The Bible – contains advice concerning the marriage between a man and a woman
List of examples of polygamy further down below
Polygamy = the practice of marrying multiple spouses
When it comes to the question of marriage and the relationship between a man and his wife, the Bible contains substantial advice from the apostle Paul in the matter but he never mentions other marriage forms (such as same-sex marriages or polygamy) which naturally suggests that other variations are not according to God’s plans and should be unheard of in a Christian community.
Unfortunately God’s view of an ideal marriage is attacked by some people and there are also people who try to find support for polygamy in the Bible. Nevertheless, the Bible explains on the first few pages that a marriage is a union between one man and one woman. No other variations are listed. The marriage union is intended to be:
- between a man and a woman
- between two individuals (who become one flesh with each other)
Such a natural union is also ideal for the children who would then be born into a stable household, and each new generation would grow up with a mother and a father as role models. Men and women have different abilities and characteristics depending on their gender, and children benefit from both.
Gen. 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Prior to the time of Moses, marriages between cousins and siblings were legitimate (even if they might be rare), but then again Adam and Eve were created “very good”, and had no deficient genes which might cause any defects in their children. Such risks did not arrive until much later due to gene pool bottlenecks.
If God would have accepted same-sex marriages, we would be able to find support for this somewhere in his word. Not only are there no such examples but we can find many warnings against this type of unnatural life style. If we choose to live against God’s intended purpose and creation order, we are also choosing to live a risky life style which could even lead to depression and an early death. In his great love, God wants something much better for us. If all people would adhere to God’s advice about this, there would be no room for any venereal diseases.
Rom. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
1 Cor. 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (NKJV)
Lev. 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination
If something is an abomination in the old testament, it could not possibly be acceptable and right in the new testament.
Even if the ideal marriage union is between two persons, there are Biblical examples of men (never women) who have deviated from this rule and who have lived in a polygamous marriage with more than one woman. It is noteworthy that none of those marriages have been peaceful or successful.
God is not a fan of either polygamy or divorce but due to man’s own will and the hardness of the heart, God provides rules for the sake of the weaker part – the woman. During the time of the old testament there was no safety net for women apart from belonging to a household which could provide for her (and her children). A single woman who is neither a virgin or a widow would have great difficulties achieving a good standard of living with no protective laws giving her certain rights. As soon as people deviate from God’s intention, problems arise for one or more parties. In such cases one could only do the best of the situation.
The first person we can read about living in a polygamous marriage is Lemech (Gen. 4:19) who was not a godly man. The book of Jasher provides more information about him and his wives, and discloses that he initially used only one wife for child-bearing.
Sometimes the reason for a polygamous marriage is not disclosed, but whenever it is disclosed among the godly men of the Bible, we can see that the reasons seem to be due to having been persuaded by a barren wife to have children with a handmaid, or possibly due to having been tricked into marrying more than one wife. These are not the reasons you would hear from Christian polygamy supporters today. They provide totally different arguments for a polygamous marriage – none of them Biblical.
They might suggest that God accept polygamous marriages since there are plenty of Biblical examples of them, but they are almost always in relation to ungodly men. Yes, there are a few cases when it comes to godly men, but if you see the details in the list below it is evident that these cases still cannot be used as support. Below, I do not list individuals in polygamous marriages who were never considered righteous in the first place, such as Lemech above or Jeroboam, Ahab, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Esau, etc.
Concubines in the Bible among godly men: The practice of taking concubines as “wives” was used to provide a male heir for a barren wife (Gen. 16, 35, 36), but concubines did not have the same status as wives. The sons of some concubines were treated as co-heirs with the sons of wives. Multiplying children through concubines would also increase the available family workforce and the family wealth and power. The practice of having concubines was NOT to meet the sexual desires of the males. The practice could even provide a social safety net for poor families who could sell their daughters in dire times (Exod 21:7-10; Judges 19:1).
The list consists of the most commonly used Biblical examples when it comes to the attempt to support polygamy today.
