Home What We
Pages By
Pages By


©Copyright March 26, 2014 by earnestlycontendingforthefaith.com
(See the copyright provisions below)
(For An Adobe PDF Of This File Click Here)
(For A WordPerfect Version Of This File Click Here)



Do you know for a fact that if you were to
die today that you would not go to hell?
If you do not know, click here.

©This book is copyrighted with the following provisions: (1) No part of it may be commercially reproduced for profit. (2) It may be freely reproduced for use as a study and teaching aid in not-for-profit organizations. (3) It may not be posted to another web site without our express written consent. Each case will be considered on its own merits. For questions email us at:





            Let’s establish the fact that a concubine is a wife that comes without a dowry to her husband and without a payment required to the father of the concubine. The concubine was equal in rights to the woman who was called a wife. The concubines sons were on equal footing with the sons of the wife. Many times the terms concubine and wife are used interchangeably when applied to the same individual. In Genesis 16:3 Hagar is called a wife of Abraham and concubine of Abraham in Genesis 25:6. These verses state:

Genesis 16:3
3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

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

Keturah is called a wife in Genesis 25:1 and a concubine in Genesis 25:6 and 1 Chronicles 1:32. These verses say:

Genesis 25:1
1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

1 Chronicles 1:32
32 Now the sons of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine: she bare Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And the sons of Jokshan; Sheba, and Dedan.

Bilhah and Zilpah are called Jacob’s wives in Genesis 37:2 while Bilhah is called Jacob’s concubine in Genesis 35:22 with these verses reading as follows:

Genesis 35:22
22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:

Genesis 37:2
2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

The events recorded concerning the Levite’s concubine in Judges 19 are among the most sordid and tragic in the Scriptures. The King James Bible’s marginal note on Judges 19:1 reads: “a woman a concubine, or, a wife a concubine”. The Levite of Judges 19 is referred to as the husband of the concubine that was slain. These verses are written in Judges 19:3 and Judges 20:4-5:

Judges 19:3
3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.

Judges 20:4-5
4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge. 5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.

Then we have the brief history concerning David’s ten concubines that is written in 2 Samuel 12:11, 2 Samuel 15:16, and 2 Samuel 20:3 which is written thus:

2 Samuel 12:11
11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

2 Samuel 15:16
16 And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house.

2 Samuel 16:21-22
21 And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father’s concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong. 22 So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

2 Samuel 20:3
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.

            Second Samuel 12:11 contains Nathan’s prophecy concerning David’s concubines. Nathan told David that a neighbor would lie with his wives “in the sight of this sun”. That neighbor was his very own son, Absalom, as we saw in 2 Samuel 16:21-22 where Absalom went in unto David’s ten concubines in the sight of all Israel in broad open daylight. From 2 Samuel 15:16, we know that David took all of his wives with him when he left Jerusalem. In 2 Samuel 20:3 David put what had been his ten concubines in ward and they lived in widowhood for the rest of their lives. Only wives could live in widowhood as those ten concubines did. They were called widows because Absalom made them his wives when he went in unto them and he is now dead.

            Rizpah, who is called Saul’s concubine in 2 Samuel 3:7, is also called a wife in 2 Samuel 12:8. It is interesting to note that God said he gave Saul’s wives (PLURAL) into David’s bosom and yet we can only document one wife and one concubine, Rizpah (2 Samuel 3:7), from the scriptures. Ahinoam, Saul’s wife, is identified in 1 Samuel 14:50. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that concubine Rizpah was also considered to be a wife. When we look as these verses we see:

1 Samuel 14:50
50 And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.

2 Samuel 3:7
7 And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah: and Ishbosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s concubine?

