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Old 07-23-2009, 10:09 PM
Amanda S.'s Avatar
Amanda S. Amanda S. is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: TN
Posts: 177
Default Polygamy in the Bible

Perhaps I am totally wrong in starting a new thread to continue the discussion over at the thread Acceptable/Unacceptable Reasons for Divorce here. Bro. Brandon please correct me if I am. But I thought that this topic was deserving of it's own thread.

A couple of things were said in that thread that I felt was getting lost in the back and forth commenting and I wanted to kind of start over fresh and perhaps give others an opportunity to chime in or perhaps study this out more.

Poor Jassy. I am sure she did not intend for her thread to morph into what it did!

I would first like to address the idea that because God allowed something that it is in some way condoning it. God allows for many things. God allowed slavery (find me a verse anywhere that THAT was ever forbidden...Oh it's not there!). God allowed Moses to murder an Egyptian with no obvious punishment. Is murder condoned?

Who knows why the Lord does what He does? Who knows why God allowed sin to enter the world. Who knows why the Lord allowed righteous men in the Bible to ignore His plan and let them pervert it. I've heard it speculated that the Lord allowed things for so long to eventually destroy it. To establish a right way and a wrong way. To show us a good way and a bad way.

Who knows why...but we do know -

Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

The main thing I would like address if I may, is the idea that God commanded a man to marry a second wife while still married to another.

Deut. 25:5-10 was used to prove this point.

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.
10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

I present a similar situation again in Genesis 38

1 And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.
2 And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.
3 And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.
4 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.
5 And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him.
6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
7 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.
8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.
9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.

First of all I'd like to point out that brother / brethren does not necessarily mean the son of your mother or father.

Abraham called Lot his brother:

Here it is referring to his nephew Ge 14:12 And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Yet here he is referring to his nephew as brother Ge 14:16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

Again Gen. 29:12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father.

But here he was her father's nephew Genesis 28:5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.

It is common in the Bible to speak of your kinsmen as brothers.

Having said that however, in the instance of Onan the lineage is detailed to establish where one would whittling this process down. Start with the closest related brother to fill this need to raise up seed to the deceased brother...

Nowhere in any of these passages can you insert another wife. Just. not. there.

In the case of Onan, as wicked as it was that he disobeyed God's command in this area, one could understand how unhappy he would be to be told who he had to marry! I daresay some of us would certainly not handle this situation any better than Onan!

But Onan, rather than go through the ritual of going before the elders was deceitful, went in unto her looking as if he obeyed but did not. He thought he could hide from God or didn't realize the grave consequences of disobedience.

But let's move on...

One more instance where this happens is the beautiful story of Ruth.

Ruth 4:1 Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.
2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
3 And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:
4 And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.
5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.
6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.
7 Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.
8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.
9  And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.
10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.

Here rather than the term brother, the word kinsman is used. What is the kinsman asked to do? To raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

Is there a second wife mentioned here? Nope...but because he was concerned for his inheritance one would think he already had a wife and a son. He wanted the land...didn't want the wife that came with it. Could he refuse marrying her? Yes...and he did so.

Why did he refuse? Who knows? But he did and passed her along to Boaz he married her, loved her and what a perfect union. A wonderful type of Christ and the church.
I love this story!

But let's back up a bit. Remember when I pointed out that with Onan it is detailed from the first-born down the line...Onan being the second?

Well, look at this:

Ruth 3:9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.
12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.

Boaz couldn't just marry her because he was one of her husband's brothers. He obeyed the law that had been set in Genesis and offered her to the nearest kinsman of her husband.

I truly hope I've made sense here and hope dispel this idea that God commanded a man to marry to wives. Allowed it...OK. Regulated it...perhaps. But not commanded.

I have more thoughts but this will suffice for tonight

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