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Old 07-22-2009, 12:31 PM
Amanda S.'s Avatar
Amanda S. Amanda S. is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: TN
Posts: 177

Greenbear: Here is more interesting information from Wikipedia:
Well, as long as we're posting interesting information -

But first the historical setting:

1. Polygamy was NOT practiced in Greek and Roman societies of the time:

"Even though we may find numerous traces of polygamy and polyandry in the Gk. myths, monogamy predominated in the Gk. world in the historical period. Morality within marriage was strict. The Homeric hero had one wife, who was faithful and inviolable, a good manager of the home and mother. Gk. marriage was monogamous. [NIDNTT:s.v. "Marriage, adultery, bride, bridegroom"]

"Polygamy was not practiced in the Roman world outside Palestine, though illegal bigamy and certainly adultery were. [EBC: in.loc. 1 Tim 3]

2. Polygamy was practiced somewhat in 1st century Palestinian Judaism (by the government/aristocratic leaders):

"In the Second Temple period, Jewish society was, at least theoretically, polygamous, like other oriental societies of the time but in contrast to the neighboring Greek and Roman societies...."[HI:JWGRP:85]

"There is evidence of the practice of polygamy in Palestinian Judaism in NT times (cf. J. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus: An Investigation into Economic and Social Conditions during the New Testament Period, 1969, 90, 93, 369f.). Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.) had ten wives (Josephus, Ant. 17, 19f.; War 1,562) and a considerable harem (War 1,511). Polygamy and concubinage among the aristocracy is attested by Josephus, Ant. 12, 186ff.; 13, 380; War 1, 97. The continued practice of levirate marriage (Yeb. 15b) evidently led to polygamy, which was countenanced by the school of Shammai but not by that of Hillel. [NIDNTT:s.v. "Marriage, adultery, bride, bridegroom"]

3. Among the Jews, it was not accepted by the prestigious school of Hillel (above), nor by the strict Dead Sea Sect (Qumran), and was not widely practiced, esp. among the rabbi's:

"But even if polygamy was permitted by tannaitic halakhah, other halakhic systems counseled otherwise. During the Second Temple period, monogamy was preferred even on the conceptual plane by, above all, the Dead Sea Sect whose halakhah explicitly prohibited polygamy. In the reworked version of the statutes of the king in the Temple Scroll, it is stated: "he shall not take another wife in addition to her, for she alone shall be with him all the days of her life" (LVII 17-8). In the Damascus Covenant, criticism is leveled against the 'builders of the wall' (Pharisees?) in the following terms: 'they shall be caught in fornication twice; once by taking a second wife while the first is still alive...' [HI:JWGRP:85]

"it was known in Jewish society as represented in rabbinic literature, polygamy was not widespread in practice, especially not among the sages themselves." [HI:JWGRP:86]

So, polygamy was present only in a particular subset of Palestinian Judaism (not in Roman society, Greek society, Diaspora Jewish communities, the Hillel-school, or Dead Sea Sect), and generally confined to the aristocracy.