A Question I Was Asked:

What About 'The Land of Nod' - Is This A Bible Error?

What about The Land of Nod - Is this a Bible error? How could such a land already exist with people apparently living there so soon after creation?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, we will look at this.

After Cain murdered Abel and was declared a "fugitive and vagabond" by God (Genesis 4:12), the Bible goes on to state that he "went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod" (4:16). It was in this land that "Cain knew his wife" (verse 17), and it was here that his son, Enoch, was later born.

For some, however, there are problems with this account. Since the Bible names this land ('Nod'), some assume it was called such before Cain went there, or it was already recognized as a land, region, or territory, possibly containing many people. But there are a lot of assumptions here! The question then arises: how could such a land exist in such an early time in the history of creation; who were the people who could have populated it? Did Cain find his wife there? But with a very careful reading of the text we see that it never states that Cain found his wife there at all. He would have married a sister and they went there together. Possibly they were the first two settlers in that area, but it was there that she became pregnant. This is all the text is stating. Why do a few always like to add to Scripture then accuse the Bible of being problematic? The other point here is that Scripture never states when Cain moved to this land; he might not have moved there for many, many years. If this was the case, it is possible that he and his wife were not the first settlers in the land.

A few have even believed - totally alien to the Bible account - that God had started a separate human creation in this Land of Nod, but on what basis? We must remember that Moses was writing about these events long after they had occurred. It is very likely that the area that Cain and his wife travelled to later became called the 'Land of Nod.' Sometimes we all refer to things in the past and give them a more modern description. This is similar to what we find in Genesis 13:3 where we read that Abraham "went on his journey from the south as far as Bethel." Yet we know that this area was not actually named "Bethel" until many years later when Jacob gave it that name (Genesis 28:19). However, when Moses wrote of this name (he wrote hundreds of years later), he was free to use the name even when describing a time before the name actually was given. It's a bit like me saying, "I met my wife in south Wales on a lovely spring evening back in 1977." However, of course, she was not actually my wife then, so the statement is technically incorrect but everybody would get my meaning; that is where and when I met the young lady whom I later married. But just suppose that I met my future wife in a place called "Moreton" (I didn't) which - five years later - became called 'New Haven,' if writing about the events of 1977 right now I would probably call the place "New Haven," this would enable more people to know the exact place. By the time of Moses, the place where Cain settled was called 'the Land of Nod.' (the land of the 'wanderer' - probably a reference to Cain).

So when Moses used the name 'Land of Nod' in Genesis 4, the reader must understand that the land probably was not given that name until sometime after Cain moved there, maybe even many years after Cain moved there. This would be consistent with the meaning of the name 'Nod' (as already stated, many claim that the meaning is "wandering" or "wanderer"), and God certainly told Cain that he would be a 'wanderer upon the Earth' (Genesis 4:12).

So the Bible never actually tells us that Cain's wife came from Nod, this is what some have maybe somewhat carelessly inferred. And the notion that large numbers of people already inhabited that region is probably an error and the Bible never ever states such a thing (although, as we have suggested, it could possibly have been many years before Cain moved there, by which time it is not inconceivable some of his brothers and sisters were living there). We know for certain that Adam was the first man (1 Corinthians 15:45) and that Eve was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). Some may continue to allege that God specially created other people in addition to Adam and Eve during or around the creation week, but such an idea is not substantiated anywhere in Scripture and nothing in the account of Cain and the land of Nod requires it.

Robin A. Brace. April 24th, 2016.