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Cain's Lament: Don't Let Them Kill Me


It appears highly unlikely that Adam could have been the first farmer to grow wheat and bake bread. Probably, he learned this skill from his neighbors. It could have been a little easier to put food on the table with two strapping boys to help with the chores. But sometimes things just don't work out.

Genesis 4:2. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. "And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground."

Just as Adam was not the first farmer, in all likelihood, Abel was not the first shepherd. He missed that opportunity by about 3,000 years.

At 8000 BC a few Near Eastern sites like Jericho, Mureybet, Zawi Chemi and Shanidar already appear to have had herds of sheep, goat and gazelle under conditions closely approximating domestication. [i]

For Cain, seeing his brother watching sheep all day must have been galling, especially when he had to plow ground, sow seed, haul water, pick weeds, chase bugs, and reap the fields. And when that younger brother found favor from God with his blood offering, while Cain found no favor as hard as he worked, well, it was more than Cain could bear.

Cain's Lament

Genesis 4:14. Cain slew Abel and lamented before the Lord, "... from Thy face I shall be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me."

Genesis 4:15. God responded to Cain's plea, "Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him."

Who was the "whosoever" to whom the Lord was referring? Cain had just eliminated his only brother. Adam and Eve have had no other children at this point. Cain could not have known whether more children would come from his parents or not. From Cain's point of view, the entire human race would have reached a dead end at that point - unless, of course, there were other human beings about.

Cain's lament proves the point. Cain's words, after the Lord banished him from Eden, were out of fear that someone would kill him. God gave him a sign. Thus we have God's confirmation that Cain's worry was valid.

Cain's fear must have been aroused at the unhappy prospect of approaching a settlement of people, probably hostile, without the Lord's protection. They would have seen Cain was a stranger, and would have tried to kill him. The Lord's action alludes to that. He certainly would not have needed any "mark" to approach his own family. So the mark of Cain must have given him some kind of identity or safe passage.

Cain's concern that a premature demise might come from human hands makes no sense, unless he was aware of other human beings, and feared them. His lament and the Lord's response indicate the co-existence of other human populations living in the same vicinity. Shields comments:

Adam, at the time Cain slew Abel, had only these two children; consequently, Abel being slain, Adam and Cain were the only two men in the world, if Adam was the first and only creation of human beings. If such were the case the fear of Cain "that every one that findeth me shall slay me," must have been wholly groundless: and the reply of the Lord, that "whosoever slayeth Cain vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold," was at least unnecessary. Nor could there be any necessity for putting a mark upon him, "lest any finding him should kill him." For if there were no human beings then in the world but Adam, Eve, and Cain, would he not be sufficiently known to them without a mark? And would he not have been sufficiently protected from them, and their future descendants, by being driven out a "fugitive and a vagabond?" [ii]

Genesis 4:16: "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden."

Throughout the Bible the "land of Canaan" or the "land of Egypt" refers to an area populated by those particular peoples. Why have Bible interpreters not considered that the "land of Nod" might well have been populated by Nodites, who were minding their own business before Cain arrived?

In Hebrew, nod means "wandering." This would be an apt designation for a band of nomads who might have been in the area at the time, nod being simply a form of the word "nomad." A suitable translation would have been: ... and Cain dwelt in the land of nomads. Suitable, that is, had Bible translators considered Cain's populated surroundings.

A Wife for Cain

When Cain left the presence of the Lord and journeyed to the land of Nod - note carefully - two things happened: (1) Cain left the Lord's presence, and (2) Cain departed Eden. Next, Cain took a wife, but from where?

Some insist Cain took a sister for his wife. A niece or grandniece would suffice, but she had to come from the covenant family to fit the presupposition that the entire human race emanated from Adam. The notion that Cain married a sibling brings a host of problems.

Did Adam and Eve have any other children at that point? Would Adam have given his daughter's hand in marriage to a man who had just slain his own brother, Adam's own son? Is it possible that Cain was married at the time he slew his brother, and departed with wife in tow? If not, could he have returned at a later time and claimed a bride from Adam's household?

These are questions that have answers, maybe not ironclad, but certainly compelling answers. If we put successive passages together, and delete some intermediate passages, it will give us a better picture.

