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1M1WNot: Not “too many” Wives for a King

Far from solidly establishing the rule of “One Man, One Woman, forever”, the Old Testament has at least two places in Deuteronomy, one of the five “Books of the Law”, where multiple wives are seen as a normal and accepted part of the life of God’s people.

The first place we see multiple wives regulated in Deuteronomy is in chapter 17, where God sets out the regulations that a future king should obey, including:

Neither shall he have a great number of wives, lest his heart be estranged, nor shall he accumulate a vast amount of silver and gold.

While it does prohibit “a great number” of wives, it seems clear that it is allowing more than one. Otherwise, why bring it up at all? Or at least say, “The king must have no more than one wife, as the Lord has commanded.”

Next week we’ll consider what God, speaking through Moses, has to say about children from multiple wives.


2 Responses

  1. Polygamy is merely adultery on a permanent basis. Polygamy is always adultery, but adultery is not always polygamy.

    God made one wife for Adam. That’s the standard, but sin’s a fact, and polygamy is a sin. After the churches finish debating and fully accept homosexual marriage, we’ll see a return to the argument and lobbying for polygamy, or polyandry, because if one man, one woman isn’t sacred, why should two be sacred?

  2. Hi Norma,

    Sin is a fact, but polygamy in Deutoronomy has been encoded into the law supposedly handed down from God to Moses to the Jewish people.

    You take your standard from Genesis, which is fair. But Genesis is the same book where Jacob is blessed by God after he took his second wife. No mention of how that was a sin. No demand that Jacob turn Rachel out. Why not?

    Then Deutoronomy is traditionally accepted as God’s law handed down to Moses to the Jewish people. The standard there clearly accepted multiple wives.

    The definition of marriage has changed throughout the Bible, the text is plain. It cannot be used to assert marriage has “always” been the same way.

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