Q & A - Polygamy
First posted: September 8, 2019
Why were men in the Old Testament permitted more than one wife? Patriots, as well as kings, with hundreds of wives and hundreds of concubines [are described in Scripture]. [Also,] why was it permitted to send a handmaiden in as a wife to your husband?
This topic makes me lose my faith. I find it hard to accept these portions of the Scriptures as [from] G-d or holy. It seems [as if] men were allowed to fulfill their lust. I ask myself, with this example in Scripture, is this why most men are not faithful to their wives? And it is almost a practice in male lifestyles.
This writer does not honestly have a clear and unambiguous answer to the visitor's questions. Therefore, I can only share the thoughts detailed below. I pray that, despite the partial ambiguity of these thoughts, they will clear up the answer in each reader's heart and mind.
This writer believes that the first thing to keep in mind in all of this is that gender points to a functionality in the temporal realm. As explained by the Lord in the following passage, marriage is something that corresponds to this age:
"27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him, 28 Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 29 There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. 31 And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died. 32 Last of all the woman died also. 33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. 34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. 37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. 39 Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said." (Luke 20:27-39)
The word "world" in verse 34 above was mistranslated from the Greek word aion, which actually means "age" or "period", and the word "children" was mistranslated from the word huios, which literally means "son" and does not have the connotation of smallness, immaturity, or youth that the word "children" can have in English. Therefore, Luke 20:34 actually says, "the sons of this age/period marry and are given in marriage". The phrases "marrying" and "being given in marriage" point to men and women respectively (in those days, men would "marry" and women would be "given in marriage"). Hence, Luke 20:34 indicates that, in this current dispensation, which will eventually end, men and women have a distinction between them and a functionality that is manifested in marriage.
However, the Lord says in the next 2 verses that things in the next age/dispensation are different. In Luke 20:35, the Greek word aion was again mistranslated as "world", and the word "obtain" was slightly mistranslated from the Greek word tygchano, which literally means "hit the mark" (as when a shooter aims for a target and hits it). Thus, tygchano is used to denote the attaining of a desired goal through a deliberate effort, and this is why it is used in the following verse, translated as "obtain":
Notice from the verse above that, contrary to what the matriarchal Church teaches, the resurrection that Yeshua speaks about in Luke 20:35 is not an "automatic gift". Otherwise, why would the people described in the verse above endure so much to "obtain" it? As 1 Corinthians 15 reveals, there are different levels of resurrection, which again points to the concept of "attainment", as when a football (i.e. "soccer") forward attains different levels of success depending on how successful he is at shooting the ball into the other team's goal:
"40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:" (1 Corinthians 15:40-42)
This writer believes that all born-again Christians will experience at least the lowest level of resurrection, but the true, deepest level of resurrection will only be tygchano-ed by those willing to surrender completely unto Him, constantly living out the next age/dispensation in the present age. Hence, we can conclude that Luke 20:35 is actually saying that those who set their eyes beyond the things of this age/dispensation will transcend the "male" and "female" functionality that they have to fulfil in this age/dispensation. That is why they no longer marry or are given in marriage in the next aion. The fact that this ability to transcend gender functionality applies to both men and women is emphasised by the Spirit of God when He explicitly mentions women along with the attaining of resurrection in Hebrews 11:35 above.
In Luke 20:36, the Lord then says that, in the other age/dispensation, "they are equal to angels, and are sons of God, being the sons of resurrection" (again, the word huios is mistranslated twice as "children" instead of "sons" in that verse). Since the Lord is clearly speaking in the context of both men and women, He is very explicitly stating that both men and women are equal to angels. Notice also that the Lord does not say, "they shall be equal to angels" in that future age. Instead, He speaks in the present tense. Why? Because those who attain the resurrection level that Yeshua is speaking of are able to transcend their temporal functionality as "male" or "female" and begin to operate as the spirit beings that they already are on the inside. This is why the Spirit of God uses the word huios for both men and women in Luke 20:34-36 instead of a phrase such as "sons and daughters". The word huios is the word that is always used in the Greek when referring to Yeshua as the "Son of God". Therefore, the Lord is saying that those who attain the truest form of resurrection are those who become aware of the "son of God" nature that was placed in them when they were born again (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10), a nature that is according to the very nature of God Himself. Not only do these men and women become aware of this "son of God" nature in them, but they operate in it even in this age/dispensation, for which reason they are deemed worthy of abiding permanently in that state in the coming age.