Genesis 4:1,2,8,16,17,25,26; 5:3,4: "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel.

And 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 slew him. Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he (Cain) builded a city ...

And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth; for God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son ...: and called his name Seth. And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters."

Let us compress the data further, and list the recorded events in order of presentation:

1. Eve gave birth to Cain (Gen. 4:1).

2. Eve gave birth to Cain's brother, Abel (Gen. 4:2).

3. Cain killed Abel (Gen. 4:8).

4. Cain left Eden and settled in Nod (Gen. 4:16).

5. Cain's wife gave birth to Enoch (Gen. 4:17).

6. Cain built a city (Gen. 4:17).

7. Eve gave birth to Seth (Gen. 4:25).

8. Adam (and Eve) had other sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4).

Based upon this information, and holding assumptions to a minimum, what conclusions can we make that are within reason?

Cain was the firstborn of Adam and Eve. Again, a second time, Eve bears a child naming him Abel. Please note, Eve gave birth to "his brother." That phraseology tends to disallow intermediate siblings. Had daughters been born prior to Abel, then Abel would have been Abigail's brother or Edith's brother, too. In other words, the text is precisely correct if there were no other children besides the two. So, Cain was the first born, Abel, his brother, was second, and there were no other Adamite children at this point.

Some say that since the Hebrews were a patriarchal society, women were not mentioned or recorded in many instances even though roughly equal numbers of boys and girls must have been born. The argument for Cain taking a sister is based upon the assertion that Eve gave birth to daughters too, but they went unrecorded.

Let us look at that argument. Eve is most assuredly mentioned and in great detail - no patriarchal bias here. Indeed, Genesis records more quotes from her than from Adam. Following the covenant couple, we then encounter Cain and Abel in order of appearance, and then Cain's wife. She is the fifth person recorded in biblical history, yet unnamed.

Cain's line from Enoch through Lamech was set down without including females, which was the custom in recording Hebrew lineages; however, the Pentateuch might have established the custom. But, some women are named in the biblical text. Lamech took two wives, "Adah" and "Zillah" (Gen. 4:19). Zillah bore Tubal-cain and his sister, "Naamah" (Gen. 4:22).

There could be an appropriate reason why Cain's wife was not named in Genesis. She was not related to the covenant family; she had no pedigree. No sisters, wives, or women of any kind, other than Eve, are mentioned prior to Cain's departure from Eden, and taking a wife. For a sister to be available to Cain prior to his leaving Eden, we would need a Scriptural amendment.

Genesis does not record that Cain left Eden with a wife. Had that been the case, as when Lot fled the condemned city of Sodom with his wife and daughters, it surely would have warranted inclusion. If we have to make assumptions to arrive at a satisfactory answer, then let us assume the Bible is correct in its recorded facts, that what was set down is not in error, and is in the proper order. If we need additions for satisfactory answers, it would be difficult to know how much to add or where to put it.

It appears the writer of Genesis knew exactly what he (and He) was doing. We are given all the necessary and relevant facts in the correct sequence, and in sufficient, though not abundant, detail. It is entirely needless to attempt to align Scripture with human rationality by postulating an unrecorded sister as a wife for Cain.

There are sound reasons why we may conclude Cain was not married at the time he was banished, and did not take a sister or any of Adam's generations with him. First and foremost, no mention is given that Adam had any daughters until after Cain committed murder and departed Eden, andafter Adam had a third son named Seth. The sheer unavailability of female relatives at that time would preclude Cain taking one for a wife.

Even though Scripture makes no mention of it, what if a sister had been available? Cain could have taken her with him to the land of Nod, could he not? No, not if Scripture is consistent. Had Cain been married at the time of his banishment, his lament before God would have made no sense. Had Cain taken a sister/wife with him out of Eden to the land of Nod, he might have registered a little concern for her welfare as well as his own.

Did Cain cry out, "Oh no, my wife and I will be killed," or, "Lord, my wife will become the world's first widow?" Why not? Because Cain was not married at the time. His concern was for himself. And if Cain's words were not enough, we have the Lord's confirming words also. Let us look back for a moment.

