[b-hebrew] Leviral marriage

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Mon Oct 17 16:50:01 EDT 2005

Dar Bill,

>  > I think we can make a good argument that, although this was tolerated by
>>  God, it was not his original purpose, which seems to have been
>>  mongamous, as in Genesis 2:24 which mentions only one wife.
>I think this is projecting later beliefs on to the text.

HH: Genesis 2:24 speaks of a physical and 
emotional union between two people, a man and a 
woman. There is no discussion of more than one 
wife, and that of course would interfere with the 
one flesh union of the man and woman.

>  As a number
>of list members have pointed out polygamous marriages are just accepted
>in the texts as being a normal part of life. Whether than be wives or
>some combination of wife, wives, concubine or concubines. Beyond that
>there is 2 Sam 12:8 KJV:-
>``And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy
>If you are going to make the case that the writer(s) thought God's ideal
>was monogamous marriages why would they include a verse which portrays
>God as actively taking Saul's wives away from him and giving them
>to David?

HH: A lot of OT language attributes to God the 
providential reality, whatever it was. God is 
sovereign, so all events are ultimately due to 
Him, whether He actually approves of them or not, 
if He allows them. God does not approve of 
individuals hating one another, but Psalm 106: 
says about the Egyptians:

Psa. 105:25 whose hearts he turned to hate his 
people, to conspire against his servants.

HH: God allowed and indirectly caused this hatred 
by blessing Israel. David as the new king had a 
certain right, according to Near Eastern 
thinking, to take from the harem of the deceased 
king. So God gave David circumstances that put 
him in that condition, but we do not know that he 
took Saul's wife. Saul had only one wife (1 Sam 
14:50). He had one concubine, whom Abner took (2 
Sam 3:7). But what suggests this kind of language 
to be providential rather than a specific divine 
intent is that God forbid the Israelite kings 
from multiplying wives:

Deut. 17:17 He must not take many wives, or his 
heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate 
large amounts of silver and gold.

HH: David already had more than one wife before he even became king.

>  Monogamy came to us from the Romans, not from either the
>Jews or the Christians.

HH: This is not what the NT says in the person of Jesus:

Matt. 19:3 ¶ Some Pharisees came to him to test 
him. They asked,  "Is it lawful for a man to 
divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
Matt. 19:4 ¶  "Haven't you read," he replied, 
"that at the beginning the Creator 'made them 
male and female,'
Matt. 19:5 and said,  'For this reason a man will 
leave his father and mother and be united to his 
wife, and the two will become one flesh'?
Matt. 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one. 
Therefore what God has joined together, let man 
not separate."
Matt. 19:7 ¶  "Why then," they asked,  "did Moses 
command that a man give his wife a certificate of 
divorce and send her away?"
Matt. 19:8 ¶ Jesus replied,  "Moses permitted you 
to divorce your wives because your hearts were 
hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.

>For purely numerical reasons I expect monogamy was the more common
>form of marriage, there appears to be nothing in the texts which
>elevates that above polygamous marriages.

HH: The fact that God prohibits kings from 
multiplying wives suggests that it was an 
inferior practice. It is fraught with 
complications and unhappiness in the biblical 

					Harold Holmyard

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