As we have shared before, "angels" are "soulless spirit beings" (Hebrews 1:7, 1:14), meaning that they are spirits who do not manifest any soul weakness. As we have also shared before (on the website and on YouTube), the spirit is "male" and the soul is "female". This is regardless of whether we are speaking of a man's soul or a woman's soul. Therefore, when we act like "angels", we are acting like pure, "male" Spirit beings, detached from any limitation that the "female" soul may bring. It is our spirit component which makes us "sons of God", for God is Spirit (John 4:24) and His true descendants are spirits as well. From all of this, we can conclude that God does not see women as inferior to men in any way. As He clearly states in Luke 20:36, men and women will equally be like "male spirits" (i.e. angels) when they tap into the "son of God" nature that has been placed in them, even whilst being "men" and "women" in this natural realm.
Mind you, it is important to emphasise that the above does not imply that "the spirit is good and the soul is evil" or that the soul is a "temporal inconvenience" in us that needs to be suppressed or "eliminated". Otherwise, God would have never given us a soul, and He would not declare in Scripture that He Himself has a soul (Isaiah 1:14, Isaiah 42:1). The soul is the vulnerable side of us that makes us unique and in the likeness of God Himself (this writer believes that His "image" in us is our spirit and His "likeness" in us is our soul, as per Genesis 1:26). Literal angels cannot call themselves "sons of God" (Hebrews 1:13) because they never had souls. In other words, literal angels never went through an age/dispensation in which they had a strong "male" spirit component and a vulnerable "female" soul component that made them inherently susceptible to falling. By contrast, we can call ourselves "sons of God" if, even whilst having a vulnerable soul, we can submit that susceptible soul under the covering of our "male" spirit, which is made in the image of God Himself.
As a side note, the fact that (literal) angels fell does not mean that they ever had souls. Actually, by God's reaction to their fall, He is clearly declaring that they had no souls:
[The word "hell" was woefully undertranslated from the Greek word tartaroo, which only appears once in Scripture and refers to the Tartarus, the place that the ancient Greeks considered the deepest abyss of Hades (i.e. Sheol), the place where the wicked were supposed to abide and be punished (as indicated on wikipedia.org).]
God never gave the fallen angels a second chance because they had no excuse for their fall. They fell out of wilful, raw pride, not because of any susceptibility. By contrast, mankind was given a second chance because our fall was due to our susceptible soul.
Now that we have clearly seen that literal men and women are equals in the eyes of God when they transcend their roles in this realm and operate in their "male" spirit God-nature, we must go back to the question about the role of men and women in this realm. As described by God in the famous (and nowadays controversial) chapter of 1 Corinthians 11, woman is to submit under the covering of man. Before proceeding, we must emphasise something that we may have shared in one or more videos: that the Greek word gyne used in 1 Corinthians 11 and in much of the so-called "New Testament" to refer to women is practically always in the context of marriage or in the context of giving birth. In other words, when Scripture says gyne, it is generally not referring to a biological female but to the wife of a husband, especially when used in the context of men and women. Thus, when 1 Corinthians 11 is saying that woman is to submit to man, it is not saying that any woman is to submit to any man or that gender acts as some sort of overriding factor on who should be obeyed. Otherwise, why would God place Deborah as a judge over the people of Israel?
"4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. 5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment." (Judges 4:4-5)
Why would any Israelite male have been beholden to the judgements issued by Deborah if the Israelite's "maleness" would have overridden any authority in the "female" Deborah's verdicts? It is also interesting to note that the Spirit of God goes out of His way to mention in Judges 4:4 that Deborah was the "wife of Lapidoth", as if to say: Even if Deborah had a functionality as a "judge" over both males and females in Israel, she also had a functionality as a "wife" to her husband Lapidoth (who, interestingly enough, is never mentioned again in Scripture). In short, when 1 Corinthians 11 speaks of woman submitting under the covering of man, it is in the context of a husband and his wife, i.e. in the context of a marriage relationship. Having said this, it is possible for a woman to "stand over" her husband and judge him, just as Deborah would have been empowered by God to judge over Lapidoth had Lapidoth engaged in some sort of evil against God.
All of this begs the question: Why is it important to God that the wife submit under the covering of her husband? Because it is a projection of the need for the "female" soul to submit under the "male" spirit. The problem with humanity is that, from Genesis 3 onwards, man has allowed his female soul to rule over his male spirit (Genesis 3:17), and the whole process we have gone through since then is to correct that inverted relationship. That correction is what those who attain the truest form of resurrection will achieve, i.e. to have their "female" souls completely covered within their "male" spirits (whether they be literal males or females). A "female" soul that refuses the covering of the "male" spirit is naked and uncovered before God and is worthy of the shame that is attached to nakedness (even if it is the soul of a literal male).
