As we listen to sermons in church, we rarely hear about polygynists in the Bible with maybe the exception of Solomon. This leads many to believe that the practice was extremely rare. But is that so? Come to find out, there were many MANY men in scripture who practiced polygyny, including some of the greatest men of the faith and those in the lineage of our Messiah.
Join us in this teaching as we explore what the scriptures have to say about the men of the Bible who practiced polygyny and how many there were, and could have been. Join us as we learn the God Honest Truth about the polygynist families of scripture
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This teaching is the second episode in a series about polygyny in scripture. It discusses various men in the Bible who had more than one wife. The episode provides metaphorical examples of Yahweh, the heavenly father, having two wives, representing the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel. It also mentions Yeshua, the son of Yahweh, using the concept of polygyny metaphorically to illustrate his relationship with believers. In terms of literal human examples, the episode mentions Lamech, Abraham, Terah, Nahor, Esau, and Jacob, who all had multiple wives. Abraham, for example, had three wives: Sarah, Hagar, and Keturah. The episode emphasizes that polygyny was practiced by biblical figures and provides scriptural references to support this.
So, for this teaching, this is going to be the second episode in our polygyny series talking about plural marriage from scripture. In this second episode, we’re going to be talking about polygynists of scriptures, various men who had more than one wife and generally more than one wife at one time, which is what we mean by the word polygyny. Now, all of the notes that we’ve taken for this episode and the draw slides are in a link down below.
Click on that link and it’ll take you directly to our website, godhonesttruth.com, where we’ll have a post containing the on-demand video, the draw slides that you see on your screen right now, and the notes that we took for this episode along with other useful information and resources. And of course, if you have any questions or concerns, as always, please feel free to email us at team at godhonesttruth.com. Now, to start out with this list of people from scripture who are described as having more than one wife, we’re, of course, going to start out with our heavenly father, Yahweh.
Now, this is not to get into any kind of queen of heaven kind of thing or to insinuate that Yahweh was literally married. No. This comes from a metaphor about Yahweh with both the northern and southern kingdoms. As we read in Ezekiel 23, verses 2-4, Son of man, there were two women, daughters of one mother, and they whored in Mitzrayim. They whored in their youth. There their breasts were handled, and there their maiden nipples were squeezed.
And their names were Ohala, the elder, and Ohalibah, her sister. And they were mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And their names, Shomeron is Ohala, and Yerushalayim is Ohalibah. So metaphorically speaking, Yahweh is referencing his relationship and covenant with the people of Israel as we would with a man and a woman in a marriage. So metaphorically speaking, Yahweh had two wives, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. Again, in Jeremiah 3, verses 6-10, And Yahweh said to me in the days of Yoshiah the sovereign, Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain, and under every green tree, and there committed whoring.
And after she had done all these, I said, Return to me. But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Yehuda saw it. And I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Yehuda did not fear, but went and committed whoring too. And it came to be, through her frivolous whoring, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and wood.
And yet for all this, her treacherous sister Yehuda has not turned to me with all her heart, but falsely declares Yahweh. So once again, we get this imagery here of Yahweh speaking about his bride. First it talks about Israel, referring to the northern kingdom, stating that they had done treacherously, committed whoring, and that they had committed adultery, and so Yahweh had given that wife, Israel, a certificate of divorce. Again, the whole marriage imagery going on there.
As it continues, it says the same thing about Yehuda, referring to the southern kingdom, Judea, saying that they had committed whoring also, committed adultery with stones and wood, but yet he did not give them a certificate of divorce. He did not give his second wife a certificate of divorce. So again, all this marriage imagery going on here to metaphorically illustrate Yahweh’s relationship with the northern and southern kingdom. Two wives. One more time, in Jeremiah chapter 31, verses 31 through 32.
See, the days are coming, declares Yahweh, when I shall make a renewed covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Yehuda, not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I strengthened their hand to bring them out of the land of Mitzrayim, my covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, declares Yahweh. So here, more specifically, he’s calling these two women his wives because he’s referring to himself as their husband.
