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Polygamy

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, . . . . (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

"Deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" prohibit what God does not.

Introduction

Although Scripture clearly condemns polyandry (a woman having more than one husband, Romans 7:2-3), it does not condemn polygyny (a man having more than one wife). Yet, in today's false Christian culture (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3; 2 Peter 2:1-3) this kind of polygamy (i.e. polygyny) is typically viewed as evil, even though the Word of God never teaches any such thing (Proverbs 4:27; 30:5-6). Popular Bible teacher John MacArthur exemplifies this presumption. In his Study Bible MacArthur writes,

8:30,31 many wives. Gideon fell severely into the sin of polygamy, an iniquity tolerated by many but which never was God's blueprint for marriage (Gen. 2:24). Abimelech, a son by yet another illicit relationship, grew up to be the wretched king in Judg. 9. Polygamy always resulted in trouble. (The MacArthur Study Bible, p.348, copyright 1997, Word Publishing)

MacArthur calls polygamy an "iniquity," faults Gideon for "the sin of polygamy," and calls polygamy and concubinage (Abimelech was the son of Gideon's concubine, Judges 8:31) "illicit" relationships. On page 37 of this same Study Bible MacArthur calls bigamy (having two wives) "open rebellion against God" and a "violation of marriage law" (see MacArthur's footnote for Genesis 4:19). The problem with this is, Scripture nowhere says any such thing (Proverbs 30:5-6). When MacArthur maintains such heresy, he blasphemes (2 Timothy 3:2) godly men (e.g. Abraham, Caleb, Gideon, David, even Josiah, see MacArthur's footnote for 2 Kings 23:25), and teaches as doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:8-9) and demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3 "forbidding to marry").

Some may argue that Matthew 19:9 condemns polygamy.

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery. (Matthew 19:9; see also Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18)

There is a key word here - divorce. Polygamy does not involve divorce. Polygamy is the polar opposite of divorce. Polygamy keeps faithful the marriage vow. Divorce does not. Jesus calls divorce and remarriage adultery. He does not call simple marriage to another adultery. Those who use this passage for that pervert it and add to the text (Proverbs 30:5-6).

Jesus notes, "except for sexual immorality." In other words, if the divorce and remarriage is because of sexual immorality, it is not adultery. So, even in Matthew 19:9 there is a marriage to another woman that is not condemned as adultery. The substantive wrong in Matthew 19:9 is the divorce, and that is the context and discussion at hand - divorce (Matthew 19:3-9). God is against divorce. As Jesus says,

So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:6; see also Malachi 2:13-16)

I. Polygamy Was Not Uncommon

As often as polygamy is recorded in Scripture, it is quite evident the Lord never condemns the practice. Both wicked men and righteous men were polygamous, and the Lord called neither to repent of it.

Lamech is the first recorded polygamist (Genesis 4:19).1 Abraham had more than one wife (Genesis 16:3-4; 25:6 "concubines"). Nahor, Abraham's brother, had both a wife and a concubine (Genesis 11:29; 22:20-24). Esau took on a third wife (from Ishmael), after seeing his Canaanite women did not please his father Isaac (Genesis 28:6-9). Jacob was tricked into polygamy (Genesis 29:20-30), yet later he received two additional wives making a grand total of four wives (Genesis 30:4, 9). Ashhur, the father of Tekoa, had two wives (1 Chronicles 4:5). Michael, Obadiah, Joel, Ishiah, and those with them "had many wives" (1 Chronicles 7:3-4). Shaharaim had at least four wives, two of which he "sent away" (1 Chronicles 8:8-11).

Moses had three wives (Exodus 18:2; Numbers 12:1; Judges 4:112), but there's no information on whether or not they were contemporaneously married; since their deaths are not mentioned. Caleb had two wives (1 Chronicles 2:18) and two concubines (1 Chronicles 2:46, 48). Gideon had many wives (Judges 8:30). Elkanah is recorded as having two wives, one of which was the godly woman Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1-2, 8-2:10). King Saul had "wives" (2 Samuel 12:8).

David, a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), had a grand minimum total of 20-22 wives3 (10-12 wives and 10 concubines, 2 Samuel 3:2-5, 13-14; 5:13; 11:27; 12:8; 15:16). Solomon, who breached both Deuteronomy 7:1-4 and 17:14-17, had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-6). Rehoboam had eighteen wives and sixty concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21), and sought many wives for his sons (1 Chronicles 11:23). Abijah had fourteen wives (2 Chronicles 13:21). Ahab had more than one wife (1 Kings 20:7). Jehoram had wives who were taken captive (2 Chronicles 21:17). Jehoidah the priest gave king Joash two wives (2 Chronicles 24:1-3), and Jehoiachin had more than one wife (2 Kings 24:15). Polygamy is mentioned several times over in the Bible and never once is polygyny condemned.

