Thursday, October 22, 2020

Does Scripture Condone Polygamy?

By Maria Merola

© Copyright Double Portion Inheritance May 2011

Many people have written to me over the years, asking whether or not the Mosaic Law (Torah) condones polygamy. The entire counsel of Scripture harmonizes on this subject (contrary to popular belief). 

There is a misconception whereby some people claim that the Creator condoned polygamy in the TaNaKh (Old Testament), but he supposedly “changed his mind in the New Testament regarding polygamy, (and began disallowing it). If there is one thing we can learn from all the examples in Scripture of plural marriage, is that at YaHuWaH wants unity in families, (free from competition and rivalry). 

It was never his will for there to be “Two Houses of Yisrael.” However, because of lawlessness and disobedience, it became necessary for him to divide his house, only to gather them back together again in the last days.

YaHuWaH has always desired only “one bride,” and that is his ultimate goal, which is to make the “two sticks” (two trees) of Ezekiel 37:16 only “one stick” or one olive tree in his hand!

There is a hidden principle seen in Scripture called “The law of first mention,” whereby the first time a concept is presented by Elohiym, it is meant to “set the precedence” for the entire theme of Scripture. And once that precedence is deviated from, we find that many problems arise leading to “The curse of sin and death.”  

I am thankful that polygamy is still illegal in America, but the idea of plural marriage has become more acceptable in our culture, when the Television Series Sister Wives” first made its debut on September 26, 2010 on TLC. It is also interesting that the banner shows a fractured family, (broken in pieces), which is why polygamy has never been the original design of our Creator.

I suspect that much of this new interest in plural marriage comes from the fact that Muslims are pushing Sharia Law in America, and this is why it is becoming more prevalent in our society. Also, with the resurgence of Torah-observance becoming popular among Christians and Hebraic Roots folks, the idea of polygamy has been thrown into the mix.

This is an interesting article that I stumbled upon, showing Scientific evidence, that polygamy may be detrimental for a mans heart:

Having more than one wife may cause some serious heartache. Men who are polygamous face more than quadruple the risk of having blocked heart vessels, compared with men married to one woman, new research suggests. We found an association between an increasing number of wives and the severity and number of coronary blockages, study co-author Dr. Amin Daoulah, a cardiologist at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said in a statement. This link could be due to the burden of maintaining several households, which can be costly both financially and emotionally, Daoulah said.” 

I have heard many horror stories of Mormon Communities, where one male leader takes many women (against their will) as his wives. This is often done without a biblically legal marriage agreement (a ketubah). Because these marriages are not legal in the biblical sense, (and neither are they legal according to the laws in America), it becomes easy for these men to blur the lines further, by taking the children of these many wives as their sex partners! This is often the way child-sex trafficking rings are started! 

There are clear parameters in Scripture, as to what constitutes a legal (biblical) marriage in the eyes of Yah, and its not just having sexual relations. Having sex does not equal being married. Proof of this can be found in the account of the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. Our Messiah recognized the five previous husbands that the woman had, but he did not recognize her current relationship as legitimate or legal. This proves that sex alone does not a marriage make!

Let me start off by saying that I am totally against polygamy, and I believe that YaHuWaH merely tolerated it in the TaNaKh (Old Testament), but it was not his original design from the beginning. We repeatedly witness in the Scriptures, YaHuWaH speaking of earthly marriage between “One man and one woman.” We are shown throughout Scripture, that the “TWO” (male and female) become  “ONE,” but never do we find the concept of “MANY” many becoming “ONE!”

Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife (singular), and they two shall be one flesh.

*Note: The man shall cleave unto his WIFE (singular) and the TWO shall become one flesh (not many shall become one flesh).

Mattithyahuw (Matthew) 19:6 Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore Elohiym has joined together, let not man put asunder. 

Mark 10:8 And they two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh.

Jacob’“Two brides and two concubines” are a pattern that we first observe in Scripture, for the four mothers who make up the Twelve Tribes of Yisrael. In these last days, the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11:3-4 are described as “Two olive trees & two candlesticks.” 

These four groups of people will eventually become “one new man,” after they are killed by the beast, and then resurrected from the dead. This can be seen in Revelation 12:5, where the “woman,” (Jerusalem) gives birth to a corporate “man-child.” 

See my other blog explaining who the Two Witnesses are: Who Are the Two Witnesses?