2 Samuel 12:8
8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

Here is what the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia had to say concerning concubines:

            “A concubine is recognized among the ancient Hebrews. She enjoyed the same rights in the house as the legitimate wife. Since it was regarded as the highest blessing to have many children, while the greatest curse was childlessness, legitimate wives themselves gave their maids to their husbands to atone, at least in part, for their own barrenness, as in the cases of Sarah and Hagar, Leah and Zilpah, Rachel and Bilhah. The concubine commanded the same respect and inviolability as the wife; and it was regarded as the deepest dishonor for the man to whom she belonged if hands were laid upon her. Thus Jacob never forgave his eldest son for violating Bilhah (Gen. xxxv. 22, xlix. 4). According to the story of Gibeah, related in Judges xix., 25,000 warriors of the tribe of Benjamin lost their lives on account of the maltreatment and death of a concubine. Abner, Saul’s first general, deserted Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, who had reproached his leader with having had intercourse with Rizpah, the daughter of his royal father’s concubine, Aiah (II Sam. iii. 7); and Absalom brought the greatest dishonor upon David by open intercourse with his father’s concubines (ib. xvi. 21 et seq.).

The children of the concubine had equal rights with those of the legitimate wife. Abraham dismissed his natural sons with gifts (Gen. xxv. 6), and Jacob’s sons by Bilhah and Zilpah were equal with his sons by Leah and Rachel; while Abimelech, who subsequently became king over a part of Israel, was the son of Gideon-jerubbaal and his Shechemite concubine (Judges viii. 31). In the time of the Kings the practise of taking concubines was no longer due to childlessness but to luxury. David had ten concubines (II Sam. xv. 16), who, however, also did housework; Solomon had 300 (I Kings xi. 30); and his son Rehoboam had sixty (II Chron. xi. 21)”. (Cited from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article on Concubinage Internet Edition at: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4585-concubinage)

The conclusion that we can draw from the scriptural references to concubines that we have quoted and this quote from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia is that a concubine and a wife are on equal footing in the home.


            A question often arises as to why many of the Old Testament patriarchs and kings had multiple wives and concubines. To many Christians and unbelievers this is puzzling since in American culture we have been rightfully taught that a marriage is made up of only two people; one of which must be a man and the other a woman. Polygamy is illegal in the United States. Though God allowed multiple wives, it was not his original intent. The scriptural definition of marriage requires that two are to become one and not that three or more are to become one. In our previous discussions leading up to this section, we have destroyed the wicked idea of polygamist marriages and same sex unions that God calls abominations. The purpose of this section is to further document the scriptural record concerning multiple wives.

            For purposes of this discussion on multiple wives, we are going to consider concubines as meeting the definition for a wife.

            We have heard it stated that God always condemns polygamy in the Bible. Then, why did God give David multiple wives in 2 Samuel 12:8?? That does not sound to much like condemnation to us. Merab, Saul’s daughter, was promised to be David’s wife by Saul, but she was given to Adriel. Saul also promised to David his daughter Michal to be a wife and David took her to be his wife, but Saul later wickedly gave her unto Phaltiel (See 1 Samuel 18:17-27 and 1 Samuel 25:44). See also Abigail and Ahinoam (1 Samuel 25:39-44); Maacah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah (all four in 2 Samuel 3:1-5); Michal (2 Samuel 3:13-16); Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:27). From Scripture, we know that David had eight wives and ten concubines. However, God warned against a king multiplying wives and horses to himself. Deuteronomy 17:14-17 and 2 Samuel 12:7-8 state:

Deuteronomy 17:14-17
14 When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; 15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. 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 the LORD hath said unto you, Ye 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.

2 Samuel 12:7-8
7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; 8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

 Comparing 2 Samuel 12:7-8 with Deuteronomy 17:14-17 we have ourselves a problem to deal with. If the commandment in Deuteronomy 17:17 is that “Neither shall he [speaking of the king] multiply wives to himself”, then what do you do with the fact that God said in 2 Samuel 12:8 that he gave “thy master’s wives into thy bosom” [referring to King David]? If God’s command in Deuteronomy 17:17 to the kings was that the kings were not to multiply unto themselves wives and God gave Sauls wives into David’s bosom then we would have to conclude that having multiple wives was not a sin. Otherwise the action of God in 2 Samuel 12:7-8 could be interpreted as sin and that would be impossible because God cannot sin. The other point that could be made here is that it was God who done the multiplying and not David though David had already violated this charge to the king. It was David’s desire to have multiple sexual partners (wives) that led to much tragedy in his family. We would again make the point here that the only difference between a wife and a concubine is that a wife came with a dowry and a concubine did not.

