In Genesis 4:14-15 (NRSV) it says:

14 I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.’ 15 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.’ And the Lord put a mark on Cain

Who could possibly kill Cain if Adam and Eve are the first people?

Cain was not married at that time (suggesting he was young) and was the first born there doesn't seem to be a rational explanation that someone that was born of Adam could have grown up without knowing Cain and attack him while he was wandering.

  • 1
    Which translation are you quoting?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 3:52
  • New Revised Standard Version - I didn't think there would be issues, is there a meta topic about how to best quote etc.?
    – going
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 3:56
  • There are a couple. We don't have any hard and fast rules, except to either provide at least a link, or a reference and translation. You can start here: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/14/…
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 3:57
  • 1
    The site guidelines have changed since your question was first posted. Nowadays, this question would be most likely be ruled off-topic as being primarily-opinion based. If you'd care to review Types of questions that are within community guidelines, perhaps you could edit it accordingly to bring it in line with current guidelines. Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


First, it doesn't necessarily say that Cain was the first born, only the first who did anything significant enough to be included in the record.

Second, even if Cain was the first son, that doesn't preclude Adam being the one to hypothetically take vengeance. For example, The Law of Moses included a passage requiring parents of incorrigible adult children to be the ones to bring the accusation before the elders of the city. (Deuteronomy 21: 18-21. And as shocking as this may sound, consider the psychological effect: it makes an amazing motivator for parents to make sure their kids turn out well!)

Also, when you consider that Genesis tells of people living for centuries, there's no reason why someone born after Cain wouldn't have grown to adulthood, then run across him, recognized or found out who he was, and tried to take vengeance into their own hands.

  • 1
    It seems illogical that he should be afraid of Adam, because Adam was around when he killed Abel. It also seems illogical for him to be afraid of a future child who doesn't exist when he is cast out. It also seems illogical that a future child would care enough to seek a fight against someone for something that happened in the past in a distant land. All plausible, but not believable.
    – going
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 4:37
  • 5
    @xiaohouzi: "would care enough to seek a fight against someone for something that happened in the past in a distant land." Clearly you are not familiar with the blood feuds that go on between tribes for millenia (for example, that between Arabs and Israel, which start with Ishmael and Isaac, and goes on today).
    – user32
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 7:20
  • This answer can't be right. Cain is afraid of leaving: he wants to stay -- near Adam. Also about people living for centuries, that doesn't make sense either. When you fear someone, you fear people that are alive now, not people that might be born sometime in the future.
    – Paul
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 12:13
  • At this stage in the story, Cain did not even know that he would live for centuries, so it makes even less sense that he would be afraid of some who might be born centuries hence (and who probably would not even know about his criminal record). Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 23:56

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