In the end, those who typify Leah and Rachel, as well as Bilhah & Zilpah, must become “one bride” or “one new man” at Messiahs return. He will only take unto himself “one corporate bride” (not many brides). This one corporate bride will be made up of many individuals, but this does mean that Yah condones plural marriages, as some have tried to rationalize. There will be both males and females included in this corporate bride, but that does not mean that YaHuWaH condones bisexuality, either. 

Ephesians 2:1 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of TWO ONE NEW MAN, so making peace;

Messiah abolished the “enmity” (hatred) brought on by the sinful nature of humanity, which led to polygamy in the first place. It began with Laban, (the father of Leah & Rachel), who tricked Jacob into marrying Leah (against his will). 

The sin of Laban caused there to be sibling rivalry---not only between Rachel and Leah, but also between the sons of Leah and the favorite son (Joseph), born to Jacob by Rachel. This sibling rivalry continues even to this day, between the “Two Houses” of Yisra’el. King Rehoboam (Solomons son), made the burdens of the Ten Northern Tribes of Yisra’el “too heavy,” and thus, the once unified kingdom of Yisra’el became divided into two nations.

Esau forfeited his inheritance, when he gave it to his twin brother, Yaaqob (Jacob) in exchange for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:32-34). Rebekah, (Jacobs mother) had received a prophecy when she was pregnant with the twins that “The elder shall serve the younger (Genesis 25:23). Since it was already prophesied that Yaaqob (Jacob) would receive his father’s inheritance, there was no need for Jacob to lie to his father. 

For if he had only placed his trust in YaHuWaH (to bring the prophecy to pass), he would not have had to lie to his father, Yitzchaq (Isaac). Yah would have ensured that Jacob’s inheritance was given to him without the need for deception. 

But because of Jacob lying to his father, he reaped further deception that was done to him later-on by Laban. Because of Jacob’s lie, he reaped “The curse of sin and death,” and as a result, Laban also lied to him (and tricked him) into marrying Leah. 

Later-on Jacob’s sons lied to him about his son Joseph being killed by a wild animal. Jacob sowed deception, and ultimately reaped deception. Laban was an idol worshiper (as we learn in Genesis 31:30-32), therefore, we know his decision to trick Ya’aqob (Jacob) into marrying Leah first was wrong. Nevertheless, YaHuWaH still worked this into his plans, despite the actions of sinful humans. 

The mingling of “The Seed of Abraham” with the gentile nations became the result of 
Jacob’s two marriages, and the future exile of these two houses. Thus, YaHuWaH still made good on his promise to Abraham, despite, the sinful behavior of Laban & Jacob.

Abraham would have become “The father of many nations,” whether polygamy existed or not. YaHuWaH would have preferred it to take place through “preaching” (1st Corinthians 1:21). Instead, he had to mingle the seed of Abraham, by scattering them to the nations first, and then later-on regathering them through the preaching of the besowrah (gospel) by those who are born-again by the blood of Messiah.

Even though YaHuWaH used these plural marriages, (as they resulted in forming the “two houses” and “two brides” of Jacob), this led to many problems along the way. Adam was given only one wife in the beginning. If YaHuWaH wanted Adam to have more than one wife, he would have removed “two ribs” from Adam (not just one rib).

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife (not wives):and they shall be one flesh.

*Note: Elohiym said that the man shall cleave unto his “wife” (singular) not “wives” (plural).

We find the first instance of polygamy taking place after the “fall” of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden:

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Noah, a righteous man only took one wife, and likewise his sons took with them only one wife at the time of the building of the Ark (Genesis 7:7). YaHuWaH called Noah’s family righteous and pure. If polygamy was ordained by Yah, it would have made more sense for Noah and his sons to have taken additional wives with them to repopulate the earth faster after the flood.

Because some of the patriarchs had more than one wife, are we to conclude that we should follow their example? YaHuWaH may have allowed plural marriage, but this does not mean that he encouraged it, nor that it was his will from the beginning. Consider a few things from Scripture. The Apostles knew that polygamy led to all kinds of problems. For this reason, the Apostle Sha’ul (Paul) wrote this letter to Timothy about the criteria for becoming a leader in the Assembly:

1st Timothy 3:

1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.

2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4 One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Congregation of Elohiym?)

