Polygamy in the Bible

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The Gospel hath neither recalled, nor forbid, what was permitted In the law of Moses with respect to marriage. Jesus Christ has not changed the external economy, but added Justice only, and life everlasting for reward.                                                                                                                                           –Martin Luther






The author expresses special appreciation to Eskel Petersen, Hal Jensen, Ron Barron, and Roy Potter for their contributions toward the completion and publication of this book.





Chapter                                                                                                                                 Page



1             Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

2             The Genesis of Marriage . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

3             Lamech: Guilty or Not Guilty? . . . . . . . . .14

4             Abraham and King Abimelech . . . . . . . . . . 23

5             Abraham, Sarah and Hagar . . . . . . . . . . . 30

6             The Promises of Abraham . . . . . . . . . . . .41

7             Jacob and His House . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54

8             The Life of Moses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64

9             The Law of Moses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

10          David: Musician, Soldier, King & Polygamist . 101

11          Bathsheba, the Beautiful . . . . . . . . . . .115

12          The Throne of King David . . . . . . . . . . .122

13          Solomon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128

14          Prophets, Priests and Kings . . . . . . . . . 143

15          Concluding the Old Testament . . . . . . . . .159

16          John, the Baptist  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .162

17          Jesus, the Rabbi  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168

18          Jesus and the Law of Moses . . . . . . . . . .180

19          The Marriage at Cana . . . . . . . . . . . . .198

20          Mary, Martha, and Mary Magdalene . . . . . . .203

21          Kings’ Daughters as Wives . . . . . . . . . . 211

22          The Royal Family Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . .219

23          Prophets and Apostles Were Married  . . . . . 234

24          Contest at Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .248

25          Rules of Conduct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .269

26          Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .280





Polygamy! The word itself strikes like a thunderbolt! Our modern society has divested its thinking and morals so far from this ancient practice, that this type of marriage is commonly thought to be sinful or unlawful. Yet, in Biblical times, polygamy was considered a part of the marriage union. For thousands of years it was taught and lived by many of the ancient prophets and patriarchs. Simply said, God and the Bible approved of polygamy.


However, today most ministers and theologians either avoid or cover up this God-approved marriage principle. lt is difficult to understand why so many of the modern priestcrafters take such devious methods to throw a veil over this Bible doctrine. And it is for this reason that our contemporary society neither understands, nor wants to inquire into that honorable marriage law.


God has never forbidden plural marriage, and that is the plain and simple fact of Biblical history. lt is time to expose the artificial scab of falsehood that covers the sanctity of polygamy, and it is for that reason this book was written.

–The Author



[5]                               Chapter 1




Plural marriage is a principle believed in and sanctioned by more people on earth than by those who believe in monogamy or celebacy. In fact, the one-wife system of marriage is principally confined to some of the nations of Europe and the Americas. Most historians agree that the larger portion of the world’s inhabitants believe polygamy to be a practical and acceptable part of marriage.


But, isn’t such a system of marriage degrading to women? On the contrary! It is because of plural marriage that a woman is offered a broader choice of husbands, providing her with a better chance to improve religiously, emotionally and perhaps financially. It is under the contracted principle of forced monogamy that women are denied many privileges. Women today talk about “liberation” and their “freedom”; but there is no other principle of marriage that offers her as much freedom and independence–which she both wants and needs.


Plural marriage is a simple, wholesome opportunity for women to gain the privileges of a family and a good husband. The broad selection from “all men” instead of “a few”, is available for her, rather than some single “left-overs”.


[6]           If the women of today could revive this principle of marriage from out of the prejudice, misunderstanding, and selfishness that surround it, it would be the means of removing from our society some of its worst evils. Our monogamous marriage system has reduced too many women to a life of loneliness, ill-repute and degradation. Surely women are meant to be given an opportunity for the better things of life rather than the worst. Polygamy offers them that choice.


But the practice of plural marriage should always be a matter of personal conviction. Also, a man should know in his own mind if he is capable of assuming the responsibilities that accompany such a marriage. But more important, he should obtain the necessary wisdom and inspiration to live it honorably. His life should reflect stability, not just to the outside world, but more particularly to his wives and children. Plural marriage should always be considered a holy principle, and a man should enter it only with the kind of effort and desire that result in a good marriage. Polygamy is certainly not a guarantee for successful marriage; conversely, it will expose and manifest every weakness in both the men and women who enter into it. For these reasons, it should be a careful consideration, not only as a religious belief, but for a practical and fruitful marriage.


Let it be clearly understood that every man and woman should live their lives according to the dictates of their conscience–whether it be celebacy, monogamy or plural marriage. In any of these situations, man is always accountable to his conscience and his Creator.


[7]           Certainly domestic government is the first order to all social organization. It is even the root of all civil government, for if the character and effectiveness of civil government is bad, then family government is probably a contributing factor for its failure. Family order or disorder is the superstructure upon which every society is elevated or destroyed. If marriage in society is without respect, purity or value, then this will be reflected in society’s social and civil government.


Paternalism is the natural order of all life, for everything seeks to reproduce itself. Every flying, walking, swimming or creeping creature is motivated by nature to continue its species. And it will be discovered that the stronger or healthier portions of these various male species usually seek a polygamous relationship with the females. Even mankind uses the healthy, the stronger or selected strains of breeding to raise better quality cattle, horses, and even their dogs and cats. Strangely enough, they often fail to consider this principle for their own offspring. It is this failure that has created a society filled with unmarried, unwanted or prostituted females. This is a crime against the natural desires of women, for they should have the right and opportunity to have a home and a happy family life.


God is justifiably ashamed of the contracted bigots who are so prejudiced against His marriage laws. He does not long tolerate any man, no matter how high or holy his position, to transgress or oppose these laws. Even the kings of ancient Israel, who disgraced these laws, had to forfeit their wives, children and thrones.


[8]           Our modern society is also taking a similar course of opposition and contention against those Bible marriage laws of God. Notable cities such as New York, San Francisco, Hollywood, London, Rome and indeed every major city has become so corrupt that they are a stink in the nostrils of the Almighty. They have become modern Sodoms and Gomorrahs.


For these reasons, if we do not take corrective measures immediately and turn ourselves back upon an honorable course, we will destroy ourselves or be destroyed. The only possible solution to correcting our present evils is to again put into practice the laws and principles of marriage, which are clearly established in the Bible.



[9]                               Chapter 2




And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him. (Gen. 2:18)


After the creation, God gave to man a woman with a commandment to “multiply and replenish” the earth. This was the first obligation of man to his creator. Man should multiply his species, so that his children might also have the same experiences in life. That law of propagation has never been changed or revoked.


The creation of the earth was not an accident or a mystery without purpose or reason. Man’s probation here is an essential and rewarding experience so that he might learn right from wrong and good from evil.


In the midst of this paradise, God placed a tree called the tree of “good and evil”. If that tree did not have a purpose or reason for being there, God would have plucked it up like an obnoxious weed. Neither did God create man and woman and then heedlessly leave a talking serpent to be their overseer or godfather. Each part of this creation was done with divine wisdom and a profound reason.


[10]         Adam brought his children into this world to gain wisdom between good and evil just as he had obtained it–through experience. Living in a world filled with pain, sorrow, disease, affliction and death would certainly provide man with the experiences he needed to make him appreciate the joys of heaven. His struggle in the conflict between good and evil would render an abundance of trials, temptations and oppositions which would teach him that difference.


Mortality is a schoolhouse; experience is the teacher; and death is the graduation. But with the closing of earth’s door, another is opened.


Adam introduced death, but Christ would initiate eternal life. Adam provided the blood of mortality; Christ gave plasma for immortality. Adam led men from mortality to the grave; Christ would lead them in the resurrection. Jesus had been foreordained for that mission as a “Lamb slain from before the foundations of this world”. (Rev. 13:8) Hence, the entire creation and man’s existence was pre-planned. This world was not an evolutionary progression of mutations, but rather a carefully calculated estate governed by an all-wise and all-loving parent. This creation is so carefully managed that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice. (See Mat. 10:29)


After the years of grief, opposition and sorrow have torn the heartstrings of man and woman, then shall the blessings come. From Adam we gained experience; from Christ we shall gain the reward.


At first Adam and Eve enjoyed the Garden of Eden as though it were a part of heaven itself. There [11] were no weeds, no wickedness, no pain or sorrow. It was beautiful and heavenly, but it was a condition of suppression. Wisdom requires experience. It is by tasting that one knows the bitter from the sweet, the salt from the sugar. Without the taste of sorrow, man could never know happiness.


So God introduced marriage on this earth at a time when Adam and Eve were two immortal beings, capable of living forever. If Eve had been more careful with her diet, she would have continued to live in an immortal state of marriage. When God gave immortal Eve to immortal Adam, He didn’t say “till death do you part”, because death had not yet been introduced on earth.


Some have argued that the saying, “they twain shall be one flesh,” indicates that there should not be any more than two, or twain, in a marriage. lt does not convey any such idea. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one”, or twain are one; and He prayed for all those that would believe in Him “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us….” (John 17:21) It was just as easy for all of his disciples to be one with Him as it was for a man to be one with several wives. The three wives that were subsequently married to Jacob became one with him and Leah. No matter how many wives a man may have, he and each wife will be one or together. The motivating principle in marriage is to be one. It matters not if there are only two in the marriage or a dozen. Wives, children and the man should work for oneness in purpose and in love. When the family is united together in all things, they are prepared to unite themselves with heaven and all are one with God.


[12]         Although marriage is sanctioned, blessed and commanded of God, mankind have wantonly abused it. As Martin Luther said:


And yet the whole world shuns this legitimate, divinely instituted union and prefers to indulge in promiscuous relations, which are harmful in more than one way. Property is squandered, bodies are damaged by serious diseases, God is provoked to inflict horrible punishments, and, worst of all, states and households are destroyed.

Why do we not avoid these great evils? Why do we not prefer to seek the blessing of God through a legitimate union? Obviously because our nature is corrupted by sin, rebellious, and intolerant of laws, and does not want to be tamed or restrained. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 3:48)


The first commandment given to man was to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28). To Noah it was repeated: “be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.” (Gen. 9:7) Generations of children would continuously be born, or created, who would follow in the footsteps of their great grandparents who learned good from evil. But God also gave other commandments and rules for guidelines, many of which included laws pertaining to marriage.


But many argue that Adam was a monogamist. We are informed about Eve, but it didn’t say that he was not a polygamist. Neither did God give any law to him saying that he could not be a polygamist! [13] Those who use the argument that God took a rib from Adam and made only one woman for him, must also consider that Adam had more than one rib!


There are many things that occurred in Adam’s time that did not particularly mean that it should always be so. For instance, Adam was told to cultivate a garden in Eden. Is that any reason that any of his posterity could cultivate only one garden? God also told Adam and Eve to make “coats of skins” to clothe themselves (see Gen. 3:21), but this did not mean that everyone else would be condemned if they wore cotton, silk, or nylon. God knew that as a general rule man would not want more than one wife at a time. God also knew that there would be exceptions to this, so he not only allowed them to live plural marriage, but in many instances instituted laws directing them to do so.


Polygamy was not a marriage system that began with Moses or in later time, but was mentioned in the very first book of the Bible. It is an historical fact that “in the Patriarchal age, polygamy prevailed. (Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, p. 387) Furthermore, it has been prevailing ever since!



[14]                              Chapter 3




And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. (2 Chron. 19.6)


A questionable controversy exists in the life of the Bible’s first recorded polygamist. His name is Lamech. To properly judge this man, and what he did, requires a little sleuthing. Through the history and deductions of Biblical scholars, information can be obtained as to Lamech’s character, which can help in our justly condemning or approving of his actions.


The first uncertainty of Lamech’s life is in his lineage. In Chapter 5 of Genesis there is a line of genealogy from Adam and Seth down to the sons of righteous Noah, listing about a dozen of some of the most noble men that ever lived. Included in this record is Lamech, the father of Noah. He lived to be 777 years old and witnessed many important events of that time. A Lamech is also mentioned in Genesis Chapter 4, as being the descendant of Cain. Among his accomplishments were mentioned the killing of a young man and the taking of two wives. Some scholars suggest that the Lamechs of Genesis 4 and 5 were identical, as is mentioned in the following references:


[15]                         According to some critics, the Cainite Lamech of Genesis 4 and the Sethite Lamech of Genesis 5 were originally identical, with the two genealogies coming from one common legend or source. The J document (Ch. 4) preserved one variant list, and the P document, (Ch. 5) preserved another. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 3:862)


It is interesting to compare this passage with the Cainite genealogy in 4. Here we have nine generations, there six. Omitting the first three names in Ch. 5 we find that of the remaining two, Enoch and Lamech, are identical with names in Ch. 4, while there are close similarities in the rest. it is difficult to escape the suggestion that we have two decensions of one and the same genealogy, diverging at an early period, and current in different circles, yet both springing from the same source. (Abingdon Bible Commentary, p. 225)


Therefore, according to this information, these two Lamechs should be considered as the same person. However, it seems more probable, after closely studying these two chapters of Genesis, that there were two different and distinct individuals named Lamech, coming through two different lineages. Both probably lived polygamy, but the written account in Genesis 4:19 of the taking of two wives pertains to the Cainite Lamech. So let’s look further into his life and experiences.


There are only seven verses in the Bible from which we can draw the life story of this Lamech. As [16] previously mentioned, he was the first recorded polygamist, but there probably were others before him even though there is no record of them. There were thousands of monogamists, too, but there is almost no mention of them specifically. From the creation of man to the time of the flood–a span of 1600 years–we could probably not list many over a dozen who were recorded monogamists.


It is because of such gaps in Biblical history that it is difficult to draw many absolute convictions. To judge a man like Lamech, we must look into all the facts, incidents and pieces of evidence, just as a master criminal lawyer must do. As in many court cases today, the final verdict often comes as a surprise. The case against Lamech may be a similar case. For centuries men have labeled Lamech with the twin crimes of murder and adultery, but we shall present his case with a “court of last resort” in his defense. There may be more to this man’s life style than meets the eye–especially to those who have been so quick to judge him because of his polygamy.


Lamech made this comment to his two wives: “I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt”. (Gen. 4:23) Many people who read this, immediately assume that he was a murderer and an adulterer–allying the two together as the “twin crimes” of Lamech. But to assume that Lamech is guilty of murder, and therefore his polygamy was necessarily evil, too, is poor reasoning. If we would take this attitude, we could say that Adam, who supposedly was a monogamist, committed a sin that brought death to all mankind; therefore, monogamy is evil! Or, Cain who was a monogamist and killed his brother shows that monogamy is also evil.


[17]         But let us gather a little more insight into Lamech’s character and attitude concerning this allegation of murder. We will call upon the renowned Dr. Martin Luther, who gives a justification for this killing by Lamech:


Lamech’s very words show that he was a proud person who did not grieve over the murder he had committed but even gloried in it as a righteous cause, and “he had a righteous cause for the murder;” furthermore, Lamech “tried to defend himself by establishing a law which would prove that he had a just cause for the murder he committed.” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 1:322)


Luther is assuming that since a man was killed by Lamech, that it must have been a murder; although he recognizes a hint of self justification for the killing. He also indicates that there was, or should be, a law to justify the killing of that young man. To help solve this mystery, we shall take the testimony of Dr. Adam Clarke, who is perhaps recognized as the foremost scholar of Biblical history. Clarke admits that the few verses and sayings of Lamech are controversial and his “speech is very dark,” but his analysis and interpretation provide a very revealing and important summary. The verse in question reads: “I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt”; but according to Dr. Clarke, it should be read: “I have slain a man for wounding me, and a young man for bruising me.” This would be a reason for Lamech’s killing the young man. Dr. Clarke continues to explain that Lamech had originally put this incident down into a poem which probably would have read:


[18]         And Lamech said unto his wives,

Adah and Tsillah, hear ye my voice;

Wives of Lamech, hearken to my speech;

For I have slain a man for wounding me,

And a young man for having bruised me.

If Cain shall be avenged seven-fold,

Also Lamech seventy and seven.

(Clarke’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 1:62)


Continuing, Dr. Clarke explains:


It is supposed that Lamech had slain a man in his own defense, and that his wives being alarmed lest the kindred of the deceased should seek his life in return, to quiet their fears he makes this speech, in which he endeavours to prove that there was no room for fear on this account; for if the slayer of the wilful murderer, Cain, should suffer a sevenfold punishment, surely he, who should kill Lamech for having slain a man in self defense, might expect a seventy-seven fold punishment. (Clarke’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 1:62)


This clarifies the seventy-seven fold punishment that Lamech was talking about. There is apparently no other explanation as the meaning of that verse; so it is evident that the poem had a literal and correct translation. Lamech, therefore, had a justifiable reason for what he did.


It is interesting to look at the early history of sin and its consequences upon man.


[19]         A. The first sin of the Bible was eating forbidden fruit. The penalty was death, pain sorrow and weeds. The effect still lingers on.


  1. The second sin was Cain’s killing Abel. The consequence was his being a fugitive, a vagabond, and the earth would not yield its strength; and his children would also suffer the same consequences.


  1. The next supposed sin was that of Lamech’s having two wives. Polygamy already showed up in the first book of the Bible, and as early as the 4th chapter. But the Good Book is silent about this being a sin. In those early days, God would bless or punish His children as soon as they obeyed or disobeyed His commandments. It was particularly important that He do so, since so many generations thereafter would use those histories as a guide. Since Lamech was accused of murder and adultery, surely God would have mentioned it–but not a word was said against this man in the Bible text.


We read that God destroyed 23,000 Israelites in one day because of their sin of fornication (See 1 Cor. 10:1-9), but He let Lamech off without even a rebuke for having two wives!


God had a man stoned to death because he gathered some sticks on the Sabbath Day to make a fire. (See Num. 15:32-37.) If God was so severe in such a minor crime, would He not have done something about a man who was guilty of polygamy or adultery? He could have at least mentioned it!


Since Cain, who was guilty of murder, had a curse put upon his posterity as well as himself, then [20] let’s see if the same curse for the same broken commandment followed Lamech, especially if he were guilty of both murder and adultery. We will call on Reverend Summers to testify in Lamech’s behalf, from his understanding of the King James Translation:


God did not even hint to Lamech that he had done anything wrong; but blessed him and his sons, and they became the most eminent men of that period. Lamech became the first poet the world ever produced; and to him was awarded the immortal honor of composing the first poetry which was recorded upon the sacred pages of God’s word. For in the Hebrew from which our Bible was translated, Lamech’s language was in poetry. Two of his sons became the great heads of two leading branches of industry. And his other son became the great progenitor of all musicians. A leading accomplishment in every age. Indeed a careful examination of the Scriptures shows that Lamech’s sons attained more prominence than the sons of any other man had done, for several generations. More prominence, too, than any did attain, for a number of generations afterwards. In fact, Lamech and his sons acquired more eminence in music, in poetry, in mechanics, and in pastoral pursuits, than any man and his sons did, during the first fifteen hundred years of the world’s history. We learn from these facts, that in the very beginning, God blessed polygamy, and the offspring of a man who had two wives. And the Bible tells us that [21] God changes not. That with him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. See Malachi 3:6, James 1:17.

When Lamech took those two wives, not one seventh part of Adam’s life had passed; and from then until today, polygamy has always been practiced. As the most learned of all Christian commentators remarks, “From Lamech to the present day, polygamy has been retained, practiced and defended.” (Marriage: Or, The Bible and Polygamy, by Rev. Wm. D. Summers, pp. 13-14)


Thus, it can be seen from the Bible that God did not curse Lamech for adultery or polygamy. As the nature of his polygamy is considered, we clearly see that God gave no word of reproof for it. If Lamech’s polygamy was an honorable type of marriage, then we can understand why he was not condemned by God for it, just as Moses and many others were not condemned for living polygamy.


More light is shed on this account of Lamech from another ancient record, more recently discovered. In Genesis 5:35 of the Inspired Version of the Bible, it states that Lamech “became Master Mahan,” master of a secret society to which Cain belonged. Lamech is accredited with killing the man for exposing the secrets of that Satanic organization. Whether the man had made an oath to suffer the penalty of death if he should reveal those secrets, we do not know. We are not sure if Lamech killed this man in self-defense or if he was an appointed executioner [22] for a justifiable crime, or if he just took matters into his own hands and killed him because of what he considered the wrongful breaking of an oath.


In conclusion, however, it is plainly evident that neither in the Bible nor in these other ancient texts came a word of reproof for Lamech’s polygamy. Therefore, from Biblical facts, we must rest our case in defense of Lamech’s practice of plural marriage–and conclude that it was not condemned by God.



[23]                              Chapter 4




Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel and gavest It to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever? (2 Chron. 20:7)


Many prophets have given several different descriptions of Abraham, but the most commonly known are those that describe him as a “friend of God” and “the father of the faithful”. For these reasons his life should be significant to everyone, but it is especially important to us because he was a polygamist.


Abraham’s father, Terah, was living in Ur of the Chaldees, beyond the Euphrates, when Abraham was born, which was 400 years after the flood, in an era that was still struggling through a pioneering stage from that devastating episode. Most of the people were living in conditions that were not much more than tribal communities, located in the more favorable and fertile lands. The world in general was again sinking into idolatry and wickedness. But Abraham was somewhat protected from these allurements of sin, and he avoided the practice of worshipping these idols of stone and wood. According to the Book of Jasher, Abraham spent 39 years in the [24] house of Noah, and also became well acquainted with Shem. It further says that “Abram knew the Lord from three years old, and he went in the ways of the Lord until the day of his death, as Noah and his son Shem had taught him.” (Jasher 9:6)


According to Hebrew tradition, Shem was none other than Melchizedek, the great king and priest of Salem. Melchizedek was a true picture of a patriarchal and priestly person. He was the earth’s oldest living man at that time, and it was he that gave Abraham his priesthood authority.


When Abraham’s father Terah died, Abraham was 75 years old with another 100 years to live. About this time Abraham received a decisive revelation from God in which the Lord said, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” (Gen. 12:1) It was also in this revelation that the Lord made several other very consequential promises to him. They are listed here:


  1. That God would guide and bless him.
  2. That God would lead him to a new land.
  3. That God would make a great nation of him.
  4. That his name would be great.
  5. That God would bless those that blessed him.
  6. That God would curse those that cursed him.
  7. Through him, all the nations would be blessed.


It would be difficult for Abraham to raise a family or accomplish God’s mission in the conditions and influences of a place like Haran. It was here that people worshipped handmade gods of wood and stone. [25] So, Abraham set out on his journey to Sichem, which was in the land of Canaan. Again the “Lord appeared unto him” and gave him further instructions and promised blessings. From here he continued to a mountain between Bethel and Hai where he built an altar to the Lord. There was a famine in this land so he continued south to Egypt. As they were about to enter the country, Abraham advised his wife, Sarai, to claim she was his sister–since Pharaoh was a polygamist, and would undoubtedly want to take such a beautiful woman as one of his wives. The Lord intervened, and Pharaoh eventually learned the truth and returned Sarai to Abraham.


A similar experience took place years later in Gerar, a country south of Palestine. Abraham learned that their king (Abimelech) was also a polygamist and knew that he, too, would probably want to add her to his harem. In such an event, he feared for his life and thought in order to provide safety to his family and himself, he would say that she was his sister. They met the king and sure enough he did choose her for another of his wives.


But this king, unlike most men, was really an upright individual who had no intention of doing anything wrong. Neither was his polygamy like many harems gathered by other potentates of the east, as we know them. Dr. Martin Luther observed this by making the following comments:


The Jews relate that, according to royal custom, Sarah was not brought to the king immediately but was kept under guard for a time. We read about the Persian king [26] Ahasuerus (Esther 2:2-3) that the maidens whom the king wanted were not brought to the king immediately but were anointed with oil of myrrh for six entire months, then for six more months with other perfumes, and at last were brought to the bed of the king. But if the Egyptian kings also followed this custom, the restraint of those heathen must have been great, not to be carried away headlong by their violent lust, as is the case among us.

The sovereigns of the Greeks and the Romans allowed themselves to be carried away completely by their lusts. The morals of the Egyptians were more virtuous, and their decency greater, than among the other nations; for although polygamy was permitted among them, they appear to have lived more chastely than those who observed monogamy. Similarly, King Abimelech of the Palestinians, decrees the death penalty, to keep Rebecca from being ravished (Gen. 26:11). These facts prove that although there was polygamy, the decency of those nations was extraordinary. (Luther’s Works, 2:305)


Luther mentioned another famous lady who married a king in polygamy. We read how this king, Ahasuerus, loved Esther more “than all the women” of his household. Esther was a Jewess and she went through a period of waiting and purification being anointed with oil of myrrh and with “sweet odours with other things for the purification of women” (Esther 2:12). This preparation or purification period lasted for twelve months, before she married him and [27] became his queen. It was through Esther and her polygamous marriage that God brought about the miracle that saved all the Jews in his kingdom from being killed. It was the custom of these kings to bestow many gifts and valuable treasures, which was no small favor to the new wives. It was considered in the best taste for these kings to make such an endowment upon a woman who would become one of their wives. These kings were honorable men, too, and nearly any woman would be flattered at such an offer to be his queen, for they could hardly do any better.


But returning to the account of Abraham and Sarah, the great king Abimelech was not in a hurry for his wedding to Sarah, which dispels the idea that it was just a lustful or temporary passion that persuaded him to the marriage. He was following the tradition of the kings of that time, and was adhering to the waiting and preparation period. This gives us the first hint that King Abimelech was an honorable man. The English historian, Patrick noted that Abimelech was “a man of great virtue in those days; not an idolator, but a worshipper of the true God, as Melchizedek the high priest.” We will soon discover that this was true.


It was in the midst of this joyous wedding preparation that a series of “great plagues” fell upon this noble Pharaoh and his kingdom. Poor Abimelech didn’t know what hit him! We will notice that he must have been a righteous man because he went right to God to know why such a thing was happening to his kingdom. Proof of his righteousness was in the fact that he was able to get an answer back from God!


[28]         God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said: “Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.” (Gen. 20:3) This clearly indicates the law against adultery, or the taking of another man’s wife. It was a sin that was to be punished with death. Consider this situation carefully–Abimelech had a wife or wives already, and now was preparing to take Sarah as another. This is polygamy; yet this good man went to the Lord and said, “ln the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.” (Gen. 20:5) How could he enter into polygamy with innocence and integrity if it was a sin? The Lord answered him and said, “Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart.” The Lord did not chastise him for his polygamy, or his polygamist intentions, but rather that he was taking Sarah who was “a man’s wife”!


Abimelech’s answer to the Lord in his own defense was, “Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, he is my brother.” (Gen. 20:5) Abimelech also told the Lord, “Wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?”–which is evidence that the people of his kingdom were a righteous people. This is certainly a credit to himself as a king, for he was the one who governed the people and made the laws. Nevertheless, the Lord gave the king the answers to his questions, and this good king immediately set out to correct the problem.


The king went to Abraham and wanted to know why he did not tell him that Sarah was his wife. When the matter was cleared up, Pharaoh bestowed servants, gifts, and a “thousand pieces of silver” to Abraham. Then the king said, “Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.” For such [29] goodness Abraham prayed to the Lord to bless King Abimelech, which He did, by restoring everything as it was. Also, the king would continue to have children again, “for the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech!”


So Abraham dwelt in the land of Gerar and became a rich man, with a new understanding of King Abimelech and the principle of plural marriage.



