Friday, September 22, 2006

A Question Explained

In yesterday's edition of the North County Times, a Faith and Values page letter writer asked for an explanation regarding Cain's wife. She wanted to know how Cain could marry a relative without committing incest.

Here is a copy of her letter:

Who did Cain lay with?

I read the Faith & Value Letters with great amusement. The evolutionists and the creationists will never find agreement, but they do keep trying. I have one question that no one has been able to answer, and I have wondered about it all my life. Perhaps someone out there can explain this to me. Two Bibles that I have say that Cain took a wife.

King James Version, "And Cain knew his wife."

New English Bible, "Then Cain lay with his wife."

Where did she come from if Adam and Eve were the first and only people created by God on this earth? The Bible says he went to the land of Nod, but how did those people get there?

Who begat them? If Eve was the mother of all who lived, then Cain must have been laying with his mother or his sister. Then Cain's son, Enoch, laid with his wife. Where did she come from? Nod also? And how did she get there?

Somehow there had to have been some incest going on in order for these men to begat children. Explanation, please.

My letter in response:

The Bible does prohibit incest (Lev. 18:6) and with good reason. Incestuous marriages often produce genetically defective children. So how can this be reconciled?

First, there were no genetic imperfections at the beginning of the human race. God created a genetically perfect Adam (Gen. 1:27). Genetic defects resulted from the Fall and only occurred gradually over long periods of time. Further, there was no command in Cain's day not to marry a close relative. This command (Lev. 18) came thousands of years later in Moses' day (c. 1500 B.C.). Finally, since the human race began with a single pair (Adam and Eve), Cain had no one else to marry except a close female relative (sister or niece). Additional information about life spans at
(Reference: When Critics Ask by Norman Geisler & Thomas Howe)

Geisler and Howe covered another question that often arises from skeptics:

How could people live over 900 years?

Problem: Adam "lived nine hundred and thirty years" (Gen. 5;5), Methuselah lived "nine hundred and sixty-nine years" (Gen. 5:27), and the average age of those who lived out their normal life span was over 900 years of age. Yet even the Bible recognizes that most people live only 70 or 80 years before natural death occurs (Ps. 90:10).

Solution: First of all, the reference in Psalm 90 is to Moses' time (1400s B.C.) and later, when longevity had decreased to 70 or 80 years for most, though Moses himself lived 120 years (Deut. 34:7).

Some have suggested that these "years" are really only months, which would reduce 900 years to the normal life span of 80 years. However, this is implausible for two reasons. First, there is no precedent in the Hebrew OT for taking the word "year" to mean "month." Second, since Mahalalel had children when he was only 65 (Gen. 5:15), and Cainan had children when he was 70 (Gen. 5:12), this would mean they were less than six years old - which is not biologically possible.

Others suggest that these names represent family lines or clans that went on for generations before they died out. However, this does not make sense for a number of reasons. First, some of these names (e.g., Adam, Seth, Enock, Noah) are definitely individuals whose lives are narrated in the text (Gen. 1-9). Second, family lines do no "beget" family lines by different names. Third, neither do family lines "die," as each of these individuals did (cf. 5:5, 9, 11, etc.). Fourth, the reference to having "sons and daughters" (5:4) does not fit the clan theory.

Consequently, it seems best to take these as years (though they were lunar years of 12 x 30 = 360 days) for several reasons: (1) First of all, life was later shortened to 120 years as a punishment from God (Gen. 6:3). (2) Life span decreased gradually after the flood from the 900s (Gen. 5) to the 600s, to the 400s, to the 200s. (3) Biologically, there is no reason humans could not live hundreds of years. Scientists are more baffled by aging and death than by longevity. (4) The Bible is not alone in speaking of hundreds of years life spans among ancients. There are also records from ancient Greek and Egyptian times that speak of humans living hundreds of years.

This information gives credence to the fact that man was originally created by God to live forever. But when sin entered the world, so did the death penalty. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they didn't immediately die physically. That came much later. However, their spiritual death occurred immediately and was evident by the fact that they no longer "walked with God," but tried to run and hide from Him.

Mankind has been running and hiding ever since! But Jesus' sacrificial death at the cross on our behalf reconciles us back unto God spiritually. We still have the price to pay for sin with physical death, but with repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we will not die the second death of spiritual, eternal separation from God.

While typing this, I am reminded of a blogpost from 2005 that revealed something astonishing. It is more evidence that the Bible truly is divinely inspired and a miraculous Book.

I hope you will take the time to read it. You won't be disappointed with the insight you will gain from it!


Doug said...

Great post and interesting insights.

For me, one need look no further than the Rolling Stones for validation that yes, humans can not only live to be 900, but still play a guitar while singing "Happy."

Christinewjc said...

Ha ha ha! Doug...I just love your wit!

When Mick Jagger raised his arms in the air to clap during the Super Bowl halftime show this past year, my friends and I were gagging at his jelly-underarms-wagging!


Mick...If you're gonna do that at least have the sense to wear long sleeves!