Polygamy in the Bible and the Koran (No. 293)
(Edition 1.0 20060520-20060520)
The Bible has clear instances of polygamy over the millennia. The purpose here is to ascertain what it is that God wants from us and why it has been evident over the centuries both in the Old and New Testaments.
Christian Churches of God
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(Copyright ã 2006 W.K. Wong and Wade Cox)
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Polygamy in the Bible and the Koran
The Bible and the Koran show clear and distinct examples of polygamy. Many of our modern nations permit polygamy particularly under Shari’a law and in some African nations that are of tribal religious systems.
Some nations outlaw polygamy but, where there are sizeable Muslim populations, the Shari’a courts permit it and the authorities turn a blind eye to the practice.
We propose to examine the correct biblical position and establish guidelines regarding polygamy and the families concerned.
Definitions and Background
Polygyny is one man married to several women.
Polyandry is one woman married to several men.
Polygamy refers to either arrangement.
We are now striking instances of polygamy with people coming into contact with the Church. Many people have legal families by two or more wives. Many nations allow it. The Bible says that an elder should be the husband of one wife but is apparently silent about the rest, or is there no other guidance for the rest of the people other than for the elders? CCG will see how we can formulate procedures based on scriptural principles to deal with it.
There are divergent views on polygamy. The Bible clearly has examples of polygamous relationships among the patriarchs and clearly the kings, particularly David and Solomon, had many wives. Israel is the result of twelve tribes originating from the twelve sons of Jacob born to two wives and two concubines.
The relationship of the firstborn of the mother and the spiritual firstfruits of the womb is examined in the paper Tithing (No. 161). In that text the Jewish position on multiple marriages according to the Mishnah and the Talmud is examined.
"Redemption is both physical and spiritual. Israel was enslaved to Egypt both physically and spiritually being under bondage to sin. Man’s redemption is thus tied to his spiritual life and his social order. The whole creation is finally to be redeemed (Rom. 8:20-21) and that is why the millennial reign of Jesus Christ must also involve physical human beings within the social order as laid down at Sinai. That law from Sinai was perfect. Some aspects (such as divorce) were allowed because of the hardness of the hearts of Israel.
The firstborn is that of the mother and not the father as we have seen (Ex. 13:2). More than one wife was traditionally allowed to the common man and the king was allowed even more (four (mYeb 4:11; mKet. 10:1-6; and also the Koran) or five (mKer. 3:7) wives depending upon authorities (see also mKid. 2:7; mBkh. 8:4); and eighteen for the king (mSanh. 2:4)). The Qumran sect held that both king and commoners should be monogamous (see Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Vol. I, p. 320, n. 125). The New Testament limits elders and deacons to one wife (1Tim. 3:2,12). The firstborn is thus sanctified and dedicated, even if of a polygamous marriage and/or born also under the law of family duty to a brother’s wife (Deut. 25:5-6). Zerubbabel was thus sanctified because he was born of that relationship (see the paper Genealogy of the Messiah (No. 119)).
It is important that Zerubbabel was listed there because of his significance in the structure of the building of the Temple."
It is thus beyond doubt that polygamy occurs in and was understood to have occurred in Scriptures, under God’s Law. The concept of marriage to brothers of the family within the tribal system sometimes was polygamous. The concept, whether polygamous or not, is essential to the maintaining of the tribal systems of inheritance under the law using the Levirate system.
A number of Christians argue that God sanctions polygamy. The views are based on the clear precedents set down in Scripture. The law deals with it in the following text in Deuteronomy 21:15
"If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons...."
There is thus no doubt in the law that Polygamy (polygyny) is envisaged.
David had many wives and concubines (cf. 2Sam. 15:16; 19:5; 20:3). Initially he had at least two wives in Abigail and Ahinoam of Jezreel, as well as Michal whom Saul gave to Phalti (1Sam. 25:42-44). When Saul was killed God gave David all that was Saul’s including all his wives (2Sam. 12:8).
Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. These women came from the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites (1Kgs. 11:3).
Rehoboam had eighteen wives and sixty concubines (2Chro. 11:21). This line in Judah may have been the origin of the Talmudic limitation of the eighteen wives to the king.
The father of the Prophet Samuel had two wives (1Sam. 1:2). The sons of Issachar are recorded as having many wives and sons (1Chro. 7:4).
The lineage of Christ is descended from the second wife of Zerubbabel who was a Persian princess and daughter of Darius.
It is thus understandable that any student of the Bible would be persuaded by such prolific texts. At the time of the apostles the Church had one law regarding polygamy and that was that an elder and a deacon of the Church had to be the husband of one wife (1Tim. 3:2,12, Tit. 1:6).
It thus follows that God has laid down through His servants the prophets and the apostles that there are limitations on the law as it was given to Moses in its application in regard to the elect. The use of people in the Church as bishops and deacons is confined to those who are monogamous and that needs to be understood as we deal with this subject. There will be more concerning this aspect later.
It should also be noted that:
The Koran is based on the Bible both Old and New Testament. Historically it notes the existence of polygamy in both texts and the Koran.
Muslim legal courts allow that their males can have up to four wives.
Some Muslim males believe that when they die, if they are killed in activities that can be attributed to a religious war then they go heaven and have 72 virgins waiting for them. The basis of this belief is not found in the Koran and is fraudulent manipulation of the texts. We will examine this aspect below.
Brief History of the Origin of Polygamy and the Consequences
It is beyond doubt that the Scriptures deal with and permit polygyny but God’s Law and the testimony do not mention polyandry other than when a woman’s husband dies she is free to remarry. If she sleeps with another man while married it is treated as adultery.
Does the biblical recording of such incidents of polygamy constitute a divine will from God? There are many practices covered in the texts of the Law of God that are human institutions that are regulated in God’s Law. For example: slavery, the avenger of blood, and other practices that are regulated or prohibited in more modern societies. God permits divorce under the law through the hardness of our hearts but Christ gives us a higher law as members of the Church.
When studying the Scriptures, a very important point to bear in mind is that not everything recorded in the Bible is an activity approved by God as an ideal activity. If we look at the origin, we will note that polygamy originated first in the line of the murderer Cain and not the godly line of Seth. The first recorded polygamist was Lamech (Gen. 4:23–24).
This point marks a deterioration in the spiritual capacity of the sons of Adam. Cain murdered Abel. Lamech took this view on and enlarged on the concept. In Genesis 4:23-24 we read the mental condition of Lamech. It is usually rendered as follows:
"And Lamech said unto his wives,
Ada and Zillah, Hear my voice;
Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: For I have slain a man to my wounding,
And a young man to my hurt.