            We want to warn our readers that we are not advocating an individual having multiple spouses because we do not believe that is the ideal that God established in Genesis 2:24. Nor is a marriage involving multiple spouses the picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and His church as is plainly presented in the New Testament. There is one New Testament Bride and the one man and one woman husband and wife relationship is declared to be a type of that Bride. We also believe that the requirement that the Old Testament High Priest take a virgin as his wife was a type of what was supposed to have been the relationship between Israel and Jehovah God. God had ONE chosen nation to be his bride and wife and that nation was Israel. She was to be a virgin unto Jehovah God. That type has its perfect fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest, who has that chaste Virgin, the Church, as His Bride. While we know and understand that it has always been God’s intent that there be one man and one woman for a lifetime, we also cannot deny the fact that many men of God in the Old Testament had multiple wives. That would include that man David that was after God’s own heart. There are no verses in either the Old Testament or the New Testament that specifically state that a man cannot have more than one wife. God gave David multiple wives. There is no specific limitations on the number of wives a man may have under the Old Testament law. As a matter of fact, God regulated the treatment of multiple wives under the Old Testament law. Two examples of this law are written in Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15-16 which state:

Exodus 21:10

10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

Deuteronomy 21:15-16
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: 16 Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:

            There were five generations born in the line of Cain before the first incident of polygamy involving Lamech is recorded in the Bible in Genesis 4:19 which reads:

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

What this means is that the seed of Cain was the first to introduce polygamy into the world. That should be very revealing and instructive to us. What Genesis 4:19 and Genesis 5:1-22 tells us is that polygamy did not enter into the world until the fifth generation following Cain and that that period of time had to be at least 700 years. We get that seven hundred year figure by inferring that the five generations of Cain plus Adams age when he beget Seth must be roughly equal to the same figures for the generations of Seth which are recorded in Genesis chapter 5. Those figures total 687 years. The seed of Cain was destroyed in the flood and God restored the ideal of “one man with one woman for a lifetime” when he brought Noah and his three sons and their four wives from the Ark. It was not until 375 years after the flood that we see the next incident of polygamy recorded in the Bible and that involved Abraham in Genesis 16:3-4 and his brother Nahor in Genesis 22:24 where we are told:

Genesis 16:3-4
3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

Genesis 22:23-24
23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.

            So, both Abraham and Nahor had two wives at the same time. This is not to say that there were no more polygamous marriages in the world because if Abraham was guilty, then it only makes sense that many more men in the world were also guilty. One thing should be noted in the case of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar is that the polygamous arrangement resulted in instant strife in the home between all three that were involved. What also ensued from this was the birth of the wild man Ishmael whose seed has been a source of never ending strife in the Middle East. The Ishmaelites have been and continue to be the perpetual enemies of the Jewish people. Esau is the next polygamist we will consider. He took three wives none of whom were from among the people of Isaac and the Bible says it was a grief unto Isaac and Rebekah. These are identified in Genesis chapters 26:34 and Genesis 28:6-9 with the concise list showing up in Genesis 36:1-3 which states:

Genesis 36:1-3
1 Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. 2 Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; 3 And Bashemath Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth.

The reason these wives were a grief unto Isaac and Rebekah is given in Genesis 28:8 where it says that Esau took his wives from among the daughters of Canaan because he knew it displeased his father Isaac.

            The next case of polygamous marriage we run into is that of Jacob in Genesis 30:3-9 where it is written:

Genesis 30:3-9
3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. 4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. 5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan. 7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali. 9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.

From these verses we see that Jacob had four wives. Many believe that Moses had two wives based upon Exodus 2:21 and Numbers 12:1 which say:

Exodus 2:21
21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.

Numbers 12:1
1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

One thing that is clear from these two verses is that Moses had at least one wife who was black. It is debatable in the eyes of some as to whether Moses had two wives. You will have to draw your own conclusions, but according to Exodus 3:1, Jethro, Zipporah’s father, was a Midian and not an Ethiopian. The wife referred to in Numbers 12:1 is stated to be an Ethiopian. The next case of polygamy we find is in the case of Gideon. Judges 8:30 reads:

Judges 8:30
30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.

