Written by Ron Hutchison

There are many questions that people have about the Bible. One question that is often asked is "Where did Cain get his wife"? Before we let the Bible answer that question, let's look at some events that took place in the life of Cain which can be very valuable lessons for us today.


First, let's look at who Cain was. Genesis 4:1-2 says, Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from Yahweh." There can be no doubt that Cain was the firstborn son of Adam and Eve who were the first people to inhabit the earth. Some believe that Cain and Abel were twins, and there may be some merit to that when you notice that it speaks of Eve conceiving only once but two children being born. Nevertheless, Cain was the firstborn.

You will recall that Adam and Eve had been cast out of the garden of Eden. In Genesis 3:16, when God placed a curse upon Eve He said, "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." It is important to note that the word "knew" in verse 1 deals with Adam having sexual relations with his wife which resulted in conception. This word is going to be seen again in answering the question, "where did Cain get his wife?" Of course it was God's will that Adam and Eve have children. In Genesis 1:27-28 the Bible says, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it..." Being fruitful and multiplying dealt with the propagation of mankind upon all the face of the earth. Someone has said that this is surely one of the commands of God that mankind has obeyed faithfully.

Genesis 4 also tells us what Cain's occupation was. Verse two says, "Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground." The evolutionists not withstanding, the first people were not half-animal, unintelligent beings living off the land and in caves. They were educated. They were intelligent. It takes intelligence and education to be able to be a "keeper of sheep" and a "tiller of the ground" - a shepherd and a farmer. Anyone who has done that kind of work knows this is true. Thus the Bible again contradicts the so-called theory of evolution, as it does at every turn.


Verse three of Genesis 4 says, "And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to Yahweh." What does this verse tell us?

First, it tells us that even from the very beginning of time people worshiped God. The offering brought before Yahweh was, no doubt, a sacrifice made in worshiping Him. Religion and God are not ideas that man invented over the years to deal with the physical world he lived in as he evolved. Religion was practiced at the very beginning and the very first people who inhabited this earth held a belief in the One true God. The false religions that are practiced today and have been over many years developed not from myth, but from a departure from a knowledge of the One true God just as Paul taught in Romans chapter one.

Verse four says, "Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And Yahweh respected Abel and his offering." Abel, of course, was Cain's brother. The Bible says of Abel in Hebrews 11: 4, "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks." We learn from this passage that Abel offered his offering to God by faith which Paul says in Romans 10:17 comes from hearing God's word. We learn that it was a more excellent sacrifice than Cain's. We learn that by this sacrifice Abel obtained witness that he was righteous, which would infer that Cain's offering testified to the fact that he was unrighteous. What Abel says, although being dead, must be that if you are to please God in offering worship to Him, you must do so by offering that which He commands in His word - something that Cain did not do. Cain followed the example of Eve his mother and Adam his father in substituting his will for God's. He is the first person we have record of who offered worship to God which God did not accept.

There are many today who believe that as long as you are sincere you may offer anything you like in worship to God and He will accept it. The account of Cain tells us this is not true. You must offer only that which is commanded in God's word. Only then can you offer your offering by faith. The inspired apostle John wrote of Cain, "not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous" (1 John 3:12). What is this talking about when it speaks of Cain's "works were evil"? At least one of the things it is speaking of is the offering he made. People look at Cain's offering and ask, "What could be wrong with offering the fruit of the ground?" There is nothing inherently evil in the fruit of the ground. However, Cain offered the fruit of the ground without a command from God. From Hebrews 11:4 and Romans 10:17 we know that God had commanded both Cain and Abel to offer animal sacrifices. Cain substituted his will for God's. That is what made his offering evil. That is why he is described as "of the wicked one."

Cain is also the first murderer. He murdered his brother because of the hatred that developed from the jealousy he felt because God accepted Abel's offering and rejected his. Envy, jealousy and hatred can lead people to do terrible things. It can even lead people to persecute and murder innocent, righteous people. The Bible says in verse five, "but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell." When the Bible says that Cain was very angry it is the kind of anger that is "hot" or uncontrolled anger. The word literally means "to blaze up." Thus, Cain immediately became angry and so angry that it showed on his face and led him to murder his brother.

But it was before Cain murdered his brother that God spoke to him. Verses six and seven say, "So Yahweh said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." Here God tells Cain some things all of us need to hear. He was telling Cain that he really had no reason to be angry that his offering was rejected. All Cain had to do was to "do well." That means all he had to do was obey God's direction and offer what God told him to offer. If he did that, God would accept him and he would be just as pleasing to God as Abel was. The fact is, that it's not God's fault when He rejects the worship we offer and it is not the fault of those who are offering what God has commanded. We need to understand that if we offer to God something that He has not commanded, then the blame lies directly upon our own shoulders. The remedy for us is to simply do God's will. Nevertheless, God tells Cain that if he doesn't do well "sin lies at the door." Sin is like a wild animal stalking its prey. It is there to ensnare - to capture and destroy us. But God tells Cain he can rule over sin - he can conquer sin. We can conquer sin and temptation too. What God is telling Cain is that he didn't have to give in to the temptation. Cain sinned because he chose to sin. He chose to give in to the temptation. But there is always a way of escape. Paul wrote,  "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). We always have a way to escape temptation. It may be running away from it like Joseph did. But there is always a way. Cain's problem then and our problem now is that we don't look for that way of escape. (See also, How to Overcome Sin).