If Cain shall be avenged seven fold,
Truly Lamech seventy and seven fold."
However the text is in the continuous present and may be rendered thus:
"I can kill a man for wounding me and a young man for hurting me" (cf. Bullinger’s fn. to v. 23)
His attitude of mind thus had degenerated from Cain’s situation to this standard of more than an eye for an eye but rather exacted excessive revenge.
The mindset of the planet thus began to degenerate in many ways in six generations, resulting later in God’s intervention in the flood.
Abraham had two wives, Sarah and Keturah, and the concubine Hagar. We are told that Keturah was first a concubine and then she is listed as a wife.
Then Esau, who despised his birthright, also caused much grief to his parents by marrying two pagan wives (Gen. 26:34).
If polygamy were the divine will, then it might be argued that God contradicted Himself when He forbade the kings of Israel to multiply wives (Deut. 17:16-17). Look at the recorded history when they disobeyed, including deadly sibling rivalry between David’s sons from his different wives; and Solomon’s hundreds of wives helped lead him to idolatry (1Kgs. 11:1–3). The prohibition in Deuteronomy 17:16-17 goes to the multiplication of weapons of war in chariots i.e. horses, of wealth, and of women. These three steps were the steps to Solomon’s downfall (see also Bullinger’s notes to the text). Yet God had endorsed David marrying a number of women and taking concubines and said if he had wanted more He would have given them to him. God was effectively saying that he did not need to sin in this way. The problem seems to have been in the attitude of mind. However, Solomon was allowed to build the Temple of God where David was not allowed to do that, as he was a man of blood.
Hannah, Samuel’s mother, was humiliated by her husband Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah (1Sam. 1:1–7). Samuel, God’s anointed, was the product of a polygamous situation.
Monogamy was an ongoing situation in many nations throughout the world: the Chinese Han people in ancient China, the Dong, the Manchus and the Yao.
It will come as a surprise to many that the ancient Han Chinese people actually practised monogamy notwithstanding the popular belief and practices of the ancient Chinese emperors who had hundreds and perhaps thousands of wives and concubines.
"The Han nationality is the principal group in China. The Hans are said to have originated some five thousand years ago. The majority of their YDNA is Haplogroup O, which is similar to the Indo-Malays and some Polynesians, and is related to the other Japhethite tribes. In their long history, they absorbed other minority nationalities. The Han were the dominant group in economy, culture and politics. The costumes have changed greatly, now their clothes are inclining to multi-styles. Concept of a family was similar to the country in days of old. Father was the controlling centre in the long history. A wife and all the children must obey him, but now the system has changed greatly throughout their area of influence. The members of a family are often equal in status. The father will do housework with his wife and children; they supposedly live a more happy life than ever before. Monogamy is the only system for a marriage in their origin. Now fire burial is advocated and carried on. They take good convention of supporting the elders and care for the young children."
(Adapted and edited from http://www.china-fpa.org/english/china/nationality/han.htm ).
During the time of Confucius (traditionally 551 BCE - 479 BCE), monogamy was encouraged as the ideal condition, but the maintenance of secondary wives known as concubines was not forbidden. Confucius and other great sages held that there was nothing shameful in taking a concubine for the sake of bearing sons. It was recommended when the true wife failed to bear male children and was too much loved to be divorced. There were seven causes justifying the repudiation of a wife besides infidelity, and one of these was the absence of male offspring.
The equivalent today would be the recommendation of artificial insemination and fertility treatments also.
There is another group known as the Dong in China and their families also practise monogamy. The Dong choose their own mate and usually marry in their late teens.
Monogamy has always been practised by the Manchus, with young people engaged at the age of 16 or 17 by parental will.
There is another tribe in China known as the Yao people. "More than two million Yao people live scattered throughout the mountainous regions of southern China, where they have dwelled for the past 2000 years. Yao tribes also live in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, and often refer to themselves as Kim Mien, or "men of the mountains". The family unit is very important to the Yao, and divorce is a rare occurrence among them. Monogamy (marriage to one partner) is the rule, but polygamy (multiple marriage partners) exists as well. Although some marriages are still arranged by parents, that choice is now generally left up to the young couple. The groom is usually 16 or 17 years old and his bride is perhaps four years older."
Polygamy within nations not enforcing Monogamy
In studying this practice of polygamy we note that in the nations that prohibit polygamy, it can be practised because of the lack of legal enforcement of their own national laws. For example, in Malaysia a non-Muslim marrying a second spouse is illegal and the marriage is not recognised by the Malaysian civil court and the Registrar of Marriage in Malaysia. Bigamy and polygamy are therefore not allowed by the civil law for the non-Muslim Malaysians whether they are of Chinese, Indian or other ethnic origin. These are governed by Malaysia's Penal Code Chapter XX "Of Offences Relating To Marriage". The affected spouse can sue for divorce on obvious grounds of adultery. However, even though the civil laws in Malaysia do not allow polygamy for the non-Muslims, we will find polygamy being practised by non-Muslims in Malaysia. In effect, this is perpetuated because of the lack of legal enforcement due to majority custom under the Shari’a law system. We will find similar occurrence in other countries.
Malaysia, being a Muslim nation, also has another system of Islamic laws, which are interpreted by the Syariah or Shari’a Court. This allows a Muslim man to have up to four wives, which as we have seen above is also the derived custom from the biblical experiences as interpreted under the Mishnah and Talmudic system within Judaism, which is no doubt where the Muslim practice or limit was inspired.
We find that the more spiritual ones generally believe the divine will of Allah is depicted in the Garden i.e. one spouse per person. There was Adam and one Eve, not multiple wives, no bigamy or polygamy, either polygyny or polyandry.
Singapore has similar civil laws to Malaysia both being part of the Commonweath. Marrying a second spouse as bigamy is illegal and is not recognised by the civil courts or the Registrar of Marriages in Malaysia and Singapore. Bigamy and polygamy are therefore not allowed by the civil law for the non-Muslim Malaysians and Singaporeans whether they are of Chinese, Indian or other ethnic origin.
However, even in Singapore the Shari’a system and multiple wives have some tolerance and quasi-legal status.