So far, we have found two basic principles:
Another important principle to consider is the "cardinality" of spirits versus souls ("cardinality" is a fancy term for "number of items in a set or group"). When one looks closely, it becomes evident that Scripture often associates the word or concept of "spirit" with the number "1". As Yeshua declares in John 4:24, God is Spirit, meaning that, at the core of His essence, He is Spirit, even if He also has a soul. Thus, it is interesting to note how Scripture only associates one explicit number with God: the number 1:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" (Deuteronomy 6:4)
"And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord" (Mark 12:29)
"Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one" (Galatians 3:20)
Yes, it is true that Scripture speaks of the 7 Spirits of God but, as we have shared before, each Spirit points to a functionality (5 of Them give rise to the 5 ministerial endowments and the other 2 are related to the role of poverty and wealth in the rise of God's Kingdom). It is also true that Scripture speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but, even there, God is speaking of roles or functionalities. This is why Yeshua even says that "the Father is greater than the Son" (John 14:28), even when both are "God" and equal in that sense. This is also why Yeshua said that there are some things that not even the Son knows (Matthew 24:36); when God (or a believer in Him) is immersed in His role as "Son", there are some things that He is not supposed to know, even if He is God. In short, even though Scripture at times ties the numbers "7" and "3" to God, it is only in an indirect, implicit way, and it is always in the context of functionality. The only number that is tied to God in an explicit way and to His very nature is the number "1". Said another way, when the word "God" and the verb "to be" are used together, the only number that is ever used is the number "1" ("God is 1").
By contrast, the concept of "soul" is generally associated with a number that can vary widely (as opposed to a fixed number such as "1", "3", or "7"). It would take too long to go through all the examples in Scripture that evidence this, but a helpful example would be Revelation 6:9-11, which speaks of the (many) souls (in the plural) under the altar (during the 5th seal):
"9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (Revelation 6:9-11)
The fact that the multitude of souls were described as being "under" the altar emphasises that these were souls who were willing to submit themselves under the dominion of the spirit (as portrayed in 1 Corinthians 11 in the context of marriage). The fact that there was only 1 altar and many souls points to how the altar represents the 1 Spirit of God.
In case you still have doubts on the plurality of the soul versus the singularity of the spirit, consider something that many people have often pointed out, even those who are strong feminists: that women have a natural tendency to rule by committee and to make decisions by consulting with others and forming a consensus. Men, by contrast, tend to make more unilateral, independent decisions and are reluctant to "consult with others" first. This is why men don't like to ask for directions when they are lost, whereas women do! This belief in the importance of "plurality" is evident in women even when they go to the bathroom in a public place! Women like to go in groups, whereas men prefer to go by themselves.
What is the message behind the spirit being "1" and the souls being "many"? It is that the soul is what makes each one unique and distinct from everyone else. Ironically, it is also what makes us dependent on each other. In order to be unique from others, you must have qualities that others do not possess (by the very definition of uniqueness), meaning that others will need to depend on you to tap into those qualities. By the same token, if others are unique from you, they will, by definition, possess qualities that you do not have, meaning that you will need to depend on them in order to tap into those qualities. Hence, uniqueness ironically begets interdependence and a need for plurality. This is why souls usually need to be in groups and often live in a relationship of interdependence.
This connection between the soul and plurality is what leads to the multitudes of cultures and traditions. These cultures and traditions are expressions of the uniqueness of souls, and they manifest the individual gifts (or corruptions of those gifts) that God has endowed each soul and group with. Each soul, and each group of souls (i.e. each culture or race) has a God-given role to play in humanity's path to the completion of all things. When one soul or group of souls fails to do their part, all of us suffer, and God is forced to shift the unfulfilled burden to other, more willing souls. This is how dependent we are on each other, and this is why God speaks of His Church as a "body". This interdependence arises from the plurality of our souls.
Because of the uniqueness introduced by the soul, the soul is inherently subjective. Thus, the plurality of the soul implies the sprouting forth of many subjective entities. Therefore, the soul's inherent plurality becomes a problem when the many souls are not willing to submit to an independent, objective truth. There is only 1 objective truth, and it is not bound to the whims of anyone's subjective opinion. When this is ignored by a plurality of souls, a "mob mentality" ensues, and the "truth" becomes a collective hodgepodge what those souls want it to be. This is why it is bad for the soul to reject the covering of the 1 Spirit.