Abraham allowed himself to be persuaded by his wife Sarah to go to bed with her maid Hagar in order to obtain a child with her. The reason for this was that Sarah herself was barren and likely eager to get pregnant with a son as per God’s promise. Perhaps Abraham was easily persuaded because he too was eager to see the divine promise fulfilled. Hagar did indeed become pregnant and gave birth to Ishmael. Even though a son was now born to Abraham and Sarah, it was still not the son of the promise. God had promised that Sarah would be giving birth to a son – and never suggested that she would make her own arrangements through another woman to see this promise fulfilled. Their second son Isaac was born by Sarah and he was the son of the promise. There have been many contentions between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael (even today).
Abraham also had a wife/concubine after Sarah’s death – Keturah, and Keturah and Hagar are likely the two concubines referred to in Gen. 25:6 (unless one would like to make a case about Abraham’s vague mentioning of Eliezer of Damascus which requires a blog post in itself and still would not prove yet another concubine).
Gen. 16:1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. — 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.
Gen. 25:6 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.
Gen. 15:2 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.4 And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
1 Chron. 1:32 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.
Jasher 16:29 And when Hagar saw that she had conceived she rejoiced greatly, and her mistress was despised in her eyes, and she said within herself, This can only be that I am better before God than Sarai my mistress, for all the days that my mistress has been with my lord, she did not conceive, but me the Lord has caused in so short a time to conceive by him.30 And when Sarai saw that Hagar had conceived by Abram, Sarai was jealous of her handmaid, and Sarai said within herself, This is surely nothing else but that she must be better than I am.31 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee, for at the time when thou didst pray before the Lord for children why didst thou not pray on my account, that the Lord should give me seed from thee?32 And when I speak to Hagar in thy presence, she despiseth my words, because she has conceived, and thou wilt say nothing to her; may the Lord judge between me and thee for what thou hast done to me.33 And Abram said to Sarai, Behold thy handmaid is in thy hand, do unto her as it may seem good in thy eyes; and Sarai afflicted her, and Hagar fled from her to the wilderness.
Jacob was tricked by his uncle Laban to marry an extra wife – Laban’s oldest daughter Leah. Based on the book of Jasher (see below), Laban put out the lights in the house (claiming it was a tradition), and tricked Jacob to sleep with Leah by making him think it was his promised wife Rachel – the younger daughter. Jacob himself would have preferred to be married to his Rachel alone. Even though Jacob was innocent, he could not make what happened undone and with a promise to also get married to Rachel he accepted the fate of being the husband of two wives (against his will). This polygamous marriage produced problems (as polygamous marriages always do) when the sisters were jealous of each other, and due to being barren each of one of them managed to persuade Jacob two have children with their maids. Bilhah and Zilpah became Jacob’s wives as well and their offspring became his heirs.
Laban appears to be a polygamist as well according to Jasher, but since this information is not from the Bible I do not include him on my list. Moreoever, he cannot be used as support for a Christian polygamy since he was hardly a righteous man at all times. Since Jacob was tricked into marrying an extra wife (it was not his own choice), and since it was his wives rather than himself who suggested additional wives due to the reason of them being barren, this case cannot be used as support for polygamy today. Polygamists today usually use totally different arguments as support for polygamy.
Gen. 29:21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.31 And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.
Gen. 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?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.
Jasher 30:13 And Laban had no sons but only daughters, and his other wives and handmaids were still barren in those days; and these are the names of Laban’s daughters which his wife Adinah had borne unto him; the name of the elder was Leah and the name of the younger was Rachel; and Leah was tender-eyed, but Rachel was beautiful and well favored, and Jacob loved her. — 18 And in the fourth year of Jacob’s residence in the house of Laban, the Lord visited Laban and remembered him on account of Jacob, and sons were born unto him, and his first born was Beor, his second was Alib, and the third was Chorash. 19 And the Lord gave Laban riches and honor, sons and daughters, and the man increased greatly on account of Jacob.