[30]                              Chapter 5




Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord. look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father and unto Sarah that bare you…. (Isa. 51:2)


The first mention of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, states that “she had no child” (Gen. 11:30) which was considered a reproach upon a woman in those days. Not willing to allow her husband to fail in having a posterity, she was willing to relinquish their servant girl, Hagar, to become his wife and have the children. Sarah said she was barren because “the Lord has prevented me from bearing.” The Bible then tells us this interesting story:


Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may [31] obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. (Gen. 16:1-3)


By our standards this would seem to be a highly unethical situation– prohibited by social mores, modern custom and in some instances, by civil law. But the Lord did not look upon this situation in such a manner. Dr. Martin Luther observed:


Even though Sarah sees that the fulfillment of the promise is being delayed and even though she despairs–both because of her barrenness and because of her age–of being a mother, she nevertheless relinquishes the glory of motherhood in the utmost humility and is content if her maid Hagar becomes pregnant by Abraham.

Therefore she holds fast to her faith and hope in the mercy of God. In the utmost humility she bears the disgrace of barrenness and willingly concedes this honor to her maid.

But Sarah distinguishes most beautifully among the gifts of God. Even though she is barren, she believes that he loves her. For this reason she willingly concedes the glory of fertility to her maid. Thus the virtue of this woman is extraordinary in every respect.

Therefore Sarah is deservedly held up by Peter (1 Peter 3:6) as a pattern for the entire female sex. (Luther’s Works 3:44)


[32]         There is another important consideration that should be recognized which was later written into the law that Moses gave to the descendants of Abraham. Notice that the scripture said the new wife was given “after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. This ten years is a part of the law which was recognized by scholars as a time limit for women to bear children. Jewish scribes and scholars say that when a husband has lived with his wife for ten years, and she remains childless during that decade, then it is his right to take another wife. The reason for this was so that he would not die without an heir. Conversely, it was a woman’s right to receive a divorce from a man who was impotent:


If the marriage was childless after ten years of cohabitation and the wife charged the husband with physical impotence, she was entitled to divorce. (Encyclopedia of the Bible 4:99)


The ancient prophets and patriarchs were required to teach their wives these laws and principles pertaining to marriage. If a man was worthy to live plural marriage and obtain the blessings that it offered, then it was the order of family government that his wife should first give her consent. This was probably why Abraham took Hagar only after Sarai made the offer. lt is in such a condition that a wife feels that her husband is worthy of having another wife and more children. She must also consider him to be a man of integrity, to have sufficient means to provide for them, and to be a kind man, treating wives and children in a manner pleasing to the Lord. This certainly must have been part of the motive that led Sarah to give another wife to Abraham.


[33]         Sarah was willing to make this sacrifice so that the promises of God could be fulfilled in Abraham’s posterity, in spite of her apparent inability to provide those children. This was also the experience in the life of Abraham’s grandson Jacob. Rachel and Leah gave Bilhah and Zilpah to Jacob as his wives by this same principle, because large families were highly respected in those days, and were the means of providing an increase of honor as well as possessions.


If a man were unworthy of more wives, then his first wife stood as a witness against him. Some men proved unworthy with the first wife, and she could testify that he would only damage or destroy some other soul by his wicked and unwise conduct. His life was exposed as proof enough that he did not deserve any more wives or children. In this instance, a wife acts as a spokesman for God in rebuking a man who may seek wives for carnal and lustful purposes. Further responsibilities of more wives and children would only make conditions worse, becoming a complete misery for everyone involved. However, if a man is honorable, obedient to the laws of God, and capable of guiding more wives and children righteously, then his wife has no reason or justification for denying him those blessings. Instead, she becomes a helpmate for him in fulfilling those obligations of increase to their family.


Another consideration should be made in regard to this part of Biblical marriage rites. As a man increased in worthiness, he usually increased in his ability to teach and control his wives and children. Then as his family and dominions increased, the first wife notices that her importance and abilities would also increase. She learns that she has more freedom [34] to do the things she is best suited for, rather than so many burdensome things that always needed to be done. One wife may find pleasure in sewing, another in cooking, another in spending time teaching children. Each finds more satisfaction in a plural situation than she did in taking care of all the necessities in a monogamous one. Marriage, not unlike a small business, grows to expand its capabilities and opportunities resulting in more benefits to all who are a part of that order.


Have you ever been to a family reunion with a man who had six or eight or more children? Try to imagine what it would be like with an addition of 40 grandchildren and half again as many great grandchildren. The sharing of stories, festivities and joy is unlike any other get-together. The honor and respect that is paid to their grand patriarch is a tribute that is without parallel, when compared to the honors of the world. The family paternity is the most valuable possession of any man, and these ancients respected and yearned for it more than anything else.


Today, in the United States, the average size family is 2.7. In their aging years a small family has little else to comfort them because of their restricted and confined family size.


The lifestyle of patriarchal or plural marriage was not against the law of God; furthermore, when Moses received the law of God for the children of Israel, it was no different than the polygamous lifestyle of Abraham. Luther notes:


And Moses has reason to continue to call Sarah Abram’s wife, and Abram her [35] husband. He does so in order to show that Abram did not become an adulterer and that the earlier marriage of Sarah and Abram had not been dissolved by this new arrangement. Abram remains the chaste husband of his very chaste wife. He lies with Hagar only to prevent the promise of God from being obstructed. (Luther’s Works 3:46)


Also we may note that:


The law code of Hammurabi made provisions that a slave-wife or handmaid who bore a child to her owner did not take the place of the childless wife in the family household. The latter, however, had no right to dismiss the slave-wife and her child. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 1:24)


When the Lord told Abraham he would have a son, he laughed because he was so old. When Sarah was told that she would bear a son, she also laughed. But the Lord was not going to hold back any blessings from this polygamous family. Some have reasoned that the Lord prevented Sarah from having any children because she would not accept the principle of plural marriage. After she consented to accept Hagar into the family, then the Lord blessed her with a child. We can only say that in monogamy she felt cursed as a barren wife; in polygamy she was blessed with children.


lt cannot be said that Sarah was without fault or the passions of jealousy, and she cast out the handmaid from their home. However, an angel of the [36] Lord appeared to Hagar and gave her comfort and a promise:


And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. (Gen. 16:7-11)


If polygamy were a sin, God would not send an angel to comfort a woman who was living in it; neither would He send her back into the house to keep on living such a “crime”. Neither would the angel give a promise from the Lord to bless her offspring and “multiply thy seed exceedingly,” and announce her pregnancy by the polygamist Abraham. The name of that son given by the angel was “Ishmael”, meaning “God hears” not hardly the name to be given a child that was born in a sinful relationship. When a similar situation arose later and she and Ishmael were in the desert about to die of thirst, an angel of the Lord came again and told her where there was a spring of water. He further assured her that God was with her and that her children would become a great nation.


[37]         Abraham’s life is written as an example for others to follow. He is unique, yet his obvious polygamy was with divine approval and cannot be dismissed.


Abraham, whom God selected from among all the people of the earth to become the progenitor of our Saviour, was a polygamist. Was there not one good monogamist, among all the earth’s inhabitants, whom God could have selected for this exalted position? There must have been. But as God wanted to encourage polygamy, he selected a polygamist. Does God consider plurality of wives adultery? Ah no! It was while Abraham was living with two wives, God changed his name, and gave him a more honorable one, and for the first time, promised that he should become the father of many nations; and that kings should come out of his loins; and established God’s covenant with him. And while Abraham was living with two wives, God and his holy angels, communed with him oftener, and talked with him more, and made him more great precious promises, than all the other men on the whole earth. If you doubt these facts, read the 17th and 18th chapters of Genesis. Abraham was never called the Friend of God, until after he became a polygamist. (Marriage: Or, The Bible and Polygamy, Rev. Summers, pp. 16-17)


After Abraham died, the Lord said to his son, Isaac, who was born in polygamy:


I will make thy seed to multiply as the [38] stars of heaven, and unto thy seed will I give all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Gen. 26:4-5)


The Lord said this about Abraham–a man who had two wives for about 19 years and even added many more wives to his household! This shows that polygamy is not a sin in the eyes of God. Abraham is referred to, in both the Old and New Testaments, as the “friend of God. No monogamist ever received that appellation from God; neither did any woman married in monogamy ever have angels of the Lord give the same promises that they did to Sarah and Hagar!


Sarah lived to be 127 years old. She died in Kiriath-arba (Hebron), which became the family burial place, and it can be seen today commemorated with a mosque over it.


Ancient manuscripts are being unearthed today giving “flowery descriptions of Sarah.” Yet we already know by the scriptures that even when she was 65 years old, Abraham feared for his life because she was so beautiful that others might desire her enough to threaten Abraham.


The ancient prophet Isaiah paid tribute to her by telling the Israelites that they should be proud to be her descendants. (See Isa. 51:2)


She <Sarah> is highly esteemed by the Jews as a kind of mother-figure and [39] example of piety. She seems also to be admired as an epitome of feminine pulchritude. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5:274)


The disciples of Christ also paid respect and honor to her in their writings, because of her faith in God and obedience to His commandments. (See Rom. 4:19; Heb. 11:11; 1 Pet. 3:6)


The life of Abraham was a transcript of perfection. He laid out a heavenly and honorable array of examples and patterns which pleased God, who, in turn, blessed and honored his seed. God testified to Abraham that he would have a lasting fame and immortal name. Abraham’s family was united, peaceful, and prosperous, and they met with the full approbation of God. His marriages were right and proper; nothing was unvirtuous or dishonorable. None of Abraham’s children were considered illegitimate, nor did God cause any curse to come upon them.


Abraham was visited by and talked to God. This man with two wives had a discussion with the Almighty about family and domestic concerns. God, knowing Abraham and his future, did not say anything about passion or lustful desires. God did not rebuke him for a carnal mind or being tempted with women. Why didn’t He say something of that nature if Abraham was wrong in having two wives? Actually God encouraged his polygamy.


This Bible story about Abraham might be condensed into just a few words. God was actually saying, “Abraham, I see no fault with you having two [40] wives; in fact, I am going to bless you and your wives. I will bless them and their children with an endless posterity. I bless your wife Sarah with a son which she has not been able to have because of her age. I will bless her son and he shall be the means through which the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Your wife Hagar shall be greatly blessed and I will make her children become kings, potentates, and many nations shall be among her offspring. I shall assign an angel to watch over and care and comfort her. And you, Abraham, shall be blessed with children that shall be numbered as the sands upon the seashore.” That is not the way God talks to sinners.


The Christian world today will call Abraham a “Friend of God” and the “Father of the Faithful,” but they refuse to accept his family lifestyle.


God claims that He is the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” and that this shall be “My name and my memorial to all generations.” (Ex. 3:15) If polygamy were not a principle that was to be sanctioned by Christians, then why was God representing himself to be the God of such notorious polygamists “to all generations”? Why didn’t he choose some monogamists to represent Himself, instead of polygamists? Why choose someone like polygamist Abraham to be a “memorial” to all future generations and as a most righteous family man to be respected!


This “memorial” <Abraham> is today the most honored man among the nations of the world. He is respected as a prophet, an obedient servant to God, and the father of a family of royal blood. This honor comes from Jews, Mohammedans and Christians, alike. What an honor for a polygamist!!!



[41]                              Chapter 6




And the Lord said, shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? (Gen. 18:17-18)


Abraham was not only a family man, but he was a prophet, a herdsman, an astronomer, and a soldier. He was notable and honorable in all that he did. His adventures as a soldier first came when his brother Lot was taken as a prisoner by Babylonian soldiers. There were many different colonies or settlements in the region around Sodom where Lot dwelt, and they were often at war with each other. It was during one of these skirmishes that Lot fell captive. When Abraham heard of it, he gathered together an army of men (318 of whom were his servants), and went out to recapture his brother. In a midnight surprise attack, Abraham demolished the armies of four famous Babylonian kings. It was in this warfare that he exemplified something of a military genius–which was merely another demonstration that God was with him.


[42]         It was a total victory by slaughter. Abraham recaptured “his brother Lot, and his goods, land, the women also, and the people.” The king of Sodom went to meet Abraham to thank him, and so did Melchizedek, the king of Salem. Now Melchizedek “brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God,” and he blessed Abraham. The king of Sodom asked Abraham only for a return of his people; he could keep all the goods as a reward for rescuing the people. But Abraham said he had made an agreement with God that he would not keep a thread or a shoe latchet that belonged to someone else. After this the Lord came again to Abraham in a vision and said, “Abraham, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”


Later the Lord and two angels came visiting with Abraham, and had dinner with him. But this was not just a social visit; the Lord told him what was about to happen to the city of Sodom. The city had become so corrupt that it was going to be destroyed. Abraham was sent to warn them and to try to save the righteous. Thus, he became a missionary. In all of these commandments from the Lord, Abraham was valiant. Because of his faithfulness to the Lord, he received more promises and blessings. Some of these were as follows:


  1. “All the land which thou seest, I will give you.”
  2. “And to thy children I will give it forever.”
  3. “If a man can number the dust of the earth. then shall thy seed also be numbered.”


Divine messages from God to Abraham were often delivered through the medium of heavenly angels. (See Gen. 22:1-19) But it was his eagerness to keep the commandments of God that brought him into [43] a personal relationship with God. This became such an intimate relationship that God often spoke to him face to face! There was no mistake about who was helping and blessing and teaching Abraham, because we read that it was “the Lord God Most High, maker of heaven and earth.” (Gen. 14:22)


The New Testament writers confirm these manifestations of God to Abraham by writing that “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham.” (Acts 7:2) This indicates that Abraham was a prophet of God in every sense of the word. He made no serious errors in his lifestyle; so it was written that “the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.”


Plural marriage was not limited to just Abraham, his family and his children. Abraham’s brother, Nahor, had a wife Milcah who bore him eight children, (See Gen. 22:20-23); and also a concubine who bore him four more children. From this plural marriage came Rebecca who married Isaac unto whom the promises to Abraham were also given. We also read that Abraham had another wife named Keturah (Gen. 25:1). Some people contend that Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham for the purpose of having a son who would continue his lineage. Why, then, did she keep giving him more wives after he already had a son by Hagar? We also read that Abraham gave gifts to “the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had.” No number of his concubines was given.


It is very difficult to believe that Abraham was such a spiritual man yet had not the gospel. Many ministers today can’t accept the fact that the gospel and polygamy could possibly have any connection or affiliation with each other. But that is not so [44] according to the New Testament writers. We read that–


The blessing of Abraham might come on the gentiles through Jesus Christ: that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal. 3:14)


And, the law and faith were had by Abraham so he and his seed could receive the promises by obedience through righteousness. (See Rom. 4:12-24) But, expressed more clearly–


And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying In thee shall all nations be blessed. (Gal. 3:8)


Even Jesus recognized the spirituality of Abraham when He said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) Now if Abraham saw and rejoiced in Christ, talked with God face to face, had the gospel preached unto him, had the law and faith, then by being a polygamist, he must either have rejected God’s word, or else God’s word included polygamy! The only reasonable conclusion is that God didn’t condemn a man for having a plurality of wives.


Furthermore, it must be the same Gospel if the Christians are supposed to be rewarded in heaven by sitting down with this polygamist Abraham! It must be the same Gospel if the Christians will feel honored to be adopted into the family of Abraham and to be called his children. If Christians are supposed to have the same faith, the same re-[45]pentance, the same justification, the same sanctification through the Holy Ghost, the same worthiness, beholding the same angels, talking and praying to the same God, it must be the same Gospel!


It is interesting to compare the promises God made to the polygamists and those made to the monogamists–even if they are in the same family. The case of Isaac, son of Abraham, is a good example.


What shall we say of Isaac? Isaac had but one wife; and it is worthy of especial notice, yes, especial notice, that but little space in the Bible is devoted to his life and memory, compared to those of Abraham and Jacob, both of whom were polygamists. God changed the names of both Abraham and Jacob, and gave them more honorable names; but Isaac’s name was never changed. And while God promised Abraham and Jacob that because of their own service and faithfulness, he would bless and prosper them and their descendants, no such promise was ever made to Isaac. But every time, God promised to bless Isaac and his seed, because of Abraham’s obedience. This reminds us of the wealthy gentleman who said to a poor widow, “Your mother was a friend indeed to me, and now I want to say to you, when you or your children need food or clothes, let me hear from you, and you shall have them for your mother’s sake.”

Why did God discriminate between Isaac and the polygamists? He does nothing without a good reason. Well, the first commandment ever given to man was, “Be [46] fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth;” and this commandment had been twice repeated. Although Isaac had been an exceptionally good man, he did not multiply like Abraham and Jacob; and hence the preference shown the polygamists. (Marriage: Or, the Bible and Polygamy, Rev. Summers, 1886, p. 19)


Abraham is considered to be a great prophet, a friend of God, and the father of a royal blood line. Consider, then, the following list of items that establish him as an exemplary man of righteous principles, showing that God must have approved of his polygamous life.


  1. The Bible honors the names of the polygamists more than it does the celibates or monogamists. Abraham was one of the foremost polygamists so honored in the Bible that his name was mentioned nearly 400 times.


  1. Abraham was honored by Jesus Christ more than any other ancient prophet. For example, He said that@


  1. Abraham went to heaven. (See Mat. 8:11; Luke 13:28; Luke 16:22-31.) This would not be so if polygamy were a sin. Most ministers today class polygamy as a sin, but Jesus and His Apostles never identified it as such.


  1. Abraham possessed an exceedingly great faith in God and in His commandments. (See Rom. 4:1-22; Gal. 3:6-9; Heb. 11:8-10; James 2:21-24.) Abraham could not have had such great faith in God if he had been a sinful man. Sin destroys [47] faith. It is by obeying the laws of God that men develop faith in God. Since all of the prophets and disciples of Christ have referred so often to Abraham’s faith, it is evident that he was very obedient to the laws and commandments of God.


  1. God honored Abraham and his family when He said, “I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” (Gen. 17:2) No monogamist has ever received such a promise.


  1. Abraham is honored by more people in the world today than any other ancient prophet. New Testament writers also honored him:


Abraham was a friend of God. (2 Chron. 20:7; James 2:23)

Abraham had great faith. (Rom. 4:1-22; Gal. 3:6-9; Heb. 11:8-10; James 2:21-24)

Abraham was to be highly regarded by his descendants. (Mat. 3:9; Luke 13:16; John 8:33-40)

Abraham received a divine call from God. (Acts 7:2-3; Heb. 11:8)

Abraham received God’s Priesthood. (Heb. 7:1-10)

Abraham made a covenant with God. (Luke 1:73; Rom. 4:13; Gal. 3:6)


  1. The Apostle Paul honored the children and descendants of the polygamist Abraham and understood that the promises of God would be given to them. (See Rom. 9:4-14)


  1. The children of Abraham are the seed of the covenant people of God. “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” (Gal. 3:7) Those who have [48] faith in the Gospel are the children of the polygamist Abraham.


  1. Paul could give no greater recognition to the disciples of Christ, nor to the honor of Abraham, than when he wrote, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29)


  1. Through Abraham’s faithfulness, his name was changed from Abram to Abraham, which means “father of many nations.” (Gen. 17:5)


  1. God said to polygamist Abraham, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” (Gen. 15:5; see also Gen. 13:16.)


  1. God promised Abraham’s children, in polygamy, that they would receive lands and possessions for “an everlasting possession,” and also said, “I will be their God.” (Gen. 17:8)


  1. God respected the polygamist Abraham because He was always “communing with Abraham.” (Gen. 18:33)


  1. God did not “curse” Abraham for his other wives; instead He blessed them. Hagar was told, “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” (Gen. 16:10)


  1. The polygamist relationship did not reflect any sin or “cursing” upon Abraham’s children because God told him that “I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.” (Gen. 17:6)



  1. Even the angels of heaven honored Abraham and his wives in their polygamist family relationship. When family troubles arose and Hagar left home, an angel came to her and told her to “return” to that polygamist home. (Gen. 16:9)


  1. An angel of God gave a blessing and a promise to Hagar if she would continue living in polygamy; he promised her a son and even told her what to name him. The name of that son was “Ishmael” which means “the Lord hath heard thy affliction.” (Gen. 16:11) If her polygamy were a sin, neither the angel nor God would have sent her back into that sin again.


  1. Sarah, who encouraged Abraham to take a second wife, was also remembered by the Lord and was blessed with a son for promoting that polygamist relationship. Although Sarah was barren, God blessed her with a child in her old age of 90 years, (Gen. 21:2) after she had given Hagar to Abraham.


  1. God withheld no blessings from Sarah for her part in that polygamist marriage, for He said, “…I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.” (Gen. 17:16)


  1. God did not put a curse on Sarah’s son Isaac for being born in polygamy; rather He blessed Isaac and all of his children after him! “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” (Gen. 17:19)



  1. Ishmael, the second wife’s son, was also blessed of the Lord. God said, “I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” (Gen. 17:20)


  1. Abraham realized that God was certainly blessing his polygamist family. (Although many ministers today still can’t see it.) So Abraham added more wives to his family! He next took Keturah to wife and God blessed the marriage by giving him more children by the names of “Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah”. (Gen. 25:1)


  1. Abraham kept taking more wives and the Lord kept giving him more blessings. It is written that, “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.” (Prov. 14:11) Was Abraham an exception? Or did God bless him and accept his polygamous lifestyle?


  1. Jesus never condemned Abraham for any sin. If his polygamy was sinful, Jesus would have mentioned it. On the contrary, the Savior recognized that Abraham lived so righteously that men would be honored to be with him in heaven. “I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat. 8:11)


  1. Why did Christ select a polygamist as an example for Christians to sit down in heaven with? Why use a polygamist as one of the choice features of heaven if his lifestyle was sinful?



  1. Besides the story of Abraham’s life in Genesis, he is mentioned by many different Old Testament and New Testament writers. All of them knew of his polygamist family, yet they all spoke respectfully of him.


  1. Jesus is identified as a son of Abraham (Mat. 1:1), and God identified Himself as the “God of Abraham”. (Mat. 22:32) Yet, Jesus exhorted His disciples to follow in the lifestyle of polygamist Abraham when He said, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” (John 8:39) Hence, all those who do not recognize the God of polygamist Abraham and Jesus who is his descendant, will probably be among those where there shall be “weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” (Luke 13:28)


Now either Christ didn’t understand what heaven is going to be like or else our modern Bible preachers don’t, because they will tell you that polygamists are not going to heaven! It will certainly be a disappointment for many of these modern divines to get to heaven and see all these polygamists there! No wonder they will be weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth when they see Abraham and other polygamists there, and they themselves be cast out!


The Lord had appeared to Abraham many times and designated him as “the father of the faithful,” and “a friend to God;” but he was a polygamist! We must assume that God either approved of his plural marriages, or else Abraham concealed it so cleverly that God never found out about it. But, we know [52] that his polygamy was clearly written down for all succeeding generations to read about, to study, and to follow as an example. It doesn’t take years of theological study to learn the reason why. In fact, most divinity colleges can’t or won’t give any reason for so much polygamy in the Bible. When God appeared to Moses, He identified Himself as the God who had “appeared unto Abraham. (Ex. 6:3) When David prayed to receive answers, he prayed to “the God of Abraham.” (1 Chron. 29:18) No wonder these ministers of today have so many different churches, all contending against each other, with so many different doctrines–they are praying to the wrong god!


Abraham has occupied a significant and unique place throughout the world for nearly 4,000 years. To the Jews, he is the father of their nation. To the Islamic world, he is regarded second only to, Mohammed himself. The Koran contains 188 references to Abraham. To the Christians, he is regarded as a man of the greatest faith and they genealogically trace Jesus as a descendant of Abraham. (Mat. 1:1)


God, too, spoke very highly of him, by saying:


For I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him. (Gen. 18:19)


The salvation or damnation of a family depends upon how it is governed. If the head of the family is [53] a man of God, then his influence is felt by his wife or wives and their children. Even those who may visit them will be affected by that influence. Such a man is worthy of a family. He has the right to rule his family so that they will be an honor to him and an honor to God. A man like that is more worthy of five, ten or fifty wives than a wicked man is worthy of one. God seemed to think so, and so must we!



[54]                              Chapter 7




And he <Jesus> shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:33)


Jacob is listed as the third great patriarch of the Old Testament, being named with Abraham and Isaac numerous times. He was the second son of Isaac, the grandson Of Abraham, and a twin brother to Esau. Jacob’s name first appears in Chapter 25 of the Book of Genesis, and his death is recorded in Chapter 50–his life spanning through half the Book of Genesis.


There is so much written about Jacob in the Bible that if the Book of Genesis was lost, we could still re-construct a clear outline of his life from the other books. From this man and his twelve sons, all the notable people in the rest of the Bible trace their genealogy. Some of the prophets said that God was the “King of Jacob” (Isa. 41:21), and that the great temple was the “habitation for the God of Jacob (Acts 7:46); and God said to Jacob that HE would “make of thee a great nation.” (Gen. 46:3)


[55]         Esau cared little about his birthright and sold it to Jacob for a bowl of pottage, making it the most expensive bowl of beans ever sold. Esau was a hairy man and a hunter, but Jacob was a “quiet man dwelling in tents. Their father Isaac favored Esau, but their mother Rebecca favored Jacob, which caused a little family trouble. When it came time for father Isaac to give his patriarchal blessing upon his two sons, Jacob and his mother had to play a little game of deception. But, it was more through Esau’s own waywardness that he lost his blessing and heritage.


Another deceptive game was played, when Jacob took a wife. This time the game was played on him, and he took a different woman to wife than he thought he was getting. Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel” which means “deception” or “to supplant”. In both instances, his birthright and marriage were obtained in spite of deceit, not because of it. God wanted Jacob to have the birthright and made that choice before the boys were born. (See Gen. 25:23) And God also wanted him to live plural marriage as we shall soon see.


But what more can we say for Jacob than what God said to him: “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Gen. 32:28) Yet he was besieged with problems, three of which could have easily cost him his life: (1) his escape from the pursuit of angry Laban; (2) a confrontation with his brother, Esau; and (3) the vengeance of the Canaanites because of the death of Shechem. Yet, in each of these perils, he passed unscathed with the intervention of God.


[56]         The first 77 years of Jacob’s life were spent in Canaan. If he was married before this time, the Bible gives no mention of it. But in the 78th year he left the family residence to take a wife among his kindred in Padan-aram, often called Haran. After 21 years there, he returned with two wives, two concubines, and twelve children. Jacob was 98 years old when he returned to Canaan, 130 when he went to Egypt to see his favorite son Joseph, and 147 when he died.


Jacob was poor when he entered Haran, but temporally and spiritually wealthy when he left. In spite of the hardships with his uncle, Laban, in Haran, he prospered financially and greatly increased his family. By careful examination, we find that previously there had been a long, but narrow line of “chosen people” or a “lineage of promise”. Then, all the descendants of Jacob through his 12 sons were to be included in that favored house, family, or kingdom.


On his departure from Haran, God visited this polygamist and promised him an infinite blessing: “thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 28:24) What did Jacob do to obtain this outstanding blessing? Let’s look briefly into his private life.


Leah, one of Jacob’s wives, had borne four sons, and then “she left bearing.” This was considered a tragedy in a patriarchal family, so we read that “when Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took [57] Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. Some would question the rightfulness of this act; but after she did this, she called upon the Lord, “and God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived and bare Jacob the fifth son. And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband! (Gen. 30:9,17,18)


In this instance it will be seen that God heard the prayers of Leah, and answered her by giving Jacob and Leah a fifth son. The principle behind it was that she gave her maid to her husband as another wife. This particular act pleased the Lord; therefore, he gave them the blessing they desired.


The Lord, it is said, is no respecter of persons; and Zilpah was probably just as worthy of having a husband as Leah. She, too, probably wanted children just as much as Leah did. And, although Rachel had given Bilhah to Jacob for a wife, yet it seems that Leah delayed following that example of her younger sister until she was barren. But when she became willing to give Zilpah to Jacob, then the Lord blessed her for the act. Both Zilpah and Bilhah may have failed in getting the kind of husband they desired had it not been for the goodness of Rachel and Leah–and the principle of polygamy!


