The Most Talked About Woman in the Bible
(Genesis 4:17)
by Susan E. Todd

What can you say about a woman that is such a mystery to the world? A woman who is shrouded in speculation? A woman who is the subject of much debate? A woman who has been unjustly accused of casting doubt on the validity of the very Book that holds the answer to her existence? It may not be what the world wants to hear but I believe there is something we can learn from her.

(Genesis 4:17a) And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch:

This lesson is not about "where did Cain's wife come from" or "where did Cain get his wife." But unless I address that issue and get it out of the way it will bother you and you won't get anything out of this lesson. So here it is.

Turn to Genesis 5:4, "And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:" Do I really have to go further? I guess I do!

Now a man who lives more than 800 years (930 years, to be exact, according to Genesis 5:5) is bound to have more than three children, don't you think. How about this: If Adam and Eve didn't produce any more offspring other than Cain, Abel and Seth then how did we get here?

Since Adam disobeyed God the first time, concerning the tree that he wasn't supposed to eat of, you can be sure he was going to take this "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" business very seriously. (Genesis 1:28) He wasn't going to let God down again, not if he could help it anyway.

So Adam had other children, after Seth, as the Bible records in Genesis 5:4. The Bible says Adam had daughters. How many? It doesn't matter. One would do although I'm sure there were several as the verse indicates by the plural "daughters." Can you figure out the rest on your own? Okay, I'll give you the answer. Cain married one of his sisters. Now let's find out why she is so important to study.

Cain's wife is probably one of the most, if not THE most, talked about women in the Bible. But almost nothing is known about her. The only real facts we do have about her are whom she was married to, Cain, and the name of her son, Enoch. That's all. Nothing more.

How then do we build a profile on this woman and what she was like? We don't even know her name. As far as we can tell she didn't do anything wicked or terribly wrong or we would have read about it somewhere in the Bible. We do know that her husband murdered a man, his own brother, Abel. She had to live with the knowledge of that and with him. As a matter of fact she married a man with a curse on him.

God said to Cain in Genesis 4:11-12, "And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth."

Cain committed the first murder in the Bible. His punishment according to Cain himself was, "greater than I can bear." (Genesis 4:13) The Lord put a mark on him so everyone would know who he was and what he did. He was to be a wanderer all his life. Being married to Cain would no doubt yield a life of heartache and misery.

Yet he did have a wife. If Cain had many sisters why did this one in particular marry him? What did she see in him or what could she do for him? I'm not claiming that Cain and his wife married out of love. Don't misunderstand me. More than likely she did not. In fact she probably had no choice in the matter. She may have been Adam's first daughter and that in itself earned her the "privilege" of marrying Cain. But who she was is not really that important. Let's not get stuck on that issue. What we can learn from her is what we need to focus on.

Cain's wife is a woman that carries with her a great burden just because of her "choice" in a husband. I wonder how many people have said about you behind your back, I certainly hope not to your face: "why did she marry that man, what did she ever see in him?" If so, then you have a lot in common with Cain's wife.

Can you imagine what her neighbors said about her?

  • "She has so many good qualities and has so much potential but did you know her husband has a prison record." (gossip, gossip, gossip)
  • "I'm afraid the committee just wouldn't understand." (whisper, whisper, whisper)
  • "Why what would the congregation think if we asked her to." (buzz, buzz, buzz)

Hmmmmmm! I know that you would never do this to someone who had the misfortune of being married to a man with a past, would you? (The altar is now open, ladies!)

Let's review the facts. Cain was the murderer, not his wife. Cain had a curse put on him, not his wife. Cain was sentenced to be a fugitive, not his wife. How can we justify punishing the Mrs. Cains that we know for the sins of their husbands? We can't. Yet we do.

When was the last time you invited the lady whose husband is a drunk or a drug addict or who beats her, over for a cup of tea, a glass of lemonade or a cup of cold water?

"Well, what if someone from the ladies fellowship group saw me? It would jeopardize my position on the welcoming committee." (Mark 9:41) For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. Maybe you shouldn't be on the welcoming committee after all.

When was the last time you spent the afternoon shopping for the lady whose dress is a little tattered and torn and threadbare in spots because her husband gambles away his paycheck and she can't afford the latest fashions?

"Why I just don't have the time for such things. Don't you know I am the chairwoman of the "missionary barrel" and that takes a lot of my time? We send our good used clothes to those poor people overseas who can't afford nice things to wear." (Luke 6:36) Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Perhaps you should resign from the missionary committee and let someone who is a little more "near-sighted" take over.

When was the last time, if ever, you allowed your children to play with the children of the man with the prison record? Have you forgotten about little Enoch, Mrs. Cain's son? I imagine that he had a hard time growing up coping with all the name-calling and teasing from the other children because of his dad. How did his mother comfort him? What could she say to take away his hurt when the other children made fun of him? What about her own tears that she shed for him as she shared his pain?

"Well, I teach Sunday School and all the children come from good families and I don't think it would be appropriate for them to associate with these children. After all my husband is the Sunday School Superintendent and I have to think about his reputation." (Mark 10:14) But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. May I recommend that you exchange your Teacher-of-the-Year plaque for a wall clock?

The Bible says in Proverbs 19:17, "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again."

There are women who, through no fault of their own, have needs. Their husbands cannot meet those needs. Nevertheless they still have them. Isn't one of our jobs as Christians to try and meet the needs of others? Paul admonishes us in Galatians 6:2, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

The world punishes these poor unfortunate women enough by labeling them as undesirable. Let's try and help them if we can. Forget about what the neighbors think. Forget about what other Christians think. Remember what the Lord says. (Matthew 5:16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

If these women are not saved maybe your deeds of kindness, your words of encouragement and your compassion for them will win them to the Lord. Then maybe eventually their husbands will get saved and get their lives straightened out so they can take care of their families like they should. If they do, I beg you, forget their past and let them get on with their lives. Don't continue to hold their past against them. God forgives and forgets. It would be wise for us to do the same.

These women may already be saved but because of their circumstances they cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe your friendship and your prayers will help them cope with their situations. Maybe through your example they can learn to lean on the Lord and get their strength from Him.

Jesus had compassion on people. With few exceptions the people he helped were the poor, forgotten, outcasts of society, the people that nobody else would associate with. Jesus is supposed to be our example. Let's never forget that.

I'm quite sure that Mrs. Cain did not ask for her lot in life. Yet when she found herself in the midst of her troubles she had no choice but to go on with her life. Someday, God forbid, you may find yourself in a similar situation to that of a Mrs. Cain. Think about how you would want to be treated?

Remember, you can help these ladies or you can add to their hurt and sorrow. The choice is yours.