In Genesis 2:17, God commands Adam, "... but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it."

This command was given to the man before the creation of his woman. Eve is brought into the world and presented to Adam, at which point they become married - one flesh.

The serpent tempts Eve, Eve persuades Adam, and Adam sins. In Genesis 3:14-19, the judgment is to both. It is Adam's commandment to keep, it is Adam who sins, but he and his wife, Eve, suffer the Lord's wrath. Inasmuch as they are one flesh in the sight of the Lord, God cannot punish one without punishing the other.

In Cain's situation, notice the absence of any partner with whom he could share the Lord's anger. Cain alone was judged. Had he been married, his wife also should have shared the Lord's judgment, and would have suffered a mutual pronouncement. The sin was Cain's alone, the punishment was for him alone, he raised his voice of concern for himself alone, the "mark" was for him alone, and he left Eden unmarried and alone.

A brief summary to this point: Eve gave birth to their first child, Cain. She gave birth again to a second child, Abel. Cain eliminated Abel and left Eden. Adam and his wife had another son. Seth was the "seed" God appointed instead of Abel, now deceased, or Cain, now banished.

Seth was the replacement child who came along after Cain committed murder and was banished to Nod. Had there been other children born prior to Seth, some other manner of recording his birth would have been appropriate. Also, the significance of Seth's birth would be diminished had there been other children. In a later passage, Adam had other sons and daughters, but it seems unlikely that any children, besides Cain and Abel, were born to the covenant couple prior to Seth. If Cain did not take a sister with him as he departed, his wife had to come from some other source.

One remaining possibility is that Cain departed Eden, but returned at some later date to claim his bride; however, the text precludes that too. If Cain had married one of his own relatives after being banished, it would have demanded a journey back to Eden. He would have to take a wife, and depart again. More importantly, this would have required re-entering the "Lord's presence." This could only have been done through some act of contrition or repentance. Yet no repentance of any kind is registered from Cain or any of his descendants.

The sister/wife argument also overlooks a scriptural limitation - God forbids it in no uncertain terms. (See Lev. 18:6,9-14.) Such an incestuous union is an abomination that defiles not only the participants, but the very land (Lev. 18:24-30). Not just Cain, but Seth and at least some of Adam's married sons would have been guilty of trespassing God's law had the world been unpopulated except for Adam's clan. Even though Abraham was married to a sister, it was not by sheer necessity, and Sarah was a half-sister only.

Since we have examined the reasons why Cain must have traveled to Nod unencumbered with a spouse, we could ask who this woman was. We may never know the answer to that question completely, but we can determine who she was not. She was surely not his sister, niece, grandniece, etc.

Although Adam lived in disciplinary punishment, his generations still enjoyed the Lord's "presence." Eve makes that clear in Genesis 4:25, "For God hath appointed me another seed," named Seth. Seth fathers Enosh. "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26).

Adam and his immediate family remained in the Lord's presence and protection, though Cain clearly left it, necessitating his "mark." Cain could not have come back for a wife. So from where did Cain's wife originate?

If Cain's wife did not come from Adam's line, then she either resided in a nearby settlement of people, Ubaidans probably, or she was a member of a band of nomads, whom Cain originally had feared, and for whom Cain was given his mark. The mark certainly had an effect; they not only spared Cain's life, they allowed him to marry one of their own.

Enoch City

Genesis 4:17: "And Cain knew his wife and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch."

Perhaps partly because Cain was long lived, he was recognized as a special or unique person as evidenced by his overseeing the building of a city. A city would have been quite inappropriate for only three people, but a city might have been necessary to accommodate a growing community that included his wife's relatives.