Ironically, when this "mob mentality" prevails, a single, false "truth" eventually emerges, and that "truth" is the subjective opinion of the select few souls who are able to gain a grip on power. Since the "truth" is now determined by the subjective opinion of the power-grabbing souls, there is no independent court of truth that others can appeal to, and a caste system eventually emerges, one with a caste of privileged souls and a caste of "slightly inferior" souls that must now submit under the covering of the heterogeneous group above them. This ruling group will always be heterogeneous and disparate, for true Oneness can only be achieved when submitted under the One True Spirit. Therefore, the rule of this mishmash of ruling souls will eventually collapse because a house divided against itself cannot stand. Such a house is divided in 2 ways: it is a house of superior and inferior souls, and it is a house ruled by superior souls that are permanently divided from each other by their very uniqueness.
As a side note, it may sound contradictory to say that the soul's uniqueness begets plurality and that this does not apply to the spirit, even though the spirit is One, since "One" constitutes uniqueness taken to the extreme. However, the spirit's oneness is a oneness that says, "there is only 1 of me, and there is no one else". By contrast, the soul's uniqueness says, "there is only 1 of me, but I am 1 of many who are similar to me but are not quite like me".
As a second side note, it must be admitted that Scripture does speak about myriads of angels (Hebrews 12:22) and that Elohim uses the words "us" and "we" when referring to Himself in Genesis (e.g. Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 3:22), but we sincerely pray that you will see that this does not contradict anything said above and that it actually exposes a deeper truth about God and why God created man. However, that deeper truth (which is also hidden in the Tetragrammaton יהוה) goes beyond the scope of this posting and is something that you must discover on your own, if you are willing to do so.
From all of the above, we can say that we have established 3 principles:
Returning to the visitor's original questions, this writer believes that it was "OK" for a man to have multiple wives in the so-called "Old Testament" because it was consistent with the plurality of the soul and the singularity of the Spirit. The Old Testament, i.e. Old Covenant, was one of "shadows" where spiritual truths were projected literally into the natural realm. These projected shadows were intended to illustrate deeper realities in the spirit realm without ever intending to replace them (Hebrews 8, 10). Hence, allowing a man to marry multiple women was intended to illustrate the deeper spiritual truth of how multiple subjective souls can be under the covering of 1 objective spirit.
It must be pointed out, however, that the above paragraph can only be applied to the days of the Mosaic Law when the Old Covenant was in effect, and, even then, it must be applied with much caution. Why? Because, as far as this writer can recall, the Mosaic Law has rules involving the relationship of a man with his wife, but, aside from Deuteronomy 17:17 and Deuteronomy 21:15-17, it never makes any explicit reference to "wives" in the plural, meaning that God makes no effort to delineate rules of conduct on how a man is to relate to multiple wives (other than to treat them with equality). Said another way, even the Mosaic Law's focus (when it comes to marriage) is in the context of the direct relationship between 2 persons: the "husband" and the "wife". Thus, even in the Old Covenant, where having multiple wives was implicitly allowed, it was never encouraged, and no effort was made to explain the "proper dynamics" of a multi-wife scenario for, at the end of the day, what the Lord saw was the relationship between 1 man and 1 wife, regardless of how many other wives that 1 man may have had.
Since the above can only provide an explanation for polygamy under the Mosaic Law and the Old Covenant, the question becomes, What of polygamy prior to the Mosaic Law, as in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Again, it does not seem as if it was banned, even though it was not openly promoted either. This writer believes that this stems from the fact that the New Covenant was not fully in place yet, even when the Old Covenant had not been officially instated either. Therefore, the "rules" around marriage and other things were allowed to be more "organic", evolving from practical reasons. Once the New Covenant became freely available to all, people became obligated to operate under laws that were much more spiritually demanding (Matthew 5:17-48), and practical limitations that would justify certain actions in the past were no longer acceptable justifications, for people were now able to tap into a higher level of power and authority that could overcome those practical limitations.
An example of how "practical reasons" came into play in the days before Moses is the following: As we have shared before, humanity can be divided into 12 "racial groups", for which reason it was necessary that Israel have 12 tribes as well. However, having 12 tribes meant that Jacob (who was later renamed "Israel") needed to have 12 sons. As you can imagine, it would have been rather cruel for a single woman to have been forced to give all 12 sons to Jacob. Also, this writer believes that the responsibility needed to be distributed amongst 4 women because they represented the 4 "roots" from which the 12 tribes needed to emerge (in correspondence with the roots of humanity's 12 "racial groups"). This writer also believes that there was a reason why 2 of those women needed to be "wives" and 2 needed to be "concubines", with each concubine being an "extension" of one of the wives. However, those details go way beyond the scope of this posting.