So again, this is not any kind of queen of heaven kind of thing, but metaphorically speaking, Yahweh does illustrate himself as a husband of two wives. The northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judea. And likewise, his son, the only begotten son of Yahweh, our Messiah, Yeshua, also illustrated himself, metaphorically speaking, as having more than one wife. Matthew chapter 25, verses 1 through 13. Then the reigns of the heavens shall be compared to ten maidens.
Five of them were wise and five foolish. The foolish said to the wise, Give us of your oil, because our lamps are going out. But the wise answered, saying, No, indeed, there would not be enough for us and you. Instead, go to those who sell and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. And later the other maidens also came, saying, Master, Master, open up for us.
And he answering said, Truly I say to you, I do not know you. So here in this description that Yeshua is given in his parable, there were ten maidens to start out with, five were wise and five were foolish. Well, the foolish ones did not make it to the wedding ceremony and the wedding feast. So the bridegroom ended up with only five wives at that wedding instead of ten. But the illustration here is of Yeshua and us as the believers, as the assembly, as the ecclesia, as the church.
That’s what he’s illustrating. So again, it’s all metaphorical, but Yeshua is using the concept of polygyny to metaphorically illustrate his relationship with us, because Yeshua is that bridegroom. So now to get out of the metaphorical and into the literal, speaking of actual human flesh and blood like you and me, the men of Scripture who had more than one wife. We start out with the very first mention of polygyny in Scripture, and that comes from the man called Lamech.
And we read in Genesis chapter 4 verse 19, And Lamech took for himself two wives. The name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. Then we go on and we find that Abraham, the patriarch Abraham, actually had three wives. A lot of you may not know that, but we’ll read in Genesis chapter 16 verses 1 and 3, And Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no child. And she had a Mithraean female servant whose name was Hagar.
And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar, her female servant, the Mithraean, and gave her to her husband, Abraham, to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So starting out in this passage, we see that Abraham already has one wife whose name is Sarai, later to be known as Sarah. And then his wife, Sarah, gives Abraham her handmaiden, Hagar, to be his second wife. So this wasn’t Abraham’s doing, this was actually Sarah’s doing to create this polygamous marriage.
We go on and read in chapter 25 verse 1 of Genesis, And Abraham took another wife whose name was Keturah. Now this is Abraham’s third wife. We read that his first wife was Sarah, his second wife was Hagar, and his third wife was Keturah. Now remember, when we went over the foundations in the first video, we read and understood and learned that a concubine is just a wife. That’s what we would call a wife nowadays. Back then, according to their customs and culture, there were some slight differences, but a concubine was still a wife.
We read in 1 Chronicles chapter 1 verse 32, And the sons born to Keturah, Abraham’s concubine. And it goes on and states the sons and children that were born to Abraham. But as you saw in chapter 25 verse 1, it refers to Keturah as Abraham’s wife, while in 1 Chronicles it refers to Keturah as his concubine. But again, going back, a concubine is just a wife. Now we also read on in Genesis 25 verse 6, it states, But to the sons of the concubines whom Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living.
So here we’re reading about multiple concubines. So the three names that we have in scripture that were married to Abram, or Abraham, was Sarah, Hagar, and Keturah. But here in Genesis 25 verse 6, it is alluding to the fact that he very possibly could have more than just those three wives. But just to state the fact, plain and simple, Abraham was not monogamous. Abraham had more than one wife, and he’s considered a great father of the faith.
Then we go on and we look at Terah. And this comes from Genesis chapter 20 verse 12, And yet she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. Here Abraham is telling the king that Sarah is his half-sister. So he’s explaining that his father Terah had more than one wife, because he’s explaining that Sarah is his sister, even though they have the same father, but not the same mother.
And that indicates that Terah had more than one wife. We then go on to read about Nahor, Genesis chapter 22 verses 23 through 24. And Bethuel brought forth Ribcah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor Abraham’s brother, and his concubine, whose name was Rehumah, also bore Tebah, and Geham, and Tehash, and Ma’akah. So Abraham’s brother also had more than one wife, two as we read about from this passage of scripture. And then we go on to read about Esau, Genesis chapter 26 verse 34.
And when Esau was 40 years old, he took as wives Yehudah the daughter of Baeri the Hittite and Bethemoth the daughter of Elon the Hittite. So there’s two already. Then we read in Genesis 28 verse 9, And Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife, besides the wives he had. The brother of Jacob, who would later be called Israel, his brother Esau had three wives.