6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Again, the Apostle Sha’ul (Paul) writes the same thing to Titus:

Titus 1:

5 For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of Elohiym; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

The Golden Rule 

Messiah summed up all the Torah (Mosaic Law) and the Prophets in this one commandment:  

Mattithyahuw (Matthew) 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

If men would not want their wives to cheat on them by having multiple partners, they should also consider how a woman feels when her husband has multiple sex partners. 

I know the excruciating pain involved in having a husband commit adultery on me, and then abandoning me for another woman. Despite my prayers for him, he still divorced me and remarried. Having experienced that, I know that YaHuWaH does not want women to be hurt by their husband having more than one sex partner (whether wives or concubines).

The only people who seem to be okay with polygamy are the men. But do these men ever stop to think about how it makes a woman feel to have to share her husband with another woman? In Ephesians 5, Paul teaches that Men ought to love their wives as they love themselves. 

Ephesians 5:

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife (singular) loves himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as YHWH the Congregation:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Messiah and the Congregation.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife (singular) even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Does Torah Condemn Polygamy? 

The Torah does tell us that multiple wives causes a man’s heart to turn away from YaHuWaH: 

Deuteronomy 17:

16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as YHWH has said unto you, You shall henceforth return no more that way.

17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

But what about all of the Patriarchs? What about Abraham, Jacob, David & Solomon?

Let’s take a look at the lives of these Patriarchs.

The practice of taking a concubine originated in the Babylonian/Chaldean culture, from where Abraham and Sarah were born. This idea did not originate with YaHuWaH, as we can see that he only created one woman for Adam at creation. 

Abraham lied to Pharaoh about his wife Sarah being his sister (because he feared for his life). Should we rationalize that lying is okay because Abraham did it? Abraham and Sarah acted out of doubt and unbelief, and they produced an Yishma’el by “using” poor Hagar to serve their purposes. 

Rather than to trust in what YaHuWaH had already promised them, they felt the need to take matters into their own hands. Were they justified in what they did? No, they were not! 

Today, the Middle East Conflict continues to exist because of Abraham & Sarah’s act of doubt and unbelief. They recovered in their faith later, (and became great in the eyes of YaHuWaH). But that does not justify their sin, for the consequences are still affecting the rest of the world to this day. If YaHuWaH condoned polygamy, why did he tell Abraham to listen to Sarah when she demanded that Hagar & Ishmael be sent away?

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 21:

9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.

10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

11 And the thing was very grievous in Abrahams sight because of his son.

12 And Elohiym said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in your sight because of the lad, and because of your bondwoman; in all that Sarah has said unto you, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall your seed be called.

13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is your seed.

14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.  

Obviously, YaHuWaH did not condone plural marriage, otherwise, he would not have commanded Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away (at the recommendation of Sarah). This tells us that the marriage covenant between Abraham & Sarah was the only one that was binding. YaHuWaH did not want that marriage covenant to be compromised by the addition of another woman in the picture.

David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and later killed her husband Uriah, attempting to cover up his sin. Do we now rationalize that we can do the same because David did it? Jacob lied to his father, Isaac to get his brothers inheritance. Do we then justify lying because Jacob did it? 

Noah got drunk after the flood, so is it okay for us to get drunk because Noah did it? These were all fallen men, who repented after they sinned. They were only great patriarchs because of their unwavering faith in YaHuWaH---not because their actions were perfect. 

Polygamy hurts women and children. I have read many testimonies of what women go through in polygamist marriages. It devastates not only the women, but also the children produced as a result of these marriages. 

Polygamy Violates the Second Greatest Commandment

In all of these cases of plural marriage, women and children are always the ones being hurt. Families are torn apart as a result of the strife, jealousy and rivalry that ensues because of polygamy. Wives are deeply wounded by the idea of their husband desiring another woman, and this alone means that the “second greatest commandment” is being violated:

Mattithyahuw (Matthew) 22:39 And the second is like unto it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself.

Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Leah was deeply hurt that Jacob loved Rachel and not her. We can see poor Leah constantly competing for her husband’s love and affection:

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 29:32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely YHWH has looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

*Explanation: We can see these two sisters in constant competition for their husband Jacob’s love and affection. How tragic that these sisters were made to be at odds with one another because of their father Laban’s trickery and deceit: 

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 30:14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray you, of your son
s mandrakes.

*Explanation: Reuben felt his poor mother (Leah’s) rejection, which is why he tried to help her, by bringing her mandrakes. When Rachel heard about the mandrakes, she tried to convince Leah to give them to her instead.