"While Singapore is a non-Muslim nation, Singaporean Muslim personal status is governed by the Muslims Ordinance 1957 covering registration, Shari’a Courts and property matters, and repealing the previous applicable Ordinance. It contained very limited substantive provisions, but the ordinance did transfer jurisdiction over Muslim personal status to Shari’a Courts from the regular judiciary. It was replaced by the Administration of Muslim Law Act 1966, providing more detailed regulations. The 1966 Act established the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore (Singapore Islamic Council) to administer endowments and execute wills. The Council also has a Legal Committee consisting of the Mufti of Singapore, two other member of the Majlis and two non-members; the function of the Legal Committee is to issue fatawa on any point of Muslim law. The 1966 legislation also contains more substantive provisions than its predecessor. The Women’s Charter, passed in 1961, superseded non-Muslim family law systems applied in Singapore. It imposed a monogamous marriage regime on all Singaporeans except Muslims, although Muslim men married to non-Muslims under the terms of the Women’s Charter are prohibited from marrying polygamously. Muslims are expressly exempted from certain provisions of the Women’s Charter, for example, those relating to solemnisation, nullity, divorce, etc. The regular court system has jurisdiction over adoption, succession, and custody even for those married under Muslim law, and the Muslim wife may choose to go to the regular or the Shari'a judicial system to obtain a maintenance order.
Constitutional Status of Islam(ic Law): The Constitution was adopted on 3rd June 1959 and amended in 1965 when the Malaysian State of Singapore left Malaysia. The Constitution contains a number of provisions enshrining freedom of religion and prohibiting discrimination on grounds of religion. Article 153 under General Provisions states that "the Legislature shall by law make provision for regulating Muslim religious affairs and for constituting a Council to advise the President in matters relating to the Muslim religion".
Court System: There is one Shari’a Court in Singapore; it may hear and determine actions in which all parties are Muslims or in which the parties involved were married under Muslim law (i.e., the husband is Muslim). The Shari’a Court has jurisdiction over cases related to marriage, divorce, betrothal, nullity of marriage, judicial separation, division of property on divorce, payment of dowry, maintenance, and mut’a. Appeals from Shari’a Court decisions or decisions of kathis lie with an Appeal Board, comprised of three Muslims chosen by the Registrar of the Supreme Court from a panel of seven nominated by the President annually. Appeal Board decisions are final."
While polygamy is prohibited for civil marriages in Singapore under the Women’s Charter, polygamous marriages are permitted under the Administration of Muslim Law Act. That is an example of the right of the minorities to practise their personal and religious laws.
So, Singapore appears to be even more unique than Malaysia. While Singapore is a non-Muslim nation, it has another set of laws for the Muslims. It could not charge a Muslim man for the practice of polygamy because of the presence of these other laws. Also being multi-racial and democratic countries, Malaysia and Singapore both practise freedom of religion. Religion involves a system of beliefs and values. Where those beliefs are corrupted by traditions and wrong ideas, problems will arise.
The problem is in the mindset and the incorrect underlying belief/value or premise in an individual.
Muslims believe they can have more than one wife and up to four wives. We become tolerant and liberal for the sake of harmony. The man who was recently sentenced to 32 years and 24 strokes of the cane in Singapore went beyond that norm. He had ten wives and committed serious crimes.
The activity we are seeing is perhaps the manifestation of tolerance when another aspect needs to be considered, which in the process becomes neglected. Also, it is doubtful whether any nation having similar legislation against polygamy for that matter could enforce their own laws given the fact that such nations also have many instances of polygamy being practised even though their own civil laws prohibit such activity.
We know that Mormonism had allowed polygamy and the practice, whilst outlawed in the US, is still practised in some areas of Utah and Arizona in a de-facto or sequential situation.
There are certainly many groups besides various Mormon sects and many Muslim sects that do argue for the practice of polygamy. Some of the advocates for polygamy put forward their views and contentions as follows:
1. The view is that Old Testament Law encouraged and endorsed polygamy and was practised by Lamech, Abraham, and Jacob including some of the prophets. Jesus Christ did not destroy the Law or the prophets (Mat. 5:17-18). Thus the law stands and polygamy is legal. This is a basic fundamental argument.
2. They argue that God portrays Himself as a polygamist in Ezekiel 23:4, that is in being the husband of two nations, Israel and Judah.
3. They say Jesus portrays himself as a polygamist in being the husband of each individual Christian (2Cor. 11:2).
4. They say that nowhere does the Bible condemn the practice of polygamy.
5. They use other reasons to support their contention as outlined above.
It has been argued that the Ten Commandments were given to Israel only, so they are not binding on Christians or the Muslims. The correct answer is they were given to the stranger as well. Scripture is clear that there were not two laws, but the same law applied to both Israel, (as the twelves tribes including Judah) and to strangers (Ex. 12:49, Isa. 56:6, Num. 9:14; 15:15-16, 29-30, Psa. 18:44). There is one Law Giver who is our God Eloah, creator of the human race and the heavenly host (Jas. 4:12).
Leviticus 24:22 "Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God."
This is unlike some nations where there are two different sets of laws.
For example, God told the Philistine king of Gerar, King Abimelech (i.e., a heathen, stranger or foreigner), the following, "...Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. But Abimelech...said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?" (Gen. 20:3-4).
If the laws contained in the Ten Commandments, such as adultery, did not apply to the heathen, how did this heathen king know it was a sin against God? Why did God threaten this man with death if he did not let this married woman return to her husband (Gen. 20:7)? The answer is obvious there is one law for both the heathen and for believers, the same law, God's Law. He is the One True God Eloah of the entire human host and heavenly host.
Polyandry is universally prohibited by Jews, Christians and Muslims
It is noteworthy that groups that claim to be Christian, and advocate polygamy, do not endorse a woman having multiple husbands; they condemn that practice. We will examine this and see whether there are other aspects, which are not considered.
Let us look further into history, the Scriptures and some established facts and questions to get to the point and sequence:
* After Adam and Eve sinned against God, they became like Elohim knowing good and evil. This means we must discern God's will between what is holy and unholy, clean and unclean. That is required of us in the faith.
* Adam was lonely and God gave him a companion wife. There was no other humankind around; if divine will were multiple wives Adam would be the one who needed more wives. But he was given only one wife.
* God created man in his own image; God is one.
* God took a rib out of Adam to make one Eve. They were thus of one flesh.
* The practice of taking concubines was for the sake of bearing sons, as we see from the historical writers such as Confucius and the Bible texts. Tribal inheritance systems and sometimes survival itself in a warlike atmosphere encouraged the practice.
Thus the marriage model originally was demonstrated as being one husband and one wife.
* Marriage is a divine institution and a covenant between a man and a woman. Another woman is seen as taking away from that covenant. It is no longer special between the two people in the original covenant. It requires a review of that covenant.
There are certain things that are made manifest from nature, one source for study is Romans Chapter 1.