Naming the city "Enoch" may seem like an unnecessary addendum, a bit of Bible trivia, but it is not without significance. According to the Sumerians, kingship resumed at Kish after the flood. Twenty-three kings ruled there until, "Kish was smitten with weapons; its kingship to E-Anna(k) was carried." [iii] In The Makers of Civilization, Waddell translated E-Anna(k) directly as "Enoch," reckoning it as the Sumerian equivalent for Enoch, the city built by Cain. [iv]

Although the flood erased early inhabitants, at least some of the pre-flood cities were rebuilt. It was at Enoch that Mes-kiag-gasher became high priest and king and reigned 324 years. [v] His son, Enmerkar, built or continued building Uruk located virtually across the street. Uruk is the biblical Erech, part of Nimrod's kingdom (Gen. 10:10). Enoch or "E-Anna(k)" (translated "the House of Heaven") is the oldest preserved temple near Uruk, and was supposedly the dwelling place of the goddess Inanna, the Accadian "Ishtar." [vi]

E-Anna(k), now called "Eanna" by archaeologists, has been excavated. A deep sounding was made in the Eanna precinct at Warka in 1931-32. The pottery was identified as Ubaid from level 18 up to level 14. It transitioned to the Uruk period by level 10. From Woolley's analysis, the pottery from the earliest period he found at Ur, that he called "Al 'Ubaid I," was unrepresented at Warka [vii], demonstrating that both Ur and Eridu were established before E-Anna(k). And, of course, Adam's Eden would have been older than Enoch, the city Cain built.

The important point is that some of the details omitted from the biblical text are filled in by the Sumerian text, confirming not only the existence of the cities of Enoch and Erech, but also pinning down the time and the location.

Pre-Flood Cities Are Post-Flood Cities

It is especially noteworthy when we find a city such as Enoch that the Bible ties to the pre-flood period that the Sumerians identified as existing after the flood. For one thing, it indicates the limited scope and breadth of the flood itself. Conversely, Erech, mentioned by the Bible in the post-flood period, has been excavated to reveal a culture dating to 4200 BC, over a thousand years before the flood. Likewise, Ur, the home of Abraham's youth, had pre-flood beginnings, and was contemporary with Eridu. Furthermore, Asshur built Nineveh after the flood (Gen. 10:11) on an existing city more ancient than Ur or Eridu, which dates to the pre-flood era, and had been called "Ninua" before the Semites arrived. [viii]

This illustrates that at least four biblical cities dating to the pre-flood era were resettled by Sumerians and Semites after the flood. Thus we have further confirmation that the entirety of Genesis 2-11 is confined to the Mesopotamian environs, both the pre-flood and the post-flood periods; and that none of the human history contained in the Bible predates 5000 BC.

Sumerian king lists also recorded the longevity of their sovereigns. In the pre-flood period, they reigned for legendary thousands of years. After the flood, kings reigned for hundreds of years tapering off to mere mortal proportions in later periods. [ix] The trend jibes with Genesis.

Althoughthe tablets are recorded in Sumerian, some of these kings bear Semitic (Adamic) names. Cain is the only explicit pre-flood example given by the Bible, but he fits the motif of long-lived, non-Sumerian rulers who reigned over Ubaidan and Sumerian subjects. Nimrod and Asshur are biblical post-flood examples.

Adam in Time and Space

Genesis 4:21-22. Lamech, a descendant of Cain, had three sons by his two wives. Jabal "was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle." A second son Jubal, "was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ."

In just eight generations counting Adam, there are tents, livestock, and musical instruments; not caves, wooly mammoths, and hand axes. For many reasons, we can conclude that Adam was not contemporary with the "Flintstones." A wealth of Stone Age artifacts have been uncovered giving silent testimony to a culture long disappeared at this point. So where does Adam fit in the history of man? The next verse tells us.

Genesis 4:22. One of Cain's descendants, Tubal-cain, was "an instructor of every worker in brass and iron."

There is the proverbial smoking gun! Adam belongs after the old Stone Ages, at the end of the Neolithic, at the threshold of a period called the Chalcolithic when traditional stone tools were augmented by crude copper implements. Adam's descendants saw the dawning of the Bronze Age.

In the initial period of the Middle Eastern civilizations, from about 3000 BC, there was a truly remarkable development of metallurgy. This is seen in the beginning of the Bronze Age, when alloys of arsenic and copper, or tin and copper (in both cases known as bronze), came into being ... [x]

In terms of place, Southern Mesopotamia is mandated by the Bible. Adam and his generations were surrounded by at first Ubaidan, and then Sumerian culture:

The fourth millennium in Sumer is one of the most remarkable passages in human history. Already at its beginning old settlements such as Eridu, Uruk, Ur, Lagash and Nippur had become substantial towns and from 3500 BC they waxed into cities. The citizens now included large numbers of specialist artisans - potters, carpenters, makers of mudbrick, coppersmiths - and fine sculptors too. [xi]

Sons of God

Genesis 6:1-2: "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."