And then we go on to Jacob, who again would be later called Israel. We read in Genesis chapter 29 verse 23. And it came to be in the evening that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob and he went in to her. So there’s Jacob’s first wife, Genesis 29, 28. And Jacob did so and completed her week. And he gave him his daughter Rachel, too, as wife. So now Jacob has Leah and Rachel.
And we go on, look in Genesis 30 verse 4. So she gave him Bilhah, her female servant, as wife, and Jacob went in to her. So now Jacob has Leah, Rachel, and Bilhah. And notice here that it’s referring to Bilhah as Jacob’s wife. Then we read in Genesis chapter 30 verse 9. And Leah saw that she had ceased bearing and she took Zilpah, her female servant, and gave her to Jacob as wife. So now we have all four of Jacob’s wives, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah.
And again, Bilhah and Zilpah are referred to as Jacob’s wives. They might be considered concubines by some, but again, a concubine is just a wife. Then we read about Moses. This might surprise some of you, too. Genesis chapter 2 verse 21. And Moshe agreed to dwell with the man, and he gave Zipporah, his daughter, to Moshe. Moshe’s first wife, Zipporah. Then in Numbers chapter 12 verse 1. Now Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moshe because of the Kushite woman whom he had taken, for he had taken a Kushite woman.
So there is Moses’ second wife. When he got out of the land of Israel and they were going through the wilderness, he got his second wife. Now it doesn’t say much about Zipporah at this point. So we can assume that she’s probably still alive, but that’s an argument from silence. However, we do say that Moses had two wives, Zipporah and the Kushite or Ethiopian woman. Then we read about Gideon. Judges chapter 8 verse 30. And Gideon had 70 sons who were his own offspring, for he had many wives.
How many? We don’t know. It doesn’t say. It just says that Gideon had many wives. Then we read about Elkanah. Now who is Elkanah? Elkanah is the father of this prophet Samuel, who was the last prophet of Israel. And we read in 1 Samuel chapter 1 verses 1 through 2. And there was a certain man of Ramathim, Sophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Suph, and Ephraimite.
And he had two wives. The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Panina. And Panina had children, but Hannah had no children. So again, another man of faith who brought forth the last judge of Israel, had two wives. Then we read about the first king of Israel, Shaul, and we read here in 1 Samuel 14 verse 50. And the name of Shaul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimatz, his first wife. Then we read in 2 Samuel chapter 3 verse 7.
And Shaul had a concubine whose name was Ritzpah, daughter of Ayah. So Shaul had two wives, Ahinoam and Ritzpah. Then we go on to the second king of Israel, King Dawid, and in 1 Samuel 25 verse 39. And Dawid heard that Nabal was dead, and he said, Blessed be Yahweh, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept his servant from evil. For Yahweh has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.
And Dawid sent and spoke to Abigail to take her as his wife. So there’s one of the wives of Dawid mentioned. And then 1 Samuel chapter 25 verse 43, Dawid had also taken Ahinoam of Israel, and so both of them were his wives. Now it’s talking about David having multiple wives. And then in 1 Samuel chapter 25 verse 44. But Shaul had given Michal, his daughter, Dawid’s wife, to Palti, son of Laish, who was from Galim.
So as we read in scripture, Dawid had many wives. It’s hard to count exactly how many. Some say it was eight, but it’s probably more than that. We continue on and read in 2 Samuel chapter 3 verse 3. And his second, Kelab, by Abigail, the widow of Nabal, the Carmelite, and the third, Absalom, son of Maacah, the daughter of Tammai, sovereign of Geshur. And finally, in 2 Samuel chapter 5 verse 13. And Dawid took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to Dawid.
This is why I’m saying it’s very difficult to pin down exactly how many wives that Dawid had. However, we do know that Dawid was not monogamous. He had many wives. And something important to point out here, too. We read in 2 Samuel chapter 12 verses 7 through 8. Then Nathan the prophet said to Dawid, You are the man. Thus said Yahweh, Elohim of Israel, I anointed you sovereign over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Shaul.