The fact that Jacob needed to have his 12 sons before being transformed into an Israel is also relevant in the example above. Jacob was still operating at a lower, more earthly level, which correlates with how humanity's 12 "racial" groups have emerged and developed from the first Adam, not the last Adam, and are therefore in need of collective regeneration. Because the 12 tribes needed to emerge from a "Jacob" and not an "Israel", it became necessary for Jacob to require 4 women to produce them. Had he been operating as an Israel from the beginning,a more supernatural solution may have been possible, just as when Abraham was able to have Isaac as a son at a very old age.
Before proceeding, it is worth noting that, as we said above, the only places in the Mosaic Law where the Spirit of God delineates rules regarding multiple wives (as far as this writer knows) are in Deuteronomy 17:17 and Deuteronomy 21:15-17:
"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." (Deuteronomy 17:15-17)
"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: 17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his." (Deuteronomy 21:15-17)
The fact that both places are in the book of Deuteronomy certifies the spiritual connection between God's pragmatism and polygamy being allowed. This is due to the correlation between the 5 books of the Torah and the 5 ministerial endowments of Ephesians 4:11:
And, as we have shared before, the endowment most directly related to pragmatism and "earthliness" is the teacher endowment, meaning that the appearance of rules for multiple wives in Deuteronomy only (and in no other book) confirms that polygamy was allowed due to practical reasons within the earthly realm.
This writer also believes that the spiritual "legality" of multiple wives (in the natural realm) was of a temporary nature, befitting a different time and context. We can see this concept of "temporal, contextual legality" when we consider a seemingly unrelated topic: marriage between siblings and close relatives. As you know, it is one of those "dark little secrets" in the Christian Church's teachings that, as per the Bible, humanity could only have reproduced if men took their sisters as wives. I always chuckle on the inside when I see believers struggling to explain to sceptics where Cain's wife (Genesis 4:17) came from. The reason why I chuckle is that believers always seem to come up with strange theories in an effort to get around the "horrendous" idea that Cain married a sister or a very close relative. Unlike now, humanity's DNA had not diversified as much. At that point in time, it was safe (and even "necessary") for men to marry their sisters, cousins, or even nieces. This writer is convinced of this by the clear examples of this that God provided in Scripture, as when Abraham married his half-sister Sarah (Genesis 12, Genesis 20), or when Isaac married his first cousin Rebecca (Genesis 24:15), or when Jacob married his two first-cousins Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29:12, Genesis 29:16). However, as time progressed and humanity's DNA diversified, a line was crossed, after which it became wrong for close relatives to marry each other. That is why, 400 years after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God banned the marriage of siblings in the Torah (Leviticus 18). Therefore, we can safely conclude that the marriage between siblings or very close relatives was OK for a season but was not "eternally legal". It was valid under a set of biological circumstances that no longer are.
Despite not having enough Scriptural evidence to prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt, this writer believes the same thing happened to polygamy. It was OK in some contexts, and for a season. However, after the 400 years of silence between the last "Old-Testament" prophet and the arrival of Yeshua and the "New Testament" times, polygamy stopped being "OK". This is why there is no reference to it in the so-called "New Testament". In fact, it seems as if the Spirit of God goes out of His way in the so-called "New Testament" to emphasise marriage to 1 and only 1 woman. This is why Paul, for example, speaks of being a "husband to one wife" as a requirement to be a bishop:
"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;" (1 Timothy 3:2)
This is also why Joseph was married to Mary only and why Peter was only married to one wife:
This is also why Paul constantly speaks of a "wife" in the singular:
"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." (Ephesians 5:25-33)
Even though polygamy may have been "acceptable" and was technically "legal" for a while, it is clear that it was abused by many, which helps to confuse and distort the reasons why it was ever allowed. The biggest abuser recorded in Scripture may be Solomon, who, as you may know, went to the extreme of having 700 wives and 300 concubines, most of them being "strange women", i.e. women who were strangers to God and His ways, thereby turning his heart away from God. This is a clear example of where apparent "male dominance" led to a subtle dominion of the female, for it was the women who shaped Solomon's heart and his actions, not the other way around.