When Esau met Jacob with his wives and children, he asked, “Who are these with thee?” And Jacob answered, “The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.” (Gen. 33:5) Jacob attributed his wives and children as blessings from God, not as results from some criminal act. Esau was a polygamist, too, but he did not accept it upon proper principles.


[58]                         Esau took two wives, both Hittites, idolatresses–which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. (Gen. 26:34-35) But whence arose this grief of mind in Esau’s parents? Not on account of his polygamy, but because he had married heathen women, as is clear from 27:46; therefore Jacob is sent to Padan-Aram, that he might not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan, but of his mother’s family; and when Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac, his father, he went and took a wife of the daughters of Ishmael, unto the wives which he had–but we hear of no lamentation of Isaac and Rebekah over this fresh act of polygamy. (Thelyphthora, by Rev. Martin Madan, p. 115)


But returning to Jacob–he married Rachel who continued to be barren for many years; but God did not leave this as a punishment upon her for marrying a man who had another wife. It is said that God remembered Rachel and hearkened unto her, and opened her womb and she bare a son, and she said God hath taken away my reproach. (See Gen. 30:22) Then, if that was not enough, God pronounced special blessings on, that offspring.


This proves that, in God’s eyes (as well as in some men’s eyes), a second marriage is just as valid and as sacred as the first! Neither were there any blessings that were denied the second wife over the first.


[59]         Now, let’s look into Jacob’s family to see how God treated the children of this polygamist. A good example is his son, Joseph. While Joseph was in prison in Egypt, God allowed him to look 14 years into the future and to sway the great Pharaoh to God’s will. In return, the Pharaoh, and God, blessed him.


And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, For as much as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art. Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. (Gen. 41:39-41)


lt doesn’t take a very smart man to realize that Jacob, and his son Joseph, were highly favored of the Lord. God gave them every high honor and spiritual blessing possible. When Jacob was talking to Joseph, he quoted the Lord’s words to him: “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills….” (Gen. 49:26) The Lord made a rule that He would visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations. (See Ex. 20:5) However, it is certainly evident that God found no fault with this polygamist nor his children.


Nine hundred and seventy-five years after Jacob died, the Lord told Cyrus (King of Persia) that he would receive “blessings, treasures and hidden riches” because of “Jacob, my servant’s sake.” (See Isa. 45:1-5) He declared that He was the “God of Israel” and that Israel is His “elect”. Of course, such [60] passages of scripture caused the Israelites to love and honor the name and life of Jacob, and desire to follow in his footsteps. God gives no intimation that Jacob had done anything wrong in having several wives. God surely understood that such a thing would encourage polygamy with others.


The descendants of Abraham and Jacob surely gave respect to them, as evidenced by their asking the Savior, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob,” and again, “Art thou greater than our father Abraham?” The descendants of Jacob, known as the House of Israel, gave the highest respect to Jacob–yet he was a polygamist!


It is very clear that God favored these polygamists, as illustrated by Reverend Summers:


God was quite partial to the polygamists. What if our President should select none but Presbyterians, to fill the most honorable positions; and should make the greatest and most precious promises to them. And should associate but little with any one except Presbyterians and their sons: would not any sane man think the President was partial to Presbyterians? From the time God called Abraham, till the death of Joseph, (a period of two hundred and eighty-six years) the Bible shows very plainly, that God conferred honors upon polygamists and their sons, that He did not upon any other people on the whole earth. And he was by all odds more friendly with them, and communed with them oftener, than with any other people. They seem to [61] have been his pets. (Marriage: Or, The Bible and Polygamy, Rev. Summers, p. 16)


The Bible tells us that the number of children that came from this polygamist Jacob were many. Moses said that “all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls” (Ex. 1:5), and furthermore that “the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty…,” (Ex. 1:7) God’s bestowal of these wonderful blessings is no more than any father could ask for his children and posterity.


After Jacob had lived in polygamy for 17 years, God appeared to him again and “blessed him,” and told him to continue to “be fruitful and multiply”, promising him that a “company of nations” and also “kings” would come out of his loins. (Gen. 35:11) But, God never said a word about getting rid of any of his wives.


For 286 years prior to the death of Joseph, God hardly had any earthly communication except with polygamists and their sons! Then going forward in time for 1635 years, the descendants of the polygamists continued to be the chosen and the favorites of His attention.


Our Lord told us to judge a tree by its fruit. God has certainly shown His love, attention and special blessings in the genealogical tree of the polygamists! We learn from these plain Bible truths, that these polygamists had more exalted and divine honors conferred upon them and their sons, and more great, precious promises made to them, than all the millions of monogamists who had inhabited the earth. These facts speak for themselves.


[62]         The lives and writings of the polygamists were preponderant in the Bible, and hold precedence over all the others. Jacob’s polygamous family was selected of God to establish the chosen nation, the Messianic race through which would come the Savior of the world. As carefully as the genealogy of Christ was kept, He was allowed to be born through a lineage of polygamists! How could such a thing happen? Indeed, it was one of the principal objects of keeping such records–to show that the lineage was sacred.


In concluding this chapter, let’s consider the special favors God granted to Jacob:


  1. The Lord greatly blessed Jacob, both before and after he became a polygamist. His taking other wives apparently did not offend God.


  1. Jacob was a polygamist when he received revelations, visions, and a host of angels conversing with him. Are not these spiritual gifts from God only conferred upon the righteous?


  1. If polygamy were a sin, God failed to inform Jacob about it. Why would God overlook such a terrible sin in this man and bless him and his children for their righteousness?


  1. Jacob lived plural marriage to the time of his death; yet Jesus said that Jacob was in the Kingdom of Heaven. (See Mat. 8:11.) Apparently polygamy will not keep a man out of heaven—but rather is the means of helping him get there!



  1. The name of Jacob is mentioned over 300 times in the Bible because of his righteousness. If polygamy were sinful, why would the writers of the Bible call Jacob a righteous man?


  1. If polygamy were sinful, why did Rachel give Bilhah to her husband and he accepted it as being morally right? Don’t the actions of Rachel tend to be an example of self-sacrifice, showing that she acted from a higher motive than just her earthly marriage to Jacob?


  1. Doesn’t the fact that God greatly blessed Jacob and his children, prove that the manner in which they were born is approved of by God?


  1. Jacob received blessings and promises greater than nearly any other prophet in the Bible. If monogamy is more acceptable than polygamy, why didn’t God reserve such blessings for them?


  1. The twelve sons of this polygamist Jacob became known as the House of Israel, and their names will be emblazoned over the gates that lead into heaven. (Rev. 21:12) If these sons were born in sin, would God put their names on heaven’s gate?


  1. Jacob was told by God that he was a “prince” with God, at a time when he had been living with four wives for many years.


The life and labors of Jacob attest to his faithfulness to God. But what greater witness do we have of this than his own testimony when he said, “I have seen God face to face.” (Gen. 32:30)



[64]                              Chapter 8




This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. (Acts 7:35)


The name of Moses appears in the Bible nearly 800 times! He stands out as the most popular man of God in the pre-Christian era. The miracles, writings and history of this man are second only to Christ. In fact, his life was considered to be a “type” to represent the promised Messiah who was to come.


His life is interwoven with almost every conceivable experience that could confront man. He witnessed many great miracles. He was a candidate to be the greatest king on earth; yet he knew poverty on the plains of Midian. He became the leader of the greatest exodus ever recorded in history; yet he also traveled alone in the desert. He knew poverty and riches—popularity and loneliness. He lived in conflict with one of the most wicked men who ever lived; yet he talked with God face to face. He wrote more of the Bible than any other person; yet this great prophet, leader and hero was a polygamist!


[65]         The life of Moses may be divided into three 40-year periods: (1) His 40 years in the palatial kingdom of Pharaoh, where he stood in line as heir to the mightiest throne on earth; (2) His 40 years in the wilderness as a shepherd among the Midianites, where he experienced many vicissitudes and trials during his preparation period for the work that God had for him to do; and (3) His 40-year call to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. Through the power and miracles of God, he led the House of Israel from bondage to freedom and gave them the laws and commandments of God.


This interesting history of the children of Israel was revealed to Abraham centuries before it happened. The Lord told Abraham that–


Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. (Gen. 15:13-14)


Moses was born at a time when a new king arose in Egypt who had little appreciation for the Israelites. In fact, he feared that they would become “more and mightier” than the Egyptians; so he ordered all the male children to be destroyed. The mother of Moses was more successful in preserving her infant son from Pharaoh’s death warrant than most Israelite mothers. For three months she hid her son in the house; but when this became too dangerous, she hid him among the rushes in a small boat or basket near one of the canals of the Nile. When [66] an Egyptian princess came down to bathe, she saw the basket with the child and was determined to raise him herself. It was recommended that one of the Israelite mothers should nurse it, who turned out to be the real mother of Moses. Although the child Moses was raised by the princess, he was nurtured and taught by his mother.


Of the life of Moses as a child, we know only that as an adopted son of this princess, he became “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Of the princess, we know only that she was the daughter of Pharaoh, but it is interesting to discover that “The pharaohs had harems in several parts of Egypt; this princess (Pharoah’s daughter) probably inhabited just such a harem in the East Delta where the Hebrews also were.” (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 4:744) So the foster mother of Moses, who saved his life and gave him such a great education, was a polygamous child herself!


The second stage of Moses’ life began when he was 40 years old. He saw the sufferings of his people under the hands of the Egyptians and became determined to help them, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;… (Heb. 11:25) When he saw an Egyptian taskmaster’s cruelty upon the Israelites, he slew the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Apparently Moses was already aware of his life’s mission as a leader to the Israelites, because we read that “he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them, but they understood not. (Acts 7:25) Moses understood his mission, but the Israelites didn’t–[67]showing themselves unfit to be led into freedom. He was compelled to leave Egypt and wait 40 years for a different generation.


If Moses would have renounced the teachings of his mother and the Israelites, he would probably have become Pharaoh of Egypt, the greatest nation on earth at that time. But he accepted the loss, journeying alone into the wilderness of Midian. This gave him familiarity with the land over which he would someday lead the children of Israel; and through the hardship, he would develop character and understanding, not possible in the luxury of a palace.


In Midian, we find Moses near a well, where seven maidens had come for water but were being driven away by some Bedouin herdsman. The chivalry of Moses now came to the forefront as he drove the rascals away, becoming a hero to the maids. They took him to their father, Jethro, who rewarded him with the hand of his daughter, Zipporah. For 40 years Moses led a fairly uneventful life as a shepherd and family man. Comparatively nothing was written of his life in Midian. Then came his call to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt!


While tending his flocks of sheep on the desert, he came to the mountain of Horeb, where he saw a bush burning with fire, “and the bush was not consumed.” It was then that God called to him saying, “Bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Ex. 3:10)


When God appeared to Moses, He identified Himself as the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacobs”–two polygamists and the son of a polygamist! Then [68] God told Moses to go relate this experience to the elders of Israel and that it came from the “God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.” Then he was to gather all the children of Israel together and tell them that he had received a message from the “Lord God of your fathers, God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob….” (Ex. 3:15) And just to make sure that they would not forget who He was, He added, “This is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations!” God, the creator of heaven and earth, wants to be identified with these polygamists and is making a special effort to deliver all the descendants of these polygamists, and to make them His “chosen people!”


Moses left for Egypt and there performed miracles to convince the people of what the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could do. His cane was turned to a snake, his hand turned leperous, and a river turned to blood. It was enough to convince the Israelites–but not Pharaoh.


The Egyptians suffered from the plagues that followed, but not an Israelite was harmed! Two chapters later we read that God divided the waters of the sea for the descendants of Jacob to pass through, but the waters fell upon Pharaoh’s army, probably the largest army of that time. This was the greatest miracle of all! Pharaoh did not want the Israelites to leave because of the immense loss of manpower and talent. It was these polygamists’ descendants that made Egypt great; and when they left, Egypt digressed into a backward country from which it has never recovered.


[69]         Moses became the hero of the Israelites, and for many reasons. Consider some of the qualities this man had as a military leader, a civil leader, poet and historian, and prophet.


  1. Military Leadership


God wanted to liberate the Israelites out of Egypt, and to get Egypt out of the Israelites. The miracles through Moses were to give them this message from God. To accomplish this, Moses destroyed the armies of Egypt in the Red Sea. This was no small act of warfare since three million Israelites were afraid of the multitude of that tremendous army. The total destruction of that multitude was so miraculous and so effective, that it caused great alarm among all the other nations. (Ex. 15:15-16) This was only one act of warfare, and he went on to become a conquering soldier and military leader as much as any other man in Israel. We read of his march to Sinai and the march from Sinai to Kadesh; then there was the conquest of the Trans-Jordanic kingdoms, the two campaigns in which the great leaders of Sihon and Og were defeated; then the disastrous battle at Hormah. Through it all, he proved to be as victorious in battle as was Joshua.


  1. Civil Leadership


Moses became great in his own time, both among friends and enemies, for it was written that “the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.” (Ex. 11:3) The magnitude of his leading millions of Israelites through every conceivable difficulty is a feat unparalled in history. When they [70] were in the desert, he was able to sustain them, through divine inspiration, by providing water, food, and necessities. His wisdom in organizing so many people, solving their problems and leading them for so many years is one of the notable events of the Bible.


  1. Poet and Historian


Moses wrote many poetic sayings, poetic blessings, and war songs about the deliverance from Egypt and the greatness and weakness of Israel. Many blessings on the tribes, prayers, and psalms were also attributed to this great man. His historical and scriptural writings consist of nearly half the entire Old Testament of the Bible.


  1. Prophet


It has been written by historians that Moses “is the first as he is the greatest example of a prophet in the Old Testament.” Divine revelations to him were continuous, and it has been pointed out that “he was led into a closer communion with the invisible world than was vouchsafed to any other in the Old Testament.” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p. 418) He was a man who spoke with God (Num. 12:8) and had a personal relationship with God (Ex. 33:21-23; 34:5,6). “The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” (Ex. 33:11) It is written that after Moses went before the Lord to speak with him, that “the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone.” (Ex. 34:35) This is what happened to Christ when He spoke to God. (See Mat. 17:2)


[71]         As previously mentioned, aside from Jesus, it has never been given to any man to be the agent of so many miraculous manifestations of divine power, some of which are–


The plagues in Egypt.

Waters of Red Sea divided.

Water made sweet at Marah.

Quails sent for food in the wilderness.

Manna supplied daily for 40 years.

Water from the Rock at Rephidim and Meribah.

Manifestations at Sinai.

God’s voice from the mountain.

Two sets of commandments written on stone.

Moses’ face shone like the sun.

Miriam’s leprosy and its removal.

Korah and his rebels swallowed by the earth.

Plagues at Taberah, Kadesh, and Peor.

Aaron’s rod buds. People healed by brazen serpent.

Israel guided 40 years by a supernatural cloud and pillar of light.


Christ is described somewhat obscurely by New Testament writers as the Moses of the new dispensation (see Heb. 3:1-19; 12:24-29; and Acts 7:37), and the details of their lives are sometimes compared. (See Acts 7:24-28, 35)


The greatness and spiritual prophetic call of Moses is clearly manifest throughout all the writings of the Bible. He was an example of a prophet with the power of God. Yet this man was a polygamist!


Moses became a polygamist when he married a woman who was not an Israelite. His brother Aaron and his sister Miriam murmured against him for taking this foreigner as a wife.


[72]                         And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (Num. 12:1)


A few suppose that this might have been his wife, Zipporah, as some scholars acknowledge, but it was not. Zipporah was a Midianite woman. (See Ex. 2:21) However, marriage to foreign women was not uncommon, nor was polygamy. Aaron and Miriam had no right to murmur against Moses for either his polygamy or his foreign wife. Just because Moses’ new wife came from Ethiopia, did not necessarily mean she was of a colored or cursed race. Just the same as Abraham’s wife, Hagar, was not from the black race just because she came from Egypt. (See Gen. 16:3)


This is an incident in which Moses must have been hurt deeply, as it was a personal attack by his own brother and sister.


It is significant that Miriam is mentioned first. This, and the fact that it was she who was punished, indicates that she was the prime mover; and the occasion was another woman. Who the woman was is unknown. That she was a Cushite (Ethiopian) indicates that she could not have been Zipporah. It was not long since Jethro had brought Zipporah back to Moses (Ex. 18:5); and it may be assumed that she and her sons remained with him. When or why Moses married this woman, whose name is not even mentioned, is not stated. It may be that Miriam resented it as an affront to Zippor-[73]ah It assumed great importance for Moses personally and especially for his influence as leader. * * *

Moses made no reply to his brother and sister. He did not need to. The Lord suddenly intervened and emphasized to these next of kin the unique position which their brother enjoyed. He then inflicted leprosy on Miriam, and removed it only in answer to Moses’ intercession, in response to Aaron’s agonized supplication. The fact that the Lord dealt so suddenly and severely and that Miriam was made such a public example, made it a significant occurrence in the eyes of the people, and turned it into a notable confirmation of the unique authority of Moses. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 4:292)


There would be no reason for Miriam to speak against Moses’ wife Zipporah at this late date, so Moses must have married the Ethiopian near the time of their rebellion. Even Zondervan found it difficult to understand why Moses married this foreign girl. However, it was not uncommon for leaders of nations to give daughters to victors or to assure good intentions to keep peace between nations. Abraham and his great-grandson, Joseph, both married Egyptian women (Gen. 16:3 & 41:45); David married a wife from Jezreel (2 &m. 3:2); Solomon married foreign women (1 Kings 11:1); Esau married two Hittite women (Gen. 26:34); and Ahab married a Phoenician (I Kings 16:31). These were often marriages arranged by kings or prominent leaders, and were for peaceful purposes and to continue their good will.


[74]         Moses not only lived marriage but he gave more has, regulations and conditions for lining plural marriage than anyone in the Bible. It is only reasonable that a man who was a lawgiver would practice the conditions of that law.


It should be noticed that God paved the way for plural marriage both at the time of the birth of Moses, and the birth of Christ, when so many of the male children were killed by the nations’ rulers. This would leave an excess of females in Israel, which were provided husbands through the law of polygamy.


Moses knew about the coming Christ and the Gospel. Yet he lived and taught polygamy. Paul said that Moses accepted the call of God, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” (Heb. 11:26) If Moses was a polygamist and yet understood the riches of Christ, was he not showing that God did not disapprove of it?


God told Noses that the promised Messiah, or Christ, would come who would be “a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee,…” (Deut. 18:18) Jesus understood that this was written about Himself when He said, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46) Peter also acknowledged this. (See Acts 3:22) We must conclude that the polygamy laws of Moses were very much incorporated into the lifestyle of Christ–certainly not with any recognized disfavor.


Paul said that the Israelites “were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual [75] Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:2-3) If Moses believed in that same spiritual rock that the Christians were to believe in, then Christ was not offended at their plural marriage system.


If Moses was saved by the same gospel that Paul and Peter and Jesus were preaching, it is conclusive evidence that he was saved in the Kingdom of Heaven in spite of his polygamy. His polygamy did not prohibit him from attending the transfiguration of Christ, an event not even all of His Apostles were privileged to witness.


When Jesus was transfigured on a high mountain, Moses appeared to Him and three Apostles. (See Mat. 17:3) This should convince us that the polygamy of Moses, or the laws pertaining to polygamy that Moses wrote, were not offensive to God or Christ.


The final and most complimentary tribute paid to Moses was given in Deuteronomy:


And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel (Deut. 34:10-12)


Both God and man paid high tribute to this polygamist. Therefore, we have no reason to cast any aspersions upon this man, either for his plural marriage or the laws he gave concerning plural marriage.



[76]                              Chapter 9




Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:7)







“A just weight is His delight.” Prov. 11. I.


Moses is known as the legislator, or the “lawgiver”, for the House of Israel. This is no small title or honor, for he was responsible for governing [77] nearly four million people for 40 years. Furthermore, his laws have proved to be a “system of jurisprudence that has been a fountain source of much of the world’s civilization.” At least the most civilized nations of the world honor the greater portion of the laws of Moses. Bible scholars and students agree to the unchangeable nature of those laws. Zondervan Publishing House makes this remarkable but valid statement:


Moses had no successor. He was the lawgiver; and the law which was given through him was not to change with the changing generations of men. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible 4:291)


Spiritual laws, like mathematical or scientific laws, simply do not change. God vindicates this by saying that He “changes not”. God cannot give laws which are constantly changing. There is a blessing, or a result, predicated upon every law, and men cannot achieve the same result or blessing by obedience to several different sets of laws.


In the Ten Commandments, four are concerned with our attitude toward God, and six deal with our fellowmen. Added to these basic ten laws came further laws, statutes and judgments. The book of Leviticus means “Law of the Priests”, and the book of Deuteronomy means “Repetition of the Law”. All of these laws were given to govern men by restraining evil through every conceivable condition in life.


Paul the Apostle said that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,” (Gal. 3:24) and since not many people are brought to Christ, that schoolmaster must continue in force. Also, it is only [78] reasonable that when you have learned geometry, you are not obligated to forget or discard basic mathematics. Only a fool would think that because they believed in Jesus that they are no longer obligated to obey the Ten Commandments–or any other commandment. Jesus made this very clear when he said that man shall live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Mat. 4:4) Nowhere did Jesus name any laws of God that were no longer morally correct. Many of the moral laws and commandments of God included nearly every conceivable phase of marriage–or shall we say sexual rights and wrongs. Some of these were–


Marriage to Canaanites                     Deut. 7:3

Mothers to sons                                   Lev. 18:7

Men to daughters                                                Lev. 18:7

Man to aunts                                                        Ex. 6:20

Num. 26:59

Sisters and brothers                             Lev. 20:17-21

Priests to harlots                                   Lev. 21:7

Priests to divorced women Lev. 21:7

Captured women as wives                 Num. 31:17-18

Woman to two husbands                   Deut. 22:22

Priests to widows                                  Lev. 21:13

To a raped girl                                      Deut. 22:29

Marriage within tribes                         Ex. 34:11-16

Military marriage exemptions           Deut. 20:7;24:5

Doweries                                                                                Ex. 22:16

Firstborn                                                                                Ex. 13:15

Widows in a family                                             Lev. 22:13

Proof of virginity                                 Deut. 22:13-21

Carnal slave girls                                 Lev. 19:20

Privy member cut off                         Deut. 23:1

Betrothal promises                                              Deut. 20:7

[79]         Brothers-in-law                                    Deut. 25:7-10

Family property                                   Deut. 21:17

Widows welfare                                                   Deut. 10:18

Adultery                                                                                Lev. 20:10

Circumcision                                                        Ex. 12:48-49

Men’s wounded stones                       Deut. 23:1

Lying with beasts                                 Lev. 18:23

Lying about virginity                          Deut. 22:20-21

Midwives                                                                               Ex. 1:16

Whoredom                                                                            Lev. 20:4-5

Nakedness                                                                            Lev. 20:17

Rape                                                                                      Deut. 22:25

Fornication                                                           Deut. 22:23-24

etc., etc., etc.


Moses, the “legislator” of Israel certainly understood all these laws. But is it possible that he did not understand or that he forgot to give any laws pertaining to plural marriages? Absolutely not? Moses gave laws of God which governed plural marriage, and in some instances commanded it! A few (six) will be considered on the following pages.


  1. “If he take him another wife….”


If he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. (Ex. 21:10)


The Lord did not say that an Israelite should not take another wife and He did not advocate divorcing them. He did not say that taking another wife was a sin. He did not say that if he took another wife, he should be punished; and He did not say that there was a law against such a thing. He did say, “her duty of marriage shall he not diminish! God is saying that if a man take another wife, he should provide her with food, clothes and needs in all [80] respects and duties of marriage as he would with the first. The Lord is making considerations for the polygamous or plural wife in a marriage situation. It was not an illicit or immoral escapade outside of his marriage with the first wife. It was a marriage with divine acceptance. God forbids any neglect of either wife and commands the man to continue in the duties of marriage “if he take him another wife.”


Now consider the opposite situation and see how the Lord’s law regulates that. If a woman lives with another man while she is still living with her husband, she is called an adulterer (see Lev. 20:10-12), and so is the man who cohabits with her. When this situation was discovered, they were both stoned to death. (see Deut. 22:22) Furthermore, if there were any children from that union, they were to be excommunicated from the congregation of the Lord, even to the tenth generation. (Deut. 23:2) Where is there any such punishment imposed “if a man take another wife”? There is no such condemnation in the Bible. The law of polygamy said that wives, and sons of both wives, have all the rights and inheritances that are found in any monogamous marriage. (see Deut. 21:15-17)


  1. “If a man have two wives,…”


If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have borne him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the first born son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved first born before the son of the hated, which is [81] indeed the first born: but he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the first born, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the first born is his. (Deut. 21:15-17)


God begins this statute with “if a man have two wives” as though it might be a common thing, or that it is a situation occurring enough times that there must be regulations concerning it. The Lord presents a situation in which a man has one wife that is beloved and another that is not; then He explains that the latter or her sons will not lose anything in that marriage.


Notice also that God calls them both “wives”. If He calls them so, then they were so. If it would have been an evil situation, He would not have designated them as wives in a marriage relationship.


Also, notice that if the second wife bore the first son, that son was to inherit the rights of the family even though the first wife had a son afterwards. God recognizes the legitimacy of the children by the second wife just as much as the first. Both the marriage of the second wife and the children of the second wife are divinely approved. It cannot be made any more plain or simple.


However, “if a man have two wives” today, the man would probably be called an adulterer and the second wife an adulteress; our laws would make the man a felon; the courts, both civil and ecclesiastical, would pronounce the second marriage null and void; and the children would be bastardized. People in general raise their hands and howl that it is wickedness and outrageous! Little wonder that Paul [82] wrote, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (1 Cor. 3:19) That which is esteemed as an abomination to man is right before God; and “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). So said Jesus Christ; so said the laws of Moses.


The Lord didn’t rebuke the man for having two wives; partiality was the sin. If he must pay a double portion to the wife that was in disfavor, he would think more about his partiality and probably try to remedy it. The Lord was not partial in regard to wives or children; He didn’t say the first wife was rightful and the others were illegal or not entitled to an inheritance. The Lord wanted the wives and children in polygamy to receive fairly and equally the inheritance, and this was why he made this law. It was to include wives–living, divorced, or dead–and even those who would yet come into a man’s family.


It is the duty of a man who takes several wives to impartially look after the welfare of each–and this impartiality applies also to their inherent rights. This is one of the first laws governing plural marriage that the Lord has established. Martin Luther comments on this law:


Thirdly, he sets up the law concerning the two wives and their issue, lest, on account of his affection and love, the husband assign the birthright to the son of the beloved even though he is not the firstborn. The right of primogeniture was the noblest and highest honor of children; for it came about, not by the will of man, as marriage with a captive, but by the blessing of heaven, where there is no respect of [83] persons. Therefore, it should not be transferred arbitrarily or changed according to the caprice of a lover or a loved one. Thus the general principle of this law is: What God gives, man should not remove. This law was quite strict, since it prevented cruelty toward the hated wife as well as favoritism toward the beloved one. To put aside vengefulness and partiality is no small virtue; yes, it is impossible by nature. Therefore, that which lies beyond both the will and the power of malice is squeezed out by law and force. Here you see, therefore, that polygamy is permitted by law. (Luther’s Works 9:121)


Thus, the Mosaic laws of God did not punish men for taking more than one wife, but rather God gave these laws to instruct men on how to divide their gifts, inheritances and their attentions among their wives and children. Could anyone think for a moment that God would give such laws to stop polygamy? Such a situation would be like a legislator who made laws to prevent stealing by instructing thieves on how they should divide their loot. If God wanted to stop polygamy, He never would have made laws such as these.


Some men, by nature, were more favorable to certain wives than others. In some cases, however, it might not be so much the man’s fault as the woman’s; for some women may be kind while others are critical; one obedient, another unruly; one generous, but another greedy, etc. Yet God makes this a general rule without any optional conditions. The man has an obligation in his plural marriage, and God does not [84] want any favoritism. It was not an easy obligation, as we learn in the case of some great men such as Jacob.