Jasher 31:1 And in the seventh year, Jacob’s service which he served Laban was completed, and Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for the days of my service are fulfilled; and Laban did so, and Laban and Jacob assembled all the people of that place and they made a feast.2 And in the evening Laban came to the house, and afterward Jacob came there with the people of the feast, and Laban extinguished all the lights that were there in the house.3 And Jacob said unto Laban, Wherefore dost thou do this thing unto us? and Laban answered, Such is our custom to act in this land.4 And afterward Laban took his daughter Leah, and he brought her to Jacob, and he came to her and Jacob did not know that she was Leah.5 And Laban gave his daughter Leah his maid Zilpah for a handmaid.6 And all the people at the feast knew what Laban had done to Jacob, but they did not tell the thing to Jacob. 7 And all the neighbors came that night to Jacob’s house, and they ate and drank and rejoiced, and played before Leah upon timbrels, and with dances, and they responded before Jacob, Heleah, Heleah.— 10 And in the morning, when daylight appeared, Jacob turned to his wife and he saw, and behold it was Leah that had been lying in his bosom, and Jacob said, Behold now I know what the neighbors said last night, Heleah, they said, and I knew it not. — 12 And Laban answered Jacob, saying, Not so is it done in our place to give the younger before the elder now therefore if thou desirest to take her sister likewise, take her unto thee for the service which thou wilt serve me for another seven years.13 And Jacob did so, and he also took Rachel for a wife, and he served Laban seven years more, and Jacob also came to Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and Laban gave her his maid Bilhah for a handmaid. — 17 And when Leah saw that she had left bearing, she also took her handmaid Zilpah, and she gave her to Jacob for a wife, and Jacob also came to Zilpah, and she also bare Jacob two sons, Gad and Asher.
3) King Saul
Saul only had one wife, but one concubine is also mentioned. According to the story about Saul, God regret making him a king over Israel. Since Saul ended up being a rebellious and unrighteous leader, his case cannot be used as support for polygamous marriages today.
1 Sam. 15:10 Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.
1 Sam. 16:14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.
1 Sam. 18:12 And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul.
1 Sam. 28:15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
2 Sam. 3:7 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 Sam. 21:11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. —
It is possible that Saul had additional concubines who are not mentioned. Nathan quotes the Lord as saying, “And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more” (2 Sam. 12:8). Based on this information it seems like David inherited Saul’s wives, and we do not know the reason for this. See more below. David could have done it out of mercy, but also due to his impression that God would make David the king of Israel (and Jerusalem the capital city), which means David needed to be more powerful than his enemies. See more below.
4) King David
Eight of David’s wives are mentioned in the Bible. David started out marrying Saul’s daughter Michal, but later Saul gave her to someone else (1 Sam. 25:42-44). David eventually got her back (2 Sam. 3:13-14), but in the meantime he had married two other women (1 Chron. 3:1-3), as well as an additional four.
Later in his life he took still more wives and concubines (out of Jerusalem) and it seems like the motivation for those marriages was connected to God making him king of Israel and Jerusalem the capital city. David’s own words just prior to the information about those latest wives “David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake”. David was likely under the impression that he could accomplish God’s goal much easier if he could produce more heirs and also bond with many different families to eliminate enemies.
Are these extra wives perhaps former concubines of Saul? Nathan quotes the Lord as saying, “And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more” (2 Sam. 12:8). Based on this information it seems like David inherited Saul’s wives, and we do not know the reason for this. David could have done it out of mercy, but also due to the reason mentioned above – David thinking bonding with different families would make him more able to withstand his enemies when uniting Israel. Have you ever heard polygamist supporters today use this particular reason for condoning polygamous marriages?
The above does not mean that it was God’s idea that David should take many wives, but it certainly seems like God tolerated it (even if God had totally different plans and ideas for David). If the extra wives were Saul’s, the damage had already been done.
1 Sam. 18:27 Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.28 And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him.
1 Sam. 25:39 And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the Lord, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the Lord hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife. — 43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives.44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.