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 30:15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that you have taken my husband? and would you take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with you to night for your sons mandrakes.

*Explanation: Leah felt rejected, because she accuses her sister Rachel of stealing her husband’s affections, (even though Jacob loved Rachel first). But since Leah was the first to marry Jacob, she felt betrayed that Jacob loved Rachel more than her. 

Rachel (on the other hand), was saddened by the fact that she knew Jacob would sleep with Leah instead of her that night because of the mandrakes. How tragic that both of these sisters felt rejected, and they were at odds with each other. 

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 30:16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, you must come in unto me; for surely I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

*Explanation: Poor Leah had to bribe Jacob to lay with her, by offering him the mandrakes. Had it not been for the mandrakes, she knew that he would have preferred to sleep with Rachel (his beloved).  

Of course, this was not Jacob’s desire to have two wives in the first place, so we really cannot blame him. Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah by her father Laban. Jacob (being the righteous man that he was), would not have put Leah away, (once he was committed to her). Also, he knew that the only way he could have Rachel, was to remain married to Leah. Laban was an idol worshiper, and plural marriages were very much a part of pagan cultures back then. 

There are many examples of polygamy in Scripture, illustrating why it doesn’t work, and that it only leads to jealousy, division, disunity and ultimately, sin. Abraham and Sarah brought Hagar into their marriage bed, (to produce an heir), but it brought them nothing but strife, jealousy, and contention. It was not right for Hagar to be used as a sex slave, and then tossed out. She was nothing more than a concubine (not a legitimate wife).

Problems Created by Polygamy

1.) Jacob, Leah & Rachel: Rachel was loved, but her sister, Leah was not loved. Even Leah’s children ended up dysfunctional, because they knew that their father Jacob did not really love their mother the same as he loved Joseph’s mother, Rachel. This created feelings of rejection in Leah’s sons, and they became bitter at Joseph, because Jacob showed favoritism.

2.) Abraham, Sarah & Hagar: Because Abraham and Sarah grew impatient for the promise of a son from YaHuWaH, they acted outside of his will, by using Hagar to birth Ishmael. Hagar was never a legitimate wife, because Abraham was able to put her away without a writing of a divorce certificate. To those claiming that Abraham had two wives, this is simply not true. He had one wife (Sarah), and he only remarried Keturah, after Sarah died. 

Some have tried to use Bereshiyth (Genesis) 25:6, to suggest that Abraham had many concubines. But let
s examine this more carefully:

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 25:6 But unto the sons [son] of the concubines [concubine], which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. 

*Explanation: In the above passage, it is important to recognize that the English translators used license (based on the surrounding context) when it comes to plural or singular words. In the Hebrew Masoretic Text, there is often no visible distinction between “son vs sons” or “concubine vs concubines.” 

It is left to the translators to figure this out, based on context. Therefore, Genesis 25:6 can be speaking of only the one son of Hagar, rather than “sons of concubines” (plural).

Additionally, concubines are not the same thing as a legitimate wife. These women were basically used to build up the family, but they did not have the same legal rights as a wife. 

They were baby-makers, who worked for the family, as house-keepers, maids and nannies. Hagar was also a slave, without the same rights as a wife. 

The Middle East conflict to this day exists because of “plural sex partners,” which disrupted the marriage of Abraham and Sarah. The fact that Abraham listened to Sarah, (by sending Hagar away) illustrates that Yah was not in agreement with this union. 

3.) David, Abigail & Bathsheba: David was already married to Abigail, but he was not content with just “one sheep,” as the prophet Nathaniel said to him. David also had “concubines” (not the same thing as a legitimate wife). David lusted after Bathsheba, and then committed adultery with her. Subsequently, David had her husband Uriah killed in battle to cover up his sins. 

The judgement that ensued, was foretold by the prophet Nathaniel:

2nd Samuel 12:

8 And I gave you your master
s house, and your masters wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Yisrael and of Yahuwdah (Judah); and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto you such and such things.

9 Wherefore have you despised the commandment of YHWH, to do evil in his sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house; because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.

11 Thus says YHWH, Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house, and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them unto your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.

12 For you did it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Yisra
el, and before the sun.

13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against YHWH. And Nathan said unto David, YHWH also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

14 Howbeit, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of YHWH to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto you shall surely die.

David eventually repented of his adultery with Bathsheba, as well as his polygamy:

2nd Samuel 20:3 And David came to his house at Yerushalayim (Jerusalem); and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood. 