The "sons of God," who are they? Some contend these are angels, perhaps fallen angels. But is that the case here? The Hebrew phrase in this passage, and elsewhere in the Old Testament, can refer to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Psa. 29:1; 89:6). But the same term also describes humans who lived their lives in service to God (Deut. 14:1; 32:5; Psa. 73:15; Hosea 1:10). [xii] How should it be interpreted here?

For a start, what are angels supposed to do regarding us humans? In Hebrews 1:14, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" If that is their proper role, wouldn't it be out of character for them to be involved in these trysts? Also, even if they had the desire to sire human offspring would they be capable of that? Angels, while appearing as men at certain times, do not possess physical bodies as we do, and should not be able to father human children. [xiii]

Furthermore, angels do not marry. "The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither can they die anymore, for they are equal unto the angels and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection" (Luke 20:34-36). And in Mark 12:25, "For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels which are in heaven."

Two relevant bits of information exude from these passages. Angels do not die or marry. Sons of God, who marry, should be humans. Throughout the New Testament, the term "sons of God" or "children of God" is applied exclusively to humans (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 8:14,19; Rom. 9:26; II Cor. 6:18; Gal. 3:26). Nowhere in the New Testament do these terms apply to angels. [xiv]

Could they have been fallen angels? Would it have been possible that disenfranchised angels took possession of the bodies of humans in order to engage in marriage and procreation? Not likely; fallen angels or demons are not called "sons of God" anywhere in Scripture. They have forfeited that right.

Furthermore, if these had been fallen angels dabbling with the human race, then the flood would have brought only temporary relief. Demons would not drown. Any marriage-minded demons could have just waited and preyed upon the next batch of humans. Besides, the notion of demons desiring to enter into holy matrimony is a bit curious.

If the term "sons of God" refers to humans, then who could they have been? Perhaps those "who called upon the name of the Lord," the generations of Seth. [xv] Then who were the "daughters of men”? The daughters of men could have been descendants from the now mixed generations of Cain, or perhaps they came from the indigenous populations that co-existed with the Adamites in the same region.

Some have contended that what has been translated "sons of God" (bene elohim), refers instead to sons, or servants, of pagan gods. [xvi] Indeed, a clear example of this can be found in Exodus 18:11 which states, "the Lord is greater than all gods (elohim) ..." Daughters of ha'adam or "the Adam," then, would be Adamite women. Using this line of logic, Genesis 6:1-2 would be translated: "And it came to pass, when the Adamites began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons [or servants] of the gods saw the daughters of the Adamites that they were fair ..."

What comes through in either translation is that there were two distinct populations, some were in the covenant line from Adam, others were not, and they were intermarrying. Lane concludes:

... the most obvious meaning, beyond dispute, is, that the men and women here mentioned were of different races, and hence that the former saw in the latter a beauty surpassing that of their own women. [xvii]

What was the consequence of such mixed marriages? Reduced life spans.

The Years Grow Short

Genesis 6:3: "And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."

If angels or demons, who are presumed to be immortal, had been the bridegrooms, the effect should have been a prolonging not a shortening of life spans. But if these were human bonds of matrimony, then the outcome, a reduction in life spans, is what we would expect. Marriages between the long-lived descendants of Adam and the short-lived daughters from the local population, perhaps mixed with the line of Cain, produced offspring with intermediate life spans, limited eventually to no more than 120 years.

From Adam through Noah, all lived over 900 years with just two exceptions. Enoch walked with the Lord after 365 years, and Noah's father, Lamech, succumbed at 777. An early demise kept Lamech from being caught up in the deluge. Noah passed on at age 950, twenty years older than Adam when he died. Original Sin may have brought some form of death, but through ten generations, life spans were unaffected.

