cain-abel“After Cain was set to wander the earth, he spoke about how other people would kill him. God put a mark on Cain to prevent this. So who were the other people on the earth at that time?”

This question came from a few people recently.

If we hear about Adam and Eve along with their sons Cain and Able, who’s Cain afraid of when God curses him? Isn’t it just the 4 of them? Take a look at the story in Genesis 4.

It’s helpful to start with, “Well, are there only 4 of them around?”

There are many times in Scripture where the Biblical authors – through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration – will focus on a particular person or family. We might hear about one portion of a family and then never hear about other portions. That doesn’t mean others don’t exist, but we don’t hear about them. Scripture is the story of God’s love for and interaction with creation. We hear about some people and not about others as the story is relayed down through history.

In the situation of Cain and Able, we hear as Cain kills Able, is cursed and afraid for his life, and then Adam and Eve have another son named Seth. We don’t specifically hear about other sons and daughters, but they aren’t the point of this historical situation. The fact that Cain is afraid of others, leads most scholars and theologians to believe that he’s afraid of his siblings, cousins, nephews, and so on who may take revenge upon him for his actions. Of course, Scripture doesn’t tell us directly, we just have to look at what we know about Scripture and make educated assumptions.

We’re not told how old Cain and Able are, we’re just told that one tends sheep and one is a farmer. We know Cain was married (Gen 4:17), so Adam and Eve must have had other children as they were commanded to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28). Adam lived to be 930 years old (Gen 5:5). That’s a lot of time to have a lot of children with Eve. Commentators talk about the reasons why people are or aren’t mentioned in Scripture, but in this case, most agree that Cain is scared of other members of the family who simply aren’t mentioned. You can read more here as well.

If you just realized, “Wait a minute, you’re saying that brothers and sisters were getting married?” Yes. Incest wasn’t condemned until God talks about it being wrong in the book of Leviticus (Lev. 18). So until then, incest wasn’t wrong, it was just marriage to a close relative. Here’s a deeper look on that topic.

I hope that helps. If you want to talk more about this question or have any other questions just let me know.