A common accusation against polygyny is that there are no positive references is Scripture, but is that really true? Or, is it a radically false claim and an affront to the Living Elohim?
In a discussion group that I participate in, the question was asked, ‘how best to respond to the statement that “nothing good ever came from that”?’ And, I’ve heard that same assertion from multiple sources, some well versed in Scripture. I watched the discussion with some interest and several real gems popped out that I either had not seen, or found ways to phrase much more concisely! Consider the following cases:
11 All the people who were in the court (gate), and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth (power) in Ephrathah and become famous (name be great) in Bethlehem.Ruth 4
Certainly, I have long believed that Ruth was taken on as an additional wife to an already successful man and his family, but this is immaterial to the point of this verse!
The great value in this verse is that the elders and wise men who sat in the city gates regarded Leah and Rachel as a blessed model for building the (whole) house of Israel. One could also read ‘achieving power’ and ‘becom(ing) famous’ as being associated as well with the polygyny of Jacob as that is what Leah and Rachel brought to Jacob! More in a minute!
The lineage of Yeshua is the second most, if not the most, glaring refutation of ‘nothing good ever came from polygyny.’ Besides being the ‘Son of David’ by Bathsheba, his seventh wife, Yeshua also has in his lineage Abraham and Jacob, known polygynists as well as Judah, Salmon, and Boaz, all probable polygynists. I’m certain that other clues elsewhere in the text indicate others in the lineage were polygynous as this was quite common in Israel, but there is enough evidence from the known polygynists to singlehandedly destroy the ‘nothing good ever came’ slander.
1 The record of the genealogy of Yeshua the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.Matthew 1
To read these verses and then say, ‘nothing good ever came from polygyny’ is to be profoundly ignorant and obtuse or willfully deceitful.
What drives me the most to defend polygyny is a clear understanding that Scripture defines and endorses the practice within certain boundaries. As you’ll see in the following golden quote (pictured at end) by Steve Bearsley, denying or speaking against the practice or any who walk in it is to speak against the God of Israel!!
God doesn’t speak any differently about the outcome from the union of a man with one wife over another of his wives. Multiple times throughout the Bible God identifies Himself as the “God of Israel” or the “Lord God of Israel” and Israel is the nation descended from Jacob and his four wives. Passages such as Psalm 72:18 make this distinction most specific: Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things!
Because the world has been so thoroughly duped and blinded as to who God is, they miss the blessedness of God speaking of Himself as the God of a polygamous family.
So in answer to your church leader’s challenge @Member, I’d say God speaks of Himself in a most positive manner when He refers to Himself as the God of Israel; a nation descended from Jacob’s family. And woe to anyone who speaks against the God of Israel. ShalomDiscussion Group
This is very serious indeed! To speak against Jacob is to speak against the God of Israel! To speak against polygyny is to speak against the God of Jacob who endorses and actually created the circumstances of Jacob’s four wives. To call polygyny a sin is to place oneself in judgment of our father Jacob/Israel and by extension, in judgment of God.
While there are more proofs in Scripture of positive benefit in and to polygynous families, these three not only definitively crush the fallacious claim that ‘nothing good ever came from polygyny,’ but they demolish any attempt to promote some ‘creation ideal’ or Greco-Roman standard of monogamy-only as ‘God’s will.’
Simply, teaching or speaking against polygyny as a viable and righteous option in Biblically defined families is to speak against the God of Israel and His plan and people. Period.
When people say that nothing good came out of polygyny they are referring to the relationship of husbands and wives, not the fruit (children).
For example, we always see in the Bible that a man only loves one woman. This makes sense because God made only one wife for Adam.
Even Solomon said:
8 Sixty queens there may be, and eighty concubines, and virgins beyond number;
9 but my dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her. The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines praised her.
I believe God showed us these cases to see that polygyny is not good for marriage.
Remember that Christ was born only of Leah, the other women were dispensable for Christ’s existence.
Were the other women dispensable for am Israel?
How about Batsheva? She wasn’t first, or second, or… sixth… at least seventh. Hmmm..
Your quote of Shlomo has the woman’s mother calling her a favorite, not Shlomo…. (though he obviously thought highly of her)
Bottom line, YHVH never ever condemns the practice and even describes Himself in those terms several times. Authors and major players in Scripture were polygynists.. you may not like it, but you best not place God and His ways in judgment lest you find yourself adding to His Torah and walking in self righteousness.
I was referring to Jacob’s other wives.
The whole Song of Songs is about this favourite woman of Solomon. If she was not the only one, he would not have written that sound.
What the Bible always shows in polygamous cases is that a man only has the capacity to love one woman.
So why should a woman accept to enter into a polygamous relationship?
Scripture actually never says that a man can only love one woman. That is a culturally inculcated assumption you import into the text. Same with Song of Songs. Do you know for certain that Solomon did not write anything lauding any of his other women? Or, is that an assumption?
Here’s a couple verses to chew on:
2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest. 3 Jehoiada chose two wives for him, and he had sons and daughters. 2 Chr 24.
We always see examples in every case of polygamy we have details of (maybe except Lamech, but we don’t see much of their relationship…)
It is because of this that Christians have become against polygamy, this is not the fault of the culture or the Catholic church, but the examples we see in the bible.
“Do you know for certain that Solomon did not write anything lauding any of his other women?”
which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these.
I ask: Jesus used Genesis 2 against divorce and Paul used it for female submission, why would this not also apply to polygyny? Since genesis 2 is only the foundation of marriage, and they stretched that to other things.
I leave that question for you to think about carefully.
In Genesis 2 they were also naked and unashamed and God was the matchmaker and witness. Do you advocate for these as well?
Yeshua/Jesus did use Genesis 2 against divorce, but polygyny was common in His day and He never mentioned it.. Hmmm…
The real root of monogamy-only as something ‘higher ideal’ is Tertullian’s De Monogamia. He based a significant portion of his argument on pagan culture and Roman law… the point is, God’s Word never condemns polygyny, but Christendom does which is adding to Scripture…. a sin.
They are totally different things.
People could also have said the same thing to Jesus when he used Genesis 2 against divorce and when Paul used it for female submission.
“Secondly, the rabbis rarely used the Adam and Eve story as a source of halakhah. This story contains a strong monogamous ideal and was used by both Jesus and the Dead Sea sect as grounds for prohibiting divorce.”
– English Explanation of Mishnah Gittin
Bottom line, I’d rather agree with Jesus and Paul, who quoted Genesis (and Moses never did that).