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Whom did Cain and Abel marry?

Whom did Cain and Abel marry?



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


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).


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


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.


Genesis Rabbah 22:2.


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.



Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
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Discussion (29)
January 21, 2017
"The third generation didn't need this loophole" is contrary to the Torah. Sarah was Abraham's half-sister, twenty generations removed from this necessity, yet God required that the child of promise would come from their union. Clearly, the prohibition on marrying one's sister or half-sister or the daughter of one's brother or sister did not apply until it was given to Moses.
myth buster
August 10, 2016
I thought that it was because they were to marry the sister born with the other (decided by Adam) and Cain wanted the sister he was born with (denied by God). After the murder, it's unclear which sister he actually took with him, though.
May 25, 2016
More people than just the Adam family?
I have heard from Jewish sources that after Adam and Eve's creation, either before or after the banishment from Eden, G-d made more people. Is this believed in the Jewish community?
March 30, 2016
cain and able
The creation account is really about the creation of a whole human community. Incest is a sin
October 15, 2015

It seems to me that you know more about this subject than I do, however I await a reply from Rabbi Menachem Posner but I welcome more insight that you have.

October 14, 2015
Cain and Abel marrying their sisters
But there was no need for a loophole, since the Torah had not yet been given, so there was no incest prohibition.
October 13, 2015
Cain and Abel
Dear Rabbi Menachem Posner

You may take your time in replying because my subject may be difficult. However your article has been gladly received into my home and has made it easier to ask some questions.

In one of my readings from a Targum, Cain married Abel's sister and Abel married Cain's. This was ordained by Adam. If so, then each couple had time enough to engender substantial family over the time between Cain and Abel were born and the birth of Seth which was about 120 years later, as I have read. Surely Cain and Abel would have not refrained from fathering a family for 120 years. (Some of this comes from a commentator named Adam Clarke from Scotland. His commentary to the Old Testament, about 1812, is very detailed yet his commentary to the New Testament is far less detailed which makes me wonder if he was actually Christian and if the Christian commentary was actually written by him.) I see that I have come to the limit of my space here.

June 12, 2015
So where do black people come from?
March 20, 2015
So we are all incest children?
Was Cain asian or black?
October 20, 2014
Mrs. Cain
The age old question of "from whom did Cain beget his descendents" is again raised this week. And again, no answer.