Of Jacob’s two wives, one was beloved and the other was not. Leah is described as “tender-eyed” and was contrasted in appearance by her sister, Rachel, who was beautiful to behold. Now Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah” and apparently let it be known because “the Lord saw that Leah was hated.” (Gen. 29:31) Because of this, the Lord showed favor to Leah more than Rachel because He blessed her with four sons; but Rachel remained barren for many years. There is evidence of Leah’s craving for Jacob’s love, and she had to bargain with Rachel for the privilege of lying with her own husband. (Gen. 30:14-18) But she managed to obtain six sons and one daughter. Jacob once showed his favoritism by putting Leah ahead of Rachel in a caravan to keep Rachel away from Esau whom he feared.


But perhaps it balanced out in the end:


Possibly the burial of the two wives of Jacob is more significant than anything else. Rachel, whom he had seemingly favored throughout his life, was buried in a tomb near Bethlehem. The place is still marked today. But Leah was buried in the family burial site at Machpelah, where Jacob himself chose to be buried. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 3:900)


Jacob may have favored Rachel more than Leah, so God favored Leah the most in respect to her children. Judah, her fourth son, was the one through whom David and Christ were born. Yet we should not [85] fail to mention that Rachel had Joseph and Benjamin, showing that God did honor both wives in their plural marriage to Jacob, by giving them such choice sons.


  1. Marriage to a dead brother’s widow


If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the first born which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. (Deut. 25:5-6)


This levirate marriage–so termed by the Jews–was a very important law in Israel, and there were several reasons for its practice:


A brother marrying the widow of his dead brother was one of the ancient customs of Israel. The Mosaic law (Deut. 25:5-10) provided for the possibility, and necessity, at the death of one brother, to have his childless wife marry one of the surviving brothers. The first son of this union was to be regarded as the son of the dead brother. The purpose of the levirate marriage was:


  1. To prevent the name of the dead brother from being put out of Israel. (Deut. 25:6)


  1. To restore the name of the dead to his inheritance. (Ruth 4:5)


[86]                         3. To keep the family property intact.

(Zondervan’s Encl. of Bible, 4:99)


If the brother of the deceased was already married, it did not relieve him from the responsibility of complying with that law. He was under the direct order of God to marry the widow of his brother to raise up a son to him “that his name be not put out of Israel.” A man didn’t have much choice in the matter if he honored God’s law.


But suppose that the surviving brother had no wife at the time his brother died? The law said he must marry his brother’s widow anyway and raise up a son for the inheritance of his brother. But what about his own posterity and his own name? Under this principle, he was also free to marry another wife, or wives, and raise up another family in addition. So this law of plural marriage was instituted so in both situations children could perpetuate their names in Israel.


It is plain to see that this law was general in its application. It was not limited to unmarried men. It does not say her husband’s brother shall take her to wife IF he has no wife. There is no IF, or any other exemption. It included both married and unmarried men. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all give accounts of the Savior and the Saducees speaking of this statute, but none of them gave any statement about changing or voiding it. The foremost Bible authority, Dr. Adam Clarke, like most ministers of today, completely skipped over this text in his commentary on the Bible.


[87]         The continuation of a man’s name and his posterity was considered a great blessing. David said, “The children of thy <The Lord’s> servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.” (Psalm 102:28) To have that chain of posterity broken by death was a calamity; therefore, the Lord made provisions in such conditions. If the deceased had no brother living, it then fell upon the nearest relative to marry the widow. An example of this is given in the Book of Ruth. Her husband was dead, and she had no children, nor any brother to marry her. Boaz, her husband’s uncle, took Ruth for his wife in order to comply with this law. The scriptures said it was done “to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place.” (Ruth 4:10) Remember that Boaz and Ruth became the great grandparents of David.


The ancient patriarchs before Moses also understood and practiced this law. For example, Judah had three sons–Er, Onan, and Shelah. Er married a girl named Tamar, but because of his wickedness, Er died in his youth without a child. The father, Judah, knew the law of God in this regard and explained it to his son, Onan.


And Judah said unto Onan, go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; * * * <He married her but refused to…> give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; wherefore he slew him also. (Gen. 38:8-10)


[88]         At this time, Shelah was too young to marry Tamar so Judah required her to “remain a widow at her father’s house until Shelah was grown.” This was the law of God among the patriarchs, even before it was repeated by Moses. (More on Judah and Tamar is discussed later in this chapter.)


So God commanded the living brother to marry the widow of his deceased brother. Would God command His people in this law to enter polygamy if it were wrong, and then punish them for doing it? How peculiar to believe that men were told they would be punished if they did not keep this law; and then curse them because they did keep it! This is a clear and undisputed law that sanctioned polygamy.


  1. Marriage to Foreign Women


When thou goest forth to war against shine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into shine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, and seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; and she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. (Deut. 21:10-13)


It is quickly perceived that when this statute was given, it did not say if an unmarried man goes to [89] war; it merely said, “when thou goest forth to war”. This is a general mandate which is applicable to all the men in Israel. Similarly, it is the language of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not kill;” “Thou shalt not steal,” etc. This was a law given to a nation that practiced monogamy and polygamy and applied both to married and unmarried men.


The only conditions upon which such a marriage was predicated was that she must shave her head, pare her nails, and mourn for a month; then whoever had taken her as a captive was free to marry her.


Also notice that whoever chose her for a wife was to bring her “home to thine house” which seems like the man might already have a home of his own. If anything, this law seemed to be bent more toward married men than it did the single ones, because most of the soldiers in ancient Israel were married men.


  1. Additional wives as the spoils of war


Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Num. 31:17-18)


With this law the Lord made further provisions for polygamy among His people. This was a law allowing women who were taken as the spoils of war to be wives to the Israelites. One instance of this was a war against the Midianites. Moses told the men that “of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to war.” This meant that 12,000 able-bodied men went to war against the [90] Midianites with instructions from the Lord that they would save only “the women children that have not known a man by lying with him.” After the destruction of this battle, there were 32,000 women taken as new wives. (See Num. 31:35) These Israelites took back home an average of nearly three wives each! This was the law of the Lord–and this was only one battle! It happened on many other occasions.


There is little doubt that the Lord approved of polygamy when he gave this law to a people that already had a surplus of women! This was a law generally practiced by the Lord’s people so they could increase their numbers and dominions. This law was to be observed in their battles with all other nations, not just the Midianites. For example, the Lord repeated it by saying:


When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself;… (Deut. 20:10, 12-14)


Martin Luther observed that.


Here you see how the Law permitted soldiers not only to have several wives but even, where love demanded, a Gentile [91] woman captured in war. For when he describes them as soldiers not newly married, it is plain that almost all the husbands who fought in the war were married no less than one year, and that these married soldiers were also allowed to take a Gentile woman to wife. What is more, if she proved unsatisfactory, it was lawful to dismiss her; but she was free to marry another man, and she could not be sold or made a prostitute. For it is a violation of civil uprightness to sell or prostitute one who has been humiliated. (Luther’s Works, Vol 9:210)


It is very evident that the Israelites obeyed this law and were able to multiply and replenish their numbers to great proportions. For instance, we read that when Moses was commanded to take the census of all males from 20 years and up to go to war, (see Num. 1:2-3) the number was 603,550. (See Num. 1:46) The whole nation consisted of nearly three million people, but out of this number there were only 22,273 who were “first-born” children. (Num. 3:43) This would mean that each woman would have had 39 children! If each man had four or five wives, then it would be possible; because as Jacob had four wives, yet only Reuben was called the “first born”. If each wife had only five children, then we are brought to the conclusion that each man must have had upwards of nearly eight wives! This can be reasonable only on the principle that the Israelites were increasing their numbers upon the principle of plural marriages obtained through the ravages of war and obedience to this law as commanded by the Lord.


[92]         Why did the Lord command soldiers to preserve the females and not the males? Because the Lord wanted His people to have a plurality of wives so they could raise up a numerous posterity quickly, by men who would teach them the laws of God. These women brought into Israel, and into the families of polygamists, were subject to the rules of Israel. They soon learned that such a man was worthy of respect and honor. It did not take them very long to appreciate good men, even though they had been brought into polygamy by such catastrophic conditions.


Israel, then, if they would become righteous, would be blessed with every conceivable blessing; but if not, then they, too, would suffer or even be destroyed. Moses warned them that if they became corrupt, that they would suffer every conceivable curse that God could bring upon them. “And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; . . .” (Deut. 28:63) Here, then, we see that righteousness causes the Lord to multiply a people, but the wicked he will destroy.


The wicked practice birth control, abortion, sexual promiscuity and whoredom. The true purpose of sex is for multiplying and replenishing the earth; but now every vile, lustful and wicked practice is promoted. Children are usually the result of an accident rather than intent, and are often thrown into orphanages or aborted. The result is a society of irreverent and wicked people, suitable for destruction.


[93]         If parents would send their children to some distant land to stay for several years, what sort of people would they want to care for their children? Would they want them to be sent into the homes of righteous men who would properly care for them, teaching them good conduct and respect for God? Isn’t it only reasonable to send them to a friend rather than an enemy? Wouldn’t they rather trust a dozen children to a good man, rather than give one child to a wicked man?


If earthly parents can feel such concern for their children, how much greater are the concerns of our Heavenly Father. What must He feel about His children who are born into families who do not honor Him, nor believe in righteousness nor the laws which He has given?


No wonder the Lord gave this law for taking women out of the camps of the wicked and giving them to more honorable men. No wonder God provided this regulation as a part of His law for plural marriage!


  1. Common (or Natural) Law of Marriage


And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. (Ex. 22:16)


If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto [94] the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days. (Deut. 22:28-29)


This was a general law which applied to single men, monogamists, and polygamists. If anyone thinks that it is applicable only to single men, where does it say that? All were bound to comply with this law. In some eases it demanded polygamy, making the man responsible for her as a wife even if he already had one or more.


Any man who took the virtue of a woman is under the legal obligation to accept her as a wife and he “may not put her away all his days.” If this law was put into force today, it would immediately destroy all the houses of ill-fame in the country.


This was, in some instances, an open door for a woman to gain a man for her husband if she enticed him to cohabitation. This was done even before Moses received this law, a prime example being the case of Judah and Tamar–as mentioned previously in this chapter under “Marriage to a dead brother’s widow”. Poor Tamar was having a difficult time getting a family, so she disguised herself and enticed Judah into a family situation by getting pregnant by him. She had twins born to her, and Judah acknowledged that “she hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son.” (Gen. 38:26) One of these sons born to Judah and Tamar was Pharez, who was in the direct line of the ancestry of David, and hence the lineage of Christ. (See Mat. 1:3, etc.)


[95]         This is the “natural law” of consent, or co-habitational marriage law, against which no legislation ration can be made. It is mutual consent and becomes a lawful state of marriage from which the man cannot back out or divorce the woman. By this law, no man could humble a girl and then abandon her. By our present laws, a man may seduce 100 girls and abandon them all without any penalty. By the laws of God, prostitution is impossible, because the carnal knowledge relationship between a man and woman is the law of being “one flesh” and they are bound in the marriage relationship by that union. Any child born of that union is justified to call the man his father and the woman his mother, whether or not a civil authority pronounced them man and wife.


Under these ancient laws of God, no man would dare to seduce a girl and abandon her, any more than he would dare to murder her. The penalty could be the same!


When a woman, or virgin, bestows her own person to a man of her choice, with intent to be his, or if she is enticed, or even seduced, in the language of the scripture, she is a legal wife of that man from that moment. He, then, is bound by the law to maintain, protect, and provide for her as best he can, and he cannot “put her away” for the rest of his life. She is stamped by the law as his wife.


This put the law and power into a woman’s hands to make the man do justice and to bear his rightful responsibilities and obligations. This is the needed security and recompense which women are rightfully due.


[96]         In the scriptures there are very few, if any, instances where a ceremonial service was read over the marriages of men and women. We do have some information that in a few instances men of the priesthood did so, confirming the union of marriage, but in most cases this was not their privilege.


The scriptures do not give any particular name for the relationship of husband and wife in the original Hebrew or Greek, but rather a man and his woman:


Whereas the scripture has no specific name for the relation, as husband and wife–but a man and his woman.

When a man took a virgin, she became his woman, i.e. his property, not by any outward ceremony, but by the surrendering her person into his possession; this, either anticipatively by promise or betrothing, or actually by carnal knowledge, where no betrothing or espousal went before; this, and this only, made them one flesh–this did, and it ever must have the same effect in the sight of God; for He changeth not. (Thelyphthora, Rev. Martin Madan, 1:329)


So, when a man took a virgin to be his wife, she became his woman, not by a civil ceremony, a magistrate’s certificate, or national authorization. It was by the surrendering of her person into his possession. This was either by some promise, priesthood sanction, betrothal, or by carnal knowledge. She became, willfully and obediently, “his woman” and, in the act of [97] cohabitation, she becomes “one flesh” with him. This was as binding as any certificate, or words upon a printed page, or sanction by some court of legal term.


Paul the Apostle understood this doctrine and the preponderant weight of awesome consequence if it were not obeyed. For instance, he said, “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.” (I Cor. 6:16) This is why he was preaching so tenaciously against fornication with harlots–becoming “one flesh” with harlots is adulteration of the flesh. This is a defilement of the body, or the “temple of God”; and said he, “if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:17) Paul was teaching these laws of Moses.


If a man should entice more than one maid, they would both be his wives, and he would bear the responsibility of being husband to them both.


We read that Jacob had a big feast after seven years of working for Rachel; but in the evening Laban “took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah!” (Gen. 29:23,25) There was no way that he could back out of that marriage situation, even though it was a deception. But it all turned out well in the end because Laban “gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also”, making him legally a polygamist.


[98]         Martin Luther, commenting on this law, wrote:


. . . that if a man had already become betrothed to one woman publicly and thus entered into a true marriage, even having taken the bride to his house, and it happened that he had lain with another woman before or during the time when the secret betrothal existed, or even if he lay with her after the public wedding, he could keep the woman with whom he had lain together with his public bride or wife. * * * Yet this lying together in secret in anticipation of betrothal cannot be reckoned as whoredom, for it takes place in the name and with the intention of marriage, which spirit, intention, or name whoredom does not have. Therefore there is a great difference between whoredom and lying together in secret with the intention of betrothed marriage. (Luther’s Works, 46:291, 293)


If a woman had promiscuous intercourse with different men, any resulting child became spurious, and she was classed as an adulteress and her child was classed as a bastard. (See. Deut. 23:2) This was different from a maid who was enticed by a man who was under the law to “endow her to be his wife”, whether she had a child from that relationship or afterwards. Thus, the difference between whoredom or adultery, and this law of marriage called “common law.”


[99]         This statute was observed for many centuries. Two other examples occurred in the lives of David and also his daughter, Tamar. God did not allow David to put Bathsheba away. This act of cohabitation made their union complete and indissoluble; neither did David want to put her away. He, therefore, acknowledged her as a legal wife.


The rape of Tamar by Amnon, David’s son, was nearly as devastating a crime and as unpardonable as her abandonment. After Amnon had raped her, he commanded her to go; she refused and properly said, “This evil in sending me away is greater than the other.” (2 Sam. 13:16) it was the forceful rape, humiliation and then adding the insult of divorce–all within the hour–that broke her heart.

* * * * *


These were the laws of God. Any of the laws which brought men into polygamy in the days of Abraham were the same in the days of Moses. They were the same in the days of Jesus Christ, and they should be the same in the days of Ronald Reagan, or all who follow afterwards. They are unchangeable and eternal. But with man-made laws, a principle could be legal in Greece but illegal in Rome. Ten centuries later they could be legal in Germany but illegal in England. Then again, they could be legal in the United States, and 25 years later they could be illegal in the same court. God remains constant with His laws; but man is fickle in his.


[100] If God tolerated, allowed, or winked at men taking more wives than one because they lived in an inferior time, a backward society, or because they lacked sufficient light to have the Gospel, why then did God punish with death the women who decided to have more than one husband? Think this over!


The world loves its own laws, but usually hates the laws of God. (See John 15:19 and Mark 7:9) As the world goes on in “progress”, it seems to go further away from the laws of God. Our progress leads to divorce, prostitution, widows, orphans, whoredom, unnatural affections and finally destruction. The Papist with his Mass book, the Turk with his Koran, the Persian with his Zen book, the Hindu with Krishna, the Chinaman with Confusianism–are some of the devices that draw men away from the laws that God gave to Moses. It is time to make another examination into the laws of God as given to Moses and the reasons why they were given.



[101]                             Chapter 10





And it shall be, if thou <Jeroboam> wilt hearken unto all that I commend thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee…. (I Kings 11:38)


No other king in Israel exhibited such strength, or such weakness, as did King David. His life reads like a fiction story with all the adventures of courage, war, conflict, romance and sorrow. From a shepherd to a king while yet a boy, was astounding enough, but many exciting years followed which were filled with intrigue, victory and calamity. In his character and in his accomplishments, he stands like a superman in the dreams of men.


All in all, David was a grand character. He was, heart and soul, devoted to God and the ways of God. In a world of idolatry, and in a nation that was continually falling away into idolatry, David stood like a rock for God. In every circumstance of life he went directly to God, in prayer, in thanks, or in praise. (Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 179)


[102] David lived a life that was exemplary in countless ways, and he remained almost spotless before God and man; and he, too, was a polygamist!


In reviewing the life of David–he was the youngest son of a large family, born in 1085 B.C., at Bethlehem. His father was Jesse, whose grandfather was Boaz that married Ruth, the Moabite. We know that Jesse had eight sons (see I Sam. 16:10), and perhaps as many daughters, which infers that he, too, might have been a polygamist.


Even in his youth, David was very devoted to God. He lived at a time when there was much idolatry, instability and wickedness among all the nations; yet he stood firm in his faith to the God of Abraham. In fact, it was written that David was a “man after God’s own heart.” (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22)


A concise but comprehensive physical and moral description of David’s character was penned by Halley, who wrote:


David was short of stature, ruddy, of beautiful countenance, handsome, of immense physical strength, and great personal attractiveness, a man of war, prudent in speech, very brave, very musical and very religious. (Bible Handbook, p. 174)


David lived under the reign of Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul, too, was a handsome, very tall and righteous man that had been selected by God through the Prophet Samuel to that kingship. The scriptures tell us that Saul was “a choice young man, [103] and goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he….” (I Sam. 9:1) He was blessed to associate with many of God’s prophets “and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.” (I Sam. 10:11)


When Samuel the Prophet met Saul for the first time, “the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! This same shall reign over my people.” (I Sam. 9:17) The prophet then anointed Saul’s head with oil, and he was appointed to be a king in Israel. Now this good man was a polygamist, too. One wife was named Ahinoam (I Sam. 14:50) and the other was Rizpah (2 Sam. 3:7). While Saul was king, he fought against many enemies of Israel and God helped him to be victorious.


But after a couple of years, being torn by the fierce fighting of war and the struggle he had between the new and old systems of governing Israel, he once became impatient and made a fateful error. In his rush to defeat his enemies, he stepped out of his kingly office to officiate as a priest, and made a burnt offering sacrifice. When Samuel the Prophet learned of it, he asked him why he did it. Saul replied that the Philistines were gathered for war, his own people were scattered, and no priest was at hand to officiate in the sacrifice; so he did it himself. Samuel rebuked him by saying, “Thou has done foolishly,” and told him his kingdom “shall not continue.” It was at this momentous occasion that Saul heard those fateful words: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”. The Lord then revealed to Saul that “because you have rejected God, God has rejected you from being king.” This seemed like such a minor incident, yet it was so terrible in its consequences. Saul then [104] gave an excuse which would be used by wayward leaders for thousands of years ever after:


And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. (1 Sam. 15:24)


The excuse was too weak for the Lord, and from that moment Saul lost his power, respect and sanity, not to mention his kingdom.


Samuel the Prophet now set out to find a new king. Being led to the home of Jesse, he asked to see his sons. Seven were presented, and Samuel favored the eldest–but not so with the Lord. It was then that the Lord revealed his choice–the youngest son, David, who was tending sheep. Samuel found him, poured the anointing oil on his head, and designated him a king in Israel. Neither David nor his parents fully understood what this meant, but God knew; He saw in that boy “a man after His own heart.”


By now Saul was becoming irrational. He forced his army to abstain from food; he had fits, and made up a senseless order that became a death sentence to his own son. It was during these troublesome periods that he wanted something to soothe and comfort his troubled spirit. Someone recommended the boy David, a harpist, to come and play music for him. Young David was immediately taken into the good favor of Saul and became the court musician and armorbearer.


The Israelites were then engaged in battle, and the siege looked completely hopeless. The Philistines [105] had challenged the Israelites to make combat with their champion, Goliath. He was a giant of a soldier indeed, standing over eight feet tall! His armor alone weighted nearly 200 pounds! Goliath boasted of his strength and ridiculed the weakness of Israel David was indignant. He went to King Saul, begging his chance at Goliath and testifying that he had killed a bear and a lion with his sling. Saul listened to the young boy’s courage with admiration. For a young boy to battle with a giant, using only a staff and a sling, was an unheard of act of bravery; but it was certainly a demonstration of his trust in God. It was a very short battle, but one that would live long in the memory of Israel and throughout succeeding generations. The Israelites needed to learn that “God does not save by sword and spear, but by His own strength.” A small boy with God’s help killed a mighty giant! This was a clear message to the Israelite nation.


David’s victory over the Philistine was cheered by all of Israel. He immediately became a national hero. From a boy armorbearer to commander-in-chief of the Israelite armies was a quick and amazing change; but it aroused the jealousy and animosity of King Saul. The glory of Saul was being eclipsed by this young boy, David, and it brought about a hatred and a fear that David might take over his throne. Saul sent David against the Philistines, with a promise that his prize daughter would be his if David was victorious; however, Saul expected David to be killed. So, when David was victorious, Saul reneged on his promise of Merab, giving David his daughter Michal instead. This, too, became a cause for dismay to Saul, because their marriage blossomed into deep love and much happiness.


[106] Saul now secretly plotted the death of David; but it was Saul’s own son, Jonathan, that warned David of the plot. The threat was also confirmed by Saul’s daughter, Michal. David became a fugitive and went from town to town and far into the wilderness to escape the soldiers of Saul. It was during this lonely and hunted existence that he wrote many of the Psalms. Saul’s forces were constantly on David’s trail, as he sought refuge among mountains, caves and even with the enemies of Israel. Saul once acknowledged that he was a “fool” for trying to kill David–but he kept on being one!


During one of these transient trips through towns and villages, he came into the town of Maon where he met a wealthy lady who “was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance.” Her name was Abigail, and it was with her that David entered into a polygamous marriage. (1 Sam. 25:42) Shortly after this? David came to a place called Jezreel, where he found another lady to his liking, and he married her, too! This was Abinoam, who became his third wife.


If David’s polygamy were sinful, God would have sent him notice that he had lost his position of king, as He did Saul. Also, if such a thing were against the law of Moses, the people themselves would have never let him be their king. But that is not the way this history is recorded.


Saul had originally entered into his kingship with great promise. However, he soon displayed a lack of wisdom because of several errors, after which he became led by an evil spirit. He was troubled because of both his great love and his great hate for David.


[107] Finally, Saul lost his three sons in battle, and he himself was severely wounded. Filled with grief and despair, he fell on his own sword, thus ending his troubled life.


David was then appointed king by the people, confirming God’s anointing, which gave him complete rule over the House of Judah. Later he received a third appointment as king over all the tribes of Israel. He reigned over Judah for 7-1/2 years, then over all of Israel for another 33 years–and, all of this as a polygamist and with God’s approval.


David’s first act as king was to seize Jerusalem away from the Jebusites. The city took on a new lustre and thrilled the Israelites. For the first time this city fulfilled the boundaries and dominions of the prophetic description of the chosen people (Gen. 15:18-21). The Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem, and the city would soon be called “the City of David”. (See 2 Sam. 5:9; 1 Chron. 11:7)


As a most successful warrior, David completely subdued the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Edomites, Ammonites, Amalekites, and all the other neighboring nations; thus “the Lord gave victory to David whithersoever he went.” (II Sam. 8:6) When David took over Israel, it was an insignificant nation, and during his 40 years as king, he built it into a mighty kingdom–almost a world empire. It was perhaps the most powerful single kingdom on the earth at the time, consisting of nearly eight million people. God said to David:



I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. (II Sam. 7:9)


Instead of condemning David for having many wives, God didn’t even mention it. Furthermore, he kept heaping blessings on this polygamist and on the people over whom he ruled!


It is necessary to pause here for a moment to consider another important factor in the polygamous marriages of David. When Saul was still king of Israel, David was living polygamy. Then at the death of Saul, his wives were given to David by the Lord! Here is what the Lord said to David about this arrangement:


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


The Lord gave more wives to a man who was already a polygamist! God could have donated them separately to some of the poor souls who didn’t have any, but instead He added them all to a man who already had several wives! Also note that if that had not been enough, God would have given him more! This is conclusive proof that God not only sanctioned plural marriage, but He regulated it by His own wisdom and direction, and favored it above monogamy!


[109] Some of the wives of David are mentioned by name:


Michal (1 Sam. 18:27)

Abigail (1 Sam. 25:42)

Abinoam (1 Sam. 25:43)

Maachah (1 Chron. 3:2)

Haggith (1 Chron. 3:2)

Abital (1 Chron. 3:3)

Eglah (1 Chron. 3:3)

Bathsheba (1 Chron. 3:5)


These women were acknowledged as wives and listed as such in the scriptures. Furthermore, their children were accepted as legitimate and listed in the recognized genealogies of the Israelites. This is another convincing proof that polygamy was acceptable to the Lord and by the people.


Notice that in a few short sentences the sons and wives of David were accurately recorded in this genealogical record:


And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his first-born was Amnon, of Abinoam, the Jezreelitess. And his second Chileah, of Abigail, the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom, the son of Maachah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. And the fourth, Adonijah, the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah, the son of Abital. And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah, David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron. (II Sam. 3:2-5)

[110] But, of course, the number of wives of David does not stop here. We read that “David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron….”: (II Sam. 5:13) What a polygamist! With all this constant addition of wives and concubines, God made no rebuke, showed no disfavor, neither did He cause David any affliction for so doing. How could anyone say that God did not approve of David’s polygamy?


The number of David’s wives and concubines must have grown to quite a number during his years as king. In one verse of the Bible there is a little hint to the great number there must have been:


And the king <David> went forth, all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house. (II Sam. 15:16)


King David took his household with him on a journey, but left ten of his concubines to take care of the house while they were away! It appears that “all of his household” represented a majority of his wives and the ten he left behind were a minority! He certainly must have had a big household if it takes ten women to take care of it while his family, or most of it, are away!


Many inspired and beautiful Psalms were written by David. Christians everywhere are probably more acquainted with the writings of this polygamist than any other writer in the Bible. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”, is quoted by young and old. Those who have studied the written word of God the most, probably appreciate quotations like, “The [111] heavens declare the glory of God”. Some of the wisest and most inspirational words in scripture fell from the mouth and pen of this polygamist.


David’s relationship with Bathsheba will be discussed in the following chapter. However, there is one last story about David and his polygamy that occurred near the end of his life. When King David was “old and stricken in years”, he had trouble getting warm, so they looked for a “young virgin” who was very fair to look upon. After a long search throughout all the coasts of Israel, they found Abishag, a Shunamite, and brought her into the king so that she might “lie in thy bosom that my lord the king may get heat.” She cherished the king and ministered to him, but “the king knew her not.” It was evident his days were nearly over.


