Podcast Episode

Why Do Cain's Descendants Show Up After the Flood?

Thank you to our audience for your incredible questions. In this week's episode, we tackle questions like: Did Adam represent a male human? Where did Cain’s wife come from? And what is the relationship of the Church to Israel? Listen in to hear the team answer your questions.

Episode 10
1hr 1m
Feb 1, 2021
Play Episode
Show Notes


If you read the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus, whose name is Joshua, ultimately where the story’s going is that God commits himself to such a degree to this human family that, eventually, he himself becomes the victim of the violence that humans have been committing, and that God himself has participated in throughout the story. God becomes the victim of the story of violence that he’s been at work through and takes it into himself on the cross. The book of Joshua isn’t the end of the story.


  • Adam and Eve are the first humans God chooses among many to dwell with him and represent his image to the world. This is the first instance of the biblical design pattern election.
  • When we read the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus, whose name comes from “Joshua,” Jesus becomes a victim of the violence Abraham’s family has committed throughout the biblical story.
  • Jesus comes to fulfill God’s plan to bring all human families into his family, not to replace Israel with the Church. God always raises up a faithful remnant, a renewed Israel in the midst of a corrupt Israel. Non-Israelites are then invited into the family of Abraham.

How Could There Be Descendants of Cain After the Flood?

Sarah from England (00:50)

"I enjoyed your discussion on Genesis 10 about the different nations descended from Noah. In another episode, you talked about the Kenites, and I wanted to ask how there were still descendants of Cain after the flood."

Even after the flood, the biblical authors reference a people group that bears Cain’s name: the Kenites. While this isn’t as clear in our English translations, it’s the same word in Hebrew and meant to connect the Kenites with Cain.

Tim describes a few possible explanations as to how Cain’s descendants could have survived the flood. Possibly, Cain’s descendants married into the line of Seth, the family Noah was descended from. Additionally, the biblical authors don’t tell us which families Noah’s wife or his son’s wives were from, and they could have been descendants of Cain.

A third possibility explores not one but two people groups present after the flood that “shouldn’t” be there: the Kenites and the Nephilim. This view considers the biblical authors’ description of the flood as covering “all the earth” as hyperbole to describe a catastrophic flood. The flood’s purpose was to undo or “de-create” the cosmos, so that Yahweh might restore order to creation. And the flood didn’t need to literally destroy all of humanity to make way for Yahweh’s plan.

Where Did Cain’s Wife Come From?

Arielle from Canada (13:25)

"I’m wondering, how did Adam and Eve’s children continue to procreate? Genesis 4 talks about how, after Cain killed Abel, he found a wife, had a son named Enoch, and he built cities. If Adam and Eve were—in Protestant tradition, at least—considered to be the first people here on earth, where did Cain find a wife, and how did he build cities?"

The biblical narrative presents Cain’s marriage and accomplishments as facts, without offering any potential explanations. Adam and Eve did have other children, so it’s technically possible that Cain married his sister. However, the narrator of Genesis makes it clear that Cain “went away from the presence of Yahweh” (Genesis 4:16). The narrative raises a definite possibility that when Cain went away, he met other people.

The bottom line is the biblical text never explicitly answers this question. What is clear is that Adam and Eve begin a design pattern of God selecting one couple among many to dwell with him and accomplish his purposes, and they may or may not have been the only humans on the earth at the beginning of creation. Tim suggests two books that explore this question both scientifically and theologically at great depth: The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry by S. Joshua Swamidass and Reading Genesis Well: Navigating History, Poetry, Science, and Truth in Genesis 1-11 by C. John Collins.

Was "Adam" Male?

Angie from Spokane (19:35)

"Hi, my name is Angie Mossy, and I live in Spokane, Washington. My question is: in the discussion of the creation account in Genesis, you talk about the “adam” being created first and that that stands for humanity, not a male human. But in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul seems to state that men were created first and women second. Is he saying something different here? What’s going on? Is there a contradiction?"