Judges 8:31 also says that Gideon had at least one concubine. Our next case of polygamy involved Elkanah which is recorded in 1 Samuel 1:2:

1 Samuel 1:1-2
1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: 2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Elkanah was the father of the prophet Samuel. We also see the strife in this home caused by a man having more than one wife. Peninnah and Hannah struggled with one another unto the point that Hannah referred to Peninnah as being an adversary that severely provoked her by mocking her because she was barren (See 1 Samuel 1:4-7). The next case of polygamy is that of Saul where we read in 1 Samuel 14:50 and 2 Samuel 3:7:

1 Samuel 14:50
50 And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.

2 Samuel 3:7
7 And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah: and Ishbosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s concubine?

We have already documented the multiple wives of David, but that in no way approached unto that of his son Solomon who we read about in 1 Kings 11:3 which says:

1 Kings 11:3
3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart

Can you imagine the tension, strife, and confusion which must have existed in Solomon’s home? Through these multiple marriages, Solomon introduced idolatry and child sacrifice into Israel from which she never recovered until all the twelve tribes were sent into captivity. Our next polygamous incidents involved Jerahmeel and Caleb in 1 Chronicles chapter 2 where we see the following:

1 Chronicles 2:25-26
25 And the sons of Jerahmeel the firstborn of Hezron were, Ram the firstborn, and Bunah, and Oren, and Ozem, and Ahijah. 26 Jerahmeel had also another wife, whose name was Atarah; she was the mother of Onam.

1 Chronicles 2:46-48
46 And Ephah, Caleb’s concubine, bare Haran, and Moza, and Gazez: and Haran begat Gazez. 47 And the sons of Jahdai; Regem, and Jotham, and Geshan, and Pelet, and Ephah, and Shaaph. 48 Maachah, Caleb’s concubine, bare Sheber, and Tirhanah.

This is all we know of Jerahmeel and this particular Caleb. No further mention is made of them in the Scriptures. This is not the Caleb from the book of Joshua because they have different fathers. Two other men of whom we know little who had two wives each were Ashur and Shaharaim. Their marriages are recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:5 and 1 Chronicles 8:8 where it is written:

1 Chronicles 4:5
5 And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah.

1 Chronicles 8:8
8 And Shaharaim begat children in the country of Moab, after he had sent them away; Hushim and Baara were his wives.

Our next polygamist is the first Judean king Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Quoting from 2 Chronicles 11:21 we read:

2 Chronicles 11:21
21 And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)

Rehoboam nowhere near approached unto his father Solomon. We do not have a clue how many children Solomon had, but Rehoboam only averaged about one child per wife/concubine having a total of 88 children. We know from 2 Chronicles 13:21 that the Judean king Abijah had fourteen wives:

2 Chronicles 13:21
21 But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.

From 2 Chronicles 21:17 we know that the Judean king Jehoram had at least two wives because that verse says:

2 Chronicles 21:17
17 And they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king’s house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.

                        Our next man having multiple wives is the Judean king Joash in 2 Chronicles 24:2-3 which states:

2 Chronicles 24:2-3

2 And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest. 3 And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters.

Chronologically, our last case of polygamy recorded by name in the Old Testament is that of the Judean king Jehoiachin. This is recorded in 2 Kings 24:15 and says:

2 Kings 24:15
15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

            While Jehoiachin’s case was the last incident of polygamy recorded in the Old Testament by name, it is quite likely there was a huge case of polygamy involving all the people of Israel and all their priests upon their return from their Babylonian captivity because God required all of them including the priests to put away their strange wives in Ezra chapter 10. These strange wives were the pagans that God had commanded them not to marry. What we have seen on our excursion through the Old Testament halls of polygamy is that there was a total of twenty (20) polygamous marriages mentioned by name. Those mentioned by name were Lamech, Abraham, Nahor, Jacob, Esau, Moses(?), Gideon, Elkanah, Saul, David, Solomon, Jerahmeel, Caleb, Ashur, Shaharaim, Rehoboam, Abijah, Jehoram, Joash, and Jehoiachin.

            There are no New Testament examples of a man having more than one wife at a time, but we know that it was a problem both from the Bible and secular history. We know that it was Biblically the case because the Holy Ghost prohibited polygamous marriages in 1 Timothy 3:2 for bishops, in 1 Timothy 3:12 for deacons, and again for bishops in Titus 1:6 when he said that bishops and deacons must be “the husband of one wife”. We also know that it was a problem in secular society from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia and the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus which we now quote:

Josephus and the Talmud.