II. Polygamy Was Governed

Not only is polygyny not forbidden, but God actually gave laws concerning its practice. For example, in Deuteronomy 21 the Lord gave Moses a law regarding a man who had two wives.

If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated,4 and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: 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: 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 KJV)5

This law is very much like Jacob's situation inwhich he "loved Rachel more than Leah" (Genesis 29:30-33). It says Leah was "hated." And, as in the above law, the firstborn, Reuben, was the son of the "hated" wife, Leah. So here in the law of Moses, God does not condemn the man who has two wives. He simply governs how he deals with the offspring.

Immediately before this passage, we find Deuteronomy 21:10-14.

When you go out to war6 against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. She shall put off the cloths of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you have humbled her.

Here the Lord makes no mention as to whether "you" are already married or not. He simply gives the Israelites the permission to marry a captive girl and how to deal with her. This law applies to either a single man or a married man, and in its application of a married man, the Lord is giving permission for polygamy. In fact, this passage rests in that very context, because the very next statement after verse 14 is, "If a man has two wives, . . ." (Deuteronomy 21:15).

Another interesting law in the light of polygamy is found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband's brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. But if the man does not want to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, "My husband's brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother." Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, "I do not want to take her," then his brother's wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, "So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother's house." And his name shall be called in Israel, "The house of him who had his sandal removed."

This passage requires the living brother to marry his brother's wife, and there is absolutely no statement whatsoever in regards to the living brother's marital status. He could be single, or he could already be married. The passage says nothing either way. All that is said is,

If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband's brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her.

If the living brother was already married, then we have here a command from God for a man to have a polygamous relationship. If the living brother was already married, in order to obey the Lord, the man would be required to have more than one wife. If he refused to do so, he would be spit in the face and bear reproach (Deuteronomy 25:9-10).

Similarly, if a married man were to have sex with a virgin who was not betrothed, he would be required to marry her, and thus end up with another wife.

If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins. (Exodus 22:16-17)

Here again there is no specification on whether the man is married or not. Therefore, this law would apply to both a single or married man.

Likewise, Deuteronomy 22 says,

If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

In this case, if a married man did the above, he was required to marry the girl. Thus, here we have yet another law that actually commands polygamy to be practiced.

Another law regarding polygamy can be found in Leviticus 18:18. Here the Lord forbids rivalry.

Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive.

An example of sisterhood rivalry within polygamy can be found in Genesis 29:16-30:24.7

Also, the Lord did not allow a man to marry a woman and her mother.

If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you. (Leviticus 20:14)

These laws (Leviticus 18:18 & 20:14) do not prohibit polygamy, but rather they ban certain acts of polygyny.

Finally, there is one passage in Deuteronomy that some may think condemns polygamy. But the truth of the matter is, it actually allows it. For the king, Deuteronomy 17:14-17 places a very general limit to the practice of polygyny.

When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, "I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me," you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, "You shall not return that way again." Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

This law is given for the king of the land. There is no such law concerning the common Israelite. In other words, if an Israelite were to multiply wives for himself, he would not be breaching this law or any other command from God; because no such command exists. This law does not apply to everyone. It only applies to the king.

Now, does the law say the king cannot have more than one wife? No, it does not. In fact, please note there are three other things the king is not to "multiply for himself," horses, silver, and gold. Could he have a few horses? Certainly, David had at least 100 horses (2 Samuel 8:4), and in this, he did not disobey God (1 Kings 15:5). Could a king have some silver and gold? Indeed, David had silver and gold (2 Samuel 12:30; 24:24), and he did not disobey God (1 Kings 15:5). Likewise, could a king have a few wives? Yes he could. David had at least 10-12 wives and 10 concubines and was not disobedient against the Lord in doing so, as 1 Kings 15:5 says.

David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

III. David's Example

In the matter of Uriah the Hittite, God further reveals His noncondemning perspective toward polygamy. In the midst of rebuking David for his adultery and murder, the Lord says,

I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! (2 Samuel 12:8)

This verse more literally reads,

And I gave to you the house of your lord and the women of your lord in your bosom. And I gave to you the house of Israel and Judah. And if little, and I add to you as they and as they.8

In other words, "And if that was too little, so I would have added to you more." More what? The context? More houses and more women. Clearly, God does not have a problem with polygamy.

