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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.


Psalms 89:3.


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.


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 (20)
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.
October 14, 2014
There are two Creation narratives set out in the Torah. The first one is consistent with Divinely guided evolution. It was here that these two brothers would find wives.
Bay Area
September 11, 2014
isnt marrying your own kin causes genetical issues?
or were men once immune to all genetical diseases?
July 15, 2014
Cain and Abel's spouses
But they were not bound by Torah law since the Torah had not yet been given AND they were not Jewish, right?
July 12, 2014
woh, thats crazy. so our emenies are really are brothers or sisters ?
October 5, 2012
names of the daughters of Adam
by the way did they have names the wives of Abel and Cain?
June 10, 2012
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
So if they married not Jewish woman, doesn't that make their kids not Jewish???
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.
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?
Melbourne, Australia
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