As shown by Deuteronomy 17:15-17 quoted above, Solomon's abuse of polygamy was a clear violation of God's Law. The fact that the Lord's explicit limitation of polygamy was directed at kings means that those who were the likeliest to abuse polygamy were those under the influence of the Amorite spirit, since the Amorite spirit comes from the corruption of the evangelistic endowment of kingly authority and conquest. As we have shared before, Amorites are fornicators by nature who like to conquer souls for their own benefit, taking advantage of them and then discarding them once they are no longer useful. This misuse of others also requires an element of Girgashite corruption since, as we said above, teachers are the most pragmatic of the 5 ministerial endowments, and corrupted teachers turn into Girgashites. Thus, Girgashites are open to utilitarianism, treating something as "good" if it has some practical, visible utility and dryly discarding it when that visible utility is gone. All of this further reinforces why Deuteronomy 17:15-17 is present in the book of the Torah that is most directly related to teachers.
In short, even though polygamy was allowed prior to the widespread manifestation of the New Covenant, God never approved its abuse, and he very clearly did not approve of the horrible things that Solomon did. And, even when someone did not abuse polygamy, God still demanded fairness and equity in the treatment of multiple wives, as explicitly established in Deuteronomy 21:15-17 quoted above. Therefore, the Lord God never allowed polygamy to become an excuse for misogyny where men could define which women had value and which did not.
There is a reason why the transition out of polygamy happened, and it is related to the higher law we are under now (Matthew 5:17-48). It is interesting to note that the original Greek text of 1 Corinthians 9:5 (quoted above) says "a sister as wife" when referring to apostles such as Cephas (i.e. Peter) having wives. By emphasising the wife's "sisterhood", the Spirit of God is reminding the husband that the wife, as a believer, has the same Father as he does, i.e. the Father of Spirits (Hebrews 12:9). Therefore, he is to treasure her and see the value in her as a spirit being. Hence, even in the midst of their temporal roles as "husband" and "wife" (roles in which the "wife" is to submit under the "husband"), the husband, being under a Higher Law now, is to value and recognise the spirit nature in his wife, meaning that he is to see the number "1" of the spirit in her, as opposed to the "plurality" of the soul. I believe this is why, as an unwritten rule, it has been established, after Yeshua's arrival, that man is to only marry one wife. This is why passages such as Ephesians 5:25-33 above speak of "loving your wife [not wives] as yourself" and of loving one's wife just as Christ gave Himself for the Church, which speaks of a tenderness and an appreciation that cannot be produced by philanderers who enjoy having multiple women at a time.
It is also interesting to note that Ephesians 5:25, where the Church is equated to Christ's wife, uses the word "Church", which was translated from the Greek word ekklesia. That word is in the singular in the original Greek, but it also has the connotation of plurality given that, as you may know, it literally means "assembly" or "public gathering of citizens". Thus, Ephesians 5:25 manages to point not only to the plurality of the "female" soul but to the singularity of the spirit and to having a single wife (despite the soul's plurality).
The visitor also asked why it seemed legal in Scripture for a wife to "send a handmaiden in as a wife" to her husband. This brings up the question of the spiritual meaning behind a "concubine". Before directly addressing this question, it is important to consider that, in Scripture, concubines are not seen as "mere objects" and are given a sense of value similar to that of wives. Consider, for example, how the tribes of Israel reacted when they heard of what the Benjamites had done to a Levite's concubine (as described in Judges 19 through 21). Clearly, the people of Israel did not act as if the Benjamites had slaughtered an animal or some "inferior" human. Instead, they reacted with great outrage, to the point that they almost exterminated the entire tribe of Benjamin, and this writer believes that their outrage would have been the same had the concubine been a "wife" instead.
Consider also, how Scripture uses the word "husband" when referring to both a wife's and a concubine's male partner. Scripture does not use a different word, such as "master" or "owner", for example, when denoting a man's relationship to his concubine, meaning that there was still a "husband-wife" type of relationship between them.
It is also worth noting that Scripture does not portray the sons and daughters born of concubines as "inferior" to the sons and daughters of wives. Consider, for example, how 4 of the 12 tribes of Israel were spawned from sons of concubines, and Scripture never insinuates that these tribes were somehow inferior to the other 8 tribes that were spawned from sons of "wives". In fact, it is interesting to consider that the tribe of Benjamin, which was almost exterminated for their treatment of a concubine, was born out of Benjamin, the second and last son of Rachel, Jacob's wife. This means that, in God's eyes, and in the eyes of the people of Israel, the sons of a "wife" were not exonerated from harsh judgement for mistreating a concubine.
Another point to consider are the legal rights of sons of concubines. As far as this writer is aware, there are not any laws in the Torah indicating that the sons of concubines had fewer legal rights than the sons of "wives", including firstborn inheritance rights. In fact, Deuteronomy 21:15-17 (quoted above) seems to indicate that the designation of "firstborn" could not be conditioned on the mother's status or acceptance in the eyes of the husband.