The first time the word “adam” occurs in the Bible, it occurs without the definite article “the” before it. “Let us make adam in our image” (Genesis 1:26). After this, the word is used again in a poem about the image of God, but this time it occurs with the definite article, referring to both male and female (Genesis 1:27). In Genesis 2, the narrator creates a wordplay between adam and adamah, linking the human species closely to dirt and clay. In a nutshell, we get two primary nuances for adam in the opening pages of Genesis. It’s a species term, and it’s a term describing origins.

After God takes the side of adam to form a second human in Genesis 2:18, the two humans are referred to as “ish” (man) and “ishah” (woman). From that point forward, adam is used interchangeably with ish and takes on a male gendered nuance.

Tim believes 1 Corinthians 11 is written in dialogue with the previous letter Paul had sent the young church. He’s writing to specific men and women within that congregation whose behavior has become disturbing and distracting to others.

1 Corinthians 11:7-12
A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

At face value, verse 7 makes the opposite claim of Genesis 1:26. Probably verses 7-10 are a quotation from a letter the Corinthians wrote to Paul, and verses 11-12 are Paul’s response. Paul is quoting a misunderstanding of Genesis 2, offering a correction and reaffirming that men and women together are image of God, meant to worship in unity.

Was the Promised Land Conquest a Case of Sibling Rivalry?

Lindsay from Pennsylvania (36:28)

"It seems the Israelites were given specific instructions to completely annihilate and wipe out certain people groups who were living in the land. Are these people groups that are outside of and separate from Abraham’s family, or is this just a really intense case of sibling rivalry? What’s going on there?"

Tim and Jon acknowledge that narratives about religiously-inspired violence of any kind are challenging for us to wrap our minds around. In the case of the Hebrew Bible conquest narratives, the biblical authors do set these stories up as part of the sibling rivalry design pattern and as part of the design pattern of the flood.

The flood narrative shows us God’s response to communities that have reached an extreme level of violence and degradation of human dignity. It’s within his prerogative to hand humanity over to the outcome of its decisions and let the cosmos collapse in on itself. But after the flood, Noah offers a sacrifice––a righteous intercessor stands up on the high place to offer atonement for the sins of humanity. God promises never to “flood the earth again,” which means he won’t collapse the cosmos. But there will be localized floods of judgment against specific pockets of sin (e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah).

The Torah portrays the Canaanites as purveyors of sexual abuse, child sacrifice, and other evils, drawing a comparison to the generation of people who incited Yahweh’s judgment in the flood. So on one level, the conquest of the promised land under Joshua is a “flood,” an act of divine judgment on a generation past the point of no return.

When we read the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus, whose name comes from “Joshua,” then ultimately Jesus becomes a victim of the violence Abraham’s family has committed throughout the biblical story. As followers of Jesus, we don’t take our marching orders from the book of Joshua but from the second Joshua. This is one reason why it’s so important to take a narrative approach to Scripture. The story allows us to witness the different ways God chooses to act at different points in history. It doesn’t resolve all of our questions, but it gives us a context within which we can wrestle with our questions.

Does the Church Replace Israel?

Ross from Virginia (52:35)

"My question is about the design pattern of election, specifically when Jesus was speaking to the Jewish leadership in Matthew 21:43. This is where Jesus said, and I quote, “The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, who will produce its fruits.” What do you think this meant to the Jewish leadership then, and how do you think we should interpret this today?"

Tim addresses the contemporary theological challenges to studying the biblical theme of the family of God, one of which is the relationship between Israel and the Church.

In this particular encounter between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus is addressing their lack of stewardship over God’s people. The point here is that the messianic renewal movement should be stewarded by people who would produce its fruit.

In other words, Jesus is fulfilling what God has been doing all along. He is not saying that because Israel messed up too many times, a church made up of the nations will replace them. Jesus himself is an Israelite, as are his first followers. God always raises up a faithful remnant, a renewed Israel in the midst of a corrupt Israel. From there, non-Israelites are invited into the family of Abraham.

Referenced Resources

Show Music

  • “Defender (Instrumental)” by Tents

Show produced by Dan Gummel. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder. Audience questions collected by Christopher Maier.