That polygamy survived into the Christian era is, however, asserted by Josephus (“Ant.” xvii. 1, § 2); and he himself (“Vita,” § 75) seems to have had one wife in Palestine and another in Egypt (comp. Löw, “Gesammelte Schriften,” iii. 47). Such a practise is forbidden by a baraita in Yeb. 37a; and this prohibition is (with certain limitations) introduced into the Shulh.an ‘Aruk (Eben ha-‘Ezer, ii. 11). The Talmud certainly does not enact monogamy (see Bigamy); and as far as the Law is, concerned, Justin Martyr (“Dial. cum Tryph.” § 134) is not wrong in asserting that in his time (2d cent. C.E.) Jews were permitted to have four or five wives. (Cited from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article on Monogamy: Internet Edition located at: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10949-monogamy )

Nevertheless, having the advantage of precedent, it was long before polygamy fell into disuse in Hebrew society. Herod had nine wives at one time (Josephus, Ant, XVII, I, 2). Justin Martyr (Dial., 134, 141) reproaches Jews of his day with having “four or even five wives,” and for “marrying as many as they wish” (compare Talm). It was not definitely and formally forbidden among Jews until circa 1000 AD. It exists still among Jews in Moslem lands. [Cited from page 634 of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) from the article “Marriage”; James Orr, General Editor]

He also allotted one of Aristobulus’s daughters to Antipater’s son, and Aristobulus’s other daughter to Herod, a son of his own, who was born to him by the high priest’s daughter; for it is the ancient practice among us to have many wives at the same time. [The Works Of Flavius Josephus, Book 17, Chapter 1, Section 2 (14)]

Now Herod the king had at this time nine wives; one of them, Antipater’s mother, and another the high priest’s daughter, by whom he had a son of his own name. He had also one who was his brother’s daughter, and another his sister’s daughter; which two had no children. [The Works Of Flavius Josephus, Book 17, chapter 1, section 3(19), page 452]

She also frequently reproached Herod’s sister and wives with the ignobility of their descent; and that they were every one chosen by him for their beauty, but not for their family. Now those wives of his were not a few; it being of old permitted to the Jews to marry many wives, — and this king delighting in many; all whom hated Alexander, on account of Glaphyria’s boasting and reproaches. [The Works Of Flavius Josephus, War Of The Jews, Chapter 24, page 1351]

            The reason we presented the information above is that many commentaries state that the practice of polygamy had ceased among the Jews at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ. That that statement is untrue can be documented from the five quotes just cited. Flavius Josephus was born in 37 A. D. Justin Martyr died in 165 A. D. The article on marriage from the ISBE plainly states that polygamy was not out formally forbidden among the Jewish people until 1,000 A. D. and that the practice still continued in Moslem lands at least until 1929 which was the original copyright year for the ISBE.

            We have used a lot of time and gone into a great deal of detail to document the prevalence of polygamy among the Jewish people for several reasons. We will use this information in our chapter dealing with “Standards For Church Service” because it drives to the issue of the proper interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:2 and 1 Timothy 3:12. We also wanted to document the misery that polygamy caused in the nation of Israel because it departed from God’s ideal for marriage given in Genesis 2:24. We also wanted to use it as the springboard to present the purity and absolute oneness of the Bride of Christ and the Lord Jesus Christ as it is illustrated in type by the perfect unity of the “one flesh” relationship of husband and wife established by God in Genesis 2. In that perfect unity with the Lord Jesus Christ we exist in an eternal state of innocence that cannot be corrupted by sin. The oneness of the Bride of Christ and the Lord Jesus Christ totally destroys the myth that polygamy was instituted by God.

            According to Ephesians 5:30-32, the marriage between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bride of Christ has already taken place. These verses read:

Ephesians 5:30-32
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 Christ and the church.

