Dealing with the Difficult

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Dealing with the Difficult is Dr. Maslin’s second book, published in 2014.  This book illuminates some difficult passages in the Bible through exegesis and contextual studies.  To see the Table of Contents and passages covered, as well as ordering information from your favorite bookseller, click a link below:

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Below is a sample chapter from Dealing with the Difficult:

Chapter 5

CAIN’S WIFE

Someone wisely remarked that “it is a bad idea to be too much interested in another man’s wife.” Yet, here is a wife that is not named, who has been the interest of many for centuries. Some of the interest is from those who claim she could not have existed, and others’ interest is to refute the skeptics and scoffers that have jumped on this subject to prove that the Bible is not literally and historically true. Apparently, they have not read the Genesis account very carefully. The account does record the history of Adam and Eve but does not name all of their descendants. Two children of our first parents were Cain and Abel. A family disagreement led to Cain killing his brother Abel. The account does not give their ages. It dwells upon the issue that divided them. Cain’s offering in worship was from the “fruit of the ground” and Abel’s offering was from the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.” God was pleased with Abel’s offering, but as for Cain’s offering He “had not respect.” It ended with Cain killing his brother Abel. So the conjecture is since Adam, Eve, and Cain were the only persons on earth it would be impossible for him to get a wife as the Scripture mentions in Genesis 4:17. The whole premise of repudiating the Scriptures rests on this shallow and ignorant conclusion.

Sometimes in our search for truth, understanding things that are not said is as important as what is said. When that is coupled with the clear statements of scripture, we can come to a reasonable conclusion to resolve any difficulty. Certainly, what is not said in this narrative helps us understand the truth that God has revealed. Let us look for them here:

1. We are not told why God did not accept Cain’s offering. We do know that it had to be the nature of the offering. The covering God had provided previously to Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness required the sacrifice of innocent animals. Their covering by leaves was indicative of self-righteousness. We know from other statements in the Scriptures that “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22) So that was the established standard. We are not told specifically that God had given Cain personally this requirement, but knowing the character of God it is reasonable to believe that He had.

2. We are not told when Adam named his wife Eve. We just assume that he did when God first gave her to him. But it could just as well have been when there were many descendants because she is called “the mother of all living.” (Gen. 3:20) The title at least suggests the existence of a large family clan.

3. We are not told the ages of the two brothers when the family strife began or that they were the only children. They were quite likely mature adults with their own vocation—one a farmer, the other a shepherd. There could have been many children between these two who are brought into focus here for a specific purpose. Remember that Adam was 120 years old when Seth was born. To conclude that there were not other children born during that 120 years has neither been asserted or denied. But the likelihood is strong that there were many. At least one child comes into prominence after the slaying of Abel. His name was Seth and he had the character traits of his father—“in his own likeness, after his image.” (Gen.5:12) At this point, the genealogical information shifts to him because it was through him and his descendants that “men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26)

4. We are not told the names of the children born to Adam after the age of 120. We do know that Adam lived another 800 years and “he begat sons and daughters.” Living that long and fathering that many children, it is quite likely that he had many daughters that Cain could have married. Since God had told man “to multiply and replenish the earth,” we can reasonably presume that there were large families rapidly multiplying and the family tree would be difficult to construct. We should not think in terms of the practice in our contemporary culture of limited children. It wasn’t too long ago that many of our ancestors had ten or more children. The point I am making is there was quite likely a large population by the time the fugitive Cain married, and they likely did not all live in Eden.

5. We are not told even that Cain was single when God banished him from Eden and “he dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” (Genesis 4:16) All we are told is that “Cain knew his wife and she conceived, and bare Enoch.” (Genesis 4:17) When he married, the name of his wife, and who her parents were, is not mentioned.

6. We are not told who the people were Cain feared would kill him. So God set a “mark” of divine protection upon him. (Genesis 4:12-15) Unless there were others living, how could they kill him? If you presume that Adam, Eve, and Cain were the only people left alive at this time, the threat of harm doesn’t make sense.

So the age old question, “Where did Cain get his wife?” is not really the problem the skeptics and scoffers make of it. James Kennedy gives a brief but scholarly explanation of this issue in his book, Skeptics Answered, and he limits Cain’s marriage to one of his sisters, which is entirely possible but not necessarily required:

After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters.’ It’s quite obvious that Cain’s wife was his sister. You might object, saying that it’s forbidden in the Scriptures to marry one’s sister. Yes, but we need to be careful about ex post facto laws-making laws after the event. The law forbidding such marriages was passed several thousand years later. You might point out, ‘If one marries his sister, he is liable to have a very strange child.’ That is true today, but evidently the gene pool was rich enough at the beginning not to constitute a problem. (p.28, 29)

From what the Scriptures do tell us, it is not necessary to conclude Cain got his wife in the land of Nod, even though it is the first place and time she is mentioned, and that is one possibility. Since we are not told when or where, we can speculate, for there are many possibilities. Nobody knows how many people were living at that time or how old Cain was when he married. He could have been like many men today, in no hurry to get married. Then he could have waited a small spell of about 700 years and married one of his brother Seth’s great-great-great granddaughters. No doubt there were many to choose from. Evidently, it was not as much trouble for Cain to get married as for some folks nowadays. What is important is not when, where, and whom Cain married, but that we accept the narrative as historical. There is no reason to believe otherwise.

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