Thursday, October 22, 2020

Does Scripture Condone Polygamy?

 By Maria Merola

© Copyright Double Portion Inheritance May 2011

Many people have written to me asking whether or not the 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 marriages, 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 that 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.”  

First and foremost, we are commanded to “obey the laws of the land” in Romans 13, and our laws in America are at this present time against polygamy. Let me start off by saying that I am totally against polygamy and I believe that YaHuWaH only tolerated it in the Tanakh (Old Testament), but it was not his original design from the beginning. Over and over again in the scriptures, we find that YaHuWaH speaks of a “one man and one woman” relationship with the “TWO” becoming “ONE” and never do you find the concept of 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 (not wives) 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.

Also the “two brides” of Leah and Rachel must become “one bride” or “one new man” at Messiahs return. He will only take unto himself “one bride” (not many brides). 

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 mankind which led to polygamy in the first place (Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah against his will). This 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 today between the “Two Houses” of Yisra’el. Rehoboam made the burdens of the Ten Northern Tribes of Yisra’el “too heavy” and thus the ONE HOUSE of Yisra’el (which was once unified under David) were then divided into two nations.

Yaaqob (Jacob) had already been given his brother Esaus inheritance, when Esau forfeited his inheritance for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:32-34). Rebekah, Ya’aqob’s mother had received a prophecy when she was pregnant with the twins that “the elder shall serve the younger (Genesis 25:23) and so it was already prophesied that Yaaqob (Jacob) would receive his father’s inheritance. There was no need for Ya’aqob (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 lied to his father Yitzchaq (Isaac) in order to win his brother Esau’s inheritance. But as a result of his lying to his father, he reaped further deception that was done to him later on by Laban. Because of Ya’aqob (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 even lied to him about his son Joseph being killed by a wild animal. And so Jacob sowed deception and reaped deception. Laban was an idol worshiper, and so his decision to trick Ya’aqob (Jacob) into marrying Leah first was not inspired by the Spirit of YaHuWaH. Now of course, YaHuWaH still worked this into his plan in spite of the actions of sinful humans. 

However, the mingling of the “Seed of Abraham” with the gentile nations became the result of these two marriages, and the future exile of these two houses. Thus, YaHuWaH still made good on his promise to Abraham despite of the actions of sinful humanity. 

Abraham would 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, and 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 Ark (Genesis 7:7). YaHuWaH called Noah’s family righteous and pure. If polygamy were ordained of YaHuWaH, it would have made sense that Noah and his sons would 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 marriages, but this does not mean that he encouraged it nor that he wanted this to be the case 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 Shaul (Paul) wrote this letter to Timothy about the criteria for being a leader in the Body of Messiah:

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 (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 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 abandon me for another woman. In spite of 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 they never stop to think how it makes a woman feel. 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 from where Abraham and Sarah came. 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. 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 on and became great in the eyes of YaHuWaH. But that does not make their sin no longer a sin. If YaHuWaH condoned polygamy why did he tell Abraham to listen to Sarah when Sarah asked Abraham to send Hagar 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 Abraham's 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 his wife Sarah. This tells us that the marriage covenant between Abraham & Sarah was the only one that was binding and YaHuWaH did not want that covenant to be compromised by the addition of a second wife in the picture.

David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and killed her husband Uriah. Do we then rationalize that we can do the same because David did it? Jacob lied to his Father Isaac to get his brother's 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 were justified by Grace through faith in YaHuWaH. They were only great patriarchs because of their great 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 2nd Greatest Commandment

In all of the cases of plural marriages that we have seen in scripture, women and children are always hurt and families are torn apart as a result of the strife, jealousy and rivalry. Because a wife is being hurt by the idea of her husband desiring another woman, 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.

*Note: 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.

*Note: even Reuben could feel his poor mother Leah’s rejection, so he tried to help out her cause by bringing her mandrakes. Then Rachel tried to convince Leah to give her the mandrakes.

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.

*Note: Leah felt rejected here because she accuses her sister Rachel of stealing her husband’s affections, even though Jacob loved Rachel first. But Leah was the first to marry Jacob, so 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 women felt rejected in this marriage 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.

*Note: 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. And Jacob being the righteous man that he was, would not put her away once he committed to her because he knew that was the only way that he could have Rachel any way. Laban was an idol worshiper, and plural marriages were very much a part of pagan cultures back then. If a man’s wife is hurt by the idea of sharing him with another woman, this is a violation of the 2nd greatest commandment.

There are many examples of polygamy in the Torah that illustrates why it doesn’t work and that it only leads to jealousy, division, disunity and ultimately sin. Abraham and Sarah brought in Hagar to produce an heir and look what they got: Ishmael. 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 and 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 the son from YHWH, 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. And so those who say that Abraham had two wives (this is not true). He had one wife (Sarah), and he remarried when Sarah died. 

In Bereshiyth (Genesis) 25:6, it says that Abraham had “concubines”(not the same thing as a legitimate wife). Hagar was a slave and concubine without the same rights as a wife. The Middle East conflict to this day exists because of “plural sex partners” that disrupted the marriage of Abraham and Sarah. The fact that Abraham listened to Sarah and sent Hagar away proves that if the woman is not in agreement with having another woman in her husband’s bed, then he needs to defer to his wife in order to honor the marriage covenant.