2 Samuel 3:1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;4 And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
2 Samuel 5:12 And David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.13 And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.14 And these be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammuah, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon,15 Ibhar also, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia,16 And Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphalet.17 But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.
1 Chron. 14:2 And David perceived that the Lord had confirmed him king over Israel, for his kingdom was lifted up on high, because of his people Israel.3 And David took more wives at Jerusalem: and David begat more sons and daughters.
Salomo had no less than 700 wives and 300 concubines, and this was due to the love of many strange women. Despite God’s commandments to not have relations with strange women, he did so anyway.
1 King 7:8 And his house where he dwelt had another court within the porch, which was of the like work. Solomon made also an house for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had taken to wife, like unto this porch.
1 King 9:16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife.
2 Chron. 8:11 And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the Lord hath come.
1 King. 11:1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites:2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.
Gideon was considered to be a wise and God-fearing man who considered God’s ways being the most important. However, he was not entirely faithful since we can read about a great sin when he made an ephod out of gold which all of Israel used as an idol. Since Gideon clearly was not obedient to the end, neither can his case be used as support for polygamy among Christians. Quite obviously Gideon could have married several wives against God’s will.
Judg. 6:12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
Judg. 8 27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house — 30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.
Elkanah is described as a God-fearing man but his choice to have two wives caused trouble in his household – just like all polygamous marriages do. A common problem occurs if one wife gives birth to children and not the other, when various negative feelings will follow. According to this story, it was even God who made Hannah barren, and could this be for a reason? Perhaps it was a way for her to put all her focus on God and to seek his divine plans for her and her son? Did God feel that she even deserved to be sad for a while since she had accepted to become a wife to a man who was already married? I am only speculating, but it is clear that Elkanah’s case is not enough to suggest that God is in support for polygamous marriages.
1 Sam. 1:1 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.3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. — 5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb.6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.
Abijah had great faith in God and his power, but why were not pagan altars and idols broken down during his own rule? Why did the people have to wait for his son Asa to do this job after his father’s death? Perhaps such altars were even erected in the end of Abijah’s life, like around the time when he started to marry multiple wives. When God is communicating with Jehoram in 2 Chron. 21:12 he (God) mentions Asa and Jehoshaphat as individuals who walked his ways, but he does not mentioned Abijah.
2 Chron. 13:5 Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? — 21 But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.
2 Chron. 14:1 So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.2 And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God:3 For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:
Rehoboam’s reason for polygamy was that he desired many wives. He is yet another man who forsook the Lord and can therefore not be counted as a righteous believer in a polygamous marriage.
2 Chron. 11:17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.
2 Chron. 12:1 And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.
Also Jehoram fell away from God, so neither his case could be used as support for Christian polygamy today.
2 Chron. 21:9 Then Jehoram went forth with his princes, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him in, and the captains of the chariots.10 So the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. The same time also did Libnah revolt from under his hand; because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers.11 Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.12 And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah,13 But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself:14 Behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods:15 And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.16 Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians.
It may not have been Joash’s own idea to marry two wives since we can read that it was his father Jehoiada who arranged two wives for him. Did he even marry two wives as the same time? We are not told if Joash’s first wife died and if he remarried, but only told from the start that it was his father who chose the two wives for him and that he had sons and daughters. The story about Joash cannot be read in exact chronological order because 2 Chron 24 logically starts out with a general outline about Joash’s entire life, explaining that he reigned for 40 years in Jerusalem. After this summary about his entire reign, the author returns back to his youth and tells us about some key points in his life. Neither do we know when Joash’s marriages were consummated but he officially started to reign when he was 7 years old. He was a righteous man to begin with, but we can also read that he was disobedient to God and fell away serving other gods.
Notice below that there is no claim that Joash did what was right for the rest of his life, but “all the days of Jehoiada the priest”. We can also read what happened after Jehoiada’s death and that is not a pretty reading. Joash ended up being extremely wicked, and even a murderer. On top of that, he had the nerve to blame God for requiring him (Joash) to take another person’s life. Joash’s life style is clearly not worthy to be copied!
