No one who reads the Bible denies that polygamy—the practice of a man having more than one wife—is seen within the text. The Patriarch Jacob, who was the progenitor of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, had two wives and two concubines (Genesis 31:17; 37:2). King David, who was testified by the Lord to be “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), had multiple wives (1 Samuel 18:17-30; 25:38-43; 2 Samuel 3:2-5). King Solomon, whom many consider to be the wisest man who ever lived, had hundreds of wives and concubines (1 Kings 3:1; 11:3) that made up an entire harem (Song of Songs 6:8).
“So what is the problem?” it is said. “Some of the most important figures in the Tanach Scriptures had multiple wives, and so Messianic men today should be able to have multiple wives as well. YHWH is restoring Biblical patriarchy! Women need to learn their place.”
There are, in fact, many problems to be explored when considering whether or not polygamy is an acceptable practice for today’s Body of Messiah. Was it the ideal at Creation for the man to have more than one wife? When a man has more than one wife, is he truly fulfilled emotionally and spiritually with his multiple spouses? Is the household where one man has multiple wives and children from those multiple wives truly a place of love and affection, or one of discord and suspicion? Does the Bible portray men who had polygamous relationships as being genuinely fulfilled, and children who were true examples of godliness? Does a man having multiple wives express the sentiment that he places great value on women, or that they are simply property to be acquired? And, how many in the Biblical period actually had the financial means to afford more than one wife? Does the Bible really lend support to the practice of polygamy today?
In this critical article, we will directly answer these questions and many more. Make no mistake about it, while polygamy is recorded to have been practiced in Scripture—it by no means is endorsed by Scripture! Not a single commandment in the Torah condones the practice of polygamy. God never intended a man to have more than one wife, families where the husband is polygamous have suffered immensely from it, and male polygamists today are motivated by uncontrollable sexual urges that demean women and the equality that Messiah Yeshua has restored to the genders (Galatians 3:28). And not only will we consider these factors, but we will also take a look at many of the Tanach examples where polygamous relationships are portrayed, later weighing in the teachings and thoughts of Yeshua and the Apostles.
Will Messianic men arise who recognize women as having great value and recognize them as their equals?