* The first physical Adam in the Garden of Eden had one wife. Christ being the spiritual last Adam was also spiritually married to one wife, physical Israel. Israel went into whoring and disobedience. Sin is transgression of God's Laws (1Jn. 3:4) and the penalty is death. To redeem the human race and the fallen host, Christ had to die first and this dissolved the first marriage of Christ to physical Israel. In his coming marriage supper of the Lamb of God, Christ being the one spiritual husband (2Cor. 11:2) is going to marry symbolically one wife, spiritual Israel, which is the one Church that he has built.
God declared, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a fitting helper" (Gen. 2:18). God created animals with mates and few mate for life but some do so. The word "family" is not applied to the animal kingdom. After the creation and naming of animals God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam and removed his rib. God created the woman from the rib and declared, "Therefore a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave onto his wife and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24).
In this way the responsibility of the human male is virtually unique in the animal kingdom.
In this way also sexual discipline stands at the centre of the Bible vision of family life.
The genetic imperative to produce more offspring found in animals, by multiple mating, even to the killing of other offspring, is not permitted and is to be overcome in humans.
Polygamy has been permitted in biblical times, but, from the argument of the original condition in the Garden of Eden, it is not the ideal. In fact, one can argue that the biblical stories of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, or Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, are polemics against polygamy.
It is noteworthy that two of the great biblical religions have long outlawed polygamy even though Judaism allows it technically in the Talmud. The Koran continues in polygamy because of
The Hadithic corruption of the link between the Bible and the Koran.
The traditional practices of the Jews and Arabs.
The Torah allows divorce and remarriage due to the hardness of our hearts but God says through the prophets that He hates divorce. The book of Deuteronomy, recognising the reality of human weakness, does permit divorce (see Deut. 24:1-4). But it is considered a sad, last resort, and far from the ideal. In fact, the prophet Malachi wrote:
"You have done this again, covering the altar of God with tears, weeping and moaning because He no longer regards your offering or receives it from you with good will. 14 Yet you say why? Because the Lord is witness between you and the wife of your youth with whom you have broken faith, though she is your partner and covenanted spouse.15. And did he not make one? Yet had He the residue of the spirit. And why One? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16. For the Lord the God of Israel, says that he hates putting away [divorce]; for one covers violence with his garment, says the Lord of Hosts therefore take heed to your spirit that you deal not treacherously." (Malachi 2:13-16)
Based on this verse, the rabbis taught when a man divorces the wife of his youth, even the altar of God cries tears (Gittin 90b). Lifelong marriage between one man and one woman is the ideal, articulated by the Garden of Eden story. Jewish tradition uses the term kiddushin, literally holiness, to describe such a marriage. It is marriage, the commitment of a man and a woman to a lifelong exclusive sexual relationship that helps us rise above the animal kingdom.
Three bodies of legal traditions grew out of the Bible. These are: 1) Jewish halakhah; 2) Christian rites and rituals, and from the Roman element came church canon law; and also 3) Moslem Shari'a law, which was based on the Bible regulations and the traditions of the Seventh century Arabs and Jews. They are all concerned with the legal procedures of marriage: Who may marry whom? How is a marriage legally affected? What are the legal obligations of spouses towards one another? May a marriage be dissolved and if so how does that occur? Some elements of the Christian rituals disagree that people can remarry on divorce. The Bible says that they may do so.
All three of the religions based on the Bible agree that marriage is more than a mere legal contract. The Bible often compares the relationship of husband and wife to the relationship between God and Israel. Perhaps the best word is (SHD 1285) beryith - covenant. The deity at Shechem of the northern ten tribes of Israel was itself called Berith (al Berith) (SHD 1286) or The Covenant. The word covenant implies something eternal and unbroken. The word British is a Semitic derivation of the Hebrew words Beriyth or Berith and ish (man) and means Man of the Covenant.
The Bible establishes two purposes for marriage. The first purpose is companionship, for "it is not good for man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18). The second purpose is in order to fulfil God's commandment to "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28).
* The consequences which befell David for his polygamy and adultery were extensive. Two of his sons competed for the throne, one eventually executing and murdering the other. Another son raped his half-sister and in turn was murdered by her full brother. Later, the son who murdered his rapist brother fomented a rebellion against David and almost succeeded. During this rebellion this same son cohabited with David's concubines in the sight of all Israel. Earlier, David was used to having so many wives that it did not smite his conscience to take another man's wife after committing adultery with her, and having her husband who was David's great general murdered. Refer to 2Samuel 11-13,15-18, for the details. David suffered much pain for these episodes.
The Ideal State
It is a false assertion to conclude that God sanctioned or approved polygamy as the ideal state by merely quoting Scriptures that mention incidents and practice of polygamy.
Human misery and suffering all result from sin, which is the transgression of God's Laws (1Jn. 3:4).
In dealing with the text of 2Samuel 12:7-8 much effort is spent trying to reconcile the apparent contradiction between this text and the text in the law at Deuteronomy 17:17.
The wording of this text is that God sanctioned polygamy when He "gave" Saul's wives to David.
And Nathan said to David . . . Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of 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."
The Bible does not contradict itself. The instruction for kings, found in Deuteronomy 17:17, states: "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold." The context here is that God does not want kings to multiply wives to themselves in the sense of being beyond the law or their brethren. The law clearly allows two or more wives from the texts as we have seen above (cf. Deut. 21:15).
To get around the answer of God through the prophet Nathan, some Christian theologians argue as we see in The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Vol. 1, p. 273, Harris, Archer, and Waltke). It states this about the word bosom: "A variety of abstract, figurative ideas are expressed by the term . . . . Giving the old king's wives into the new king's bosom showed the new king's authority . . . ." In brief, the word "bosom" does not necessarily refer to sexual relations.
That can hardly be argued from the sense of the text and what Nathan is saying and clearly overlooks the text in Deuteronomy 21:15.
It is argued that if polygamy were divine will then God gave a contradictory instruction when He instructed that the king was not to multiply wives to himself (e.g. in 2Sam. 12:7-8).
However, this argument introduces conflict into the law. The law covers many practices that are far from ideal but if present in society require regulation, and polygamy as a social institution is one of them.
The fact is that the Messiah’s genealogy comes from polygamous relationships in the lines of the kings in multiple instances (see the paper Genealogy of the Messiah (No. 119)).
It is argued that polygamy does not appear in a positive light in the Old Testament, and never once does it describe a truly happy polygamous marriage (Bible Knowledge Commentary on Deut. 21:15-17).
Early Christian Writers on Marriage in the Church
Records also show that the post-NT church became more generally anti-polygamy.