. . .amidst all the explicit confessions he made in the most solemn hours of his repentance, he does not once bewail the polygamy he lived in; nay, almost the last act of his life was an act of polygamy, in taking Abishag, the Shunamite, to lie in his bosom, his wife Bathsheba being then living. For though it be said, 1 Kings 1:4, that he “knew her not”; yet it plainly appears, by what Solomon said, I Kings 2:22-23, that she was so betrothed or espoused to David, as to be looked upon as his wife. (Thelyphthora, p. 170)


According to historian Josephus, David was 70 years old when he was buried “in the city of David,” commonly known as Jerusalem. “And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches and honour”. (I Chron. 29:28)


[112]                             * * * * *


Thus, it is in the life of David that we have one of the clearest expressions of God’s attitude towards polygamy and adultery. Consider these corroborative events:


  1. God never personally rebuked David for living polygamy; neither did any of the prophets condemn him for taking many women for wives. His living with several wives for 45 years was never denounced nor disapproved. The scriptures tell us:


. . .because David did that which was RIGHT in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from ANYTHING that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. (I Kings 15:5)


  1. The only moral sin attributed to David was his adultery with Uriah’s wife, which means that he was not condemned for his polygamy. To illustrate, God said to Jeroboam:


And it shall be, that if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, that I will be with thee, . . . (I Kings 11:38)


  1. When David committed a sexual act with Bathsheba, God sent a prophet to rebuke him for it. But during the 45 years David lived with many [113] women in polygamy, no one ever made a whisper against him for that.


  1. If polygamy is wrong, why didn’t God pick out monogamists (who were more common) to rule over Israel instead of Saul, David and Solomon, who were polygamists? If the leaders of Israel were polygamists, wouldn’t God realize that it would have a tendency to influence others to follow their example?


  1. God continually told David where his enemies were, what they were doing, where to meet them in battle, etc. Why didn’t He notice all those women that were living in David’s house if they were doing something wrong?


  1. When Saul made an illegal burnt offering and suffered such a terrible fate for doing it, why didn’t God punish him or David for living polygamy?


  1. When David was living polygamy and running from a death warrant, why didn’t God allow him to be captured and put to death if his polygamy was a sin equal to adultery?


  1. When Saul died, why didn’t God divide his wives among the single men instead of giving them all to a polygamist—thus perpetuating a polygamist with more wives?


  1. If a bastard was not allowed to be included in the genealogy of the Israelites, how come polygamist children are always mentioned there?



  1. David had three wives before he was anointed king over Judah and Israel. Yet God and the people of Israel chose him to be the king. This indicates that the laws of God and the laws of man both approved of polygamy.


  1. David had a son born through his adulterous act, which God smote to death before he was a week old. How do we account for the children born through polygamy becoming kings, prophets, patriarchs, and the lineage through whom Jesus Christ was born?


Whatever the critics may say against polygamy, they must admit that, except for one sin, polygamist David was a valiant soldier, an outstanding king, and a righteous man. Further more, he was so close to God throughout his life, that God Himself admitted that David was “a man after God’s own heart.”



[115]                             Chapter 11




Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. (Proverbs 7:24-26)


It was springtime and Israel was at war with the Ammonites. David should have been out on the battlefield, but he made the mistake of staying home. One day David was taking a little stroll, and “from the roof he saw a woman washing herself, and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” (II Sam. 11:2) Not satisfied with just looking, he invited her up to his apartment. The woman’s name was Bathsheba, and she accepted the invitation. It was a Hollywood romance–love at first sight; and it didn’t stop until after it reached the bedchamber. In that fateful moment, David made a tragic mistake in his spotless character, an event that troubled him the rest of his life.


[116] This close encounter resulted in the pregnancy of Bathsheba, but she was already married to a soldier named Uriah, who was out on the battlefield. To cover his sin, David called for Uriah to come home, but he was a devoted soldier who wouldn’t sleep with his wife while his brothers were fighting in battle. David then added sin to sin a by sending Uriah to the front line of battle with orders for the soldiers to retreat, leaving Uriah to the mercy of the Ammonites. When news of Uriah’s death came back to David, he made public notice that he was taking Bathsheba to be his wife. He thought his nefarious deed was well covered. It was, to the Israelites, but not to God.


Nathan, the prophet, came to King David with a problem. He related this story:


There were two men in a city; one was rich, the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb. Now when he wanted to take a lamb to dress it, he desired not to take of his own flock, but took the poor man’s lamb.

David’s anger was greatly kindled against the rich man; and he said to Nathan, as the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die.

Then Nathan said to David, “Thou art the man.” (See II Sam. 12:1-7)


Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”


[117] There are several things to consider in David’s affair with Bathsheba. It is important for us to understand what was legal and what was illegal


  1. Remorse. When David committed his sin with another man’s wife, he suffered agony of mind and torment in his soul. Nowhere did he suffer any remorse or sorrow for his polygamous relationships. Polygamy was legal and proper, but his intercourse with Bathsheba was a heinous sin.


  1. Rebuke. For his hidden sin of adultery, a prophet of God immediately came and rebuked him for the deed. In all the years that David lived polygamy, none of the prophets ever mentioned it to him as a sin.


  1. Curses. When David committed adultery, God immediately put a curse on him and his house:


  1. a) The child born of this illegal intercourse was struck dead by the Lord;


  1. b) The Lord pronounced a curse upon David for his adultery by saying that “the sword shall never depart from thine house,” and “I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house.” The later rape and incest of his daughter, Tamar, was part of it. Then the murder of his son, Ammon, and the death of his son, Absalom, was further evidence. As though this were not enough, David sang a song in which he pled with the Lord to heal “the bones which thou hast broken” and that He may “hide thy face from my sins.” (Psalms 51:8-9) David never had any such things happen to him because of all the women he took as wives.



  1. Sons and Bastards. A definite distinction is made between a child acceptable through a polygamous marriage and another born in sin. David’s child that was born in adultery was destined to die, in spite of all the prayers and pleadings of David. The law in Israel was that “a bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation….” (Deut. 23:2)


And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. (II Sam. 12:15-18)


Neither God nor David ever called this illegitimate child a “son”.


I cannot help observing on this occasion, which is, that the adulterous offspring of David by Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, begotten by David during the lifetime of Uriah, is mentioned twelve times in eight verses, and is not once called a son, but the man-child. * * * David, who, before he came to a sight and sense of his sin, might have called it so himself; but after he was awakened to a due sense of his iniquity, not all the torments which he endured while the child was sick, nor the news of its death, ever induced him to call [119] it “my son”, but–the man child. How differently did he express himself on the news of the death of Absalom, (II Sam. 18:33, and Sam. 19:4) where eight times in two verses he repeats–O Absalom, my son! my son!, etc. I’ll venture to suppose that, if David had been asked the cause of this distinction, we should have reason to think he saw a most important difference between a child begotten in adultery, and a son begotten and born under polygamy. (Thelyphthora, Vol. 2:18-19)


However, after that child was dead, then another was born in wedlock Solomon, who later became the builder of a temple and the king of Israel. He became the mouth of the people in prayer, and offered sacrifices in the temple at its dedication. His prayer to God was heard, and the house was so filled with God’s glory that “the priests could not stand to minister.” (I Kings 8:11)


Thus, the child born in adultery was not considered a “son”, had no rights in Israel, and had to die. When Bathsheba and David were lawfully carried, then God acknowledged the union, and the child born of this legal marriage was called a “son” and had the inheritance with all the rights of a son. God Himself was the judge and administrator of the law—showing punishment for David’s adultery, yet blessing his lawful polygamy.


  1. Chastisement. The Lord chastised David by saying, “I will take thy wives and give them unto thy neighbor before thine eyes.” (II Sam. 12:11) If polygamy were a sin, why would God take [120] David’s wives and give them to another, thus making a polygamist out of him–if he wasn’t one already?


David’s adultery was also a sin against his wives, so the Lord chastised David by taking them away from him.


  1. Sin. The Lord said:


David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord and turned not aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, save ONLY in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. (I Kings 15:5)


If David was doing that which was right all the days of his life, then his living polygamy was right in the eyes of God, but his dealing with Bathsheba and Uriah was a sin.


  1. Inheritances. The civil law among the Jews was essentially “A son who seeks an inheritance, or estate by succession, as a son, ought to prove his sonship.” (This was based somewhat on Deut. 23:2)


The child born of David’s adulterous intercourse with Bathsheba, was not a son–that is, one who has the rights of lawful inheritances. It was for this reason that the child had to die, in spite of all of David’s pleadings with the Lord for his life. He could not have title to the inheritances and the blessings, nor the sceptre which the Messiah should receive in that line. If polygamy would have been considered a sin, equal to that [121] of adultery, then his son Solomon would not have been able to receive that kingship from his father, nor to pass it on down through his seed either. Thus we see the tremendous difference between a child born in polygamy and one that is born in adultery. One has all the rights and privileges–the other none.


* * * * *


There is no clearer illustration of the absolute difference between polygamy and adultery anywhere in the Bible than in this account of David, Bathsheba, and their children.



[122]                             Chapter 12




. . . but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace forever from the Lord. (I Kings 2:33)


The kingdom of David did not die with him. That throne over Israel was established with a promise of an everlasting succession of kings. God said many times that He would honor King David and his posterity for as long as time is counted. One promise was–


And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever. (II Sam. 7:16)


God also promised David that he would have a son who would take his place on the throne and he would perpetuate that kingdom. God said, “a son shall be born to thee….His name shall be Solomon …. I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” ([ Chron. 22:8-10; see also Psalms 89:37.)


[123] From the beginning of creation there were kings among the noblest men on earth. The nobility of kingship existed among the chosen people and was one of the greatest promises to them. In many instances, both in the Old and New Testaments, we read of that special anointing to righteous men.


Kings and their kingdoms were much more popular in the Bible than they are now. There are over 3,000 references to kings in the Bible. It is in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible that we read that man was given “dominion over every living thing upon the earth.” And we further read that pertaining to the two sons of Adam, one received a promise that “thou shalt rule over him.”


Much historical and scriptural material has been lost as it relates to the kings in Israel. The Bible mentions some of these books that should have been included in the Bible, but somewhere they were lost, perhaps never to be found, such as the “Acts of Solomon” (1 Kings 11:41); the “Chronicles of the kings of Israel” (I Kings 14:19; 16:5,14,27); and the “Chronicles of the kings of Judah.” (I Kings 15:7,23)


This line of kings was first promised to Abraham and his children. When he was a hundred years old, the Lord told him that “kings shall come out of thee” and this was a “covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant….” (Gen. 17:6-7)


God appeared to Abraham’s grandson, the polygamist Jacob, promising him, too, that he would be fruitful and “kings shall come out of thy loins.” (Gen. 35:11)


[124] These kings were to be honorable kings, not the general run of kings among the gentile nations. Samuel anointed both Saul and David as kings, by the appointment of the Lord. This is the type of king that was to be in the chosen lineage. Other prophets, such as Jeremiah, confirmed these promises, prophesying of a Messiah to be King over all the earth, that would be born in that lineage:


O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord…. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign…. and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer. 22:29; 23:5,6)


The promises of the Messiah to be born in this polygamist family line were repeated over and over–to David, to Solomon, and then by the great prophets Amos, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah for over a period of 500 years!


When the Angel Gabriel came to Nazareth to Mary, he told her that she had found favor with God and so she would conceive and bear a child called Jesus and then said, “the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.” (See Luke 1:32-33)


Since the kingdom would have “no end”, it also meant that there would be no end to the kings either. Jesus was anointed a “King of kings, which means that He would rule over these kings. Thus, this succession and ordination of kings did not exist just [125] in Old Testament times, but continued on through the New Testament with Christ. John, the beloved apostle of Christ, wrote:


. . . and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. (Rev. 1:5-6)


Christ, then, honored the promise and covenant made by God to the polygamists Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon, by anointing his own disciples as kings and priests who would “reign on the earth.” Christ not only would honor the polygamist lineage by being born in it, but He would continue that special anointing to his chosen disciples “for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful”, said John in Revelations 17:14)


This was a title that Christ would never lose; for after His resurrection, John saw Him and that “He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of lords!” (Rev. 19:16)


King David understood that there would forever be succession of men who would qualify as kings in Israel His last exhortation to his son Solomon was:


I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, [126] to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: that the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel. (1 Kings 2:2-4)


God continued to honor the kingdom of David after David had died. More than 300 years later, when the powerful Assyrian army came to destroy Jerusalem, God said, “I will defend this city to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” (II Kings 19:34) Then to bear this out, God sent an angel into the Assyrian camp that night, and by morning there were 185,000 dead bodies laying upon the battlefield.


Such a miraculous deliverance was, according to God’s word, for David’s sake! All that Israel was required to do, to please God, was to walk in David’s footsteps. One of the prime features of David’s life was that he lived polygamy! God held up David, and other polygamists, as models; and if it was not to encourage polygamy, why did he select polygamists as patterns of his choice? If not, why didn’t he select monogamists instead? The selection of God’s chosen prophets, patriarchs and kings is very obvious so that wayfaring men, though fools, need not err therein!


[127] So, let’s briefly consider some of the promises made to these polygamists:


“Thou shalt be a ruler.”

“I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest.”

“I will set up thy seed after thee.”

“I will establish the throne of this kingdom forever.”

“My mercy shall not depart from him.”

“Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever.”

“Kings shall come out of thee.”


No such grand and precious promises as these were ever given to monogamists; they were given only to men who were polygamists, or who would become polygamists, and to those born in a polygamous lineage. This is evidence that God honored polygamists so much that He put them on thrones as kings over the House of Israel.



[128]                             Chapter 13




. . . his name shall be Solomon, and will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an home for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever. (I Chron. 22:9-10)


When David died, he left an inheritance consisting of the most powerful kingdom in existence at that time. This was to be a patriarchal succession that seldom occurred in Israel the way that it should have. David’s son, Solomon, inherited the throne of that kingdom.


For the first time in Israel, its leadership had a successful example of passing of power from father to son. The reign of Solomon served to make actual and legitimate the covenant God made to David concerning the continuity of the House of David as a ruling power in Israel. The establishment of this principle of succession was to be the prime stable factor in Israel during the span of over three centuries. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5:478)


[129] The scriptures say that “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father” (1 Kings 3:3), and that he had made a thousand sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord. When Solomon went up to Gibeon to make sacrifices, the Lord appeared to him in a dream at night, and asked him what he would choose as a gift. Solomon told the Lord that since he was a king over this vast dominion of Israel and was still only a “little child”, he asked, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad.” The Lord was so pleased that He granted this request–and much more.


He became the literary prodigy of the world of his day. His intellectual attainments were the wonder of the age. Kings came from the ends of the earth to hear him. He lectured on botany and zoology. He was a scientist, a political ruler, a business man with vast enterprises, a poet, moralist, and preacher. (Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 250)


It seemed that the Lord blessed and prospered everything that Solomon did. He received everything that any man could ever want. His business enterprises extended to every nation. He wrote over 3,000 proverbs, 1005 songs, and many other works, including three books of the Bible. Added to this, he constructed the most beautiful and elaborate temple ever built. Under his reign, Israel became the most powerful nation, and Jerusalem the most magnificent city, and the temple the most beautiful building. It was indeed the golden age of Israel’s history. Among all these grand gifts and blessings, God gave Solomon many wives and children.


[130] Since he asked God for wisdom, God blessed him with wisdom beyond that of any man. This great wisdom made him world renown for “he was wiser than all men, and his fame was in all nations.” In fact, “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, . . . ” (I Kings 4:34) Even the famous Queen of Sheba “heard of the fame of Solomon and came to prove him with hard questions, but he answered them easily. She told Solomon that she had heard of his acts and wisdom, but didn’t believe it. After arriving, she said “mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.” (1 Kings 10:7)


Solomon was a stupendous builder. He had 70,000 men in his general work force with another 80,000 who were stone cutters. These were all non-Israelites, but his building program developed so fast that he had to draft another 30,000 from among his own people.


It took seven years to build the temple. Solomon was determined that only the best was good enough for God, so materials were brought from all over the world. By our present standards, the cost of the temple would have been billions of dollars.


Building the temple was only part of the program. He built an elaborate palace comprised of four magnificent structures. Three fortress cities were built and also several smaller fortresses. Another expansive work was the wall that surrounded the cities.


[131] Solomon also had an army in which men served one month each year. (See Chron. 27:1-15) It was similar to the army that was organized under David; however, it included more chariots, horses and mules. Yet, with such an army, he enjoyed mostly peace during his reign.


He gained territorial expansion with treaties and compensations, rather than military conquest. In so doing, he increased trade relations, resources, and a vast shipping enterprise. (See 1 Kings 5:1-12; 9:10-14)


It will be noticed that among the network of treaties with various countries, many wives were given to him as sureties for the treaties. One of these wives was from the Ammonites, who was the mother of Rehoboam, the next king of Israel. A wife was given as one of the most precious gifts that could be bestowed. They were important because it meant an assurance that both trade agreements and political alliances would be preserved. Wives provided the closest tie that could be forged among these leaders.


For instance, “Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, . . .” (I Kings 3:1) She seemed to be a very choice wife, for we read that Solomon made also an house for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had taken to wife, . . .” (1 Kings 7:8)


Apparently Solomon didn’t have all his wives living at the palace. But, there never has beep an established rule as to how a man should arrange the [132] living quarters of his wives. Wives usually differ from each other in many ways–in their personalities, their special duties, talents, forms of occupation, and particular family obligations. Often a husband provides separate homes for them, as Jacob did for his four wives. (See Gen. 31:33)


On the other hand, sometimes many or all of the wives would reside in the same dwelling, each taking hold of different duties of domestic business. They would eat at the same table, look after each other’s welfare, and their children would play and associate together as brothers and sisters. Each mother would have as much interest in the children of her sister wives as she would her own. In the case of sickness or sorrow, they would all share the burden. In the evening the family would gather together to visit, study, or pray. It was then that the patriarch could extend his understanding and teach the principles that would bind his family closer together and lead them to a better, richer and more pleasing life.


Probably fewer troubles, difficulties and sacrifices were experienced by those who dwelt together than by those who chose to live separately, but each family was free to choose their own lifestyle.


Plurality of wives was not popular with just Solomon and Israel, but also among many of the other nations and their rulers. They considered a wealthy, wise and honorable king to have the right to contribute as many children to the community as he could.


[133] The Ammonites, Amalekites, Edomites, Moabites, Egyptians, etc., were all once of the chosen lineage. They carried many of the doctrines and teachings of their forefathers with them, and they, therefore, practiced circumcision, plural marriage, etc. For them to offer their daughters in marriage, even plural marriage, to King Solomon was honorable and proper. Thus, they willingly contributed wives to Solomon’s household, as he was better calculated to have wives and children than anyone else in Israel. So because of his wise counsel and spiritual greatness, the Lord blessed him with many wives and concubines.


But in time even this man who was so wise turned from his righteousness by taking wives from among nations who were idolaters–something the Lord had expressly forbidden. (See I Kings 11:1-2) Solomon was not condemned for marrying many women, but he fell into disfavor with the Lord when he took these unconverted heathen women who began to convert him to worshipping other gods. (See Kings 11:10)


Going back a little, however, as the temple neared completion, the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the holy of holiest. The temple dedication soon followed and was no less astounding than the temple itself. God placed a cloud over the building and fire came down to consume the sacrifice. God again appeared to Solomon telling him that the temple had divine acceptance.


We must note here that Solomon was a polygamist during the time he was receiving blessings and [134] appearances from the Lord. All of these blessings and wives continued to increase until we read one of the most startling scriptures in the Bible which says that Solomon had “seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines.” (1 Kings 11:3) Wow! It is possible to have too much of a good thing, and regretfully this is what happened to Solomon.


It is written that “Solomon loved many strange women” from the nations of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites. And, “it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.” (1 Kings 11:4) So serious was this introduction of paganism into the temple of the Lord by these foreigners, that God appeared to Solomon a third time to warn him that if it were not corrected, the day would come when the kingdom would be torn apart. (See I Kings 11:9-13) Solomon failed in his home missionary work by not converting these women to the Hebrew faith; instead they converted him to some of their heathen practices! This is not without a plausible reason, however. Most men have trouble controlling one woman; so no wonder old Solomon had trouble with a thousand! God rebuked him for the alien element in his household and in the temple, but not for his polygamy. God said to Solomon, “. . . thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes.” (I Kings 14:8) (Remember that God was speaking of David who lived polygamy for 45 years!) It was the direction of the heart, not polygamy, that concerned the Lord.


[135] Whenever a man took more wives than he could provide for, control, or instruct, it was called “multiplying wives; and like any excess, this was forbidden by the law. (See Deut. 17:17) Solomon was not inclined to use wisdom in this particular matter, and his wives delved into strange and heathenistic customs in the temple. This was a reversal to the law–his wives had more control over Solomon than he had over them!


Opponents of polygamy will often quote the scripture that says:


When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me, Thou shalt in anywise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee. Thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself: nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall, henceforth, return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away. (Deut. 17:14-17)


Notice that this scripture says that he cannot “multiply horses” to himself, neither shall he “multiply wives” to himself. If this means that the king shall not have more than one wife, then it also [137] means that he cannot have more than one horse. That’s a poor interpretation and doesn’t make sense. However, this scripture does not mean that he is limited to one horse; neither does it mean that he is limited to one wife. When it says that the king shall not “multiply wives” to himself, it means in exceeding great numbers–more than he is able to properly take care of or govern. Solomon probably violated the law pertaining to horses, too, for he had “forty thousand stalls of horses.”


Thus, it can be seen that even among the people of God, there are some who become unworthy of family blessings. These blessings are dispensed to men according to their faithfulness, and are taken from them when they are unworthy. Some receive many wives, some a few, others one, and in some cases none at all. Some wives are lost after they have been given to them. Hence, faithfulness to the Lord is the criteria to measure a man–not his position, his fame, talents or riches.


Since Solomon had 300 concubines, we should consider an explanation of what a concubine is and why these holy men took them as wives. A concubine was not a moral stigma, as we seem to think today. Usually she was a woman taken from a foreign country, and was a wife with only a few less rights than another wife might have. Some also consider a concubine to be the wife (a servant or handmaid) given to a husband by a barren wife, as in the case of Bilhah being given by Rachel to Jacob. The difference then between a concubine and a wife would be mainly in the property settlements, should the concubine seek a divorce and return to her former country and people. If such a circumstance [138] arose, she could not take the wealth or property of the Israelites back to her country. She left as she came.


The children born to a concubine had no such differences. The names of children born to a concubine were listed in the genealogy of the patriarchs (See Gen. 22:24; I Chron. 1:22), and were recognized as Israelites.


In considering the early references to this subject, Abraham had the first concubine mentioned in the Bible. Caleb had two concubines named Maachah (I Chron. 2:48) and Ephah (v. 46). Manasseh had a wife and a concubine. (I Chron. 7:14) This concubine; had a son who took two sisters to wife (I Chron. 7:15) King Saul had a concubine (II Sam. 21:11); David had many concubines (II Sam. 5:13-16); and Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines (II Chron. 11:21). Esau had two concubines named Adah and Aholibamah, and his son had a concubine named Timna. Gideon had many wives but only one concubine (Judges 8:30-31). Belshazzar had both wives and concubines (Dan. 5:2).


In some instances it was a considered wrong for the common Israelite to marry a foreign woman. Israelites should never accept the customs or religion of foreigners; but if foreigners were converted, then marriage was permitted. Solomon brought in these “strange” women, but he did not convert them, which became his downfall.


The Prophet Nehemiah saw the negative results of such marriages exemplified in the lives of Israelite children who “could not speak in the Jews’ language, [139] but according to the language of each people.” (Neh. 13:24) He rebuked them by saying that even wise old Solomon made this mistake:


Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all these great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives? (Neh. 13:26-27)


However, in some instances, foreign women were brought in as wives to build up the Kingdom of Israel. For example, when the tribe of Benjamin began to diminish in size, the other tribes went over to the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead and took “four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp….” (Judges 21:12) Thus, by polygamy, they were able to again build up that tribe so that “a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.”


The tribe of Benjamin continued to use these foreign women to build up their tribe, and also went over to the vineyards of Shiloh and captured more wives. (Judges 21:20-21)


Martin Luther accepted polygamy as a natural state of affairs and did not condemn it as a matter of lust, but rather a common result of practicality.


The polygamy of the patriarchs, Gideon, David, Solomon, etc., was a matter [140] of necessity, not of libertinism. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob received from God the promise that he would multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, or the sands of the sea. The necessity of consanguinity was this, that when a man was elected judge or king, all his poor female relations crowded about him, and he had to take them as wives or concubines. It was a burdensome imposition rather than an agreeable relaxation. Solomon’s wives, most of them, were probably no more to him than my nieces, Magdalen and Elizabeth are to me, who have remained under my roof virgins, as when they came here. (Luther’s Table Talk, p. 304)


The history of Solomon ends in sadness because of the poor management of his family. But there is no reason to condemn the practice of polygamy because one man failed to properly conduct himself in it. Any good thing can be turned into bad use. Who would deprive mankind of the use of fire because some men have been burned to death? Neither can we legislate against polygamy or marriage because some men commit adultery.


Many men are inclined to acknowledge the principle of polygamy as a God-given right, but not for themselves. Hence, many refuse to live it, while a few others may wrongly “multiply wives” to themselves. Faithfulness and obedience are essential for the man who accepts it, or he may fail as did Solomon.


[141] It has been said that the Old Testament tells of an age of darkness, savagery and ignorance. But if anyone will take the time to read about the magnificence and grandeur of Solomon’s temple and compare it to the structures of our day, he will note that it was a masterpiece of intelligent construction, not to mention its beauty and richness. But the spiritual impact upon the building was as rich as the furnishings, and this may be quickly observed by anyone reading the 22nd Chapter of 1 Chronicles and the 3rd and 4th Chapters of 11 Chronicles. The exceedingly rich and wise Queen of Sheba correctly said that “the half has not been told”. Even the Savior spoke of “Solomon in all his glory.” it does not take much reading to learn how prophets and seers were constantly giving the word of the Lord to these polygamists. God often appeared to these men, which clearly indicates His divine approval of their calling, their lifestyle, and their polygamy.


The Kingdom of Israel lasted 40 years under Saul, 40 years under David, and 40 more years under Solomon. These three polygamists, during that 120 years, raised Israel to its greatest peak of glory.


Let the reader look back upon the life and labors of Solomon with particular interest. Although he sinned because his heart was turned away to heathen rituals, we must consider the rest of his life and works.


Solomon’s throne was established by the Lord “forever”. The dedication of his temple was acknowledged by the Lord. It was built according to the revelations of God and became the wonder of the world. God blessed Solomon’s kingdom with riches and [142] peace unparalleled in history. God gave him wisdom which was famed throughout all nations, and He appeared to Solomon in dreams and spoke to him personally. Yet he was not condemned for his polygamy.



[143]                             Chapter 14




To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isa. 8:20)


It cannot be denied that polygamy was a common practice throughout the pages of the Old Testament. It is equally evident that it was a deliberate, open, and wilful practice of the most holy and righteous men on the earth–and lived without the least reproof or condemnation from God. Neither was there any trace of sorrow, remorse, or repentance by these men. The Bible records that their wives and children were the recipients of God’s greatest blessings and promises.


The Bible’s most honored leaders were well acquainted with the laws of God, as David admitted when he wrote:


O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep [144] thy word. I have not departed from thy judgements: for thou hast taught me. * * * Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (Psalms 119:97-104)


All the kings of Israel were commanded to write the laws of God in their own handwriting, and always keep it with them. Also, they were to read those laws daily. (See Deut. 17:15-20)


The children of Israel were commanded to write the laws of God on the doorposts of their homes. This was the way God had of preserving His words in their minds and hearts. This made them students of the law of God and very familiar with His commandments.