What is translated in 2 Samuel 12:8, "into your keeping" (NKJV) is more literally "in your bosom" בְּחֵיקֶךָ (bechêyqekhâ).9 For example, see 2 Samuel 12:8 KJV “into thy bosom.” This same exact “in your bosom” is what Sarai said to Abraham when she gave Abraham her maiden for a wife.

My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. (Genesis 16:5 KJV)

Thus, in the midst of rebuking David for his sin, God tells David he would have given him more women; if those he had wasn't enough. God is indeed against adultery, but He is not against a man having wives, and in this context, even quite a few of them.

As for a king who breached Deuteronomy 17:17, Solomon is the classic example. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Solomon obviously multiplied wives to himself. Deuteronomy 17:17 warned him not to do so, "lest his heart turn away." And that's what happened. "His wives turned away his heart" (1 Kings 11:3) "after other gods" (1 Kings 11:4).

Interesting to note in this polygamous context is the statement about David in 1 Kings 11:6.

Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David.

With the women God gave David from Saul, David had at least 10-12 wives and 10 concubines. And it is said, David fully followed the Lord.

Polygamy was the pattern of David's life. He practiced it unrepentantly. God even specifically commanded him not to "multiply wives for himself" (Deuteronomy 17:17). Although David was a sinner like anyone else (Ecc. 7:20), he did not disobey this specific command given to him by God;

because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. (1 Kings 15:5)

David was a polygamist, and he “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.” Polygyny is right in the eyes of the Lord.

IV. Polygamy Included Concubinage

Some today may think that concubinage in the Bible was a form of an immoral sexual relationship similar to having a personal mistress. Webster's Third New International Dictionary gives this kind of a definition for "concubine" as one possible meaning.

concubine . . . b: a woman who cohabits with a man without being his wife: MISTRESS (p. 472, copyright 1986, unabridged)

The Hebrew word for concubine is piylegesh (פִּילֶ֣גֶשׁ), and it is used for an illicit sexual relationship, but only once.

And she lusted after their paramours, whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys and whose issue is like the issue of horses. (Ezekiel 23:20 NAS)

Here in Ezekiel 23:20, the Hebrew word for concubine is translated "paramours." A paramour is an illicit sexual lover indeed, and the context of this passage supports this translation. It is speaking of a woman with her male immoral partners (paramours). The "concubines," so to speak, are male here, not female, and this is the only time this word is used for males.

Every time pilegesh is used for a female, it is used for a woman who is married to a man. Keturah is called Abraham's concubine, פִּילֶ֣גֶשׁ (piylegesh), in 1 Chronicles 1:32. But, in Genesis 25:1 she is called Abraham's woman, אִשָּׁ֖ה ('ishâh, NKJV "wife"). David's ten concubines are indeed called concubines, but they are also called his women by the Lord Himself (נָשֶׁ֙יךָ NKJV "your wives" 2 Samuel 12:11; 16:21-22). In Judges 19 & 20 the Levite's concubine "played the harlot" (Judges 19:2) and left "her man" (Judges 19:3, אִישָׁ֜הּ, NKJV "her husband"). She is called a concubine in Judges 19:1, 2, 9, 24, 25, 29; 20:4 and 5, yet at the same time, her male partner, the Levite, is called her "man" in Judges 19:3 and 20:4 (NKJV "the husband of the woman" אִ֛ישׁ הָאִשָּׁ֥ה). Moreover, the concubine's father is called the "father-in-law" (Judges 19:4, 7, 9), and the Levite is called the "son-in-law" (Judges 19:5). Clearly, concubinage is displayed as a marital commitment.

So, what is the difference between a "wife" and a "concubine"? Wives are free, concubines are not. Scripture portrays concubinage as the marriage of a slave girl. Note Leviticus 19:20.

Whoever lies carnally with a woman who is betrothed to a man as a concubine, and who has not at all been redeemed nor given her freedom, for this there shall be scourging; but they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.

Betrothal depicts marriage (Deuteronomy 28:30), and here in Leviticus 19:20 we have the marriage (betrothal) of a slave girl to a man. Being a slave, she is called a concubine, and for this immoral act she is not killed as a free woman would be (as in Deuteronomy 22:23-24), "because she was not free."

In Judges the concubine's husband is twice called "her master" (Judges 19:26-27, אֲדֹנֶ֜יהָ). Other concubines are identified likewise. Bilhah, Jacob's concubine (Genesis 35:22), whom Rachel gave to him for a wife (Genesis 30:3-4), was a slave (Genesis 35:25 "maidservant"). Likewise, Zilpah was a slave-wife (Genesis 35:26; 30:9). Marrying a slave girl was not only practiced, it was legislated in the law of God as well.