Having said this, some may want to point to the case of Ishmael, Abraham's son with his concubine Hagar, who was not allowed to be considered Abraham's "firstborn", even though he was born years before Isaac, who was Abraham's son with his wife Sarah. However, when considering the case of Ishmael, we must take into account several factors. One is that Deuteronomy 21:15-17 had not been written yet and that the literal application of the Torah was not yet in place (the Law of God has always been there, even from the Garden of Eden, and it continues to stand today, but its literal, earthly application was only during the period between its writing in Mount Sinai and the death of Yeshua at Golgotha).
Another factor to consider is that God spoke directly to Abraham about letting Hagar and Ishmael go and to establish Isaac as his firstborn. And, as He did, God also guaranteed to Abraham that He would make a nation out of Ishmael (Genesis 21:12-13). Therefore, it can be said that God did give a type of "firstborn inheritance" to Ishmael, to the point that, to this day, Ishmael's descendants, the Arabs, enjoy great wealth because of their oil reserves even when they have proved to be significantly below average in just about every scientific and non-scientific field (especially when you compare them to other Asians such as the Chinese, Japanese, and the Jews).
Yet another factor to consider is that this stripping of firstborn rights that was done to Ishmael also happened with Isaac's and Jacob's children. Even though Esau was Isaac's literal firstborn, he was stripped of his primogeniture in the infamous "lentil affair". And, even though Reuben was Jacob's literal firstborn, he was stripped of his primogeniture for sleeping with his stepmother Bilhah, Jacob's concubine. Thus, both Esau and Reuben were stripped of their primogeniture despite being sons of "wives", not "concubines" (and they were even sons of their fathers' first wives at that: Esau was born to Rebekah and Reuben to Leah). Thus, the stripping of firstborn rights from Ishmael cannot be viewed as the result of Ishmael being the son of a concubine. Instead, it can be seen as part of an ongoing theme in Scripture where people are granted "firstborn" opportunities, only to squander them by proving themselves unworthy of them. In the case of Ishmael, this happened when he began to mock and harass his younger brother Isaac (Genesis 21:9), which is what triggered his spiritual and literal ejection from his father's household. Thus, Abraham's, Isaac's, and Jacob's literal firstborns (Ishmael, Esau, and Reuben) all lost their firstborn status to their father's youngest sons (Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph), and they lost it because of their behaviour, regardless of whether they were sons of "concubines" or "wives".
Another example of how Scripture does not attribute inferiority to the sons of concubines can be found in Judges 8 and 9, which speaks of how Gideon had 70 sons because he had many wives and that he also had a son named Abimelech with his concubine in Shechem (Judges 8:30-31). This Abimelech turned evil and decided to slaughter his 70 brothers, killing them all except the youngest brother Jotham. After this evil, he was raised as king by the people of Shechem and reigned for a while until the curse pronounced by Jotham caught up with him and he was killed by a woman (which is significant here). It is clear that Gideon opened this door of evil for having taken so many wives. The point here, however, is that the people of Shechem never saw Abimelech as inferior to the rest of his siblings just because he was the son of a concubine, and Judges 9 constantly refers to him as a "brother" who slew his other brothers, and no effort is ever made to portray him as someone who belonged to a "lower rung" of the family. The only indictment against him is for slaughtering his fellow brothers in order to rise to power as an Amorite king.
Before proceeding, we must clarify that all we have said so far regarding concubines is from the context of Scripture and Hebrew culture. In other cultures, concubines and their offspring were indeed treated as "children of a lesser god", as described on wikipedia.org, thereby proving how, wherever the God of Israel is allowed to manifest Himself, misogyny is reduced and women are treated with greater dignity and respect.
Now that we have clearly established that concubines and their children were never considered as "inferior beings" in Scripture, the question then becomes "What is the real difference between a wife and a concubine?" The only detail that can be gleaned from Scripture is that concubines would sometimes be the servant or slave of a wife who would offer her to her husband as a sort of surrogate mother, as was the case with Sarah and Hagar or Rachel and Bilhah, for example. This does not mean that all concubines were slaves or that all sons of concubines were automatically treated as sons of another woman, as shown by the fact that Abimelech is referred to as the son of a concubine in Judges 8:31, with no reference to a wife claiming him as her own. Another example of this is Ishmael, who was always considered to be Hagar's son, without Sarah truly claiming him as her own, even if that was her original intention. Having said that, the subtle linkage between concubinage and slavery remains, which points to the following passage:
"22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." (Galatians 4:22-31)
Thus, we can see that concubinage is spiritually linked in some way to the Old Covenant.