*Explanation: It is obvious from the above passage, that David took these women as concubines, because he they were widows (possibly from wars) and he was committed to caring and providing for them, but he was not sexually involved with them! They were his house-keepers.

Even though David sinned with Bathsheba, he went on to be a great prophet none-the-less. However, we cannot justify David’s actions. The end-result of his adultery led to his son, (King Solomon) following his example. Solomon took many heathen wives, and this resulted in the Kingdom of Yisra’el being divided following Solomon’s death. 

YaHuWaH still used the mistakes of these patriarchs to bring about “The fullness of the Gentiles” (Genesis 48:19; Romans 11:25). He used the dividing of these two kingdoms to bring about the mingling of “The seed of Abraham” into the nations. But never-the-less, many people were hurt in the process. 

The seed of Abraham mingling with the nations, could have been accomplished by Yisrael fulfilling their role as kings & priests. This was originally the plan of Yah for them, to preach the good news (besowrah) to the nations, thereby winning many converts. But because of their rebellion, Yah had to send them into exile, and thus, the gospel (besowrah) would then be preached by the followers of Messiah.

3.) Solomon & his many wives: These women led him into serious idolatry. So much so, that he ended up building heathen temples for his many wives. Because of the rampant idolatry within the kingdom, Yah brought judgement, by causing the kingdom to be divided.

Did YaHuWaH Give David His Many Wives?

2nd Samuel 

6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

7 And Nathan said to David, you are the man. Thus says YHWH Elohim of Israel, I anointed your king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul;

8 And I gave you your masters house, and your masters wives (ishshah) into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Yahuwdah (Judah); and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto you such and such things.

*Explanation: “Such and such things” means more substance, not more wives as I will soon illustrate.

2nd Samuel 12:9 Wherefore have you despised the commandment of YHWH, to do evil in his sight? you have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and has slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

It is important to recognize that the Hebrew word for “wife” or “wives” is #802 in the Strong’s Concordance. 

Let’s see what that word actually means. 

The Hebrew word for “wives” is ishshah, which can mean the following things: woman, wife, female, female animals, female servants.

As you can see from the above, the prophet Nathan declared that YaHuWaH would have given David more of “such and such things,” meaning possessions. 

David was given the wives of King Saul, because once Saul died, there would be nobody to take care of these women financially. For the sake of Jonathan, YaHuWaH showed kindness to Saul’s family by bringing them into David’s home to be cared and provided for. 

When YaHuWaH declared that he would have given him more, it does not say “more wives.” It says that he would have given him “such and such things,” meaning more possessions!

David took these women as servants in order to care of them financially, but Scripture is clear that he did not have these women sexually:

2nd Samuel 20:3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.

Does the Hebrew word “ishshah” always pertain to a wife? This word “ishshah” can also mean a female animal as seen by the example below:

Bereshiyth (Genesis) 7:2 Of every clean beast you shall take to you by sevens, the male and his female (ishshah # 802): and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female (ishshah # 802).

When Noah was instructed to bring “female animals” into the ark, the same Hebrew word was used, “ishshah!”

David was given the “ishshah” (concubines) of King Saul’s household, however he was not sexually involved with these women. They were his housekeepers!

The same example is seen in Esther 2:12:

Now when every maids turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women (ishshah), (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women (ishshah).

The word for “women” here is #802 “ishshah!”

There is another thing that I want to add to my observation against polygamy. The prophetic shadow picture of Messiah and his bride in Ephesians 5, and also in Revelation 19-21 never mentions the bride as being plural brides. She is only one bride---corporately speaking.

Revelation 21 says the following:

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

2 And I, Yahuchanan, saw the set-apart city, New Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from Elohiym, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, the Tabernacle of Elohiym is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and Elohiym Himself shall be with them and be their Elohiym.

*Note: it says “BRIDE (singular).

Revelation 19:

7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him praise, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife prepared herself.

8 And to her (not they) it was given to be dressed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the set-apart ones.

*Note: his wife (singular) has made herself ready---not wives. To “her” it was given to be dressed in fine linen. Notice, that it does not say “To them, it was given to be dressed in fine linen.

Divorce & Remarriage Permissible 

According to Deuteronomy 24, a woman may go and become another man’s wife, once he writes her a certificate of divorce. However, there has been much confusion, because many of the corrupted English translations use the word “divorce” in Matthew 5:32, when the word should really be “put away.” 