The kings of Israel were not ignorant of the laws of God, yet they lived polygamy. Neither were the children of Israel so ignorant of the law of God that they would put a polygamist into leadership positions if polygamy were a sin.


Polygamy was not just a marriage system lived by an exclusive few. As we continue through the Old Testament, we’ll discover that it was practiced by many prophets, priests, kings, judges and commoners. Following are a few of those noble men who lived plural marriage.




During the period of the judges, there was no pre-determined leadership, as they later had under the rule of kings. God raised up individuals who acted as rulers to meet certain circumstances.


[145] The Midianites and the Amalekites were constantly destroying, robbing and plundering the land of the Israelites. It was during a seven-year period of suffering and famine that the Lord heard the pleas of the Israelites and sent them a deliverer by the name of Gideon.


One day as Gideon was threshing wheat and hiding it from the Midianites, an angel of the Lord came and sat under an oak tree and said to him, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. * * * Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites….” (Judges 6:12-14) But Gideon could not understand how he could save Israel because his family was poor and, “I am the least in my father’s house.” But the Lord replied, “I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:16)


Under Gideon there were 32,000 Israelite soldiers ready to march against the Midianites and the Amalekites. But the Lord made it clear that the battle and victory were to be His, not because of the superior numbers or might of the Israelite army. The Lord told Gideon not to send to battle those who were fearful–which left 10,000 men in the camp. The Lord said this was also too many, so Gideon was told to separate them by rejecting all who lapped up water like a dog when they came to a spring. Only 300 men drank the water by cupping it in their hands; so Gideon sent the rest home.


Then Gideon’s spies overheard a man relating a dream in which the Midianites were defeated by Gideon. This encouraged him. That same night Gideon [146] divided his men into three companies and gave instructions for their attack. They surrounded the camp of their enemies, holding a torch inside of an overturned “pitcher” in one hand and a trumpet in the other. About midnight they blew their trumpets and smashed the jars. The sudden light and noise frightened the enemy, and the Lord caused them to fight among themselves. News of this astounding victory spread throughout the land, and new hope and faith came to the Israelites.


He <Gideon> certainly learned to trust God for the impossible. He gave evidence of wisdom in the art of warfare and, also, wisdom along with patience and humility in dealing with the Ephraimites. Israel later remembered her deliverance by Gideon as one of national importance. (Ps. 83:11; Isa. 9:4; 10:26) The name of Gideon has become popular in Christian circles and has been used to name groups such as Gideon’s International, a Bible distributing organization. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 2:720)


But this great man, Gideon, was also a polygamist! He had many wives and a concubine that gave him 71 sons, not to mention how many daughters. It is written that “Gideon had three score and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives. And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son….” (Judges 8:30-31)


Even Paul the Apostle does not omit speaking of Gideon as one of those ancients “who through faith [147] subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and obtained promises. . .” (See Heb. 11:32-33) from the Lord. So an Apostle of Christ honored this man; and so does our modern Christian Bible Society, that places Bibles in hotels and motels all over the world with the Gideon name stamped on the cover. And this Gideon was a polygamist!




This Jair is said to have been a descendant of Manasseh. He judged Israel for 22 years and “he had thirty sons”. (Judges 10:4) His dominions were extensive, for each of his 30 sons presided over a city in the land of Gilead.




This man was a judge in Israel who ruled for eight years. He, too, followed the example of the other kings and judges in Israel for we read that he had “forty sons”. (Judges 12:14)




Ibzan was from Bethlehem and became a judge in Israel for seven years. We read that he had “thirty sons, and thirty daughters.” (Judges 12:9) Like the other judges, we read of no condemnation for their polygamy.




This man was called upon as a choice for ruler over Israel, and he had “three score and ten” sons. (Judges 9:2) If he had had as many daughters, he [148] would have had 140 children. Figuring about an average of five children to a wife, that would make this man a polygamist with about thirty wives!




Jerahmeel was a descendant of Judah, and his name means “the Lord will have mercy. He was brother to the famous Caleb, who was companion to Joshua. This relationship may account for the “prominence given Jerahmeel and his descendants in the genealogical records.” (See I Chron. 2:9, 25-27, 33, 42) He also had “another wife, whose name was Atarah”. (I Chron. 2:26)




Ashur was a descendant of Caleb, and he also “had two wives, Helah and Naarah.” (I Chron. 4:5)




We read of this man in the genealogy of Israel, that he was a polygamist also, and “Hushim and Baara were his wives.” (I Chron. 8:8)




Rehoboam, the immediate descendant from Solomon, was also a polygamist. As wives he took Mahalath, then Abihail, and then Maachah, the daughter of Absalom, (whom, it is said, he loved above all his other wives) by whom he had Abijah, his successor on the throne of Israel. He stands on record as a lawful descendant of David. (See Mat. 1:7; 2 Chron. 11:18,21,22)


[149] The Bible said of Rehoboam that “he desired many wives,” and I guess he did–he had 18 wives and 60 concubines! They did well for him because he received 28 sons and 60 daughters. And perhaps he was worthy of them because it is written that “he dealt wisely” with them and “he gave them victual (food) in abundance”.


Rehoboam was chastised by the Lord, but not for polygamy; it was for not being humble, and in his heart he did not seek the Lord. When he finally humbled himself before the Lord, the Lord turned away His wrath; but, through it all, he still kept his wives with the approval of the Lord. (See II Chron. 12:7)




Abijah, son of Rehoboam and descendant of David, was the second king of Judah during the divided kingdom, and he ruled in Jerusalem for three years. Before a battle he cried, “God himself is with us as our captain”; and in spite of being outnumbered two to one, he came off victorious. We read:


But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters. And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo. (II Chron. 13:21-22)


Something must be said in favor of this polygamist if a prophet of God had a record of his acts, ways and sayings. This is another missing book of the Bible that could probably shed more light on the history and sayings of such noble men of God.


[150] Josiah


The good king Josiah was among the polygamous kings of Judah. He had two wives–(see II Kings 23:31,36) one named “Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah,” and the other was Zebudah, by whom he had Jehoiakim, the father of Jeconiah, who is found in the line of Joseph’s (Mary’s husband) ancestors from David.


Josiah was among that rare breed of whom it was written–


Like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses, . . . (11 Kings 23:25)


This was certainly not a bad character reference for a polygamist!




Elkanah was an Ephraimite “and he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah.” (I Sam. 1:2) But, Hannah had no children which caused her much grief, insomuch that she “wept, and did not eat”. Now Hannah prayed to the Lord and vowed a vow that if the Lord would give her a son, that she would devote this son to the Lord. A priest by the name of Eli, who was at the temple, heard her praying and told her “the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him”. (I Sam. 1:17) And we read that “the Lord remembered her” and she conceived and had a son called Samuel. Hannah said,



For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord.” (I Sam. 1:27-28)


The Lord heard the prayer of this polygamist wife and He accepted her offer. “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him…. And all Israel … knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord…. And the Lord revealed himself to Samuel.” (I Sam. 3:19-21)


Hannah sought with all her heart for the blessing and promise that was given to Abraham’s Sarah. Her faith so pleased the Lord, that He blessed her with four sons and two daughters. If polygamy were wrong, the Lord would not have blessed her with an answer to her prayer; God would not have given her a prophet-son such as Samuel; and Eli the Prophet-Priest would not have given his sanction to her being in the temple, nor given her his blessing from the Lord.


One author argues that “polygamy was partly indulged in only by patriarchs and some of the kings”; however, Elkanah was neither a patriarch nor a king. Yet he was a polygamist as much as any of them. Furthermore, the Lord blessed this man with a son who was one of the great prophets of the Bible.


We read that Elkanah made sacrifices at the temple; but no one could either offer or feast upon sacrifices unless he was clean. (See Lev. 7:20-21)



But what must have become of that man, whose moral uncleanness must have been what Elkanah’s was, if he could be deemed to live in adultery? for that he certainly did, if polygamy was a sin against the seventh commandment. Could he have come up, year after year, to worship and to sacrifice to Jehovah, under such a state of moral defilement and uncleanness? Could he have found blessing and acceptance, while in the sink of moral filth and pollution? Hophni and Phineas, Eli’s two sons, were both cut off in one day, for the abuse of the offerings of God, and for their uncleanness (I Sam. 2:17,22,34), but Elkanah remains in his, accepted of God, and happy in being blessed with a son (and such a son as Samuel) by miracle. Again, what was Peninnah? a partaker, a partner, in Elkanah’s iniquity, if their marriage was unlawful. What were the sons and daughters who were born of Peninnah, under a forbidden marriage? Bastards–therefore Peninnah’s eating of the sacrifices, as well as her children’s, were absolutely forbidden things. Even the hire of an whore was forbidden to be brought into the house of the Lord. (Deut. 23:18) How much more the person of an adulteress? and as for a bastard, or one born of her who was with child by whoredom, he was not even to enter into the congregation of the Lord, even to his tenth generation. (Deut. 23:2) How then could Elkanah himself–how could Peninnah (supposing her the second wife how could the children born of these parents, go to the [153] house of the Lord in Shilo–feast upon the sacrifices, and return in peace, with God’s blessing and acceptance, unless the second marriage was as lawful in God’s sight as the first, and no more than that, an offence against God’s law? In whatever view we take this chapter, it proves that neither the words of the primary institution, nor those of any subsequent commandment, prohibited polygamy…. (Thelyphthora, Rev. Madan, 2:400-401)


On the other hand, the children of polygamists were blessed and not cursed. A bastard, or the son of a woman who was with child by whoredom, could not enter the congregations of the Lord. But the child, Samuel, son of a polygamist, was in the tabernacle of the Lord at Shiloah, even in his childhood, wearing the sacred linen ephod and ministering to the Lord. Furthermore, he did it in front of the Priest Eli. (See I Sam. 1 & 2)


Samuel was one of God’s chosen prophets and a very noble judge. Two books of the Bible bear his name, and he was the inspired writer of the books of Judges and Ruth. He was on extremely intimate terms with God, more so than any other man of his time. Yet, he was the son of a polygamist.




Joash was a king in Israel for forty years. He received the right to rule when he was only seven years of age, and he was a noble and honorable king. He had a personal friend and advisor named Jehoiada, who was the priest of Jerusalem. It is written that [154] “Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” (II Chron. 24:2)


One of the things that Joash did was to allow Jehoiada to live polygamy. “And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters.” (II Chron. 24:3) This priest of God must have been a worthy man. God blessed him with two wives, many sons and daughters, and permitted him to live 130 years. His whole life shows that he was a man of God and honorable in all his dealings; and when he died, he was honored by all of Israel, for it says:


But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old when he died. And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house. (II Chron. 24:15-16)


God showed no displeasure toward Joash for his allowing polygamy to be lived by Jehoiada. However, after Jehoiada died, Joash began to turn away from the teachings of Jehoiada and allowed pagan worship to return. As a result, Joash had disasterous raids, was wounded and finally died by assassination. In the end, it was decided that he should not be buried among the royal tombs of the kings. But they did bury the polygamist Jehoiada among the honorable kings of Israel because they saw no fault with him.




Hosea was a prophet of God. According to scripture, God’s first words to Hosea were concerning [155] marriage. We read, “The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the word of the Lord said unto Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms.” (Hosea 1:2) He was obedient, regardless of what his feelings might have been, and he “went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim”. Then after two sons and a daughter by this woman, the Lord commanded him to go and take another woman in marriage. This time the Lord told him, “Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress….” (Hosea 3:1) It took some effort to do it, even at the expense of 15 pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley!


This, then, is positive proof that a holy prophet was commanded to take a plurality of wives. Not only was he commanded to live polygamy, but he took the lowest type of females and converted them through repentance, and raised up children to the Lord by them.


It is important to keep in mind that the object and design of polygamy is to raise up children who will serve the God of Abraham and Jacob. This is what men like Hosea were commanded to do, and the Lord blessed them for it.




Many of the ancient prophets voiced words of condemnation to sinful people, even at the peril of their own lives. Polygamy was a common practice of the nation when Isaiah and Jeremiah lived, but they made no rebuke to those living it. They reproved with sharpness the defilement of neighbors’ wives, [156] whoredom, fornication, and the troops who assembled at harlot houses; but not a word against polygamous marriages.


King Ahab reigned in Israel during the time that Elijah the Tishbite was fired with zeal for God and was a faithful reprover of sin. As a polygamist, King Ahab had 70 sons; yet Elijah never said a word against his polygamy. But he did reprove the god of Baal, the 450 false prophets, and Jezebel.


The Tribe of Issachar


There is specific mention of polygamy being lived by those in this tribe. We read that, “their brethren among all the families of Issachar were valiant men of might” (I Chron. 7:5), and were placed by David as “chief men”. They were the main fighting force for Israel, and probably through their capturing of other cities, they took additional wives. We read that they were “soldiers for war, six and thirty thousand men: for they had many wives and sons”. (I Chron. 7:4)


Their polygamous lifestyle is mentioned in the Jewish history and confirms this marriage system among that tribe:


The tribe of Issachar was noted for its practice of polygamy, a custom which was probably followed by all the later kings of Judah and of Israel. (Jewish Encyclopedia, 10:120)


[157] Job


Job was a wealthy man; but more than this, he was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil”. (Job 1:1) This man had seven sons and three daughters, but in the day of his fiery trial, one of his servants came running in to tell him that–


Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: and, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. (Job 1:18-19)


The servant was saying that after the collapse of the house with Job’s children inside, that he “alone” escaped. All of his ten children perished. Along with the many other heartaches and tribulations, Job proved faithful to his integrity to God, and the Lord promised him twice as much as “he had before.” In time he again had ten more children (See Job 42:13), the same as he had before, except this time he lived to see those sons have sons even to “four generations”. It is only reasonable that this man with 20 children must have lived with plural wives to bear him such a large family.

* * * * *


[158] The lives of prophets, priests, judges and patriarchs, contain stories of the most righteous and noble men that ever lived. They and their children were given God’s greatest blessings and promises. But most Bible commentators have difficulty in explaining why they had so many wives. Polygamous children were not condemned or cut off; but rather the promises of God to them were so extensive that it sounded as though they would continue through the eternities. Whatever people may think of these prophets, priests and kings of Israel, it is apparent that God delighted in their polygamous wives and children.


Abraham, Jacob, David and Moses, with a host of others, left a memorial to succeeding generations. What is a memorial? It is a cornerstone or way of life, upon which succeeding generations may continue to build. God wanted all generations to remember those men and the covenants He made with them and the manner of life they lived.


From the creation of Adam until the birth of Christ–more than 4,000 years–how many of the billions of people were called a “friend of God”? How many of the earth’s inhabitants received that title besides the polygamist Abraham? Of all the people on the earth, how many received the royal title of a “prince. . . thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed”? None but polygamist Jacob! And how many have been called by the Lord “a man after God’s own heart” except polygamist David?


Who, then, claims such divine honors and such close associations with God? Men such as Abraham, Jacob, David, and other notable polygamists!



[159]                             Chapter 15




The great, all-wise and righteous father of the human race is a stable law-giver. He is not so capricious as to give specific laws to part of mankind and another set of laws to someone else. Nor with the changing of time does he allow these laws to change.


If polygamy were wrong or displeasing to God, He never would have tolerated it at all. If it were a sin, He would have said so in the beginning of time, and not waited 4,000 years to make up His mind. Furthermore, if it were a sin, He would have made very definite laws against it and He would have clearly described the punishments that should be inflicted upon those who lived it. He would have included the law against polygamy with the other commandments, so that people could read them, study them, and teach them as His law. But, there is no such law against it in the Old Testament.


Polygamy is either lawful or unlawful. So far in the Bible we have not discovered anywhere that God said it was unlawful. For many, it is a revolting fact to learn that God had a man stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath; that thousands of men in Israel had to die because of one act of immorality; that even juvenile delinquents were [160] stoned to death by the Elders; yet God allowed his choicest prophets, patriarchs, judges and kings in Israel to live polygamy!


Now, on the other hand, let’s consider an act of adultery. In the eyes of God and man, it has always been considered one of the blackest crimes against the law. It is so degrading, loathsome and revolting in its nature, that God classed it with the act of murder! God’s law required a punishment of death to those guilty of murder or adultery. If polygamy would have been considered adultery, then almost all of the ancient prophets would have been stoned to death, according to the law of God. But nowhere in the Bible do we find an instance of a man being stoned to death because he had two or more wives!


Even those heathen nations who became corrupt through their sexual adulteries, homosexual acts, and whoredoms, were not considered worthy to live, for the Lord told the children of Israel that when they went to battle against–


. . . the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: but thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God. (Deut. 20:16-18)


[161] From the beginning of time, for as long as there is a future, there must be specific and consistent laws to govern the moral nature of man. Wherever there is virtue, there is vice; where there is morality, there is immorality; and, where there is marriage, there are unwavering laws that bind it. In God’s great wisdom, He knows which laws are best for His children’s virtue and happiness. If it would not have been righteous for men to have more than one wife, then He would have made laws to forbid it.

We have seen that God has continually forbid a woman from having more than one husband. He made laws that forbid any man, whether married or unmarried, that cohabited with a woman, to ever divorce her or cast her away. We read of a law that required a man’s brother, whether married or single, to marry his brother’s widow. It is written that God said to take concubines in war as wives. We have seen that God gave wives to David when he already had wives, and did the same for others. We read of God’s abounding love for the polygamists Abraham, Jacob and many other prophets, patriarchs and kings. We read of great and wonderful blessings given to the children born in polygamy, that were never given to the children of monogamists. But we have not found where God chastised or punished any man for righteously having more than one wife.


Remember that these principles and practices were established upon God’s laws. The Old Testament of the Bible has clearly demonstrated and proved that polygamy was very lawful–that God made it acceptable and pleasing in His sight. Now we shall see if it is treated the same in the New Testament.



[162]                             Chapter 16




John did baptize in the wilderness and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the Land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:4-5)


John, known as “the Baptist,” was miraculously born to a great high priest by the name of Zacharias and his wife. While Zacharias was performing sacrifices and holy rites in the temple at Jerusalem, an angel appeared to him at the altar and told him that he would soon be the father of a child. Now both Zacharias and his wife were “well stricken in years”, and his wife had been barren all her life. It was such a startling announcement that he laughed; but it was not a laughing matter to the angel who told Zacharias that he would be struck “dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believes” not my words….” (Luke 1:20) The angel also told him that he would have a son, whose name was to be John; furthermore, that he would be a great preacher, filled with the Holy Ghost, going forth “in the spirit and power of Elias”. After nearly a year had passed, the miracle occurred and John was born. Zacharias then received his speech again, and the Jews hailed the event with great rejoicing, for they knew this young boy would [163] herald the long awaited “Kingdom of God”, and personally introduce the promised Messiah–the Lord Jesus Christ.


Six hundred years previous to this event, the great prophet Isaiah foretold of John who would be “the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” (Isa. 40:3) Also, about 400 years before the birth of John, the Lord told the Prophet Malachi: “Behold, I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me.” (Mal. 3:1) Jesus confirmed these prophecies by saying that John was the “Elias, which was to come”. (Mat. 11:14)


The scriptures leave us with only one sentence about the youth and childhood of John, yet this is nearly all the information we have about the youth of Jesus. There were many other similarities between the life and mission of John and Jesus. The announcement of their births came from an angel of God; they were both born in the same year; their missions in life lasted about three years; the object of their teaching was to proclaim repentance and baptism into the Kingdom of God; they were both put to death before they reached their 34th birthday; and they were both executed by the political rulers of the land.


It should be noted that John was teaching and practicing baptism before Jesus began His ministry. This was an Israelitish law.


According to rabbinical teachings, which dominated even during the existence of the Temple, baptism, next to circum-[164]cision and sacrifice, was an absolutely necessary condition to be fulfilled by a proselyte to Judaism. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 2:499)


John was a powerful preacher, to whom thousands of Jews came to be baptized. Jesus, too, came to John to be baptized. This seemed strange, even to John, that He who was without sin, should need to be baptized. But Jesus told John that it was necessary to “fulfill” that righteous law. Baptism, like other laws and ordinances of the Gospel, was to be obeyed, not just proclaimed. Even Jesus was not–permitted to have the distinction of being an exception to the law. Obedience to the commandments was an absolute requirement upon the Savior, because He was to be the perfect example of obedience to the law. This He admitted when He said, “I came not to destroy the law; but to fulfill” that law. (Mat. 5:17)


Throughout the ministry of John, he gave no indication that he was establishing any new doctrine or law. Neither did he teach anything contrary to that ancient law. John even used the Old Testament as the basis for the authority of his mission. (See John 1:23)


His great importance lies in the fact that he bridged the old era and the new and was the link between the two. Neither Jesus nor John came preaching something absolutely new. Theirs was a word of fulfillment…. (Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 3:642)


John baptized men by the authority of God before the ministry of Christ, and did not use a [165] different authority after Christ came. John denounced sins–not by any new doctrine, but according to the law given to Moses. Today many people think that the law was done away at the coming of Christ because of one scripture, which might lead some to believe that, if they read it literally. It reads:


The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. (Luke 16:16)


But it takes only a little common reasoning to understand what this means. To believe that the laws and commandments were in force until John, but after that time men were free to obey or disobey them as they wished, is foolishness in the extreme. From a similar scripture we read, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (Mat. 11:13)


Now it begins to make more sense and is a little clearer. The law and the prophets pointed to the time when John would introduce the Messiah. The verse following added, “if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come”. The law was predicated upon the great event of the atonement of Christ; the prophets all prophesied of it, told about it, and pointed to that time and place, and to John who would introduce that Savior.


John was a courageous preacher of righteousness. He was so bold that he rebuked a king on his throne for adultery, according to the law of Moses. This was Herod, the tetrarch, king of the Jews, who [166] “fell in love with Herodias, this last Herod’s wife, who was the daughter of Aristobulus, their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great. John rebuked him saying, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” (Mat. 24:4) By saying this, John had a double reason according to Mosaic law: first because of the incest (Lev. 18:16); and secondly, with regard to living with another man’s wife (Lev. 20:10). Herod’s sin was exactly the same that Jesus referred to in the passages of Mark 10:11-12. So both John the Baptist and Jesus used the law of Moses as a basis for their moral teachings. Josephus, the noted historian, said:


Now, when others came in crowds about him <John>, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise rebellion, thought it best by putting him to death…. (Antiquities of the Jews, Bk 8, Chap. 5:2)


The historian Will Durant said that “Of wives he <Herod> had ten, once nine at a time; of children, fourteen.” (Caesar and Christ, Durant, p. 534; see also Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, p. 387)


Josephus also records in his historical works that Herod’s father had nine wives, and also lists their names. (See Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. 17, Chap. 1 & 2.) Notice that John rebukes Herod for adultery, but never mentioned his father who was living polygamy with nine women! If polygamy were a sin, it is unreasonable that the Lord’s forerunner would have missed such a chance to object to it. He was certainly exposed to a great deal of it in the [167] Jewish nation, for we read that “there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem” confessing their sins. The object of John’s mission was to cry repentance; yet if polygamy were a sin, he certainly missed a very opportune chance to condemn it.


Every prophet spoke out against immoral sins; yet John–considered to be greatest of these–never even mentioned polygamy as a sin. He rebuked the Pharisees for hypocrisy; the publican tax-gatherers for extorting funds; the soldiers who robbed by violence; the harlots for their uncleanness; and even the king for adultery. Would John have missed polygamy if it were sinful?


None of the prophets of God have classified polygamy as a sin–much to the chagrin of many modern ministers. It is inconceivable that polygamy could flourish among God’s people within the eyesight of so many holy prophets, yet they left no condemnation of that practice. Nor is it reasonable to think that polygamy could flourish for a period of 4,000 years and then suddenly be classed as a sin. Such thinking is irrational. How could salvation be considered stable if time alone could change or alter eternal principles of salvation? Who would dare say that certain conditions, social pressures, time, or man-made laws can modify or prohibit moral laws? if such changes could be made in God’s laws, then the Psalmist was mistaken in calling them perfect. (Psalms 19:7)


In summation, then, the great forerunner of Christ, who cried repentance, converting nearly all of “Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan”, did not condemn plural marriage.



[168]                             Chapter 17




There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know thou art a teacher come from God…. (John 3:1-2)


To understand the nature and mission of the life of Christ, one must first understand the lineage, traditions and the religion into which He was born. History has accurately confirmed His birth, childhood, and adult life in a Jewish society. He honored Jewish laws, He taught in Jewish synagogues, and eventually became a Jewish Rabbi. His life’s mission was dedicated and fore-ordained to be a part of the Jewish society, and the events of His life were ultimately fulfilled according to prophecies in the tribe of Judah.


Unlike other nations, the tribe of Judah was distinct in its moral and physical laws. The purpose of cleansing or purifying the body and soul was for dedication and preparation for the “Messiah”, who would be born through that sacred lineage.


When the great prophet Jacob bestowed a patriarchal blessing upon the heads of his twelve sons, Judah was given the distinction of receiving the promised lineage of this predicted Redeemer. (See [169] Gen. 49:10) Their eating habits were restricted by spiritual laws to purify the blood, and marriage laws were jealously observed by the Jewish community to prevent any contaminating values and ideals. Every Jewish woman lived with the hope and desire of being honored to bear the chosen “Messiah” or Savior of the world.


At the age of twelve, Jesus was found in the temple talking to the learned elders of Zion. He was telling them that He was about his “Father’s business”, which was teaching, instructing and counseling–not carpentry work, as some modern divines teach us. But there was a particular reason for the delay in the actual ministry of Jesus. We read that it was not until he “was about thirty years of age” that He organized His church. This indicates that He was complying with one of the laws required to fulfill the office and calling of a Rabbi among the tribe of Judah.


When Jesus was thirty years of age, He was baptized, fasted for forty days, and then began His teaching career as a Rabbi. Compliance to Jewish laws, regulations and rules was absolutely necessary, or the High Priests and Pharisees would have legal reasons to reject him in their councils. Jesus knew this, and warned His disciples to carefully obey the law because they “sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do….” (Mat. 23:2-3) The chief priests and councils of the Pharisees were continually using lawyers in their attempts to trap Jesus for violating even the most minute laws of the Hebrew nation. Jesus, however, could recite the law in His own defense, and by the same law often condemned them for their infractions of that law.


[170] It should be noted that Jesus was often called “Rabbi”. For a better understanding of that title, we refer to the Jewish explanation:


Rabbi: The Hebrew term used as a title for those who are distinguished for learning, who are the authoritative teachers of the Law, and who are the appointed spiritual heads of the community.

The function of the rabbi of the Talmud was to teach the members of the community the Scriptures and the oral and transitional laws. * * * For the first position, the rabbi was elected by the leaders of the community; for the second, by the members of the judiciary; while the third position was a matter of duty imposed upon the rabbi by the very Law he was teaching. (The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 10:294)


The title of Rabbi justly applied to Jesus, both as to the office and the respect that went with it. With that official title, Jesus could teach wherever and whenever He was impressed to do so. As a Rabbi, He taught thousands on the mountainside, by the seashore, and in the synagogues. On one occasion he used a whip in the temple and overturned tables, leaving a very impressionable lesson. Furthermore, if Jesus was not a Rabbi according to that Judaic legal system, He would have immediately renounced the title. His chief apostle, Peter, often called him “Rabbi” (Mark 9:5, 11:21), but received no word of correction from Jesus, indicating that the title was properly applied. When Jesus was called “Rabbi” by Judas (Mat. 26:25, 49), and by Nathanael (John 1:49), [171] and the other disciples (John 1:38, 4:31, 9:2, 11:8), He acknowledged the title without dispute. Great masses of the people also called Him Rabbi (See John 6:25); and when Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, acknowledged Jesus as Rabbi, it was conclusive evidence that Jesus was indeed a Jewish Rabbi.