Another detail that can be gleaned from Scripture about concubinage is through the Hebrew word it uses for "concubine": piylegesh. According to wikipedia.org, piylegesh seems to be an Indo-European loanword related to the ancient Greek word pallakis. The fact that the word had to be borrowed from another language into Hebrew means that God never intended it to be part of the ideal marriage scenario in society. It is also interesting to consider that the closest word to pallakis used in Scripture (in the "New Testament") is the adjective palaios meaning "old, worn by use", which is used for the first time in verses 16 and 17 of the following passage, translated as "old":
"15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. 16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. 17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." (Matthew 9:15-17)
Notice how palaios points to a connection between pallakis and "oldness" or "something that is replaced with something new", which reinforces the spiritual connection between pallakis and the Old Covenant. Thus, we can conclude that, from a certain perspective, a "wife" points to a soul operating in a New-Covenant relationship with the Spirit, whereas a "concubine" points to a soul operating in an Old-Covenant relationship with the Spirit. The vast majority of believers in the Church are concubines. Living under a matriarchal, Old-Covenant paradigm, they do not have a direct relationship with God, acting instead as the handmaidens of the one they perceive to be the "real" wife, their local pastor. Unfortunately, these concubine souls do not even live out their concubinage by Hebrew standards; instead, they follow the standards of other cultures where a concubine is inherently inferior to a wife (i.e. the pastor) and where the concubine's children are not entitled to inherit with the wife's children (i.e. the pastor's surrounding ministers). In fact, they do not even see themselves as worthy of claiming their spiritual fruit as their own, for any fruit they produce is stamped with the name of their pastor, just as a concubine's child is only legitimised if claimed by the concubine's assigned wife (at least in non-Hebrew cultures). As a result, these concubine souls feel barren, naked, and ashamed if they do not have a covering wife "legitimising" their spiritual work. Because these souls have chosen to operate at this lower, less demanding level of concubinage, God shall see them as such and not allow them to be a part of the Bride of Christ, for concubinage, like the Old Covenant, is intended to be temporary, having been allowed for practical reasons that will eventually pass and be no more.
Now that we have shared on the spiritual difference between a wife and a concubine, let us consider the difference from a more natural perspective. As we shared above, Scripture does not make an effort to describe the difference between a wife and a concubine. Therefore, we must (fittingly) resort to Judaism to learn more about the literal difference between concubines and wives. As indicated on wikipedia.org, the Babylonian Talmud indicates that the difference between a concubine and a "full wife" is that a wife would receive a marriage contract, called ketubah in Hebrew, as well as a "betrothal", called kiddushin in Hebrew.
According to wikipedia.org, the marriage contract, or ketubah, is the Jewish equivalent of a prenuptial agreement that delineates the groom's rights and responsibilities with regard to the bride and is intended as a form of protection for the wife, often including the monetary value that the wife is to receive in case of divorce or the husband's death.
The full significance of the kiddushin or betrothal is a little more difficult for this writer to discern. Aside from being the rough equivalent of an "engagement", the kiddushin, as explained on wikipedia.org, seemed to be a period during which the bride and the groom would prepare to be with each other, especially the bride, who would make sure to sanctify herself for her husband.
Given that concubinage required neither a ketubah nor a kiddushin, we can conclude that having someone as a concubine did not require the level of commitment or personal sacrifice that having her as a wife would. There was no need for the husband to guarantee the concubine something from himself even after she was no longer "of benefit" to him, and there was no need for the husband and concubine to prepare and consecrate themselves for each other. This emphasises the "practical" nature of concubinage and the lower level of personal sacrifice and commitment that it required from the husband. It is because of this that we can say that God's faithful remnant are constantly treated like "concubines" in the natural realm. Those who are given over to the soul and who hate the Spirit generally avoid any type of long-term relationship with and commitment to remnant souls, especially when that relationship or commitment requires that they sacrifice anything substantial for the remnant's sake. Instead, they either despise remnant souls when they run into them or they try to extract as much benefit from them as possible before discarding them.
From all of the above, we can produce several conclusions:
This writer prays that, through all the details above, the spiritual nature of polygamy and the reasons for its temporary acceptance by God become clearer, and I pray that the misogyny that the enemy tries to attribute to God because of it will be debunked as a mirage and a falsehood in people's hearts and minds. Amen.