The coming Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19 is but the celebration of an accomplished fact. The Bible teaches that the church and its members have become one flesh with the Lord Jesus Christ! Not only are believers one flesh with the Lord Jesus Christ, but they are one spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ. We can prove this from 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 which states:

1 Corinthians 6:15-20
15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

This idea of oneness in Christ is pictured in the Old Testament in Malachi 2:14-16 which tells us:

Malachi 2:14-16
14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

Malachi 2:14-16 does not say wives. It says wife (singular). The Lord Jesus Christ in rebuking the Pharisees for their licentious interpretation and application of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, cites Genesis 2:24 when he had this to say in Matthew 19:

Matthew 19:4-6
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye 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 twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Genesis 2:24
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

This statement of the Lord Jesus Christ would also rule out polygamous, polygynous, and polyandrous marriages because it states that TWO would become ONE flesh. It does not say that two or more became one flesh. It also rules out the abomination of same sex unions because the scriptural qualifications are MALE AND FEMALE. It is obvious from Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:4-6 that God’s original intent from the beginning was one man and one woman for a lifetime. God hates putting away. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul stated that the espousal of the Church was to ONE husband. The Church is not many brides, but one bride. The oneness of that relationship is emphasized very strongly in Ephesians 4:2-6. These verses state:

Ephesians 4:2-6
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

In Ephesians 5:22-33, the husband and wife relationship of Genesis 2:24 is presented as a type of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and His Bride, the church. These verses read:

Ephesians 5:22-33
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 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 Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

The oneness of this relationship is emphasized over and over again by the apostle Paul in Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 10:17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 1 Corinthians 12:20, Ephesians 2:16, Ephesians 4:4, and Colossians 3:15. These verses read:

Romans 12:4-5
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1 Corinthians 10:17
17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:20
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

Ephesians 4:4
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

Colossians 3:15
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

That one body that is called out over and over in these Scriptures is the Bride Of Christ. This emphasis over and over upon one body finds it culmination in Revelation 19:6-8 where a single Bride is presented to the Lord Jesus Christ in all of her glory. Since this single Bride and single Bridegroom represents the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church we can emphatically state that God never intended for us to have multiple spouses, but that he allowed it because of the lack of faith of men and women and because of the hardness of their hearts.


            Next to salvation, one of the most important decisions a Christian will ever make is the one that leads to their marriage to their spouse. Who will your spouse be?? It has always been God’s command to his people that they would not marry pagans. In God’s plan, Jews were to marry Jews and after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christians were to marry Christians. Put simply, this means that a believer cannot marry an unbeliever. In the Old Testament, it was a lot easier to keep this commandment because all you had to do was marry someone who was physically born an Israelite. In the New Testament, the decision becomes much more complex because you have to make a spiritually discerned judgment as to whether a person is born again spiritually. That is, are they a born again Christian? That decision is very difficult to make on short notice most of the time unless there is direct intervention from the Holy Ghost of God. Whether to marry someone should be a spiritually discerned decision making process. Unless you have known and experienced someone’s spiritual testimony for a long time before you think you have fallen in love with them, you had better take much time in trying to spiritually discern whether they know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. You need to question your potential spouse about when and how they received the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have any reservation about doing this, you had better heed the red flag the Holy Ghost has run up for you and run from that individual. You need to observe their lifestyle. Is their everyday decision making process one that seeks to honor the Lord Jesus Christ? What is their manner of speech and dress when they are away from the house of God? Do they feed you a constant diet of anything but Jesus? Is their focus upon worldly entertainment? What do they believe about holiness and biblical separation? What do they believe about the Bible and Bible doctrines? Most of the time the rush to marry is the rush to fulfill lust. Before you have a physical relationship with someone, you had better establish a spiritual relationship with them. Before you have a physical relationship with someone, you had better establish a Holy Ghost informed emotional relationship with them. God absolutely forbids pre marital sexual relationships. Have a sexual relationship with someone makes you married to them in the eyes of God. People who get married following extended sexual relationships experience the highest rates of divorce in the United States. If someone wants to try you out before they marry you, it means that they do not love you after a Godly fashion. If someone keeps pushing you about a sexual relationship, it is a very strong indication that they are in open rebellion to God. A person that is in open rebellion to God may not be saved. If you are considering marrying someone, ask God over and over again to direct your paths in a direction that would not be displeasing to Him.

            We are going to quote several passages of Scripture governing God’s commands in choosing a spouse and make a few brief comments. Turn in your Bibles to Genesis 24:3-4:

Genesis 24:3-4
3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

            Abraham here is beseeching his servant to search out a wife for his son. In this passage of Scripture Abraham’s servant is a type of the Holy Ghost. We are to beseech the Holy Ghost to direct us in our search for a mate. Abraham’s charge to his servant here is that he not bring a daughter of the Canaanites; in other words a pagan. Now turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 28 where we read:

Genesis 28:1
1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.