And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and Yehudah. And if that were not enough, I also would have given you much more. Do you notice what it said right there, regarding the subject at hand? It says here that Yahweh gave Dawid his master’s wives. Yahweh made it so that Dawid would be polygynist. And then, of course, we go on to probably the most famous polygynist in scripture, King Solomon, the third king of Israel.
And we read in 1 Kings chapter 11 verse 3. And he had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines, and his wives turned away his hearts. So here, no doubt about it. Now the interesting thing about Solomon, or Shlomo, is that it only mentions three children by Shlomo in scriptures. This is an important thing to point out. If you have a thousand wives, and you only have three children, more than likely there’s going to be something physically wrong with you as a man.
However, I don’t think that’s the case. I think the case is, it simply does not mention the other children that Shlomo had. Because they aren’t germane to the storyline, per se. A thousand wives, you’re bound to have many, many more than just three children. And next up is Jehoiakim. We read in 2 Kings chapter 24 verse 15. And he exiled Jehoiakim to Babel, and the sovereign’s mother and the sovereign’s wives and his eunuchs, and the leading men of the land he exiled from Jerusalem to Babel.
Hosea chapter 1 verses 2 through 3. And Yahweh said to Hosea, Go, take yourself a woman of whoring and children of whoring, for the land has utterly whored away from Yahweh. So he went and took Gomer, daughter of Deblayim, and she conceived and bore him a son. So even the prophets of Israel aren’t averse to getting married, but do the prophets engage in polygyny? Hosea chapter 3 verse 1. Then Yahweh said to me, Go again, love a woman loved by a friend, and an adulteress, according to the love of Yahweh, for the children of Israel, though they are turning to other mighty ones and love their raisin cakes.
So here we read about the prophet Hosea having two wives, and in both instances it’s Yahweh telling him to go out and marry these women. Yeah, surprising, right? Yahweh told him to engage in polygyny. Now, this is, of course, for a purpose to illustrate something prophetically, but Yahweh told him to go out and marry these women. Then we go on to Ezra, and we look in 1 Chronicles chapter 4 verses 17 through 18. And the sons of Ezra, Yether, and Mered, and Epher, and Yalon, and she bore Miriam, and Shammai, and Yeshba, the father Eshtemoah, and his wife Yehudiah bore Jared, the father of Gedor, and Heber, the father of Soko, and Yechuthiel, the father of Zenoah.
And these were the sons of Bithya, the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took. So Ezra had two wives. Now as we go on past the Tanakh, even into the times of the Brit Hadashah, plural marriage or polygyny was still being practiced, even though we don’t get direct explicit descriptions of it in the Brit Hadashah. For instance, we read from the works of Josephus about Herod the Great, who is reported as having nine wives. We read in the Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus writes, Now Herod the king had at this time nine wives.
Who was Herod the Great? Herod the Great was the Herod that was alive and ruling, I guess you could say, at the time of Yeshua’s birth. He’s the one who wanted all the newborns up to two years old to be killed trying to kill Yeshua. This is the Herod that had nine wives. We read again in the Wars of the Jews, Herod had nine wives and children by seven of them. And again in the Wars of the Jews, Herod did not marry for quality, she said, but for beauty.
We have taken notice already that Herod had several wives and that he was well enough pleased with polygamy being allowed by the Jewish law. Even up to this time and even further after also, as we’ll get into when we get into the episode on polygamy in history, even up until this time in Yeshua’s time, in the time of the apostles, amongst the Hebrews, polygamy was something that was still being practiced. In fact, it was the Romans and the non-Hebrews who had an aversion to polygamy.
They were on the monogamous side, loosely speaking, with the adultery and prostitutes and all that, but they’re the ones who brought in this whole monogamy only idea. And they had that idea even back then. Now we’ve covered many polygynous of the scriptures already. However, there are many, many more that we did not cover. You may think it was a rare thing back in the Tanakh, back in the scriptures, but it’s actually not. It’s more prevalent than you think.