Noah's son, Shem, died at 600 years of age. The first downward shift in longevity came after ten consecutive generations of long life. This is an indication that Noah's wife was the probable cause, and that she had Cainite ancestry or a direct bloodline tie to the indigenous population. Although Noah was "perfect in his generations" (Gen. 6:9), no claim is made about his wife. When Noah's perfect line, through Adam and Seth, was mixed with his wife's imperfect line, their offspring had shorter life spans; and Shem, who only lived to 600, was the first to suffer a speedy demise.

Look at the succeeding generations of Shem. Arpachshad, Shelah, and Eper failed to make it to 500. The next five generations did not see a 250th birthday. Abraham and Isaac passed away at 175 and 180, respectively. Jacob died before reaching 150, and so it went. Intermarriages between the long-lived Semites and their short-lived neighbors produced children who died off at increasingly younger ages. Gradually, the results of mixing took its toll.

In light of all we now know, Genesis 6:1-3 describes intermarriages between the Adamite populations and the Ubaidans or Sumerians. From the Lagash Kinglist, Jacobsen noted that the post-flood kings of Lagash (Semites probably) not only lived extraordinarily long, they also lived extraordinarily "slowly."

In those days a child spent a hundred years

In diapers (lit. "in of the wash")

After he had grown up he spent a hundred years

Without being given any task (to perform)

He was small, he was dull witted

His mother watched over him. [xviii]

In contrast to the long-lived post-flood kings, skeletal remains at the pre-Adamic city of Catal Huyuk yielded an average age at death of about 34 years old. [xix] Has archeological discovery confirmed the mixing of covenant generations with non-covenant generations?

Another break in cultural tradition and an acceleration in civic advance began around 4000 BC. Some historians believe that these changes were due to the arrival of the Sumerians on the plain, perhaps again coming from the north. Others do not accept a distinct immigrant group but see the Sumerians as an amalgam of all the prehistoric peoples of the region. The language, however, when it came to be recorded, does suggest a Sumerian tongue overlaying a more primitive one that might well have been that of the Ubaidans. It also contains some Semitic elements and it is likely that Semites were already drifting into the valley from the north. [xx]

Technically, "Semites" refers to the descendants of Shem because universally historians do not recognize Adam or Noah. Is it possible, though, that the Sumerian language contained not "Semitic elements," but Adamic or pre-flood Accadian language elements? If so, then the presence of loan words in the Sumerian language supports Genesis 6:1-3. Adamites were mixing with Non-Adamites.

We do know that after the flood, Semites spread out and encountered peculiar populations in their path (Gen. 15:20, Deut. 2:10,11, and Josh. 13:12, for example), but 4000 BC is pre-flood history.

Noah's Wife the Key to the Origins Question

There is a key to how all of us human beings could be related to a primordial ancestor (or a small group of ancestors) who lived 100,000 years or more, and yet Adam, father to the Semites among others, was specially created according to the Bible. The key lies with Noah - or rather Noah's wife.

Noah was five hundred years old when he begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 5:32). We have no way of knowing how old Noah's wife would have been, but she could have been in her teens at the birth of Shem. The flood took place in Noah's 600th year, giving him three grown sons to help build the ark.

Noah's wife was still alive after the flood (Gen. 8:16,18), although there were no more children. If short-lived, she would have been past her childbearing years when the flood ended. This is the last passage about her. We do not know when she died, but Noah's drunkenness and lying naked in his tent (Gen. 9:21) might have resulted partly from his despondence after her death.

It is possible that Noah's wife might have died before reaching her 120th birthday due to mixed parentage, or Non-Adamite parents, although she could have lived a little longer. Cain, who may have been a distant ancestor, might have lived into his 900's. But as Cain's sons (and daughters) took short-lived wives (and husbands) with ancient ancestry, succeeding generations died off at younger ages. A kind of dilution effect occurred. Or Noah's wife may have had no Cainite ancestry, in which case long life would have been unlikely.

Notice that there are significant differences between Noah's family life and that of the preceding patriarchs. Starting with Adam, every one of the first nine patriarchs was less than 200 years old when he became a father, [xxi] whereas Noah did not have children until he was 500 years old! This is too great a difference to be without significance.

