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Whom did Cain and Abel marry?

Whom did Cain and Abel marry?

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Question:

How did Cain and Abel have children? Did they marry their sisters?

Answer:

Indeed, Cain and Abel1 had to marry their sisters, considering that there were no other women around. King David writes,2 "The world was built with kindness." Our sages explain that this verse is referring to G‑d's kindness in allowing Adam and Eve's children to marry their own sisters in order to populate the species.3

The Midrash tells us that Cain was born with a twin sister and Abel was born with two sisters.4 They each married the sister who was born with them. According to one opinion, it was actually a quarrel over who would get to marry the third sister that led to Cain slaying Abel.5

The third generations of humans had no need for this loophole, because marriage between first cousins is not considered incest according to Torah law.

So why are these daughters not mentioned in the Torah? They are. Later in Genesis6 we are told, "And the days of Adam after he fathered Seth were eight hundred years, and he fathered sons and daughters"—though we are not informed of their identities. The Torah only records the names of those who were leaders of note, those who played a role in the biblical narrative, or the men who formed the chain of lineage connecting Adam to Noah (and later Noah to Abraham).

FOOTNOTES
1.

Adam's third son, Seth, possibly married one of his nieces (uncle-niece marriage is not forbidden according to Torah law.

2.

Psalms 89:3.

3.

Cited in Rashi's commentary on Leviticus 20:17. There Rashi explains that this is the reason why the Torah employs the unusual term "chesed," which is usually translated as kindness, to describe the prohibition against brother-sister incest.

4.

Genesis Rabbah 22:2.

5.

Ibid. 7. Cain claimed the right to this sister because he was the firstborn. Abel maintained that he should marry her because she was his triplet.

6.

5:4.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Discussion (15)
October 5, 2012
names of the daughters of Adam
by the way did they have names the wives of Abel and Cain?
flori
Kosovo
June 10, 2012
Illiahu
The use of the term "Jewish" in re: to the progeny of A&E is wildly anachronistic! Not even are all Israelites Jewish; let alone all the descendants of Abraham; let alone all the descendants of Noah...
Brian S.
Simsbury , CT
June 8, 2012
Why?
So if they married not Jewish woman, doesn't that make their kids not Jewish???
Illiahu
Boston, MS
December 14, 2010
Who did Cain and Abel marry?
The motivation behind this is to try to discredit the Bible by proving incest. So what?! Royal incest is hardly anything new. The Ptolemies of Egypt did it for 10 generations resulting in Cleopatra - a woman whose beauty was legendary & IQ is estimated to be at least 130. Genetic diseases DO become more likely with inbreeding, but then there has to be a genetic deficiency in the first place. Such deficiencies did not exist in the early generations of the Adamites. Not until Moses' time (c 1450 BC) was it necessary to declare laws determining consanguine marriage.
Whether or not Cain married a distant cousin or great-grand niece or something is moot: the point is, the 2nd generation after A&E DID commit incest through necessity.
Lastly, let's not forget, the Bible often concerns itself only with ROYAL lineages. A&E were ROYALTY. Servants are not mentioned. (Anyone want to name Abraham's 500+ servants?) A&E's children could well have married lesser pedigrees. Same for, Noah's.
Observer
Mildura, Australia
May 8, 2010
Could it be...
Abel himself also after marrying his sister fathered children? Perhaps daughters which is why they are never recorded in the bible?
Anonymous
Melbourne, Australia
January 27, 2010
Grandchildren of Adam and Eve
The word Adam in Hebrew means man a man or red or earth or has many other translations. Hebrew is a very rich poetic language. Later, the Hebrew word Ish also means man or a man. Adam was the first man G-d created. There is room to interpret that more men and women were created with DNA programming which the Almighty used for what we now call genetics. So Cain and Seth could have had children with women who were not their sisters.
Dee Lee
Paris
January 24, 2010
genetics
According to my knowledge of genetics, the whole human race couldn't have been formed by the union of brothers and sisters. It doesn't work well in the animal kingdom, let alone in the human one! My cousin ha purchased 3 siamese cats from a breeder but he didn't send their papers until it was too late and she found out that the male was the brother of the two sisters and the offspring had bowed legs and cross eyes.

The world has been populated by very diverse races and can hardly have been accomplished by one man and one woman no matter what their color was!
Anonymous
Raanana, Israel
January 22, 2010
to Joseph in Niceville
No it doesn't say that they were the only ones created. In fact it says that humanity (male and female) were created before one individual named Adam was taken to the Garden prepared for him in Eden. As we know, Eve was created from Adam in Eden. Outside of Eden human beings existed probably for many years and probably there were very many. The Bible is the Genealogy of Israel. So, it is only upon them that it focuses.
Brian
Simsbury, CT
January 18, 2010
Cain and Abel
I don't know if I'm wrong on this but a thought occured to me when I read this. Genesis says that Adam and Eve were the first created. It doesn't say they were the only humans G-d created. Could it be that He created a small population with Adam and Eve being the first?
Joseph
Niceville, FL
December 24, 2009
Wives for Cain and Abel
Thank you for your reply to my quiery. I am very dubious about much of the Bible but like to read or hear your explanations. I shall send more questions in due course.

My best wishes
Peter Hesketh
Clitheroe, England
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