone taking his life.
Genesis is the record of the God who was there as history happened. It is the Word of One who knows everything, and who is a reliable witness from the past. Thus, when we use Genesis as a basis for understanding history, we can make sense of evidence that would otherwise be a real mystery. You see, if evolution is true, science has an even bigger problem than Cain’s wife to explain—namely, how could man ever evolve by mutations (mistakes) in the first place, since that process would have made everyone’s children deformed?7 The mere fact that people can produce offspring that are not largely deformed is a testimony to creation, not evolution.
Now that we’ve solved the perceived ‘problem’ of Cain’s wife, and how subsequent generations of people could descend from the first two people, how can we explain the seemingly major differences among people groups around the world? How can we account for all the different ‘races’ if we are all descended from Adam and Eve? What has caused changes like the different skin colors for example?
Before we can answer these questions, we need to understand some basic principles of genetics. To do this, we will consider the changes that we observe in animals (particularly among dogs). We will then apply our understanding of the science of genetics to the human kind. At the same time, we will learn that true science in the present does not support the evolutionary view of origins, but confirms the biblical account.
References and notes
- If one reads the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, interpreting Scripture with Scripture, then the conclusion is that death, bloodshed, disease and suffering of the ‘nephesh’ animals and man only came into existence after Adam sinned. When Christians accept the supposed millions of years for the age of the fossils, then they undermine the Gospel by accepting death, violence, disease, bloodshed and suffering before sin. The Bible makes it clear that everything was ‘very good’ at the end of the sixth day of creation. The world could not have been full of diseases like cancer at that time—and yet such diseases are evident in the fossil bones supposedly millions of years old. More information on this topic can be found in the following articles:
- K. Ham, The necessity for believing in six literal days, Creation 18(1):38–41, December 1995–February 1996,.
- K. Ham, Millions of years and the ‘doctrine of Balaam,’ Creation 19(3):15–17, June–August 1997.
- Ken Ham, A young Earth—it’s not the issue! Answers Update 5(1):1–4, January 1998.
- Darren H. Tanke and Bruce M. Rothschild, Paleopathology, Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp. 525–530, 1997.
- B.M. Rothschild, D. Tanke and Ken Carpenter, Tyrannosaurs Suffered from Gout, Nature 387(6631):357, 22 May 1997.
- Flavius Josephus (translated by William Whiston, A.M.), The Complete Works of Josephus, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 27, 1981.
- Some have claimed this means God changed His mind by changing the laws. But God didn’t change His mind—God never changes. Because of the changes that sin brought, He introduced new laws for our sake.
- John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, Vol. 1, p. 214, 1979.
- Even if Calvin’s suggestion concerning this matter is not correct, there was still plenty of time for numerous descendants of Adam and Eve to move out and settle areas such as the land of Nod.
- Strong’s Concordance, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 5892, 1990. Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, p. 88: ‘a city (a place guarded by waking or a watch) in the widest sense (even of a mere encampment or post).’
- Natural selection does not automatically get rid of harmful mutations, since most are only exposed to selection when they are ‘homozygous’—i.e., inherited from both parents. So the progressive accumulation of mutational ‘load’ is a very real problem for evolutionary theories.
By downloading this material, you agree to the following terms with respect to the use of the requested material: CMI grants you a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to print or download one (1) copy of the copyrighted work. The copyrighted work will be used for non-commercial, personal purposes only. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express approval of Creation Ministries International Ltd. Approval must be expressed and in writing, and failure to respond shall not be deemed approval. All rights in the copyrighted work not specifically granted to you are reserved by CMI. All such reserved rights may be exercised by CMI. This Agreement, and all interpretations thereof, shall be deemed to be in accordance with the law of the state of Queensland, Australia. Any dispute arising out of this Agreement shall be resolved in accordance with Queensland law and the courts of Queensland shall be deemed to be those of proper jurisdiction and venue.