Justin Martyr, writing in the middle of the Second century, rebukes the Jews for allowing polygamy in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, which is a refutation of Jewish practice and theology. In chapter 134 (cxxxiv) titled The Marriages of Jacob are a Figure of the Church he explains:
If then the teachings of the prophets and of Himself moves you, it is better for you to follow God than your imprudent and blind masters who, even until this time permit each man to have four or five wives; and if anyone see[s] a beautiful woman and desires to have her, they quote the doings of Jacob [called] Israel, and of the other patriarchs, and maintain that it is not wrong to do such things; for they are miserably ignorant in this matter.
He then goes on to explain that:
"The Marriages of Jacob were types of that which Christ was about to accomplish. For it was not lawful for Jacob to marry two sisters at once. And he serves Laban for [one of] the daughters
And being deceived in [the obtaining of] the younger, he again served seven years. Now Leah is your people and synagogue; but Rachel is our church. And for these and for the servants in both Christ even now serves. For while Noah gave to the two sons the seed of the third as servants, now on the other hand Christ has come to restore both the free sons and the servants among them, conferring the same honour on all them who keep his commandments; even as the children of the free women and the children of the bond women born to Jacob were all sons and equal in dignity."
[ANF, vol. 1, p. 266-267]
In the next two chapters he deals with the concept of Christ is King of Israel, And Christians Are The Israelitic Race (cxxxv) and then The Jews In Rejecting Christ Rejected God Who Sent Him (cxxxvi).
This is the understanding of the Churches of God to this day.
Irenaeus (120-202) in Against Heresies (ca 182-188) condemns the Gnostics for, among other things, polygamy: -
In chapter XXVIII in dealing with the doctrines of Tatian, the Encratites (self-controlled) and others, who preached against marriage and thus he says they set aside the original creation of God. He says that Tatian, like Marcion and Saturninus, declared marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication then went on to say:
"Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives and are indifferent about eating meats sacrificed to idols, maintaining the God does not greatly regard such matters" (ANF, vol. 1, p.353).
The heretical factions of the Church also prohibited polygamy as they became established.
Tertullian (145-220) was also explicit: -
Chapter II. Marriage Lawful, But Not Polygamy. We do not indeed forbid the union of man and woman, blest by God as the seminary of the human race, and devised for the replenishment of the earth and the furnishing of the world, and therefore permitted, yet singly. For Adam was the one husband of Eve, and Eve his one wife, one woman, one rib. We grant that among our ancestors and among the patriarchs themselves, it was lawful not only to marry but even to multiply wives [plurifariam matrimoniis]. There were concubines too, [in those days]. But although the church did come in figuratively in the synagogue, yet (to interpret simply) it was necessary to institute (certain things) which should afterwards deserve to be either lopped off or modified. For the law was (in due time) to supervene. (Nor was that enough:) for it was meet that causes for making up the deficiencies of the Law should have forerun (Him who was to supplythose deficiencies). And so to the Law presently had to succeed the Word of God introducing the Spiritual circumcision. Therefore, by means of the wide licence of those days, materials for subsequent emendations were furnished beforehand, of which materials the Lord by his Gospel, and then the apostle in the last days of the (Jewish) age, either cut of the redundancies or regulated the disorders. (ANF, Vol, IV: Tertullian, IV, To His Wife, Bk. I chapter II pp. 39-40)
Tertullian explains more fully the changes to the law in his work On Exhortation to Chastity (ANF Vol. IV, pp, 53, 56-58) and also on Monogamy (ibid. pp.59-72). It is written from a celibate point of view and is contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures and the Law of God.
From Chapter VI (p. 53) he "answers" the objection for the polygamy of the patriarchs. He argues that the command to grow and multiply of Genesis 1:28 is already supervened by the principle of enjoining continence. The time is already wound up and they who had wives should behave as if they had not.
The wood of the old order is allegedly being pruned down by the gospel and the axe has been laid at the roots. Eye for an eye and tooth for tooth has grown old where "let none render evil for evil" grew young as he sees it.
He then invents a text in Leviticus not to pluralise marriages, which does not exist (Ch. VII ibid. p. 54).
From Chapter VIII (ibid.) he goes on to attack the concept of second marriages and this continues on into the text On Monogamy.
He then attacks the entire capacity for the women of the Church to be married again at all after the death of their husbands and holds that the Levirate laws are done away and thus, as each of the Church is the brother of the woman, she would be marrying her brother which is now eliminated. This text is biblical nonsense. He argues strongly that the male whose wife has died should not marry a fertile young woman or have children but marry an old woman purely for housekeeping. The arguments are ascetic Montanist heresy and are to be dismissed.
Thus the Church gradually moved from the law to the spiritualisation of the law. Tertullian was writing in Africa in Latin on behalf of a defined and schismatic Montanism and reflected also the changes inherent to the Third century. These views suited the Monastics that eventually took over the Catholic Church in Rome and were thus supported in these aspects by many.
Methodius (260-312) or Eubulius, was bishop of Olympus and Patara simultaneously in Lycia and was removed to the See of Tyre according to Jerome and was martyred in ca 312 at Chalcis. He argued that polygamy had stopped at the time of the Prophets.
He does this in Chapter III initially quoting from Ecclesiasticus 18:30 and 19:2. He then uses Proverbs 5:18 and Jeremiah 5:8 and then uses Wisdom 4:3. He says:
"The contracting of marriage with several wives had been done away with from the times of the prophets. For we read, 'Do not go after your lusts, but refrain yourself from your appetites' for wine and women will make men of understanding fall away."
In this text he is quoting principally from apocryphal works. He is attempting to argue for celibacy over marriage and the producing of children using uninspired texts excluded from the canon. He argued that the Bible first rejected marriage between brothers and sisters, and then went to monogamy and then to continence. He decides and argues that the 144,000 virgins in Revelation are physical virgins missing entirely the message portrayed.
He also goes on to say:
...And in another place, 'Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of thy youth' [Prov. V:18], manifestly forbidding a plurality of wives. And Jeremiah clearly gives the name of ‘fed horses’ [Jer. 5:8] to those who lust after other women."…
Jeremiah is referring to adultery pure and simple and he misrepresents the sentiments of the prophet.
He returns to Wisdom 4:3 to denounce bastardry as though it is in connection with multiple marriage when neither texts concerns those things. [Banquet of the Ten Virgins, or Concerning Chastity, ANF, vol. 6, p.312]
It is in this period that the errors of the Binitarian system are being established and Modalism had already become established. The laws of God are being attacked continually and especially by the celibate ascetics.