3.) David, Abigail & Bethsheba: 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 Bethsheba, committed adultery with her, and subsequently had her husband Uriah killed. 

The judgement that ensued was foretold by the prophet Nathaniel:

2nd Samuel 12:

8 And I gave you your master's house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Yisrael and of 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 repented of his adultery with Bethsheba, and also of his polygamy (see 2nd Samuel 20:3). 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 Solomon taking many heathen wives, which resulted in the Kingdom of Yisra’el being divided following Solomon’s Death. 

YaHuWaH still used this to bring about the “fullness of the Gentiles” and he chose to use the dividing of these two kingdoms to bring about the mixing of the “seed of Abraham” into the nations. But never-the-less, many people were hurt in the process. 

This could have been accomplished by the nation of Yisrael being the kings & priests that they were always meant to be, and they would have been able 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 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 pagan temples for his many wives.

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 Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto you such and such things.

*Note: “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.

Now 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 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 for 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 in 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 a 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 (not to they).

Divorce & Remarriage Permissible For the Innocent Party

According to Deuteronomy 24, a woman may go and become another man’s wife once he writes her a certificate of divorce.  However, the confusion comes in with some corrupted Greek translations that use the word “divorce” in Matthew 5 where the word should really be “put away.” These are two totally different words in Hebrew and in Greek. The word for “put away” means that the woman is abandoned but still legally married. But the word “divorced” means that is has been made legal by a written divorce certificate.

The Hebrew Words for Divorce & Put Away:

Shalach: to cause to leave, to remove

Kyrithuth: 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

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, committs adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away (shalach, apoluo) does commit adultery.

You will notice 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!

Scripture Does Not Condemn Remarriage After Divorce in Certain Cases as Many Have Falsely Taught.

Now let us examine the above 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. You see, men were just abandoning their wives without writing them a certificate of divorce, and this left the woman unable to re-marry. So she was left in limbo still being legally married to the first husband and unable to re-marry. And so the Pharisees asked “Is it lawful for a man to PUT AWAY his wife for every cause?”

Notice that in verse 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 and then remarries another woman, he is also committing adultery! Matthew 5:9 proves this! And so 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 the example of the patriarchs who had multiple wives in many cases. But regardless of the actions of the patriarchs in scripture, we can see many proofs in scripture that polygamy was never the plan of YaHuWaH from the beginning and he only allowed it because men’s hearts are hardened and full of adultery. 

If YaHuWaH did not allow Polygamy, men would then be tempted to put away their older wives as they began to age, and become wrinkled only to go out and find a younger more beautiful woman, thus making the older wife feel hurt and rejected. And so in order to prevent men from abandoning their wives, YaHuWaH allowed them to marry more than one wife. 

The “lesser of the two evils” was to make the man responsible for the “wife of his youth” and not abandon her. However, we are commanded to “flee youthful lusts” and to die daily to the sinful lustful nature. The Renewed Covenant “raises the bar” and teaches us to deny ourselves daily and to take up our cross daily” 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 pagan 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 back then and is still causing to this day. Even when the Torah made certain provisions for polygamy, it was always under the condition: “if he takes another wife to himself …” (Exodus 21:10). 

YaHuWaH was not encouraging polygamy but 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 began to see the wisdom in practicing monogamy because people had learned their lesson from the problems seen in polygamous marriages from 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. There are righteous men in the TaNaKh (Old Testament) that had only one wife at a time, like Moses. King David was in violation of Torah by taking on multiple wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). And the evidence of this was that there was always trouble in his household as a result. This included deadly sibling rivalry between David’s sons from his multiple wives; and Solomon’s hundreds of wives which lead him into idolatry (1st Kings 11:1–3). Also, Hannah, (Samuel’s mother), was humiliated by her husband Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah (1st Samuel 1:1–7).

Nehemiah 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 his 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 one 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” above is not merely a biological sister but a sister in the faith of YaHuWaH as well.

The Final Analysis

Polygamy was responsible for Abraham & Sarah producing an Yishma’el and it lead to Egyptian bondage for the Yisra’elites. Hagar genders to bondage and Sarah genders to freedom (Galatians 4). The marriage of Abraham with two wives produced slavery (Ishmael, Islam). The marriage of Abraham to the wife of his youth Sarah produced (Isaac, Freedom, Jerusalem). That is why YaHuWaH told Abraham to listen to Sarah and send Hagar away! 

Polygamy brought on by the idolater Laban is what has caused there to be “enmity” between Rachel and Leah, and Joseph and his brothers. To this day there is “enmity” between Yahuwdiy (Jews) and Gentiles because of polygamy. Messiah “abolished” this ENMITY on the tree between Leah & Rachel, Ephraim & Judah, Jew & Gentile for to make of the TWO BRIDES ONE NEW MAN, SO MAKING PEACE! (Ephesians 2:15).

1 comment:

  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