Genesis 28:6-9
6 When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; 7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram; 8 And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; 9 Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.

            In this passage of Scripture, we see Isaac’s charge to his son Jacob that he not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. It is the identical charge that was given to Abraham’s elder servant concerning Isaac’s future wife. She was not to be a pagan unbeliever. We cannot emphasize strongly enough the need for parents to properly train up their children in all Biblical precepts including those on how to evaluate whether a particular individual is the choice God would have them to make. Train them to seek God’s will in this matter of marriage. Charge them not to marry and unbeliever. Turn now in your Bibles to Exodus 34:12-16 and let us begin reading:

Exodus 34:12-16
12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: 13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: 14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

            God’s charge to the nation of Israel, their fathers and their mothers, and their sons and daughters was not to make a covenant with the wicked, pagan inhabitants of Canaan land which they were about to enter. Their altars, their images, and their groves were instruments that they used to worship their pagan gods. God will not allow his people to worship other gods and be in fellowship with Him. God’s warning was that if their sons and daughters married into pagan families, that they would fall into idolatry and go a whoring after their gods. You cannot marry a known unbeliever and expect to change them after you marry them. That is not God’s way and is the surest way to be deceived by Satan. They will corrupt you. It only takes a little bit of dirt to be dirty and if you ignore it long enough, you will be filthy after a while and vex your righteous soul with the works of the wicked. Now let’s go to Deuteronomy 7 verses 2 and 3 where it is written:

Deuteronomy 7:2-3
2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

            Here is yet another admonishment from God that the sons and daughters of Israel were not to make marriages with the pagans that lived in the Promised Land. How often this admonishment was ignored by the children of Israel and ultimately it was their pagan marriages that lead to their being exiled from the Promised Land for almost 1,900 years not to count the numerous holocausts and pogroms that they suffered at the hands of the pagans that they had intermarried with. There is a terrible cost to be paid if you disobey God’s command not to marry unbelievers. A further illustration of the pain caused by the violation of this precept is contained in Ezra chapter 9 verses 1 and 2 and Ezra chapter 10 verses 2 and 3. These verses state:

Ezra 9:1-2
1 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

Ezra 10:2-3
2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. 3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

            Here in Ezra 10, God has commanded them to put away all their pagan wives and all their children born of those pagan wives. What a painful experience that was for them. Note also from Ezra 9:1-2 that it was not just the people that had been guilty of intermarrying with pagans, but the priests were also guilty of intermarrying with pagans. Can you imagine the weeping and wailing that was going on here. The priests had to give a trespass offering before they could continue to offer the sacrifices. Note that the separation ordered here had nothing to do with race. The separation was a separation from those who believed in pagan gods. It was a separation based upon things spiritual and not upon physical characteristics. Following this cleansing of the people and the priesthood the people and the priesthood entered into an oath to keep themselves clear from the pagans. This oath is recorded in Nehemiah 10:29-30 and states:

Nehemiah 10:29-30
29 They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; 30 And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons:

            These commandments to be a separate people and not to intermarry with pagans were not isolated to the Old Testament. The Holy Ghost’s command to Christian widows that are seeking to remarry is that they seek out a fellow believer. We see this in 1 Corinthians 7:39 which says:

1 Corinthians 7:39
39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

That is what the meaning of “only in the Lord” is. It means that a Christian must seek out a Christian mate. We see further New Testament guidance for this precept in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 where the Holy Ghosts says:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

What this passage in 2 Corinthians 6 means is that we are not to hook up, or become yoked, with unbelievers in any area of life and that includes marriage. The Lord Jesus Christ does not fellowship with Belial. If you enter into a marriage with an unbeliever you are entering into fellowship with the Devil (here called Belial). Christians are light and the unbelievers are darkness. The body of the believer is the temple of the living God while the body of the unbeliever is the temple of Satan who is the god of this world. We are not to join in any relationships with those that are unsaved.


Back To Top/a> Back To The Links Page For This Book Back To Home Page