2 Chron. 24:2 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. — 17 Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them.18 And they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.19 Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the Lord; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.20 And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you.21 And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord.22 Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The Lord look upon it, and require it.
Zipporah was the daughter of Reuel the priest of Midian, and Ex.4:20 only mentions one wife. So what is the deal with Num. 12:1 where a Cushite woman is mentioned? A former wife? Did the righteous man Moses disobey God by marrying a foreign woman? The book of Jasher is quoted and referred to three times in the Bible, and solves the puzzle about the wives of Moses. According to Jasher 73:31-32, the children of Cush placed Moses on the throne as well as gave him a wife – the Cushite queen Adoniah. She was the widow after Kikianus who was the previous king. It appears like the Cushite gave Moses the throne and let Adoniah maintaining the role as a queen. Moses never consummated the marriage with her because he never touched her, nor turned his eyes to her. Adoniah was a Cananite and belonged to a group of people which God had forbidden the Israelites to intermarry. Much later, in Jasher 77:51, we can read that Zipporah was given to Moses as a wife and this time Moses consummated the marriage.
The case of Moses was extremely unusual to say the least, and it involves a throne and “inheriting” a queen (who he never touched). This case can hardly be used as support for polygamous marriages.
(Moses was generally a righteous man, but he did not always obey God. He killed an Egyptian guard who was assaulting a Hebrew slave and Ex. 4:24-26 provides another example where Moses contrary to God’s wish did not want to circumcise his son.)
If polygamy supporters suggest that they have no obligation to believe anything in the book of Jasher (despite it being referred to in the Bible and being highly respected by the early church fathers) the question remains where they find proof of the opposite – that Abraham consummated two parallel marriages?
Above is the whole list of candidates! Not much to hinge Christian polygamous marriages on.
Bible verses which support the marriage between 1 man and 1 woman
Below are some Bible verses which show God’s intended purpose with a marriage union. You will never see any examples of same-sex marriages, and you will never see support for a polygamous marriage:
Prov. 5:18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings.
Prov. 12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.
Prov. 30:17 The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.
Prov. 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Ps. 128:3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.
Below you can see what the law of Moses says about the marriage, as well as the words from Jesus Christ:
Deut. 25:5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.7 And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;9 Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
Deut. 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;—-17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
Deut. 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.
Matt. 22:24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.27 And last of all the woman died also.28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
Matt. 5:31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Matt. 19:4 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.7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?8 He saith 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 his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
Paul provides instructions for a man and a woman in a marriage union
If Paul would be open for other alternatives than the natural marriage between a man and a woman, he had many chances to say so but he does the contrary – warns against them. Paul says that the man is the head of the woman and that the wife does not have power of her own body but the husband and vice versa, but what if there are even more women in the marriage or what if there is no man at all? Who has the power over which body, and who is the head of the family? Paul does not say, which naturally indicates that there are no such alternatives.
Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest 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.
Comment: Believe it or not, but some pro-polygamy people claim that all the world’s Bible translations are wrong (in all languages) and that “one” wife should be translated “first” wife, with the meaning that a bishop should not divorce his first wife. That would be a VERY confusing understanding, and of course only serves as a desperate attempt to find evidence for polygamy in the Bible (eisegesis – where you read things into the Bible). If that is the case, why no mention of the second or third wife (or more)? Is it not just as important to not divorce them? Paul was single and advised others to be the same but only if they could manage. The advantage would be greater focus on God with less distractions. Would therefore not a bishop with several wives risk living with even greater distractions? And what about the constant talk about husband and wife in singular and never in plural? What if Paul indeed wanted to express “one wife” when he says “one wife”? How should he better have expressed himself to display this meaning?
1 Cor. 7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. —32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
1 Cor. 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. — 10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?—27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.— 29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;—33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.—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.
Eph. 5:22 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;—28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.— 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.
Col. 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
God does not produce rules because he hates us, but because he loves us and wants children to grow up in safe homes with a mother and a father.