Then also, all of Noah's predecessors had sons and daughters. Noah had no other children after the three boys, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Even the patriarchs for seven generations after Noah, "begat sons and daughters" (Gen. 11:11-25). The indication is that Noah's wife was past her childbearing years after the flood causing Noah to be unique in parenthood compared to both his forefathers and descendants. The most obvious reason would be that Noah's wife was unique, she was short-lived, and from outside the covenant line.

History Lessons for Shem

There is another reason why Noah's wife may have come from a mixed line including Cain. Had Cain been banished from Eden and disappeared altogether, then Chapter 4 of Genesis could not have been written without supernatural dictation. Who held the knowledge of the history of Cain's offspring recorded in Genesis 4:17-24? Noah's wife, a possible descendant, is a likely contributor for the narrative of Cain and his generations. An alternate candidate would be Shem's wife.

Shem is the probable source of the knowledge of pre-flood events passed down through the Semites. Shem learned the chronology back to Seth and Adam (in Genesis 5) from his father, Noah, or his grandfather, Lamech, or his great grandfather, Methuselah. Observe that the names and ages are given in a matter-of-fact manner and are bereft of any detail. Take Genesis 5:6-12 as an example. Note that the pattern is repeated in each succeeding generation. No details are provided with the exception of Enoch, and the narrative includes no dialogue.

In Genesis 5:6-9, "And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enosh: And Seth lived after he begat Enosh eight hundred and seven years and begat sons and daughters; and all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. And Enosh lived ninety years ...," and so on.

Contrast this repetitive, even tedious, litany of Seth's generations with the richly detailed account of Cain's generations found in Genesis 4.

"And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brothers keeper? And He said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground" (Gen. 4:9-10).

"And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold" (Gen. 4:23-24).

The most probable reason the accounts of the generations of Seth and the generations of Cain vary in both format and content, would be simply because they came from two different sources. It is likely the account in Genesis 5 came from Shem's father, grandfather, or great grandfather from the line of Seth. The history of Cain probably came from Shem's mother (unnamed), who could have been a Cainite. Again, Shem's wife is an alternative source. Lest there continue to be skeptics, ponder the words of Moses in this next verse.

Giants in the Earth

Genesis 6:4: "There were giants [Nephilim in the Hebrew] in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."

The term Nephilim means little more to us today than does "the land of Nod" or "gopher wood." These are words of antiquity and will always remain obscure. And yet, the text tells us of some kind of men who were different, were of ancient origin, and were well known at the time. It is true the biblical narrative is brief in the extreme on the subject of these "children" and the Nephilim, but whoever the Nephilim were, "fallen ones," "apostates," perhaps, they do not appear to be from Adam's race. [xxii]

So why isn't this all spelled out in the Bible? Van Amringe confronted this problem of apparent omission:

If the creation of Adam and Eve was a remedial measure, by the All-wise Creator, to remedy the vices of the people then in being;--and Adam and Eve were made in the image and likeness of God, for this purpose; and the more important purpose of furnishing a proper line of beings, through whom God himself was, at a future time, to be born upon the earth, as the greatest of all remedial measures,--we can see that it was not important to disclose to Moses any more of the creation of that period than what immediately related to Adam, as the progenitor of the Savior. [xxiii]

Some have interpreted Genesis 6:4 to mean that "gods" or angelic beings, derived from Genesis 6:1-3, married human beings that gave birth to a race of giants. [xxiv] The text simply does not allow that, especially in light of New Testament clarifications. Genesis 6:4 implies that the Nephilim were already on the earth when the fore-mentioned marriages took place, and they "were of old," indicating their ancestors pre-existed this period of time. If we interpret these passages literally, then the existence of Pre-Adamites living in close proximity is not merely a possibility, but an inescapable conclusion.

Adam was specially created, responsible to God, and yet biologically compatible with other humans who were already living in the region at the time of Adam's introduction. Adam could not possibly have started all the Near East peoples, let alone the human race, due to his late entry, but rather he was placed in a locale which was already populated by that time.