Jesus lived through a constant barrage of attacks against his birth, character, authority, doctrine and the law. If he had been guilty of neglecting the law on any point, it would have given his enemies their greatest advantage to dispute his claim. Yet if Jesus had lived a celibate life (as most clergymen teach today), it would have been the most powerful weapon to prove that Jesus was not the promised Messiah. It was against the traditional and scriptural law for a Rabbi to remain single. Jesus could avoid this pitfall only by obeying the Rabbinical law of marriage.


Celibacy is by no means a virtue among the Jewish people. Indeed, it is for this reason that many Jews cannot accept Christianity. Said Rabbi Hirsh:


Now as the life of Jesus is pictured in the New Testament, there are certain peculiar defects in that life, from the Jewish point of view. His teachings are the ideal teachings of Judaism; they are not new teachings, nor new revelations. They are confirmations of Jewish thought and life. But his personal life–I am speaking respectfully; I do not think anyone should think I cast any shadow on the beauty and perfection of that life, but I can take it as it is [172] pictured–you know he was not married and from the Jewish point of view, that is a defect. The Jewish morality insists that a man who does not assume the social responsibility for the continuation of society, lives a life that is not complete.” (My Religion, Rabbi Emil Hirsch, New York, 1925, p. 43-44)


In the Jewish society, both ancient and modern, marriage is a sacred and compulsory law. It was strictly observed and a wedding was considered a time for rejoicing, when performed at a very early age.


Every Jewish man should marry at eighteen, and he who marries earlier is more meritorious. (The Shalchan Aruch, Eben Haezer 1:3)


Since the Mishnah fixes the eighteenth year of one’s life as the age of marriage, a man unmarried after this time is, in many communities, regarded as not having conformed with inviolable tradition. (Jewish Ceremonies and Customs, William Rosenau, p. 155)


Marriage was firmly implanted in the minds of all Jewish men; however, it was most rigidly observed by those who complied to the laws and offices of Rabbi and Priest. Jewish law required a High Priest to be married on the “Day of Atonement;” and so important was this law that in the case of some unforeseen circumstance, an extra woman was held in readiness for the marriage. Marriage on the Day of [173] Atonement was a prerequisite for entering the Sanctuary. Paul wrote that Jesus was the “Great High Priest” who would make atonement for all men. Since one of the laws of the high priest office was marriage, then every priest including Jesus had to comply with that ordinance to fulfill the obligation of that office.


Also, Paul wrote in an epistle that “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Heb. 9:24) Now if the law required a High Priest to be married so he could enter the Holy Place, which is a “figure of the true”, then how much more demanding would be the requirements of the Messiah, who was the “Great High Priest”, who stood in that “Holy Place”?


When Jesus was asked about marriage and divorce (see Mat. 19:3-6), He supported the law of Moses, and also the first law of marriage given in the Garden of Eden. This gave a tenable sanction to that law, both to the Judaic nation and everyone else, including Himself. Under the Talmudic law, a man was not considered worthy to be called righteous if he did not marry and have children. How could Jesus support the marriage law with words, yet denounce it in his own life and still be called righteous?


We have nothing written in the Bible about Jesus from the age of 12 to 30. This was the part of a man’s life when marriage and the raising of children were obligatory and would have given us the account of his family. That book, or history, is [174] missing, like many other parts of the Bible. From the age of 12 to 30, a gap of 18 years, the only piece of information on the life of Jesus is that He “grew in wisdom”–an extremely insufficient record in the life of one so important as the Redeemer of the world. John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, said the words and deeds of Jesus were sufficient to “fill libraries”. (John 21:25) From his testimony, we can be sure that much more occurred in the life of Christ than is contained in the brief history of the four gospels. It is almost certain that any information recorded of his younger life would have informed us that Jesus was married.


Wouldn’t it seem very strange, if not inconsistent, that the Good Shepherd would lead mankind by His perfect example in all things, except marriage? Is it possible that Jesus would command, advocate and quote the laws of marriage, but reluctantly, and without valid excuse, refrain from obedience to them? Reason, evidence and the scriptures all prove that He taught and obeyed every law of the gospel How could Jesus say “follow me” as a perfect example of righteousness, and remain single–thus obligating everyone else to be single? To believe such a doctrine would overthrow every law ever given concerning marriage, and Jesus did not do that.


If Jesus was a bachelor, He would have justly been condemned by the Pharisees. They would have mentioned it many times, and it would have been a major reason for them to refute His claim to authority, and to condemn His veracity as a teacher.


Recent manuscripts found in Qumran and other excavations have introduced further information to substantiate Christ’s marriage. In The Gospel [175] According to Thomas, there are significant references to the marriage of Jesus:


Log 22: . . .They <the disciples> said to Him: Shall we then, being children, enter the Kingdom? Jesus said to them: When you make the two one, <one flesh–or marriage> and when you make the inner as the outer… and when you make the male and the female into a single one, <married>, so that the male will not be male and the female <not> be female,… then shall you enter <the Kingdom>.


Log 114: Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go out from among us, because women are not worthy of the Life. Jesus said: See, I shall lead her, so that I will make her male, <one in marriage> that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (The Gospel According to Thomas, p. 57. Coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, etc., 1959)


And in another apocryphal manuscript called the Gospel of Philip:


Log 32: There were three who walked with the Lord at all times, Mary his mother and her (his) sister and Magdalene, whom they called his consort.* For Mary was (the name of) his sister and his mother and his consort.


(*Consort: (1) A husband or wife. The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 1966)



Log 55: … And the consort of (Christ is) Mary Magdalene. (The Lord loved Mary) more that (all) the disciples, and kissed her on the (mouth) often. The others too ……………….they said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her?” * (The Gospel of Phillip, p. 35 & 39-40. Translated from the Coptic text, with and Introduction and Commentary by R. McL. Wilson, B.D., Ph.D., London, 1962)

(*In the Commentary of this book, Dr. Wilson quotes Peter as saying: “We know that the Saviour loved you more than other women.” (referring to Mary Magdalene) And he quotes Levi as saying later: “He loved her more than us.”)


Even many other known books of the New Testament are missing, such as:


An earlier epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. (I Cor. 5:9)

Another epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. (Eph. 3:3)

An epistle of Paul from Loodicea. (Col 4:16)

A former epistle of Jude. (Jude 1:3)

Prophecies of Enoch. (Jude 1:14)


Because great portions of the story of Christianity have been lost, discarded, or altered, the true facts are difficult, if not impossible, to find. And to these hazy scraps of history, have been added dogmas, rituals, and the traditions of men. The voices of Catholicism and Protestantism are repeating the error of this historical patchwork of human creations.


[177] Throughout the centuries of time these celibate traditions evolved into Church law, and that law, in turn, was advocated as historical fact. The real facts remain like a skeleton of the original structure of Christianity. So aloof from the real truth are these traditions that facts appear strange, if not erroneous, when brought to light.


The history of the marriage law of Christianity is not valid because it has evolved through centuries of traditional customs, philosophies, and man managing; especially through channels which have corrupted almost every other doctrine and ordinance of a sacred gospel. The laws of the marriage covenant have become as perverted as any other part of our religious history. Through the traditions and assumptions of men, celibacy became not only an accepted doctrine of the Church for men and women, but even for Christ!


Celibacy had no recognition within the scriptures. Ancient Jewish law and early Christian law sanctioned and required their disciples to obey the marriage covenant. If the apostles fulfilled the law of marriage, it is only reasonable to assume that they were obeying that law by sanction and direction of Christ.


And though Jesus gave and instructed his disciples in all of the laws of the gospel, including marriage, it is most unreasonable that He would neglect or refuse to obey that law Himself.


Marriage was a union so sacred and spiritual in its nature that man and woman were to become “one flesh”. (Gen. 2:24; Mat. 19:5) This inseparable union [178] is spiritually illustrated by a comparison with Christ to his Church (Eph. 5:30). God has given a multitude of laws and commandments concerning marriage, but none restraining marriage. Rather, He restricted anything that would break the bonds of marriage. Among the perils to marriage was the doctrine of celibacy, which was never acceptable in ancient Israel, no; in early Christianity, but rather a doctrine of pagans. It finally became incorporated into Christianity, but was not a part of it. By its nature celibacy contributes little to the quality of the character in a man–much less in a woman. Fruitfulness is God’s law of nature; barrenness leads to extinction.


Celibacy had soon become such a dominant law of the apostate church, that it required hiding the scriptures from the lay members. Such confusion and interpolation of the scriptures were fertile fields for superstition and the perversion of true history. Under the influences of Greek gnostic thinking and Roman laws, the principles of Christianity suffered worse than it did through the centuries of barbaric persecution. From among these amalgamated substitutions for the gospel came our time-honored traditions. They were so far from the original teachings that when the scriptures were exposed to thinking people, it caused the great reformation. Paul the Apostle foresaw the apostasy of Christianity and warned the members of the Church about it. Celibacy, among other things, he said, was a “doctrine of devils”. (See 1 Tim. 4:1-3)


Jesus Christ never omitted fulfilling a single law of God. It would not have been His privilege to obey one law and neglect or reject another. Only the [179] apostate priests of today believe they can do that. Fundamentally the question is not, “What proof do we have that Jesus was married?” but rather, “Where is there any proof that celibacy was ever a doctrinal law of God?”


The first commandment given to man was the law of marriage for the purpose of multiplying and replenishing the earth. Jesus never condemned it nor did He have a right or reason to refuse obedience to that divine law.



[180]                             Chapter 18




Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Mat 5:18)


The first verse of the New Testament speaks of the “generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”. (Mat. 1:1) Reading this genealogy, we learn that Christ descended from at least two polygamists! There can be no doubt that many of those who listened to Christ’s teachings were also polygamists. If it had been a heinous sin, then Christ would surely have spoken against it. Furthermore, if Christ came to sustain the laws of God, He would have obeyed them himself. Paul said that Christ also came “under the law”. (Gal. 4:5) Jesus portrayed the role of an obedient servant rather than a lawgiver. For instance, on one occasion He refused to interfere with the law in determining the question of private property. (See Luke 12:13-14) Nor would He make any judgment against the law concerning adultery. (See John 8:7) It is also a fact that He never made any laws or decrees against the laws of polygamy!


If Jesus abrogated or disposed of the law of Moses and then established a new set of laws, then [181] He is not the true Messiah. But on the contrary, Jesus constantly defended, quoted from, and sustained those ancient scriptures, and His apostles did the same. James referred to them as the “royal law according to the scripture….” (James 2:8) Paul said that, “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning . . .” (Rom. 15:4) and were given by the “inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, . . .” (II Tim. 3:16) Peter said anyone who would wrest those scriptures would do it “unto their own destruction”. (II Peter 3:16)


Jesus and His apostles were adhering to the law of the Old Testament–not trying to implement a new law. Reverend Madan explains:


The New Testament was not to introduce a new law concerning this, nor anything else. Nothing is to be found there which was not in the Old Testament, only as to the manner; the matter is one and the same. Otherwise how could Paul derive any strength to his argument, Gal 3:10, by citing the sanction of the old law, to prove the necessity of salvation by grace? If the law be in a single instance altered, or changed in one single point, how can it be said by an inspired apostle of Christ, “cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them? (Thelyphthora, p. 123)


Several points should be mentioned here to establish that Jesus did not “do away” with the Law of Moses nor try to originate a new set of laws.


[182] 1. Jesus came not to destroy the law.


At the beginning of His ministry, Christ said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Mat. 5:17) However, it will often be heard that Jesus did destroy or do away with those laws. But to add anything to that law or to take anything away from it, was a sin. God said:


Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. (Deut. 4:2)


If Christ would have taken anything away from the law, then we must condemn Him with the transgressors. To suppose that the law of Christ was opposed to or supplanted the law of Moses, is just what Mohammet did, so he could replace it with the Koran. Christ gave no new meaning to any of the commandments or laws. He only clarified, expanded and vindicated the law and commandments. What was murder then, was still murder. What was theft, adultery or sinful was still the same. There was no repeal to the laws of Moses in the New Testament. The laws of God’s Kingdom–on earth or in heaven–are as unchangeable as God Himself. They are the unalterable rules of His moral government over all His creatures; and time, place or age cannot change their obligation. When Jesus said that He came not to destroy the law, it seems irrational that men today say that He did.


[183] 2. There is one lawgiver and one law.


The Apostle James tells us that “there is one lawgiver” (James 4:12), and therefore there can be only one law. The laws of God are not changeable with the calendar or with the whims of men. Where there is one system of law, there can be only one kind of reward. Two different sets of laws produce two different effects or results. If you plant beans every year and then one year plant potatoes, you cannot expect that the harvest will be the same beans. If the laws of Christ contradict the laws of Moses, then we must be suspicious of one or the other. One must be true and the other false; both sides of a contradiction cannot be correct.


In the last book of the Old Testament the Lord spoke to the Prophet Malachi and said:


And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. For I am the Lord, I change not; . . . (Mal 3:5-6)


In the revelation God reaffirms eight points of the old law. He also assures us that men will be accountable for violating them, and that they will not be changed. Then in the last part of the last book of the Old Testament, the Lord said:



Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statues and judgments. (Mal. 4:4)


This certainly indicates that God had no intention of shortly making a substitution in His laws to Moses. God’s law was meant to continue without change or deletion.


  1. God’s laws are forever.


Moses gave no indication that God’s law was going to be changed. He told the children of Israel:


. . . those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29)


And again Moses wrote:


These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. (Deut. 12:1)


We are still living upon the earth; so the statutes and judgments are still binding and unchanged. The Lord also confirmed this by saying:


Oh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! (Deut. 5:29)


[185] The reason these laws, statutes and judgments are still binding upon man is because they are “forever” in their nature. These are moral laws; they govern right and wrong, virtue and vice. God does not suddenly change virtue into a vice because of a time zone. The Mosaic code of laws is called a “perpetual” law, and is described as such in the books of Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and in Joshua. Most of the following descriptions of these laws were given by David:


“The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalms 19:9)

“The commandment of the Lord is pure.” (Psalms 19:8)

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” (Psalms 145:1-7)

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect.” (Deut. 32:4)

“The statutes of the Lord are right.” (Psalms 19:8)

“Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. (Psalms 119:140)

The law of the Lord is perfect.” (Psalms 19:7)


God’s first commandment to Israel was to “have no other gods before” Him, which simply means that man should not obey any law or commandment other than those which He gave to Moses. Christians must believe that the law came from Him “who changes not” and in whom there is “no shadow of turning.” To obey any different law means to obey a different god. Conversely, if Jesus taught different laws than those in the Old Testament, then He is a different god, to whom we are commanded not to obey or serve.


[186] If the word of the Lord is “pure” and “perfect”, then to change it would certainly make it impure and imperfect. If it is perfect, why would Jesus want to change it? Paul the Apostle saw no reason to change it, for he wrote, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law”. (Rom. 3:31) Every Christian should also endeavor to “establish the law”–not do away with it.


Reverend Madan says:


I am told that sin is a transgression of the law; when I hear it asserted that polygamy is sinful, I consult the law; if it be forbidden there, I agree to the sinfulness of it; if not forbidden there, but allowed, I find myself reduced to this dilemma–either the asserter of such a proposition, who says he takes it from the New Testament, is mistaken, which is probable, or the New Testament must contradict the law, which is impossible. (Thelyphthora, p. 251)


  1. Christ advocated, not abrogated, the laws of Moses.


If Christ advocated the laws of Moses, there must be written evidence that He did so. The following quotations show that Christ did, in fact, teach the law of Moses to the people.


  1. “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; . . .” (Mat. 23:1-3)



  1. “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” (Luke 16:29)


  1. “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)


  1. “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46-47)


  1. “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” (John 7:19)


When the devil came to Jesus to tempt him, he presented three temptations. On all three allurements, Jesus responded by saying, “It is written….” and then quoted from Old Testament laws.


The lawyers, scribes and Pharisees were always plotting ways to trap Jesus for not observing the laws of Moses, but in every instance Jesus proved that He did observe them. In such instances it would have been the most opportune time for Jesus to say that He came to introduce a new set of laws, or that He did not sustain the old ones. Instead He advocated the laws of Moses in every instance and rebuked them for not living these laws themselves.


[188] The functions of scribes have varied considerably, but in general they were “interpreting the law for the common people.” Much of their obligation was to interpret the law of Moses so that it could function in the civil and religious lives of the people. The scribe was essentially an interpreter of the law.


Scribes were among those who many times challenged Jesus on His statements or conduct which they thought were at variance from the laws of Moses. But in no instance did they prove Jesus’s teachings contrary to those laws.


[189] 5. The Law of Moses was a schoolmaster.


Paul wrote many epistles which Peter said were “hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (II Peter 3:16) In one of the epistles of Paul, he wrote:


Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Gal. 3:24-25)


It is apparently the contention of most ministers today that Paul was saying that after faith is come, we are no longer under the law of Moses. If that is what they conclude, then it means that by accepting faith in Christ, we are no longer obligated to keep the laws and commandments of Moses. By faith in Christ, man could commit adultery, steal, profane the Sabbath, dishonor his parents, or even murder. Any fool should know better than that. Paul was saying that by studying the law, as a schoolmaster, we are brought to the acceptance of Christ. This is reasonable and understandable because he had just previously written that “cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Gal. 3:10) He had also written, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (Rom. 2:13)


When you have studied a grammar book of the alphabet and learn how to read, you no longer need the book because you know and understand it. But [190] that does not mean that you throw away the alphabet or the principles of grammar. Paul is saying that when you learn the law, it brings you to Christ; and you are no longer a student in learning about Christ. The Ten Commandments were given to bring us to Christ, but now that we have Christ, it does not mean that we throw those commandments away. Neither are we so foolish as to believe that polygamy was a schoolmaster to show us how to live monogamy!


  1. The Gospel of Jesus and the Gospel of Moses were the same.


Paul wrote that the scriptures of the Old Testament are “able to make thee wise unto salvation.” (II Tim. 3:15) If they are able to give us an understanding of salvation, then it is because they contain the laws of salvation. No man can be wise unto salvation without a knowledge of the laws that govern salvation.


Paul also said that the gospel was preached unto Abraham. (See Gal. 3:8) If Abraham was to gain heaven (and Jesus said so), then Paul was teaching the same gospel that Abraham received! Paul confirmed this by saying, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them….” (Heb. 4:2) <some of the children of Israel> He said that “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, . . .” (II Cor. 4:13)


Paul conclusively proved that the Israelites had the gospel when he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians and said:



. . . all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (I Cor. 10:1-4)


God intended that all men should be judged by the same laws and the same principles of salvation.


  1. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Christ.


The Apostle John wrote, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) Was he saying that Jesus Christ did not honor or have law? Or did he imply that those who had the law of Moses did not have grace or truth? Those who interpret in this way are setting at variance the Old Testament against the New Testament. This has led them into a contradictory and inconsistent maze of disorders. Too often ministers proclaim the precepts of Christ, but fail to realize their foundation was on the ancient law. But God is not so short-sighted as to establish one set of laws for one time and another set for another people, and all be received in the same heaven.


Christ made the atonement for which grace could save mankind from their sins. John merely mentions these two great epochs and the men who established them. Moses gave the law; Christ made the grace of God effective. There is no contradiction. Paul confirms this by saying, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Rom. 3:31)


[192] Is the God of the Christians the same God of the Old Testament? Or, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob different from the God in the New Testament? There is too much evidence to prove that their gospel was the same, their laws were the same, and their God was the same.


  1. Search the scriptures.


When Jesus told the Jews to “search the scriptures” (John 5:39), He was referring to the laws of Moses. Furthermore, at the beginning of his ministry, he said:


Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat. 5:19)


He was again referring to the law and the commandments of the ancient scriptures. Neither did He ever change His viewpoint after this. He constantly defended these scriptures and appealed to the people to read them.


The Jews “watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.” (Luke 20:20) It was evident that on this, and many other occasions, the Pharisees were attempting to trap Jesus by forcing him to disagree with the Old Testament law. They were trying to “entangle Him in His talk” (Mat. 22:15), so they could represent Him as an enemy of the law of Moses.


[193] But Jesus defended and admonished them to study and obey the scriptures. He helped to explain, illustrate and interpret the scriptures, but never contradicted them. In his great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus referred to the ancient scriptures nearly ten times–not repealing the doctrines, but rather amplifying them.


  1. Christ came to fulfill the law.


Christ did not fulfill the law by doing away with it. The Ten Commandments were just as much in force after Christ as they were before. For instance, a man who commits murder has not kept the commandment “thou shalt not kill.” Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, . . . but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment….” (Mat. 5:21-22) This does not imply that Christ meant to substitute a different law, nor do away with the law against murder.


Christ continued (in verses 27 & 28), “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” His words, “but I say unto you,” did not mean he was replacing the law. He was attempting to help men avoid the inclinations of the mind which result in the breaking of those commandments. By avoiding the thoughts of avarice, or lust, or whatever, a man could avoid the acts which led to breaking the commandments. The people were still obligated to observe the commandments–but with more diligence.


[194] When a young man came to Jesus and asked what he must do to gain eternal life, it was the perfect opportunity for Jesus to explain his “new law” if He had one. But Jesus repeated the old law by saying, “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Mat. 19:18-19) These instructions were from the Law of Moses (see Ex. 20 and Deut. 5). The reference to love thy neighbor as thyself was a quote from the old law in Leviticus 19:18. When the young man replied that he had done these things since his youth, Jesus gave him a final requirement about giving to the poor. This, too, was written by Moses in the law. (See Deut. 15:7-8; also Ps. 41:1) Everything Jesus taught was a repetition of and enlargement upon what had been written before.


If Jesus had changed God’s law, He would have been guilty of a gross sin, wherein God had said, “Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (Deut. 12:32; see also Deut. 4:2) It is for this reason that Jesus could not condemn polygamy, nor allow adultery, for both taking away and adding to the law were sins.


  1. Old and New Testament marriage laws were the same.


Ceremonial statutes given to Moses are not to be construed as a part of moral or marriage laws. Ritualistic, emblematical, or symbolical ceremonies are not necessarily a requirement of the marriage covenant. The offerings and sacrifices of lambs, [195] doves, etc., were made as emblems of the great sacrifice of Christ. Many of those symbolical rituals were typified when Jesus hung on the cross. These had nothing to do with marriage, divorce, or adultery–nor did they have a part of virtue or vice.


Animal sacrifices were no longer a necessity because Christ became the final sacrifice. The Sabbath Day was no longer the last day of the week, but the first; but this did not change the honoring of the Sabbath as a commandment. Circumcision was no longer a necessity because the promises had been fulfilled. All of these rituals, rites, and observances, could be and were fulfilled and could be changed, but not the moral law.


Some argue that polygamy, like these rituals, was allowed by God for the Israelites, but that it was forbidden to the Christians. This argument is no better than to say that the people in Old Testament times were men and women, but the Christians were not! Or, if the Christians are humans, then what were they before? Sexual sins were forbidden in the Old Testament just as they were in the New. Christ did not make any changes in moral or marriage laws.


When parents catch a child stealing, they do not allow the child to continue stealing and then when he grows up, they tell him it is wrong. Neither did God allow polygamy to be practiced for 4,000 years and then tell the people they were mature enough to now stop because it was wrong.


We read in the scriptures that we should “Train up a child in the way he should go….” (Prov. 22:6), and to bring up children “in the nurture and admoni-[196]tion of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) This same rule applies to a nation. God gave explicit directions for the nation of Israel and established laws that were to govern it. When Jesus came, He did not tell them that the rules were to be changed because the people were better or educated enough to now learn new rules and laws.


The historian Josephus said that it was the “custom” of the Jews to have a plurality of wives–a custom that came from their fathers. If polygamy were practiced at the time of Jesus, then He would have condemned it if it were wrong. Nowhere did He replace that custom or law with a new law, nor condemn the old law.


Let anyone take a Bible concordance and look up the word adultery, and there will not be a single instance where it applies to polygamy in any part of the Old or New Testament.


We must understand two points concerning the law and polygamy. The first is that the Old Testament law did not forbid polygamy; and the second is that the New Testament did not make any changes in those marriage laws of Moses.


* * * * *


The Apostle Peter said, “The word of the Lord endureth for ever,” (1 Peter 1:25) which is also what Moses said: “. . . those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, . . .” (Deut. 29:29) If the Christians of today would believe this, they would not become celibate monks, nuns, and priests; there wouldn’t be a thousand contending churches, hermits, lonely widows or as many illegitimate children.


[197] As mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, Jesus said that it would be “easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” (Luke 16:17) On still another occasion He said:


For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Mat. 5:18)


A jot and tittle are the smallest marks that are made in Hebrew writings. It would be similar to a dot over an i or the cross on a t. If Jesus declares that there will not be that much change in the law, it seems inconceivable that students of the scriptures and ministers can think that “the whole law” has been changed!



[198]                             Chapter 19




And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was. (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom.


And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. (John 2:1-11)


There are several implications in the story of this wedding which indicate that Jesus was the bridegroom on this occasion. These evidences become vividly clear when the story is carefully analyzed.


First, observe that Jewish marriages were arranged by the parents. From the account of this marriage at Cana, there is little doubt that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the person responsible for making the wedding arrangements. Many writers comment upon this unusual situation without indicating or assuming any more than “. . . the incident had a personal interest for the mother of Jesus.” (Abingdon Bible Commentary, p. 1069) The learned Dr. James E. Talmage also mentions the relationship between this marriage event and Mary’s responses.


She <Mary> manifested concern and personal responsibility in the matter of providing for the guests. Evidently her position was different from that of one present by ordinary invitation. Whether this circumstance indicates the marriage to have been that of one of her own immediate family, or some more distant relative, we are not informed. (Jesus the Christ, by Talmage, p. 144)


[200] Farrar, a more widely acclaimed writer on the life of Christ, gave further suggestions about the circumstances of this marriage.


. . . but the presence of Mary, who must have left Nazareth on purpose to be present at the wedding, seems to show that one of the bridal pair was some member of the Holy family. Jesus, too, was invited, and His disciples and the use of the singular implies that they were invited for His sake, not He for theirs. (The Life of Christ, by Farrar, p. 123)


Second, traditional Jewish records explain that a “call” is usually made to the bridegroom and his groomsmen when the wedding preparations were complete and the fixed hour had arrived–which was generally late in the evening. We note, according to John, that Jesus was “called” to the wedding. After the call, the bridegroom would then set forth from his house, attended by his groomsmen and friends. (See Mat. 9:15)


Third, in the Jewish marriage, the guests were provided by the host with fitting robes, wine, and other amusements. At this marriage at Cana when the wine had been consumed, Mary appealed to Jesus. Why did Mary assume a responsible concern for the wine if the wedding was not for a member of her own household? Why would she appeal to Jesus if it was someone else’s wedding? If Mary was hostess and Jesus was the bridegroom, then they were fulfilling their proper obligations at this wedding; otherwise, they were out of order.


[201] Fourth, note also that Mary gave direct instructions to the servants that “whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” It is evident that Mary was not assuming authority or unwisely directing the servants if she was hostess. And why would she give strict orders to the servants of the wedding to obey the instructions of Jesus if He were not the bridegroom? Jesus, then, acting as a provisionary host, directed the servants to “fill the waterpots,” and then continued to meet His obligation as bridegroom by providing the needed wine.


Fifth, the “governor <master of ceremonies> called to the bridegroom and saith unto him . . . Thou hast kept the good wine until now.” He was undoubtedly talking to Jesus as the Bridegroom! And when the governor said to Jesus, “Thou saved the best for last,” he indicates that Jesus had also provided the first wine. Jesus then had fulfilled the obligations of a bridegroom in both instances!


Sixth, Jesus regarded Himself as a bridegroom. (see Mat. 9:14-15) And John, the most beloved disciple of Jesus, had declared that he was the “friend of the bridegroom.” (John 3:29)


Great scholars and scriptorians are forced to acknowledge that Jesus was more of a participant than a common guest at this wedding celebration.