For instance, we had Abdon, a judge of Israel, Abiyah, king of Judah, Ahab, king of Israel, Ahasuerus, king of Persia, non-Hebrew, but it’s in scripture, so we’ll mention him. And Ashur, Belshazzar, Ben-Hadad, Caleb, Eliphaz, Haman, Hezron, Ibzan, tribe of Issachar, Jair, Jeremiel, Jehoram, Jeroboam, Jerubal, and Joash, Makir, Manasseh, Mered, Rehoboam, Shemai, Simeon, Zedekiah, and Zebub, just to name a few. So if you thought that plural marriage amongst the people of Yahweh was a rare thing that was only practiced by a few of the elites, we can already see from the people we mentioned in this teaching already that it wasn’t just for the elite.
It wasn’t just for those who were already extremely wealthy. No, this was being practiced by a great number of people, and we’ve already went over those. Go back and review it. Go look for your own. But it’s all over the place. So we’ve seen that the practice of plural marriage or polygyny was much more prevalent than what we are taught in mainstream Christianity today. But is there any significance to this? Well, maybe or maybe not. Just a thought to mull around in your mind is that during the lineage of our Messiah Yeshua, many polygynists played an important role.
Again, we went over many of these already, but we see that Abraham had three wives. Jacob had four. Hetzron had two or three wives. We see that Dawid had many wives. Shlomo had a thousand. Rehoboam had 78 wives. Abiyah had 14. Manasseh had two. And then we go on down and we see Azor had two wives as well. And these are the ones that we’ve been able to find and confirm. There’s probably some others in those lists that had multiple wives as well, but either we haven’t found them or it wasn’t specifically mentioned in Scripture as them being polygynists.
And we go on and continue on down to the birth of Yeshua or the last in the lineage, Joseph, that mentions here in the list in Matthew. So we see that even in the lineage of our Messiah, we have polygynists. And in fact, of the 41 men listed in the lineage of our Messiah, 10 of them are confirmed as polygynists and the other 31 we can’t confirm either way. We can’t definitely say, yeah, they were monogamous or yeah, they were polygynists.
To say that they were monogamous is making an argument from silence because just about the only person that we have confirmed in Scripture as being monogamous is Uriah the Hittite. You go back and read that parable when Nathan the prophet goes to speak to Dawid and that comes from 2 Samuel 12 verses 1-3 and it states, Then Yahweh sent Nathan to Dawid, and he came to him, and he said to him, There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor.
The rich one had flocks and herds, very many, but the poor one had only one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and kept alive, and it grew up with him and with his children together. He ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. So this parable that Nathan is telling to Dawid is referencing Uriah the Hittite having only one lamb, that’s referring to Bathsheba.
So again, this is the only confirmation that we have of a monogamous in Scripture. To say otherwise about other people is just an argument from silence. We go on to read in 2 Samuel 12 verses 7-9. Then Nathan said to Dawid, You are the man. Thus said Yahweh, Elohim of Israel, I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and Yehudah, and if that were not enough, I also would have given you much more.
Why have you despised the word of Yahweh to do evil in his eyes? You have struck Uriah the Hittite with the sword and his wife you took to be your wife, and you have killed him with the sword of the children of Ammon. So again, Uriah the Hittite only had one wife, only one little ewe lamb, as it says in the Scriptures. And also, just to reiterate, it was Yahweh that gave David multiple wives. Not one time did Yahweh tell Dawid, you can only have one, that’s it.
No. Yahweh gave David multiple wives. Yahweh made Dawid a polygynist, because it was a gift, it was a blessing to Dawid. And in fact, many of the great men of Scripture were polygynists. We even see this in what they call the Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11. We see again, the men listed here, Abraham, three wives, Jacob, four wives, Moshe, two wives, Gideon had many wives, Dawid had many wives. So the men of Scripture that Scripture holds up in high esteem for their faith, for their obedience to the Torah and to Yahweh, a lot of these men had more than one wife.
It’s much, much more prevalent than we’re taught in mainstream churches today. So in summary, number one, polygyny was much more prevalent in Scriptures and during the times of Snoch and the Brit Hadashah than what we think and what we’re taught in our mainstream Christian churches. Polygyny was practiced by both those of elite status and non-elite status. Many of the great men of Scriptures are recorded as being polygynists. Others may or may not have been. And even Yahweh and Yeshua, His only begotten Son, metaphorically illustrate themselves as being polygynists.
And that’s just the God Honest Truth.