The Pseudo-Clementine Literature, which is a pseudepigraphical work written after 211 (i.e. after the extension of the Roman franchise which it mentions and which happened in the reign of Caracalla; and before 231 where the work is mentioned by Origen (Commentary on Genesis)), yet fictionally asserting much earlier periods and events boasts about how St. Thomas taught the Parthians [allegedly an Iranian culture] to abandon polygamy. But these are really continuous strands of the writer’s views woven together in a fictional tapestry.
"But I shall give a still stronger proof of the matters in hand. For, behold, scarcely seven years have yet passed since the advent of the righteous and true Prophet; and in the course of these, inert of all nations coming to Judaea, and moved both by the signs and miracles which they saw, and by the grandeur of His doctrine, received His faith; and then going back to their own countries, they rejected the lawless rites of the Gentiles, and their incestuous marriages. In short, among the Parthians -- as Thomas, who is preaching the Gospel amongst them, has written to us-not many now are addicted to polygamy; nor among the Medes do many throw their dead to dogs; nor are the Persians pleased with intercourse with their mothers, or incestuous marriages with their daughters; nor do the Susian women practise the adulteries that were allowed them; nor has Genesis been able to force those into crimes whom the teaching of religion restrained." (ANF VIII: "Book IX: Chapter XXIX.-The Gospel More Powerful Than 'Genesis.'" p. 189]
From the Council of Elvira (ca 295-302) absolute celibacy was imposed on the three higher orders of the Modalist or Binitarian system, on bishops, priests and deacons.
If they continue to cohabit with their wives after ordination they are to be deposed.
The Council of Ancyra in Galatia (ca 314) (canon x) forbids even deacons to marry after ordination.
The Council of Neo-Caesarea in Cappadocia (ca. 315) (canon I). Forbids priests to marry after ordination.
After the Council of Nicaea (ca 325) no bishop, priest or deacon may live in the same house with a woman unless it was his mother, sister or aunt. Celibacy is imposed on the Athanasian system and monogamy is imposed on its laity.
In England under the Anglo-Saxons the clergy were openly married. Roman Catholic objections to these assertions are all based on the fact that the Anglo-Saxon word preost can mean a cleric and may not refer to a priest. The term must be Mass Priest (Maesse-proest) to refer to the sacerdotal rank and these are alleged to be celibate (cf. Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol. III, p, 486).
This was not so until the First Lateran Council enforced the strict orders.
It refers to a 'purification period' for polygamists. By that time, sinners had to 'sit out' of Church activities until they had demonstrated reformation. If a sin showed up on this list of canons, it was considered a 'bad sin' – and polygamy shows up here:
Nestorian priests were always allowed to marry and could remarry a second or third time (CE ibid. p. 488).
In the Armenian Church clerics in minor orders are still free to marry (CE ibid).
Basil, (329/330-379) bishop of Caesarea (370), mentioned polygamy in his letters, concerning the period for exclusion from church for polygamists. He calls polygamy 'limited fornication’. There is by this time digamy or bigamy and trigamy.
IV. In the case of trigamy and polygamy they laid down the same rule, in proportion, as in the case of digamy; namely one year for digamy (some authorities say two years); for trigamy men are separated for three and often for four years; but this is no longer described as marriage at all, but as polygamy; nay rather as limited fornication. It is for this reason that the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, who had five husbands, "he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." He does not reckon those who had exceeded the limits of a second marriage as worthy of the title of husband or wife. In cases of trigamy we have accepted a seclusion of five years, not by the canons, but following the precept of our predecessors. Such offenders ought not to be altogether prohibited from the privileges of the Church; they should be considered deserving of hearing after two or three years, and afterwards of being permitted to stand in their place; but they must be kept from the communion of the good gift, and only restored to the place of communion after showing some fruit of repentance."
In the same letter at VI he says:
"The fornication of canonical persons is not to be reckoned as wedlock, and their union is to be completely dissolved, for this is both profitable for the security of the church and will prevent the heretics from having a ground of attack against us, as though we induced men to join us by the attraction of liberty to sin."
(Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Second Series, Vol. VIII, To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons. Letter CLXXXVIII (Canonica Prima.) written c.347. pp. 223, 226).
Now this view is contrary even to his own friend’s situation, namely Gregory of Nazianzus with whom he fell out. Gregory was married to Nonna and had three children, Gregorius the Divine, Ceasarius and Gorgonia. Basil’s family included St Macrina, Gregory, bishop of Nyssa and Petrus, bishop of Sebasteia. His uncle was bishop Gregorius.
Basil refers in these texts to the examples of the pagan Roman system and seems to be introducing these over the Bible texts. He refers to the Flamen and the Pontificus maximus and the Vestals as examples.
Thus, by this time the Athanasian faction had established a Binitarian system and was to go on with Basil and the two Gregories to establish Trinitarianism. They were by now moving to exclude all forms of marriage other than monogamy from the Church, and to deny it to the officials of the Church; and to prohibit divorce and remarriage. In other words those divorced would remain unmarried, even when divorced from an unconverted partner, which is contrary to Scripture. We see in this text that Basil completely misinterprets the words of Christ to the woman at the well in Samaria.
Polygamy has emerged in many biblical sects and not just in Islam.
Among the Aanabaptists of Munster Polygamy emerged and also they allegedly held women in common before the siege according to Weber (CE Vol. 1, p. 446).
Buddhism holds celibacy as the ideal but tolerates polygamy and divorce. It speaks frankly of the many hundreds of wives of the Buddha before his conversion and also those of Bimbiassasa, its most distinguished royal convert. The King of Thailand in the early Twentieth century openly maintained a harem (CE ibid., p. 773).
Polygamy is maintained in North and Central Africa among the Congolese, and in the nations of the Lake Victoria region. It is common among Christians and is found among professing Sabbatarians in that area.
It is common among many Indian tribes.
Arguing from the singularity of language we see it argued that Genesis 2:23,24 says that: "a man is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife." The text is not plural thus we are asked to deduce that God did not say that man was to be joined to his "wives". He said that man was to be joined to his "wife".
The apostle Paul compares the husband and wife to Christ and the Church. "For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church..." (Eph. 5:23). In Ephesians 1:22,23 we are told that the Church is the body of Christ. There is only one body (Eph. 4:4); so there is only one church. It has been argued a man can have as many wives as Christ has churches. Christ has only one body but many members. Thus the argument for many brides of Christ is advanced. The argument is made that there is one church so a man can have only one wife. The NT does not speak of a man (one) being over wives (many) and that being right with God. God said that a man is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church (Eph. 5). Christ died for the Church. A man must be willing to die for his wife.
There appears to be a deal of self-centredness in polygamy on the part of the male.