And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money. (Exodus 21:7-11; see also Deuteronomy 21:10-14)

Notice it does not say, "He cannot take another wife." It says, "If he takes another wife." Here we have another law concerning polygyny and it is not forbidden.

Although some today may view concubinage as an evil deed, Leah, in the Scriptures, viewed it as part of that which pleased the Lord.

And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. Leah said, "God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband." So she called his name Issachar. (Genesis 30:17-18)

Leah had given Zilpah, her maidservant, to Jacob as a wife, because she perceived that she had stopped bearing children (Genesis 30:9). Yet, she continued to pray for more sons. God heard her plea ("God listened to Leah"), and Leah understood this to be a reward from the Lord for giving Jacob a concubine.

V. Polygamy Today

Historically, the United States has had a strong false Christian influence (Puritan/Protestant/Catholic). Not surprisingly then, do we find "forbidding to marry" (1 Timothy 4:1-3). Polygamy is illegal in the U.S.A.. They "call evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20). Homosexuals, who practice "what is against nature" (Romans 1:26-27), can legally marry (Leviticus 20:13). But, for those who want to practice "the natural use of the woman" (Romans 1:27), they've made it illegal. Yet, the very polygamous King, Solomon, who found many wives wrote,

He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD. (Proverbs 18:22)

Men are quite proud, thinking they know more about what is right or wrong than God Himself (Psalm 10:4). Yet, without God there is no right or wrong. "There is one Lawgiver" (James 4:12).

Some might argue that Christ has only one wife, the church. Therefore, we are not to have more than one wife either. The problem with this reasoning is, Christ does not have only one wife. He has two. Indeed, the church is depicted as His wife (Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-8), but so is the New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven (Revelation 21:9-27).

Now, an overseer or a deacon is only to have one wife.

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, . . . . Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, . . . (1 Timothy 3:1-2, 12; see also Titus 1:6).

One of the qualifications of a bishop (literally "overseer") and a deacon (literally "servant") is that he be the husband of one wife. If he were to have two or more, he could not hold either position. Why? It doesn't say. One can only wonder if it is because of the additional "cares about the things of the world" (1 Corinthians 7:33) another wife brings.

In the beginning the Lord indeed formed one man and one woman and the two became one flesh (Genesis 2:24; Genesis 1:31; Mark 10:6-8). Whether it be in a monogamous marriage or a polygamous marriage, the two still become one flesh. The man becomes one flesh with each of his wives. We know this by the fact that even if a man has sex with a harlot, he nonetheless becomes one flesh with her. As it is written,

Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." (1 Corinthians 6:16)

Therefore, the two becoming one still applies to each union in a polygamous marriage.

Many find the idea of polygamy a bad thing. But, Ecclesiastes depicts it as a good thing.

If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he (Ecclesiastes 6:3).

Living many years is typically regarded as a good thing (e.g. Proverbs 3:2; Ephesians 6:3). Having children is explicitly stated to be ''a reward" (Psalm 127:3). Having "a hundred children" depicts having more than one wife. Ecclesiastes 6:3 depicts polygamy as a good thing, not a bad thing. Although according to this verse, it clearly takes more than long life and many children to be "satisfied with goodness."

Finally, the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:12) said, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing." Who's to say it's an evil thing to find more than one? God doesn't say it, and neither should we.

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

Endnotes:

1. Terah, Abraham's father, may have had more than one wife, but there is not enough information to say for certain. Abraham had a half sister via Terah (Genesis 20:12), but we don't know who the mother was or the circumstances to her relationship with Terah.

2. In Judges 4:11 Hobab is noted as the "father-in-law of Moses." In Exodus 2:18-21 “Reuel” (vs. 18), “the priest of Midian” (Exodus 2:16), is also noted as Moses' father-in-law. Reuel (Exodus 2:18) “gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses” (Exodus 2:21). Evidently, Moses had both Reuel's daughter and Reuel's grand daughter as wives, since Hobab was both the “son of Reuel the Midianite” (Numbers 10:29) and the “father-in-law of Moses.” Moses also had another wife, the Ethiopian woman, mentioned only in Numbers 12:1.

3. David's first wife is Michal (1 Samuel 18:27). He eventually loses her for a while and obtains Abigail and Ahinoam (1 Samuel 25:42-44). Four more are listed by name along with these two in 2 Samuel 3:2-5. In 1 Chronicles 3:1-5 this same list of six wives is given and it is clear they do not include David's concubines, because it says,

These were all the sons of David, besides the sons of the concubines (1 Chronicles 3:9).

In the context, the list of sons is from those six named, plus Bathsheba, and from some other wife or wives. Verses 6-8 list nine more sons but do not give any name for the mother or mothers.

