You’ll likely notice the rampant extra-Biblical assumptions that litter this chapter of Answers in Genesis’ new “Answers” book. I’d provide a link but I don’t wish to encourage anyone to read such an erroneous document. But click on the image below or the URL and you can read the chapter on Cain’s wife. I will be addressing some crucial errors below.
Cain’s Wife – Who was She?
by Ken Ham
Where to Begin?
Mr Ham is, as far as I can tell, well intentioned. He does a good job of delineating the common line of evangelical thinking. Many established evangelical professors wholeheartedly agree with him and it is not uncommon for evengelical and pentecostal preachers to use Answers in Genesis as a reference to prove their point. “According to Answers in Genesis…”. The long and short of it is that Ken Ham and his Answers in Genesis team are viewed as experts in things Biblical, especially in areas that pertain to Genesis. Mr. Ham is regarded as an expert in his field.
I remember Dr Donald Bloesch commenting that many “evangelical” scholars and experts (I can only assume that it was some of the same people have place Mr. Ham on such a high pedestal) didn’t think that he was evangelical enough…. I didn’t know what to say.
But I digress. Back to Dr Ham’s article… The very first thing that sent up a proverbial red flag for me was the tag line itself:
“Skeptics of the Bible have used Cain’s wife time and again to discredit the book of Genesis as a true historical record. Sadly, most Christians have not given an adequate answer to this question.”
In other words, to disagree with Mr Ham is to disagree or at least to be “skeptical” of the Bible. Not so! Regular readers of this blog know that I take the Bible seriously and wrestle with what each text actually says so one can take the Bible at its word and still disagree with the Answers in Genesis people. In fact, I propose that if one examines the texts word for word and in context, while refraining from adding to any of it, it is impossible to arrive at a conclusion identical to Mr. Ham’s.
For those who did not read Dr. Ham’s article what follows is his essential premise.
Cain’s wife was either his sister or his aunt because Adam and Eve had more children than Cain and Abel before Cain was banished for murdering his brother. There was ample time, after all for them to have a a number of children before then, therefor, that’s what must have happened.
Mr Ham explains the basis of his conclusions more completely, but is the gist of his argument. I will be addressing particulars as I continue. I assure you, I am no “Skeptic of the Bible” as you will see.
The first applicable Scripture, Mr Ham quotes is, “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” (Romans 5:12).” Unfortunately, this passage neither proves nor disproves his position. It pertains to sin as it relates to Adam, not whether Adam produced children before Cain and Abel. It does not mean what he thinks it means.
The next passage of Scripture Mr Ham references to prove his theory is 1 Corinthians 15:45 which affirms Adam to be the first man. In this we are in agreement. Both the Genesis 2 story as well as this referenced verse are precise and unarguable, “Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” Adam was definitely the first human on earth.
Mr Ham continues by making numerous assumptions based upon selected Bible passages and by taking some nonessential leaps based upon his preconceived ideologies and theology. In the first scenario, he and those like him are adding to Scripture, a task that Scripture itself declares is evil. The latter is eisogesis, plain and simple. Eisogesis, simply put, is reading one’s preconceived meanings into Biblical texts and is considered by most reputable Bible scholars to be poor scholarship.
The origin of Cain’s wife remains a mystery at this point since Cain could not have married his sister for the simple fact that he did not have a sister at the time.
Mr Ham quotes Acts 17:26 to make his initial point, “Thus it is written, And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth,”(ESV). This simply means that all humans are directly descended from Adam. It does not mean that Cain’s wife was descended from Adam. There is absolutely no mention of Adam having any children prior to Cain. Both Cain and Abel are born at the beginning of Genesis Chapter 4 and then Seth is born at the end of Chapter 4 in verse 25 (ESV), “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” Why would Eve have said such a thing if she had born sundry siblings before Cain and Abel? That makes no contextual sense whatsoever. Chapter 5 mentions Adam having other sons and daughters, this is true, but the text clearly implies that these were conceived post Seth.
We are left with Cain and Abel being the only children of Adam and Eve until after Abel is murdered and the subsequent birth of Seth. Further more, the story relates that Cain is banished shortly after the murderous act and well before Seth is born. The origin of Cain’s wife remains a mystery at this point since Cain could not have married his sister for the simple fact that he did not have a sister at the time. Any conclusion to the contrary is pure conjecture.
The Textual Solution
There is a solution that accounts for Cain’s wife, Cain’s fear of being killed, and his being able to construct a city named after his son Enoch (c.f. Genesis 4) and for his son and grandson to marry as well that makes no extra-Biblical assumptions nor eisogetical gymnastics to perceive.
This is it in succinct fashion.
The First Piece
There are two primary pieces to this puzzle. Both pieces are (con)textual in nature and begin with the realization that the Bible is a book. This should be obvious since it looks like a book, feels like a book and the word “bible” means “book”. We humans are notorious for glancing right past the obvious, however, in our quest to display our superior intellects.
I ask you to take a deep breath, clear your mind, and then read Genesis 1. Then STOP!
I am sure you noticed that God created everything. There’s no disputing that, nor would I dream of doing so. I am also sure that you noticed that on the fist two days, God set the stage by creating day and night and the planet itself. On the third day God created vegetation, lots of it. Next He created the sun and the moon. On the fifth day, God created “swarms” of living creatures in the seas and every winged creature and set the loose to fill the world. On the sixth day, God created all the animals and things that creep on the earth and then He created man. And, finally, on the seventh day, God finished creating the world and then rested.
I’m sure you noticed that God created “swarms” and creatures of “every kind” and let them loose to multiply upon the earth. No one ever claims that God made two fish or two birds or even two fish or two birds or two of each kind of thing that swarms. No one ever suggests that there were only two bears or two oxen or two worms or dung beetles created. The image produced by the story is that many many creatures were created and the earth was populated from east to west and from north to south. So, in the context of this creation story, God also created a population of people. The Hebrew word for “man” is generic and, in context, is most appropriately vied as plural.
To conclude this initial piece of the puzzle, the creation story in Genesis 1 describes God populating His world with whole populations of creatures including people. And then He lovingly completed His creation and rested. That is what Genesis 1 literally says.
The Second Piece
I ask you to now continue reading through Genesis 2: 9 and then STOP! Ask yourself this question, “When does this passage literally tell us Adam was created?”
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:5-7 ESV, emphasis added)
Clearly, a literal reading of this passage informs one that Adam was created before there was plant-life on the earth or at least as plant-life was emerging upon the land. Therefore a literal and contextual understanding of the Bible unequivocally informs the believer that Adam was created on the third day, separately from the mass of humanity that was created on the sixth day. Chapter two reinforces this view by saying that God had Adam name all the animals as they were created for him.
Cain’s wife was a woman from outside the garden as were most of the people on earth up until the flood. No extra-Biblical assumptions are needed. The need for eisogetical gymnastics is eliminated and the necessity of insisting on a young earth that is merely a few thousand years old is also eliminated. This in no way contradicts anything that follows in the Bible. Noah being a direct descendant of Adam maintains the Adamic line and is undoubtedly a primary reason that he was chosen by God in the first place.
Feel free to comment freely yet politely.