The following is a true story. There is a Chinese man who has eight wives. He was well in his 50s when he related during a lunch conversation among his colleagues about how he encountered the problem and difficulty of deciding which wife's house he would go back home to first during the Chinese New Year Eve for the family reunion dinner. When asked why he needed eight wives, he proudly proclaimed that he had no choice but to save these other seven wives because he asserted that these seven women wanted to commit suicide if he didn't marry them.
In order to consider this polygamy issue properly and examine the problems it has created for the families, it is logically wise to go back into the Origin of the Human Race and the relevant original sanctity of the marriage institution. The original marriage institution was first established by the One True God, Eloah, through the Elohim for the human host. The host of Elohim who are the "morning stars" Lucifer: Light Bearer and Morning Star (No. 223) or the sons of God, or angels in heaven do not marry and the human host through the resurrection of the dead likewise do not marry.
It is therefore logically wise for us to seek the will of God and His created ministering spirits (angels or messengers) on this issue of polygamy and the resultant problems it has created. Where do we go from here to seek and establish the answers and guidance for this issue the nations are facing now?
The Adamic race, save Noah and his family, was destroyed in the Flood because of the evils and corruption during the time of Noah. As it was in Noah's time, so shall it be in the latter times:
2Peter 3:3-Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts.
In the sixth chapter of Genesis, we find a brief and short record on an event that occurred that often gets overlooked, probably because it is confusing. The passage says:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown (Gen. 6:1-4).
The offspring of these unions were called Nephilim. Our English Bibles were translated from the Greek and the word translated as "giants" in the English means "Earth dwellers" in Greek, which is strange because all men were earth dwellers. So why the special distinction? It is because they were half human and half angel, offspring of angels, who because they were half human, were bound to the Earth. The Hebrew word, "Nephilim," which comes from the root word, "nephal," means, "the fallen ones." Hence, they were children of fallen angels and women, who had some supernatural powers but who were bound to Earth. It all comes together when we look at the root words. So the fallen host went against divine will and committed sex with our Adamic women (see the paper The Nephilim (No. 154).
To show that the Last Days will bring apostasy, the Bible uses analogy as well as direct teaching. In the Olivet Discourse Christ says:
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left (Mat. 24:36-41).
A question to ask is, "Does the marrying and giving in marriage spoken of by our Lord Jesus denote that the women in that future day (or perhaps today) will be accosted like they were back in Noah's day, or did He just mean that people would be getting married as usual?" Jesus implies that His coming will coincide with judgment and calamity on a scale comparable to the Flood, which destroyed almost all life on the earth. He says that the days of Noah resembled His coming not only in their apocalyptic climax, but also in the condition of human society just beforehand. In other words, men in the Last Days will descend to the same deplorable wickedness that God saw in the world before the Flood. Jesus highlights three prominent characteristics of Noah's age: (i) eating and drinking; (ii) marriage and giving in marriage; and (iii) ignorance of impending judgment.
The failure of the antediluvians to expect divine wrath in return for their sin revealed another vice prevalent among them, which was apostasy. The Genesis record leaves no doubt that apostasy had, by Noah's time, overtaken and infected the whole body of mankind. Adam had many sons and daughters, including Abel, the acceptable son who was slain by his brother Cain, but the Bible has nothing good to say about any of the surviving children except Seth. In the days of Seth's son Enos, men began "to call upon the name of the LORD" (Gen. 4:26).
Reading between the lines, we surmise that Enos helped to stir up spiritual revival among the Sethites and perhaps among others as well. It was in the line of Seth rather than in the line of Cain that Enoch appeared, the man who obtained such favour with God that God took him away and who did not see death. Yet a few centuries later, about 1500 years after man was created, righteousness had nearly disappeared from the face of the Earth. Only one man, Noah, remained who was "just" and perfect" and who "walked with God" (Gen. 6:9). Noah "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:8), but the rest of mankind earned only the Lord's regret that He had made them.
5And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Noah and his family were saved. It is assumed that the eight persons or mouths were Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives. So it is assumed that they all had one spouse. The argument is then advanced that God established the marriage institution on a one husband and one wife basis in the Garden of Eden, which is clear in the Scriptures. It may however refer to the males only as women were not usually mentioned in lineages.
We then have to seek the divine will of God to determine whether monogamy is what God has divinely intended for us or is polygamy divinely intended?
There is another text of prophecy that seems to infer a situation that envisages polygamy in the last days.
The prophet Isaiah says that in the last days the men of Israel shall fall in the war and the destruction shall be so great that there will be a shortage of men and severe distress among the women.
"And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, ‘We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.’" (Isa. 4:1).
This text is Scripture and prophecy of the last days. It concerns the restoration of Israel in holiness. Scripture cannot be broken and thus this situation will come to pass and will be according to law for the restoration of Israel.
The remaining women realise the fact of their sins, and the status of their offspring, and the necessity of their marriage in a situation where there are not enough men to regularise their position. Modern social norms regarding illegitimacy will be addressed and corrected. The Knox translation attempts to claim this text to refer to the shame as barrenness. However, the word at SHD 2781 conveys shame from the sense of the female genitalia rather than its failure to simply reproduce. The shame is from both concepts. The fact is that there are too many women and not enough males and the children must be regularised in the biblical situation and it will be done as prophesied.
Thus the law allows such marriages in necessity and it will be allowed in the last days at the restoration as foretold through Isaiah the prophet. However, it is not the ideal situation as intended from the beginning. Where necessity forces the situation to exist, as it will do in the wars of the last days, God foretells that it will occur and it is lawful otherwise the shame would not be removed (see also the War of Hamon-Gog (No. 294)).
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Eph. 5:21-33)
The Tenth Commandment is in the singular but that may be argued as a reference to the female concerned. ‘… You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife [singular] …’ (Ex. 20:17) also is held to presuppose the intended marriage is only one wife. It cannot be exclusive as polygamy is covered by legislation in the Torah.
There is no doubt that polygamy is forbidden for church elders (1Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:6). However, the very presence of the text implies conversely that it was permitted for the laity under the law and the society prevailing at the time. The requirement for us all to be kings and priests and able to become elders or bishops of the Church would however then argue for monogamy. The situation seems to imply that those coming into the Church were not required to separate when multiple wives were present.
The apostle Paul says: "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband" (1Cor.7:2). In this instance, monogamy is not only just for the elders, because Paul also wrote: 'each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.'
Paul goes on to explain marital duties in terms that place the ideal situation with one husband to one wife. It is more like the case of divorce, which God tolerated for a while under certain conditions because of the hardness of their hearts, but was not the way it was intended from the beginning (Mat. 19:3-9).