The Hebrew & Greek words for “put away” means that the woman is abandoned, but still legally married. However, the Hebrew & Greek word for “divorced” means that it has been made legal by a written divorce certificate, as per Deuteronomy 24:1-2. 

Please read my other blog: Are You the Victim of an Unwanted Divorce?

The Hebrew Words for Divorce & Put Away:

shalach (put away) - to cause to leave, to remove.

kyrithuth (divorce) - to legally sever the marriage bond by a certificate of divorce.

The Greek Words for Divorce & Put Away:

apoluo: to send away.

apostasion: to legally divorce with a writing or a certificate.

In the King James Version the correct words are used below:

Matthew 5:

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away (shalach, apoluo) his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore Elohiym has joined together, let not man put asunder.

7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement (apostasion), and to put her away (shalach, apoluo)?

8 He says unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (shalach, apoluo) his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away (shalach, apoluo) does commit adultery.

You will notice (from Matthew 5:9), that a husband is committing adultery against his wife if he marries another woman while he is still legally married to the first wife! 

In other words, if he marries wife number two while wife number one is merely “put away” (abandoned but not legally divorced), then our Messiah said he is committing adultery! Aha! What this tells us is that a man can only be married to one woman at a time, or else he is committing adultery!

Some might argue that in a polygamous marriage, the man is required to provide and take care of all his wives, and that he may never abandon any of them, just because he has lost interest. 

He must treat wife #1, with greater priority, (according to the Torah), because she is his wife of youth. He may not show favoritism, simply because he wants a younger, or more attractive wife. He may not show favoritism to the new wife, nor the children he bears with her. He must give the priority to the first wife, and the firstborn son of that first wife.

Scripture Does Not Condemn Remarriage After Divorce, as Many Have Falsely Taught

Let us examine the discourse in Matthew 5. First of all “No, it is not okay to put away a wife for any reason.” Messiah knew that the only reason why a man could “put away” his wife, is for the cause of fornication or adultery. But he was still required to write her a certificate of divorce in such cases. 

In Malachi chapter 2, the leadership were being rebuked, because men were abandoning their wives, (without writing them a certificate of divorce); and this left the woman unable to re-marry. 

This left the abandoned wives in limbo, (still being legally married to the first husband, yet unable to re-marry). Many women who found themselves in this position were forced into prostitution to survive, because women did not typically have careers in those days. This explains why the Pharisees asked our Messiah “Is it lawful for a man to PUT AWAY his wife for every cause?”

Notice that in Matthew 5:9, a man is guilty of adultery if he marries a woman who is “put away” (separated, but not legally divorced).

Now, here is the clincher:

If a husband merely “puts away” his wife (without a legal divorce certificate), but then, he remarries another woman, he is also committing adultery! 

Matthew 5:9 proves this! This means that a man may not be married to two women at the same time! He must be legally divorced from wife #1, before is allowed to marry wife #2, otherwise he is committing adultery!

What is the Final Conclusion?

We have seen plenty of evidence that Scripture does not condone polygamy. The only reason why there are men within the Hebraic Roots Community who are preaching this, is because of a misunderstanding of what the Torah actually says regarding this matter. Rather than doing a deep dive into the entire counsel of Scripture, many of these men will take one example of the patriarchs having multiple wives, and they automatically assume this was justified.

Regardless of the actions of the patriarchs in Scripture, we can see many examples of how polygamy was never the plan of YaHuWaH from the beginning. He merely allowed it, because men’s hearts are hardened and full of adultery. 

Provisions for Taking More than One Wife

YaHuWaH knows that men are often tempted to put away their older wives (as they begin to age, and lose their beauty and youthfulness). The lust of the eyes is a sin that leads a man seeking out a younger, and more beautiful wife, thus doing great harm to his first wife. 

This causes the wife of covenant to be deeply hurt and rejected. To prevent the first wife from being abandoned by her husband, YaHuWaH allows these men to have more than one wife, but he also requires them to place a higher priority on the first wife, and the first-born son of that first wife.

Debariym (Deuteronomy) 21:15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:  

Debariym (Deuteronomy) 21:16  Then it shall be, when he makes his sons to inherit that which he has, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:  

Debariym (Deuteronomy) 21:17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he has: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. 