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Scripture References
Genesis 2:16
Genesis 1:26-27
Genesis 8:20-22
Genesis 4:16
Genesis 2:18
Genesis 4:19-22
Numbers 24:21-22
Genesis 2:5-7
Genesis 2:24
Genesis 3:2
1 Corinthians 11:7-12
1 Corinthians 11:13-16
Numbers 16:31-33
Genesis 18:25
Ephesians 3:6
John 10:16
Psalms 12:5

12 Episodes

Episode 12
Does the Church Supersede Israel?
How can the book of Ephesians contribute to conversations surrounding modern race and justice issues? Tim and Jon interview New Testament scholar Andrew Rillera and discuss Ephesians 2 and the unified, diverse family of God.
1hr 12m • Feb 15, 2021
Episode 11
Reading While Black
From biblical deconstruction to the responsibility of Jesus followers in government and social justice, we’re looking at what the Bible has to say about some of society’s biggest questions today. Join Tim and Jon as they interview New Testament scholar Esau McCaulley, author of *Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope*.
52m • Feb 8, 2021
Episode 10
Why Do Cain's Descendants Show Up After the Flood?
Thank you to our audience for your incredible questions. In this week's episode, we tackle questions like: Did Adam represent a male human? Where did Cain’s wife come from? And what is the relationship of the Church to Israel? Listen in to hear the team answer your questions.
1hr 1m • Feb 1, 2021
Episode 9
One Family Once More
God’s plan has always been to bring all of humanity into one diverse and connected family. Jesus carried forward this mission in his teachings, calling God’s people to look past societal divisions and be unified in him. Join Tim and Jon in this week’s podcast episode as they look at the theme of unity in the New Testament.
1hr 5m • Jan 25, 2021
Episode 8
The Powerful and Not Powerful
In the book of Romans, Paul talks about humanity being justified by faith, but what does this have to do with the family of God? In this episode, Tim and Jon look at Paul’s letter to the Romans and unpack what it looks like to unify a diverse group of people into one family.
1hr 6m • Jan 18, 2021
Episode 7
Who’s In?
God wants people from all nations to be a part of his family, but Jesus’ mission was focused on Israel. So how did the Gospel message move out from Israel to the rest of the world? Join Tim and Jon as they unpack the arrival of the Spirit and Jesus’ commissioning of his disciples.
52m • Jan 11, 2021
Episode 6
Jesus and the Gentiles
Who did Jesus come for? Throughout the Gospel accounts, Jesus is laser-focused on Israel. Yet his ministry and even his family tree include many non-Israelite people. In this week’s episode, join Tim and Jon for a look at the family of God in the life of Jesus.
1hr 2m • Jan 4, 2021
Episode 5
Sibling Rivalry and Biblical Election
Why do God’s chosen people have just as many moral failings as anyone else in the Bible? In this week’s episode, Tim and Jon take a look at ancient sibling rivalries, divine election, and God’s determination to form a covenant people that will one day embrace and include all nations.
57m • Dec 21, 2020
Episode 4
Abraham, the Immigrant, and Circumcision
What does divine election have to do with God’s blessing for all nations? In this week’s episode, we’re picking up the story of the family of God with Genesis 12-17, God’s calling of Abraham. Join Tim and Jon to see how God responds to Abraham and Sarah’s bad choices and turns them into something good for all people.
1hr 6m • Dec 14, 2020
Episode 3
What’s So Bad About Babel?
What was so bad about the Tower of Babel? In this episode, Tim and Jon examine the cycle of division within the human race in Genesis 1-11, the violence that occurs when humans unite apart from God, and God’s plan to use one family to redeem all families in the end.
1hr 5m • Dec 7, 2020
Episode 2
Our Collective Identity
What is God’s picture of an ideal humanity? In this podcast episode, Tim and Jon look at Genesis 1-2 and talk about how God makes one humanity, divides them, and purposes for them to be one again. And this oneness that God brings doesn't erase personal and cultural differences. Rather, it completes them.
56m • Nov 30, 2020
Episode 1
God’s Global Family
Jesus unites his followers across cultural and ethnic lines as members of his global family. But that doesn’t mean cultural differences disappear. In fact, Jesus resurrects and glorifies what is unique and beautiful about every culture. In this episode, listen in as Tim and Jon discuss what it means to be part of the family of God.
1hr 1m • Nov 23, 2020
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