The context in 2 Samuel 3 is while he was in Hebron (verse 2). Those listed are Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah. Then he also gets Michal back (2 Samuel 3:13-14). Then after he moves to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:6-9) it says,

And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron. Also more sons and daughters were born to David. (2 Samuel 5:13)

So up to this point, the number of named and recorded wives is a grand total of 7 (Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah). Then in 2 Samuel 5 we are told "he took more . . . wives" which indicates he took a minimum of two more wives at this point. That makes a minimum total of 9 wives. Then later in 2 Samuel 11 he takes on Bathseba, which makes a grand minimum total of 10 wives. In addition, the only number given for concubines is 10 (e.g. 2 Samuel 15:16).

Moreover, in 2 Samuel 12:8 it reveals David had some wives from Saul.

And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. (2 Samuel 12:8 KJV)

If these are not included in the wives he took from Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:13), then this would be an additional 2 or more wives. Thus, understanding concubines are slave wives, David had a grand minimum total of 20-22 wives (10-12 wives and 10 concubines).

Finally, the names given of David's wives are:

Michal מִיכַ֥ל (miykhal) means “brook,” same as in 2 Samuel 17:20,מִיכַ֣ל "brook” (KJV, NKJV, NAS) only found here.

Ahinoam אֲחִינֹ֖עַם ('achiyno`am) means “my brother is delight”

Abigail אֲבִיגַ֕יִל means “my father is joy” e.g. גִּ֫ילִ֥י “my joy” Psalm 43:4

Maacah מַעֲכָ֔ה (ma`akhâh) "she pressed”? e.g. Ezekiel 23:3 “their breasts pressed” KJV מֹעֲכ֣וּ

Haggith חַגִּ֑ית (chaggiyt) “festal”

Abital אֲבִיטָֽל “my father is dew”

Eglah עֶגְלָ֖ה = "heifer" e.g. “heifer” עֶגְלָ֣ה Genesis 15:9

Bathsheba בַּת־שֶׁ֣בַע (bat-sheva`) “daughter of seven”

4. NKJV has "unloved" both in Deuteronomy 21:15-17 and Genesis 29:31 & 33. But, the Hebrew word is "hated" as the KJV has it, שְׂנוּאָ֔ה (senu'âh).

5. MacArthur writes,

21:15-17 has two wives. In the original, the words are rendered "has had two wives," referring to events that have already taken place, evidently intimating that one wife is dead and another has taken her place. Moses, then, is not legislating on a polygamous case where a man has two wives at the same time, but on that of a man who has married twice in succession. (The MacArthur Study Bible, copyright 1997, footnote for Deuteronomy 21:15-17, bold added)

The text says nothing of any death of a spouse, but MacArthur adds this to the text (Proverbs 30:6). Also, MacArthur lies about "the original." There is no tense distinction in the Hebrew language ("the original") between "has" and "has had," nor is there anything in the context that would justify such a translation.

The verb representing the "has" or "has had" that MacArthur is referring to is תִהְיֶיןָ (tihyeyna). It is simply an imperfect third feminine plural verb for "to be." There is no tense distinction in this verb (between "has" or "has had"), nor does the context justify any such distinction.

Moses is legislating on a polygamous case where a man has two wives, one is loved, the other is hated (as in Genesis 29:31-33). That's the heart of the passage. MacArthur adds a death to the text, lies about the original, and denies the words of Scripture by saying, “Moses, then, is not legislating on a polygamous case” when in fact he is.

6. In the booty of war, as described in Deuteronomy 21:10-14, a wife might be obtained. Consistent with this concept, wise ladies say to Sisera's mother in Judges 5:30, "To every man a girl or two" (more literally, "a womb, two wombs to each man" רַ֤חַם רַחֲמָתַ֙יִם [racham, rachamâtayim]).

7. There is rivalry found between Hannah and Peninnah in 1 Samuel 1, but there is no comment on whether or not they are sisters.

8.as they and as they” - כָּהֵנָּה וְכָהֵנָּה (kâhênnâh vekhâhênnâh) - כָהֵנָּה (khâhênnâh) is found one other place, Genesis 41:19 “such as” (KJV). In 2 Samuel 12:8 the “such as” (or more literally, “as they”) refers back to the previous houses (“such as”) and women (“and such as”).

9. "in your bosom" בְּחֵיקֶךָ (bechêyqekhâ) is also found in Exodus 4:6 ("in your bosom" NKJV); Numbers 11:12 ("in your bosom" NKJV); and 1 Kings 1:2 ("in your bosom" NKJV). In Genesis 16:5 NKJV translates this "into your embrace."

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