You will notice that this Torah command flies in the face of what Jacob did with his two wives, (Leah & Rachel). Rachel was his beloved, and so was her first-born son, Joseph. Because Jacob showed favoritism, he gave his son Joseph (who was the first-born of his beloved Rachel), a “Double Portion Inheritance” (Genesis 48:22). See my other blog: The “Double Portion” Inheritance

After we have witnessed the consequences of Jacob showing favoritism to the first-born son of his beloved Rachel, YaHuWaH gave this commandment to Yisra’el, to prevent the same dysfunctional situation from arising again in future.
The “lesser of two evils” is to enforce that a man is responsible for the “The wife of his youth,” and not to abandon her. However, we are commanded to “flee youthful lusts” (2nd Timothy 2:22), and to die daily to the sinful lustful nature. 

The Renewed Covenant “raises the bar,” and teaches us to deny ourselves daily, (Luke 9:23; 1st Corinthians 15:31); and to take up our cross,” by following Yahuwshuwa as our Messiah. 

An important thing to remember, is that not everything recorded in the Scriptures is approved by YaHuWaH. Let’s consider where polygamy originated. The second man in Scripture to practice polygamy was also the first man to commit murder (Cain). 

The first man to practice polygamy was another murderer, named Lamech (Genesis 4:23–24). And then there was Esau, (who despised his birthright), and he also caused much grief to his parents by marrying two heathen wives (Genesis 26:34).

Abraham and Sarah would have been monogamous, had they not become discouraged in their faith. It was because of doubt and unbelief that Sarah suggested to Abraham that he sleep with her maid, Hagar. 

But we have seen the problems that this union caused (and is still causing to this day). Even when the Torah makes certain provisions for polygamy, it is always under the condition that Yah does not prefer this, but if a man insists on doing it, he must make the first wife of his youth his highest priority. “If he takes another wife to himself …” (Exodus 21:10). 

YaHuWaH was not encouraging polygamy, but he was merely giving a guideline for those men who were bent on doing it any way. He placed a number of obligations on the husband for taking additional wives (which would discourage polygamy). 

The house of Judah discouraged polygamy after the Babylonian exile, and monogamy became the rule. Even among the Greeks and Romans, they began to see the wisdom in practicing monogamy, because they had learned their lesson from the problems seen in polygamous marriages in the past. 

We never see in Scripture where it is YaHuWaH’s idea for a man to take on multiple wives. It was always a thing conceived and performed by the mind of man. Adam, Abraham, Noah & Moses had only one wife at a time. King David was in violation of Torah by taking on multiple wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). As a result of his sin with Bathsheba (and his subsequent murder of her husband Uriah), there was trouble in his household all the days of his life.

This included deadly sibling rivalry between David’s sons (born to him from his multiple wives). Solomon’s hundreds of wives lead him into idolatry (1st Kings 11:1–3), and this lead to much corruption in his kingdom, to include taxing the people to fund his many building projects. Hannah, (Samuel’s mother), was humiliated by her husband Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah (1st Samuel 1:1–7), and this also led to her sorrow and grief. 

Nehemia Gordon comments on the topic of polygamy:

“To this you can add that the Biblical Hebrew word for a sister-wife is tzarah which literally means “vexer, enemy.” That should tell you the Hebrew attitude towards these sorts of arrangements, which only took place when there was some problem such as infertility.

Also, Leviticus 18:18 says, “You must not take a woman in addition to her sister to VEX her in her lifetime” which some Karaite commentators explain to be an outright prohibition against a second wife. This interpretation assumes “sister” is not meant literally as in Exodus 26:3 “The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another” (literally: coupled, a woman to her sister).”

I have to concur with Nehemia Gordon in this above commentary, as I have seen what this word in Hebrew means:

#269 ‘achowth aw-khoth’ irregular feminine of 251; a sister (used very widely (like 250), literally and figuratively):--(an-)other, sister, together; half-sister (same father); metaphor of Israel & Judah’s relationship; figurative of intimate connection; relative.

As we can see, the word for “sister” in the following verse, is telling us that it is a vexation for a man to take another wife, because it “vexes” his wife of youth:

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 18:18 Neither shall you take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.

The word “sister” in the above verse, is not limited to a biological sister, but it also means a sister in the faith of YaHuWaH, as well.

The Final Analysis

Polygamy was responsible for Abraham & Sarah producing an Yishma’el, and this ultimately lead to Egyptian bondage for the Yisra’elites in the future. 