Cain entered the world of flesh and took a wife. Sons from Seth's line, including perhaps, male descendants from other sons and daughters of Adam, took wives from one or more of the local farming communities and possibly from the mixed line from Cain. Conversely perhaps, Adamite women were chosen for wives by Non-Adamite men, or maybe, some from column A and some from column B. This caused subsequent generations to be mixed, being both of "spirit" and of "flesh." Van Amringe summed it up:

Thus, then, the fear of Cain, "that every one that findeth me shall slay me;"--his marriage in the land of Nod, before Adam and Eve had daughters;--the men, and giants, of those days, as distinguished from the "Sons of God," and the wickedness which prevailed among them,--all appear to point to a race of human beings, prior to the creation of Adam and Eve. [xxv]

Judgment of the Flood

Genesis 6:12-13: "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth."

The word translated "them" is ha'adam, literally "the Adam," or "the Adamites." Those from Adam were the target of the flood which terminated a multitude of men and all of Adam's descendants, except for Noah and his family. The judgment of the flood was brought down upon the Adamites, those who were accountable and capable of sin. Other unfortunates in the vicinity also were swept away.

Although Noah was a direct descendant of Adam, and "perfect in his generations" (Gen. 6:9), we are not told from where his wife or his son's wives originated. Someone had to be the source of the narrative of Cain and his line. The most probable source is Noah's wife, or maybe, the wife of Shem. Noah's wife, and the wives of his sons, must have had mixed Cainite ancestry, or simply came from the local populace.

Possible Adamic ancestry accrues to only a small percentage of people scattered around the globe today. Traces of Adam's genes might be found in present-day Arabs, Jews, and their offshoots, and should have been present in early populations such as Amorites, Hittites, Canaanites, and others. But even among modern peoples who might have Adamic blood ties, there is still no escaping ancient history, and with it, ancient ancestry.

Some may claim Adam as a forefather, others may doubt it, and most just don't know. But, because of the intermarriages, even those who feel they can boast of biblical ancestors can presume they have roots that reach back 100,000 years, even 4 million years, and perhaps, beyond.


[i]. Jacquetta Hawkes, The Atlas of Early Man (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976), 46.

[ii]. W. F. Van Amringe, An Outline of a New History of Man (New York: Baker & Scribner, 1848), p. 53.

[iii]. Thorkild Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1939), 85.

[iv]. L. A. Waddell, The Makers of Civilization (New Delhi: S. Chand, 1968), 62.

[v]. Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List, 85.

[vi]. Samuel Noah Kramer, From the Poetry of Sumer (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 174.

[vii]. Lloyd, "Ur-Al `Ubaid, Uquair and Eridu," Iraq, n.s., 22 (1960), 24.

[viii]. I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd and N. G. L. Hammond, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History Vol. I, Part 2, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), 730.

[ix]. Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List, 77-91.

[x]. John Gowlett, Ascent to Civilization (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1984), 180.

[xi]. Hawkes, The Atlas Of Early Man, 64.

[xii]. Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), 79.

[xiii]. Ibid., 79.

[xiv]. Ibid., 80.

[xv]. Ibid., 80.

[xvi]. Edward William Lane, Reginald Stuart Poole, ed., The Genesis of the Earth and of Man (London: Williams and Norgate, 1860), 75.

[xvii]. Ibid., 77.

[xviii]. Thorkild Jacobsen, "The Eridu Genesis," Journal of Biblical Literature 100/4 (1981) 520-521.

[xix]. Dora Jane Hamblin, The First Cities (New York: St Martins Press, 1973), 58.

[xx]. Hawkes, The Atlas of Early Man, 63-64.

[xxi]. Two patriarchs exceed 200 years in the Septuagint. Adam was 230 years old at the birth of Shem who in turn was 205 years old at the birth of his son, Enosh.

[xxii]. Lane, The Genesis of the Earth and of Man, 80-81.

[xxiii]. W. F. Van Amringe, An Outline of a New Natural History of Man (New York: Baker & Scribner, 1848), 61.

[xxiv]. Ronald S. Hendel, Chapter 13 "When the Sons of God Cavorted with the Daughters of Men," Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed., Hershel Shanks (New York: Random House, 1992), 167-177.

[xxv]. Van Amringe, An Outline of a New Natural History of Man, 57-58.