Without doubt, the Mosaic law had provisions for polygamy. However, it can be argued that it was always conditional, ‘If he takes another wife to himself …’ (Ex. 21:10), and not an encouragement. The fact is however that the Law of God does permit polygamy.
The Koran refers to the wives of the prophet and it is beyond dispute that the prophet referred to as Muhammad married more than one wife. He was however married to a single and older wife for most of his life. He took the widows of his officers and in one case the daughter of his friend i.e. Aisha who was a child at the time. The practice was common among kings. These marriages appear to have been more for social security reasons rather than anything else (see also Surahs 30-34 for the contexts).
The 72 Virgins of Islam
It is widely believed by some Muslim that their 'martyrs' enjoy rich sensual rewards on reaching paradise with 72 virgins for each of them. "What will happen to us women?" so ask the ladies. "Are the women going to have 72 virgin men?"
One source has stated: "It is in the Islamic Traditions that we find the 72 virgins in heaven specified: in a Hadith (Islamic Tradition) collected by Al-Tirmidhi (died 892 CE [common era*]) in the Book of Sunan (volume IV, chapters on The Features of Paradise as described by the Messenger of Allah [Prophet Muhammad], chapter 21, About the Smallest Reward for the People of Paradise, (Hadith 2687). The same hadith is also quoted by Ibn Kathir (died 1373 CE) in his Koranic commentary (Tafsir) of Surah Al-Rahman (55), verse 72: "The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: 'The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana'a [Yemen]'."
So who are these 72 "virgins"? There are some Muslims who say there has been a mistranslation, that "virgins" should be replaced by "angels". The prophet to the Arabs told his people to consult the "People of the Book" if they were in doubt. Who the "People of the Book" are as mentioned by the Islamic prophet will become apparent as the One True God Eloah reveals to us and we do His Will. The concept of virgin in the text denotes purity.
We know as a matter of fact that Moses appointed 70 plus 2 elders in Israel (Num. 11:16,24-26) and Jesus Christ also appointed 72 and sent out his disciples in a group of 2 by 2 (Lk. 10:1, 17). The Scriptures of the "People of the Book(s)" know that there is a Council of Elohim of 72 in heaven. Please study the paper The Harvests of God, the New Moon Sacrifices, and the 144,000 (No. 120).
God is the one who calls and reveals. So think about this in relation to what the Hadith has said about the 72 virgins in heaven. We know that the sons of God or angels in heaven do not marry, and the human host through the resurrection of the dead likewise do not marry. The Resurrection of the Dead as contained in Revelation chapter 20 is also fundamental to the Koran.
There is no sex in the Kingdom of God. That is Scripture and Scripture cannot be broken.
The reference to the 72 is to a council of the virgins of the elect that are brought out over the 40 Jubilees of the Church in the wilderness, one complete council each year for 2,000 years to create the 144,000. None of these spiritual "virgins" goes to heaven; they are resurrected to be with Christ at his return and will rule the world. They are both male and female. The Koran explains this concept in reference to the 144,000 prophets as we see from the texts (and especially from Surah 30-33 also).
In conclusion, we have therefore reviewed other aspects in addition to what has been explained and previously examined in our various papers:
* Marriage and Monogamy are reviewed in the papers Law and the Seventh Commandment (No. 260) and Marriage (No. 289).
"The ideal estate of the human creation is monogamy." There is to be one law for all in every nation as part of the Israel of God.
Man and woman were created to be one flesh (Gen. 2:18-24; Mat. 19:5).
All bishops of the Church must be the husband of one wife (1Tim. 3:2).
The polygamous relationships of the nation were allowed from the patriarchs, and they had multiple wives. The king is not allowed to multiply wives to himself (Deut. 17:17) even though David and Solomon had hundreds, and the Talmudic restrictions appear to be at eighteen for the king and four or five for the ordinary man. Nevertheless, every man should have his own wife and every woman her own husband (1Cor. 7:2)."
Monogamy is also shown as the original principle and practice in its uncorrupted form in the Garden of Eden, prior to the fall of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:18-24; Mat. 19:5; Eph. 5:21-33).
We need to remember only the elect of God are allowed to enter into the Kingdom of God, the City of God or the Garden (Rev. 22:14, 12:17 and 14:12). The elect are defined in Revelation 12:17 and 14:12 as those who obey God's Commandments and the faith or testimony of Jesus Christ.
Islam corrupts Scripture by the Hadith and introduces the concepts of multiple virgins in heaven for warriors from the Hadith.
The practice of having many wives has shown in some cases in history to lead to idolatry and has created strife in families.
A small number escaped the Flood but faith had not vanished altogether from the race of men. So it will be in the years just before Christ's return. After a long period of spiritual zeal and missionary enterprise, the Church will go into a steep decline, continuing until the possessors of true faith become alarmingly few. But, as in Noah's day, a few will resist the pull of an evil world and stand firm in their commitment to righteousness. When many others are deserting the ranks of true Christianity, a few will remain loyal. How large will the remnant be? We do not know. Perhaps hundreds, or thousands, or hundreds of thousands will still espouse true faith. But the Scriptures say there will be a multitude later.
In the final closing, let this message act as a springboard for the stewards of the mysteries to think about this practice of polygamy and the resultant problems it has created. We will have to consider how best to deal with the more problematic issue of those families and children coming into the Church who are affected. We cannot refer to the rest of the children as bastards just because these innocent children were borne by the second and subsequent wives because of parental practice. As we progress in dealing with Islam, which is "submission to God's Will", we will encounter the problem more and more.
We need to handle this matter with care. Under the Law of God, and in some nations, Polygamy is clearly permitted and so the families need to be dealt with carefully. We are all called to be kings and priests and so the Church cannot eliminate numbers of its people by allowing polygamy and the consequent narrowing of the ministerial base of the Church.
The first (physical) Adam in the Garden of Eden had one wife; but Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the Garden. Christ being the second (spiritual) Adam is going to symbolically marry one wife, spiritual Israel, which is the one Church or the Temple of God which Temple we are (cf. 1Cor. 15:45-48; 2Cor. 11:2).
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready (Rev. 19:7).
The words, "the wedding of the Lamb is come, and his wife (in the singular) hath made herself ready" occurs at the end of the tribulation period when at His second coming Christ defeats the wicked and establishes his kingdom.
Man is made in the image of God; God is ONE. Let us show love to our wife by our faithfulness to the wife; and likewise the wife is to show faithfulness to her husband.
"When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Lk. 18:8). The question expresses the Bridegroom's tender concern for His Bride. God is ONE.
Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one."
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