It was after this that the Bible says in verse eight, "Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him." We don't know what Cain talked with Abel about. It is probably safe to assume that it dealt with the sacrifices they had made and the events that we have been talking about in this lesson including Cain's rejection by God. Whatever it was, it resulted in Cain murdering his own brother.

The passage we mentioned a few minutes ago in 1 John 3:12 is in the context of teaching the necessity of loving our brethren. In verse 11 it says, "For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." Then verse 12 speaks of Cain, "not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. . . ." Then verses 13 through 15 says, "Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." We can follow in the footsteps of Cain simply by hating our brethren. There are some who profess love with their mouth but their actions show they really hate. Those who hate their brethren are murderers in God's sight as much as those who commit the overt act.


Let us all realize that God will punish us because of our sins. There is a verse in the Bible that says, "be sure your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23).  We can't hide sin forever. Even though we may be able to hide it even from those who are closest to us, there will come a time when that sin will be exposed, and we will suffer punishment for it.

There are those who seem to think that if no one ever finds out about their sin, then they will never suffer any consequences. That's what Satan wants you to think, but that's just not the reality.

The Bible teaches that "the wages of sin is death"  (Romans 6:23).  Yes, sometimes the wages of sin is physical death, but this is speaking of spiritual death - separation from God.

Cain was no different. Verses nine and ten show that God confronted Cain with his sin. Cain tried to be evasive, but God knew what had happened, and He always knows when we sin. You can't hide your sin from God. "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13). My friends, we can't hide our sins from God, and someday (probably a lot sooner than many of us think) we will stand before Him in judgment and answer for our sins.

God then places a curse (the consequence of Cain's sins) upon him. "When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth" (verse 12). A fugitive is one who is fleeing from the law. He is one who is ever trying to find a place to hide. A vagabond is a wanderer. The curse was that Cain would be ever fleeing for his life and wandering, never able to have a home - a place of refuge. That in reality, is what all of us are experiencing when we are in sin. We are fleeing from God's law. We will never find a home - a place of refuge - a place of rest. A continual war is going on inside us. We will never find rest until we are willing to humble ourselves in obedience to God's word.

The words "fugitive and vagabond" are important in answering the question, "where did Cain get his wife?"

Nevertheless, Cain, like many, thought his punishment was too great according to verse 13, and verses 14 and 15 seem to bear out that God modified the punishment a little by taking the threat of Cain being killed away by placing a mark upon him. Some people have stated, "God would be unjust to punish people forever - just because of what they did upon this earth - or just because they don't do exactly what God says in the Bible." But we would have to say, look at Cain. Was God unjust in the case of Cain? Did the punishment fit the crime? Men are very presumptuous to question God's wisdom in meting out punishment for sin. We need to believe what the Bible says and act upon it so that we can avoid the punishment that awaits the wicked rather than trying to question it or explain it away. God will not change what He has written in His word about punishment for sin.

Now we get to the heart of our lesson. "Then Cain went out from the presence of Yahweh and dwelt 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" (verses 16-17). There are times when we assume that the Bible says something when it really doesn't say it. For example, many people assume that Cain found his wife in the land of Nod. But when you read the passage you find that it doesn't say that at all. Cain dwelt in the land of Nod, but it does not say he found his wife there. It may very well be that Cain was already married when he went to the land of Nod and his wife traveled to Nod with him. Something else we assume is the time element involved. We don't know how much time is involved in the phrase, "And in the process of time it came to pass." It could be just a few years - it could be a hundred years. We don't know how old Cain and Abel were when these events took place. We do know that Seth was born shortly after Cain killed Abel. We do know that Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born (Genesis 5:4). Verse five says, "And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters." How many sons and daughters he begat no one knows. But during a 800-year period there could have been many. As we said before the word "knew" in verse 17 does not refer to him getting acquainted with his wife by meeting her in the land of Nod. It refers to that which leads to conception of a baby. It could very well be that Cain was already married when the events took place in Genesis 4 and that his wife traveled with him to the land of Nod. In fact, Guy N. Woods says that the phrase "'the land of Nod' simply means a place or area of wandering and is a reference to the general direction which characterized Cain when he was driven out as a fugitive and wanderer on the face of the earth." The only logical conclusion we can come to in harmony with what the Bible does tell us, is that Cain's wife was one of his sisters or nieces. Thus, Cain's wife came from among Adam's children or grandchildren. I know we shrink from the idea today of such close marriages, but we should ever remember that everyone living today came from the original created human beings - Adam and Eve.


Cain ever stands before us as an example not to follow. Abel's faithfulness is the standard we should choose to follow rather than Cain's willingness to substitute his will for God's will.

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