This one act of unbelief by Abraham & Sarah had a domino effect, that ultimately lead to the nation of Yisra’el becoming slaves in Egyptian. 

Jacobs mother (Rebekah) received a prophetic word while the twins were in her womb that “The older shall serve the younger,(Genesis 25:23). This is why Jacob came out of the womb grabbing his brother Esaus heel. 

And even though this was the will of YaHuWaH, the way in which Rebekah and Jacob deceived Yitzchaq (Isaac) was a sin that had lasting consequences. I believe that if they had trusted in Yah, he would have moved on Isaac’s heart to give the birthright to Jacob. 

And since Jacob committed this act of deception, the consequences of his sin followed him for the rest of his life. His father-in-law (Laban) deceived him by giving him the older daughter (Leah) on the night he was promised to be married to Rachel. Leahs face was veiled, and I suspect that Jacob was given strong drink on his wedding night. Therefore, he did not recognize that he was consummating with the wrong sister until the next morning.  

Laban is the one who caused sibling rivalry between his two daughters (Leah & Rachel), and this rivalry continued to plague the rest of family. When Jacob showed favoritism towards Yahuwseph/Joseph (the first-born son of his beloved Rachel), this naturally caused jealousy and animosity among his other sons that he had born by Leah and the two concubines. 

This ultimately led to the sons of Jacob deceiving their father. In an attempt to cover their sin, they faked Josephs death by killing a goat, and then placing the blood of that goat on Josephs coat of many colors.

The treachery that the sons of Jacob committed against their half-brother (Joseph) lead to him being sold as a slave in Egypt, and thats how the the entire family (the twelves tribes of Yisrael) ended up becoming slaves in Egypt.

In Galatians 4:25-26, Shaul (Paul) wrote that Hagar genders to bondage, but Sarah (who was the legitimate wife of Abraham) Genders to freedom. 

Abraham having two bedroom partners produced conflict and rivalry, which was carried down to his ancestors. The domino effect of Abraham & Sarahs sin of doubt and unbelief ultimately led to the slavery of Yisrael in Egypt. 

The name Yishma’el means “Elohiym hears. The meaning of his name implies that Abraham & Sarah were unwilling to wait for YaHuWaH to move. They were essentially telling Yah, “You are going to hear from us, because we produced an heir without any help from you.

It was this prideful attitude that planted a seed of bitterness in their family, and this would ultimately affect their offspring, down to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5-6).

Yishma’el naturally felt slighted when Yitzchaq (Isaac) was born, since he had been born first, and was told that he was the promised son. This would lead to feelings of betrayal and animosity in Yishma’el, which is why the religion of Islam has largely been seeking revenge on those who are the legitimate heirs to the Promised Land. 

The marriage of Abraham to Sarah (his wife of youth) produced Isaac, (which means laughter). Isaac, as the son of promise, represents the heavenly Jerusalem, which represents freedom from slavery and bondage. 

Polygamy brought on by the idolater (Laban), is what has caused there to be “enmity” between Rachel and Leah, and also between Joseph and his brothers. To this day there is “enmity” between Yahuwdiym (Jews) and Gentiles because of polygamy. 

But our Messiah “abolished” this ENMITY, by dying on TWO STICKS, aka the cross, which represents TWO DIVIDED KINGDOMS!

To learn more about why Yahuwshuwa died on a cross, and not a single pole, or a stake, please see my blog: The Aleph & Taw: The Red Heifer & The Two Sticks

By dying on TWO STICKS (the cross), that were made from TWO TREES, our Messiah was illustrating that he came to make of the TWO BRIDES (Leah & Rachel) and their TWO HANDMAIDS (Bilhah & Zilpah) ONE NEW MAN, SO MAKING SHALOM! (Ephesians 2:15).


  1. Thank you for this explanation. The immediate question I had as I read this was, what does this mean for the Bride of Christ? And you (with Paul the Apostle) answered it in Ephesians -- For he is our peace, who hath made both (Hebrews and Gentiles) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby... MATTHEW 7:12

  2. Thank you for writing this, Maria. I was appalled by a man named Peter Rambo Jr on FB because he believes that women are less than men and when I checked his page, he believes that all the world's worst problems are because women seek equality with men but then turns around and wants to have multiple wives. I just learned that misogyny and polygyny go hand in hand. 😮
    Oh, and I didn't know there were two words regarding multiple spouses. Polygamy can be more than one wife or more than one husband but polygyny is strictly more than one wife.