If Jesus were not the bridegroom on this occasion then it is strange that they did not mention who the bridegroom was. It is as plain as the scriptures can make it without actually revealing the name of Jesus as being the groom.


[202] Our first parents were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. If the Savior found it His duty to obey the law to be baptized, then He must have found it necessary to obey the law of marriage also. Some say that it is blasphemous to think that Jesus would marry and thus rob the purity of His life–yet they think it is not so with themselves. But to say that marriage is unholy, impure, or unrighteous is to defy the command of God. If marriage is holy, pure and righteous, why then should Jesus not be qualified to obey that law? It is only the superstitious, perverted and illogical thinking of some advocates of celibacy that should be questioned. It was during the Dark Ages of Christianity that the celibates and gnostics infused their ideologies into the doctrines of Christ. Jesus never gave a law or commandment for man to refuse marriage. The wedding at Cana is proof of his sanction and participation in that sacred law.



[203]                             Chapter 20




Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. (Luke 10:38-39)


Among the dearest friends of Jesus were Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary. How often Jesus must have visited the home of this happy family. And these casual and perhaps frequent visits gave him comfort and solace from the frenzy and turmoil of His daily labors. No doubt these associations with Mary and Martha grew more friendly and devoted because affections and true love will naturally increase; for love begets love. John the disciple, who knew of these circumstances, wrote: “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister (Mary), and Lazarus.” (John 11:5) What kind of love was he speaking of? Was not this a different kind of love than that which He generally manifest? Or else why would John mention it? If Mary and Martha were wives and Lazarus a brother-in-law, then Jesus did love them with a deeper and more intimate love that was so noticeable that John made mention of it.


[204] Now Martha, in her character, was a woman with a particular attention and devotion to her home. In the work of housekeeping and family duties, she found much pleasure and satisfaction. As a faithful devoted wife, she exercised her special gift in keeping an orderly and efficient home. Mary, however, was given to other kinds of gifts. She was a contemplative woman and given more to spiritual or religious instruction.


These two sisters, devoted as they were to their talents, and to Jesus, were sooner or later, by their nature, destined to clash. On one occasion while Jesus was with them, as the meal was being prepared by Martha, she felt that Mary was neglecting her share of the household duties. Martha could not see the value of Mary’s conversations and meditations at the feet of Jesus, while she alone managed the chores of the household. In such a circumstance, “Martha was cumbered about much serving and came to Him, and said, Lord dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” (Luke 10:40)


How much like a wife to offer such a complaint to her husband–for who would suggest such a thing to a casual guest–especially to such a notable person? if Jesus were merely a visitor, what logical reasoning would cause Martha to ask this guest to impose the household obligations upon Mary? Certainly propriety and manners would have constrained such feelings until after the guest had departed. No, these were emotions being expressed pertaining to household conduct, which Martha felt should be corrected by the husband of the house.


[205]            Picture of Mary and Martha and Jesus Christ.


[206] Jesus knew the feelings of her heart, and being considerate and wise, with loving words said: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful (filled with care) and troubled about many things”–demonstrating a consolation to her and her difficulties. He acknowledged her burdens and with the feeling of an understanding husband, He calls her name twice, as if to show His care and sympathetic feelings. But, with the same wise counsel, he considers Mary and her feelings and gifts, showing to Martha that Mary was performing a duty also. In the same consolation to Martha, He said, “But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42) Mary was seeking the principles of the gospel, the words of her husband, and the understanding of the mission of the Savior. Mary also was perhaps learning more of her mission on the earth, and the duties that she would have to bear when her Lord would be taken away to Calvary.


Six days before the Passover, as the conspiracy of betrayal began to take place, Jesus came again to Bethany. Here, once more, he came to the home of Martha and Mary. Jesus knew his hours upon the earth were numbered–His heart was torn in the agony of leaving His home, His friends, and His wives. How natural then to come to their home in Bethany to spend a few remaining and precious moments with those whom He loved.


Mary’s love and devotion were as pure and as dear as any wife’s could be. We read that she was anointing the feet of Jesus with ointment “very costly” and that she “wiped his feet with her hair.” Who would be more qualified to anoint the Master than a wife? How much like a wife to weep and rest [207] her head on the bosom of Jesus and anoint his body with costly oil with such profound devotion. Surely she knew of the approaching death of Jesus, and as a faithful wife, she paid this last devotional tribute to her husband–a love story with an eternal affection which Jesus said “shall not be taken away from her.”


If Jesus were not married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha manifest a much closer relationship than mere believers. His close associations with these two women were rather unbecoming or improper if they were not His wives. Indeed, the relationship with Mary and Martha had the closeness and the stamp of a marriage.


According to the scriptures, Jesus often came to the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany (John 11:1). Historians acknowledge this by saying, “Jesus probably was entertained frequently in this home just outside Jerusalem, especially during the feast seasons.” (Halley’s Encyclopedia of the Bible 4:104) One event is recorded by John in which Lazarus died and was dead for four days. Martha went out to Jesus and told him that “if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” (John 11:32) Martha goes home to tell Mary that “the Master is come, and calleth for thee.” Master was the word often used to denote a husband. This, too, was the expression Mary had for Jesus when He came to her after His resurrection. (See John 20:16) Mary immediately arose and went out to meet Jesus. It was on this occasion that Jesus commanded Lazarus to arise from the dead.


John also relates the story of Jesus and some of His disciples eating supper at his home, while His wives, Mary and Martha, fed them. Mary, in a mo-[208]ment of devotion, used some of the costly ointment–which she had been saving for her husband’s funeral–on his feet. Judas objected to the waste, saying that the ointment could have been sold and the money used by the disciples, since it belonged to Jesus anyway. Why was Judas even assuming that Christ had the right to take it away from Mary and Martha, if he were not their husband? Mary had been saving this ointment, knowing that her husband was going to die–something that some of the disciples didn’t yet understand.


If Mary were a married woman, she was certainly acting out of bounds with her association and affections for Jesus. If she were only a disciple of Christ, why was her love and devotion seemingly greater than that of His apostles?


Certainly if anyone were married to Jesus, it would have been Mary Magdalene. Her life can attest to a devotion as deep and as faithful as any loving wife toward a husband. Jesus was often found in the home of Mary giving her instruction and consolation, just as a devoted husband would do. Even at Christ’s death, Mary showed a bereavement and sorrow that only a wife would manifest. Why was she so bereaved at the tomb? Is not a widow usually the last to leave, and the most often to return, to the tomb of her husband? If Mary were not a wife, why was her grief so great that it required an angel to comfort her? How faithful and devoted Mary was to Jesus! She stood willingly at the cross to suffer at the death of Jesus (John 19:25). She was with the body of Jesus when it was taken down. (See Mat. 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55.) She came to anoint the body with spices. (See Mark 16:1) In the early [209] morning hours before anyone else, she was at the sepulchre. (See Mat. 28:1 & Mark 16:2.)


There at the tomb Mary wept bitter tears, crying “because they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:14) This grief could only be known to a widow whose concern was for the body of her husband. It was under such grief that she saw two angels. (Mat. 28:5)


And later when Mary saw Jesus and recognized Him, she cried “Rabboni,” (which means “my great Master” or more often “husband”) with exulting joy at seeing Him alive. Mary’s love appears almost unbounded in her devotion and affection for Him. But more outstanding than Mary’s love for Jesus, is the love that was manifest by Jesus toward Mary. It was the closeness and attention that Jesus gave to Mary before His consideration of anyone else. It was to Mary, before any other disciple, that Jesus first appeared after His resurrection! Mary was the first mortal to see the resurrected Christ! (See John 20:14-15) Although Peter was the chief apostle, and had been so devoted to the Lord, he was to take second place in this grand manifestation of the resurrected Savior!


Mary was comforted by Jesus and then given instructions to tell the apostles and disciples. It seems as though she stood foremost among any other portal. Why? Only the bonds of marriage could have brought Mary to such devotional love and intimate circumstances. Her affection was as much romantic as it was spiritual and respectful. It was because of her marital status that she was drawn closer to the Savior than were even the apostles.


[210] This touching experience is a grand manifestation of a love which could exist only within the bonds of a devoted man towards his wife! But not improperly, for “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord,” said Paul. (I Cor. 11:11) This was a law of the Gospel.



[211]                             Chapter 21




There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. (John 21:25)


There are probably as many unrecorded events during the three-year ministry of Christ as there were during his youth. We don’t have any of the original manuscripts of his ministry. Some events in the life of Christ can be gleaned from ancient prophets, and their fulfillment is recorded in the New Testament. For instance, Isaiah talked about the Messiah, or Christ, a king, when he said, “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end,” and that He should sit “upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever.” (Isa. 9:7) We read that once when Jesus came into Jerusalem, some of the people recognized Him in this kingly position that both Isaiah and Zechariah had earlier described: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, . . .” (Zech. 9:9) Jesus came riding into Jerusalem “riding upon an ass” and was literally “the King”, inherent to the rights of the throne of King David.


[212] Now according to King David, this Messiah had a queen standing beside him clothed in a “vesture of gold”. This queen is exhorted to “incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou Him.” (Psalms 45:10-11) Even though she is his queen, yet she is called to worship Him as her Lord. If her husband were a mere man, she would not be told to worship him–an evidence that He was the Son of God.


But more striking than this is the fact that there were other women attending their Lord and King who were also designated as wives! Here is a photographic copy of an early translation of the Bible:


8              All thy garments smell of myrre and aloes, and calila, when thou commest out of the yuory palaces where they have made thee glad.


9              Kings daughters were among thine honourable wives; upon thy right hand did stand the Queene in a vesture of gold of Ophir.


10           Hearken, O daughters, and consider, and encline thine eare: forget also thine owne people and thy fathers house;


11           So shall the King have pleasure in thy beautie: for he is thy Lord, and reverence thou him.

Psalms 45 from the

The Geneva Bible

London Edition 1599 A.D.


[213] And from another early edition of the Bible we find the same passage translated identically with a marginal notation confirming it:


6              Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever the Scepter of thy kingdome, is a scepter of righteousnesse.


7              Thou lovest righteousnesse, and hatest wickednesse, because God, even thy God, hath anoynted thee with the oyle of gladnesse above they fellowes.


8              All thy garments smell of myrre and aloes, and calila, when thou commest out of the yuory palaces where they have made thee glad.


9              Kings daughters were among thine honourable wives: upon thy right hand did stand the h Queene in a vesture of gold of Ophir.

10           Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and encline thine eare: forget also thine owne people and thy fathers house.


11           So shall the King have pleasure in thy beautie: for he is thy Lord, and reverence thou him.


12           Ask the daughter of Tyrus with the rich of the people, shall doe homage before thy face with presents.


13           The Kings daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of broidred gold.


14           She shall be brought into the King in raiment of needle worke: the virgins that follows after her, and her companions shall be brought unto thee.


15           With joy and gladness shall they be brought,


h              Though he had many Kings daughters among his wives, yet he loved Pharaohs daughter best.


The Book of Psalms from a Church of England Bible published in London in 1636.


[214] When King James had a translation of the Bible made, the translators were not willing to make a literal translation of this passage because it would countenance polygamy. So, they altered this wording to honorable “women” instead of “wives”. But those who are acquainted with the original language can see that the earlier translators have given the correct translation.


Although all the wives would be queens yet one seems to have merited that high station before she was married to the Bridegroom. It seems that she was one of the daughters of a king, as mentioned in the Psalm: “the king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold”.


It is not stated when Jesus was married to this king’s daughter, or to any of His other wives, but from what John the Baptist says, He may have been married to some of them previous to John’s martyrdom. John wrote: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:29-30)


Here John is calling Jesus the Bridegroom and mentions that He had a bride. He further indicated that Jesus would continue to “increase”, but seemed to predict his own martyrdom or “decreases”. It is also written that–


Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will [215] come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. (Mat. 9:15)


Jesus refers to Himself as the “Bridegroom” and to his disciples as “the children of the bridechamber”. He, too, was predicting His own martyrdom as John had done.


Bible translators have attempted to translate the word “wives” into anything but what it actually said, so that Jesus could not be considered as a polygamist. It is humorous to read many of these translations of the Bible by noted scholars to see how they evade the issue in their “literal” translations:


Daughters of kings are among your honored women; (New international Version)


Kings’ daughters are among Thy noble ladies; (New American Standard)


Daughters of kings are among your maids of honor. (Jerusalem Bible)


Kings’ daughters are among your ladies of honor. (Revised Standard)


A princess takes her place among the noblest of your women. (Oxford New English)


Kings’ daughters are among thy favorites. (Holy Scriptures of the Masoretic Text)



Kings’ daughters are among your precious ones. (The Interlinear Bible)


Daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor. (New Oxford Anotated Bible)


Kings’ daughters are among your concubines. (Lindsell Bible)


Kings’ daughters are among your concubines. (Tyndale Bible)


Back in 1594 there was a Bible published as a comparative Bible–written as a review of other translations. It was prefaced with “Conferred with the best translations in divers languages.” Their final conclusion was that this verse should be translated:


Kings’ daughters were among thine honorable wives: upon thy right hand did find the Queen in vesture of gold of Ophir.


Also, we notice in the parable recorded in Matthew 22:1-14, that the king’s son has to be interpreted as being Jesus. The last servants who were sent forth to gather people from the highways and hedges, were gathering people so that “the wedding was furnished with guests”. The bridegroom, the servants, and the guests are all mentioned–and Jesus is the bridegroom!


John the Revelator also speaks about the wedding of the Lamb:



Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. (Rev. 19:7-9)


That bride will continue to be recognized in eternity as well as in time, as stated in John’s revelation. He saw a new earth where the angel of God said, “Come hither, I will shew thee the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.” He was taken to a great city called the holy Jerusalem where the inhabitants were a great nation of kings who were to “reign forever and ever”. The streets were of pure gold and the gates were of precious stone. It was in the midst of this city that the King of kings and Lord of lords sat upon His throne, while upon His right hand stood the queen. The Psalmist had also foretold the event of this marriage. (See Ps. 45:17)


Again we have another parable concerning the Bridegroom. It is written that “ten virgins” went forth to meet the Bridegroom. (See Mat. 25:1-13) These ten girls are not guests of a wedding because there is no mention of any other bride. Neither can the ten girls be interpreted to be the saints of God, because no one would be left to represent the guests. If we understand them to represent women who were to be wives, then all the rest of the saints would be the guests. These virgins were the “honorable wives” [218] mentioned by the Psalmist which were taken from among kings’ daughters.


Whatever interpretation men are comfortable with, they may be discomforted when they are forced to admit that Jesus was using and sanctioning polygamy in this parable.



[219]                             Chapter 22




Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ, to sit on this throne. (Acts 2:29-30)


Jesus was born to inherit the throne of the polygamist David. It was an inheritance of political dominion, and a royal blood inheritance which he never denied. And when Jesus was born, an angel came to Mary and said Jesus shall have “the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33) Then came the wise men from the east to locate and pay tribute to the “King of the Jews” with “treasures” normally presented to kings.


They also spoke to Herod the king and said that Jesus would some day be the “King of the Jews”. This was not good news to the jealous Herod, and “he [220] was troubled”. This, too, was the conclusion of all the chief priests who said that it was thus written by the prophets. Herod organized a special hunting trip, and Jesus was the target. He sent orders to kill the children under “two years old”. (See Mat. Chap. 2) Historians all agree that it was the male children that Herod had slain, not being fearful that a woman would take over his throne. The renowned historian and theologian, Farrar, said that Herod “issued his fell mandate to slay all the male children of Bethlehem and its neighborhood from two years old and under.” (Farrar’s Life of Christ, p. 30) Also an earlier historian named Macrobius, living in the third century, stated that “among the boys under two years of age, whom Herod ordered to be slain in Syria, his own son also had been slain.” (ibid.)


The massacre of so many male children created a great surplus of women who were the same age as Jesus. This same situation had occurred in the days of Moses. This abundant supply of women would have been an opportunity for Jesus and His apostles to live the law of plural marriage.


Jesus was born of the lineage of David, through Bathsheba, whom we know was a polygamist. Polygamous marriages were valid and lawful in the sight of God, or we must deny that Christ is the legal descendant of David. The scriptures clearly inform us that a bastard, or one who is corruptly born, is not a son, nor has the rights and honors of a legitimate son. So when Paul writes saying, “Then are ye bastards and not sons (Heb. 12:18), he infers a bastard has no legitimate claim on the hereditary line of Israel. To receive the honors and titles that Jesus did as a “King” (See Mat. 21:5), Christ had the title and [221] therefore legally claimed it according to the lawful and inheritable rights of that seed, according to the flesh. (See Rom. 1:3) This claim was through a polygamist line and was honored by the Jews.


It was his kingly and priestly powers which brought about the envy of both pagan and Jew. His influence was felt in every domain of social, religious and political life, and soon caused the jealousy and fear of those who felt the sting of his rebuke; for Jesus exposed the corruptions of the political tyrants and the religious demigods.


Jesus did not make an exception in obeying any of the laws of God, and therefore it is only plausible that he would have obeyed the laws as given to Moses and lived plural marriage. Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention the “many women” that followed Jesus. They also wrote that they “ministered unto him of their substance.” They were giving him means to complete His work and mission in life, as though they were obeying the command of God that said, “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. If this would have been a general giving of gifts, then we would have read that both men and women were giving of their substance to Him; but these women were acting as “helpmates” to him. This band of women also followed him to Calvary for the crucifixion and to the sepulchre.


And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him. (Mat. 27:55)


There were also women looking on afar off; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and [222] Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses and Salome; who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him; and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem. (Mark 15:40-41)


Luke says that there were women who followed him to the cross; they prepared spices and ointments for his burial; and they came to the sepulchre to dress His body. (See Luke 23:55-56; 24:1-3) Now then, according to Jewish traditional laws, only members of the immediate family are permitted to attend to the body and enter the sepulchre of the deceased. These women could have been the mother, sisters and wives of Jesus.


The very nature and intent of God giving wives to the ancient prophets, would also be reason to give wives to Jesus. One of the purposes of Jesus’ life was to understand the feelings, the sufferings, and the trials of ALL men. He must know the love, the family ties, and the grief of losing honorable wives in death as the ancient prophets did. How could Jesus know the feelings and emotions of those ancient prophets who had lived plural marriage, with all of their trials and joys, the love and the sorrows connected therewith, unless He in like manner had obeyed the same laws and commandments from God?


For years before Christ’s coming, the Jews believed in a Messiah who would have children:


The Messiah will die, and his son will become king in his stead, and there will be no immortality, but the people will live much longer…. (The Messiah Idea/in Jewish History, Greenstone, p. 147)


[223] Furthermore, a king must have successors to his title and inheritance. For a king to die without an heir is not only a disgrace, but it is a mark of Divine disapproval. From the testimony of Isaiah, Christ lived to have children and see them. Said he:


But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied…. (Isa. 53:5,10,11)


When a person sees his own children, he is seeing his seed. This is what Isaiah said would be the privilege of the Messiah.


Would God say that it is pleasing in His sight for righteous men during the time of Abraham or Moses to live the principle of polygamy and raise large families, but that in a different time they couldn’t? Would God be more tolerant of the wicked raising children in wickedness in Christ’s time, but was intolerant of them to do so when Moses was alive? It is only reasonable that God should check the increase of the wicked, and at the same time increase the families of the righteous.


There are 16 to 18 books of the Old Testament that are entirely silent in regard to the practice of [224] plural marriage, and there are eight writers of the New Testament that did not mention it. That does not mean that during the time in which those books were written, it was not practiced or that it was not permitted.


Man’s honor and glory is obtained by woman. Alone and single, man fades into insignificance, but through women and children, his glory is extended and perpetuated. For this reason Paul said that “the woman is the glory of the man”. (I Cor. 11:7) Jesus was not the exception to this principle. Before He died, he said to the Father:


Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that thy Son may also glorify thee;* * * I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do. (John 17:1, 4)


Isaiah the prophet saw the Messiah seated upon the throne of the temple.


In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (Isa. 6:1)


In this instance the “train” was not a robe–for it “filled the temple”. This “train” implies more than just disciples; the term referred to relations or family members. This was also the interpretation by Paul, who says concerning Jesus, “Verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” (Heb. 2:16) Abraham the polygamist, being a friend of God, the Messiah chose to [225] take upon himself his seed; and by marrying many honorable wives himself, show to all future generations that he approbated the plurality of wives under the Christian dispensation, as well as under the dispensations in which His polygamist ancestors lived.


In the light of new revelation and new archaeological findings these little known facts are finding their way to discovery. In 1875 an archaeologist by the name of Ganneau discovered these facts in ancient records. The written commentary of the learned M. Zvi Udley are most revealing.


Did Jesus have children? There seems to be evidence that such was the case; in 1873 M. Clermont Ganneau discovered near Bethany on the Mount of Offense certain sarcophagi of extremely ancient times. On these were small crosses, but none of the usual symbols of Jewish burials, “which leaves no doubt of the religion of the persons whose remains were preserved in them.” M. Clermont Ganneau, writing of these discoveries in the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly, 1874, pp. 7-10, notes the following to have been buried there: Salome, wife of Judah; Judah, son of Eleazar (Lazarus); Eleezar, the son of Nathan; Martha, daughter of Pesach; Simeon, son of Jesus; Salomzion, daughter of Simeon. Other sarcophagi had been destroyed earlier. Concerning them writes Clermont Ganneau: “By singular coincidence, which from the first struck me very forcibly, these inscriptions, found close to the Bethany road, and very near the site of [226] the village, contain nearly all the names of the personages in the gospel scene which belonged to the place; Eleazar (Lazarus), Simon, Martha . . . a host of other coincidences occur at the sight of all these evangelical names. . .”


The “Simeon, son of Jesus” was called in one of the inscriptions “the priest”, (H-Kohan) and M. Clermont Ganneau concluded: “. . . this Simeon might very well be the second Bishop of Jerusalem. But then would arise . . . the grave question of the marriage of Christian priests, since Simeon has a daughter named Salomzion” M. Clermont Ganneau’s French name suggests him to be Catholic, and bound to the doctrines of celibacy; however, the first 15 Bishops of Jerusalem were circumcised Jews, and the earlier ones, at least, certainly obeyed the marriage commandments! lt seems the only reason Clermont Ganneau did not candidly state his beliefs was the question of a married clergy, for throughout his article he suggests this Simeon to have been the Bishop of Jerusalem. He promised to write a complete paper on the subject when he had more carefully examined all the find. lt was an important find from the standpoint of archaeology, for it was the first actual discovery of the name “Martha” which “would alone be sufficient to make this collection important from an exegetic point of view;” yet, his promised paper was never published. Why? Was it because a full study [227] of the find disclosed that this “Simeon the Son of Jesus” was the Bishop of Jerusalem. I fully believe this to be the case. Orthodox Christians have purposely destroyed valuable historical evidences which would prove embarrassing to them; that such was probably the case here is suggested by the fact that several ancient writers imply that Simeon the Bishop of Jerusalem, and President of the Church, (died c. 106 A.D.), was of the family of Jesus. It would be only natural for Jesus’ son, when he was old enough to succeed James, the brother of the Lord, on his death, to the Presidency of the Church. In all probability Simeon was a son of Jesus and Martha, and was that child who appeared at the crucifixion. (M. Zvi Udley, Ph. D., Truth, 13:253)


A Greek writer named Celsus, who lived in the second century A.D., wrote a great deal about Christianity. In his writing called True Discourse he was critical of Christianity and its doctrines, but one of the reasons he objected to Christ was because He had so many wives. It was said that Celsus “was the first pagan who denounced Christianity, and in his work The True Word, he attempted not only to refute but to ridicule the doctrine of Christianity.” (Jewish Encyclopedia, 3:637) It is a work of some significance to Christians because, “His True Discourse is the oldest literary attack on Christianity of which the details have survived. We know of it from Origen’s reply, ‘Contra Celsum’, in eight books, which dates [228] from the third century, and preserves about nine tenths of the Discourse.” (Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 260)


Celsus contends that “Jesus kept all the Jewish customs, and even took part in their sacrifices.” (Contra Celsum, Origen, p. 71) However, in the Judaic writings we find the clearest and most forceful denunciation of celibacy and barrenness. They say simply that “marriage is a duty and celibacy is a sin,” and he that does not marry “causes the image of God to be diminished and the divine presence to withdraw from Israel” (Yeb. 63b, 64a)


The ancient prophet Isaiah wrote more about the promised Redeemer than any other prophet. Among his writings was the prophecy that the Savior would live to see his own children. He said, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed.” (Isa. 53:10) This scripture indicates that when Jesus would be at the cross of crucifixion, He would see His children, which no doubt did occur–making his “offering” more heart-rending and the trial more severe. At the cross were many women “bewailing and lamented him,” but Jesus said “weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” (Luke 23:29) These no doubt were his wives and children, fulfilling this prophecy of Isaiah.


Paul said that Jesus took upon Him the seed of Abraham, (Heb. 2:16) which means that He continued the lineage and posterity of Abraham.


[229] The apostles followed the example of their master. For instance, John the Beloved Disciple, writes in his second epistle, ‘Unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth.” Again, he says, “Having many things to write unto you I would not write with paper and ink; but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.” Again, “The children of thy elect sister greet thee.” Some ancient and modern philosophers say John is talking about his wife or wives. Paul says, “Mine answer to them that do examine me is this: `Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas.'” This may also infer plural wives.


In the days of ancient Israel there was a constant stream of plagues, wars and calamities causing great loss of young men and warriors. Many of those young and valiant men who died in the cause of Israel were not to be forgotten–nor were their names to be held no more in remembrance before the Lord. In fact, they were often held all the more revered because of their sacrifice for Israel. When these young men fell in war, the dead brother continued his name and his posterity in remembrance before God and Israel.


This custom in ancient times was also practiced by the patriarchs. Then when Moses came, it was reiterated and was established firmly in the laws of God through Moses.


We observe that when Christ came, this law was still in force. There was no abolishment or changing, nor was anything introduced that prevented that [230] ancient law of God from being practiced at the time of Christ. Was there anything in the teachings of Christ or his apostles that abolished this law or changed it? Did Christ, as he went forth baptizing and teaching new converts, ever say anything about the law that required a brother to marry a deceased brother’s widow? Not a word.


Jesus did not say that Moses suffered a plurality of wives because of the hardness of their hearts, and that it was not so from the beginning. No, he said directly the reverse. lt was for putting away wives and for not taking wives that Jesus condemned them. Putting away wives was not only a condemnation by Christ and the apostles, but it was considered an evil for thousands of years before they made that announcement.


There are certain evidences, then, which are apparent by their absence:


  1. Of all the sins that Jesus condemned, He made no mention of plural marriage.


  1. Jesus never condemned nor apologized for any of the ancient prophets who lived plural marriage.


  1. Jesus saw many people in the Jewish community who had more than one wife, but He never chastised or corrected them for their marriages.


  1. Jesus never instructed His apostles to condemn the practice of plural marriage.


  1. Out of the several obligatory laws of Moses which pertained to plural marriage, Jesus never made any change in those laws.


[231] The New Testament never changed the laws of plural marriage in the Old Testament, so they were left in force by Christ. If any changes would have been made, they would have been equally explicit and just as positive in their renunciation. But such clear and definite changes are not to be found–neither is there any reason that such a change should be made. If plural marriage would have been a sin, it is certain that Jesus and His apostles would not have been afraid to speak against it.


We must also ask that if Jesus had not been married and had not had children, then why don’t Christians not get married and not have children if they believe He was perfect and they should follow Him?


Jesus was born in the lineage of kings. He was honored and called a king, a King of kings, and a king of the Jews. He had the responsibility of the throne of David. John the Baptist also announced the coming of that kingdom. When He was hailed before the Romans, it was for the charge of being a king. His accusers said, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.” (Luke 23:2) When they brought Him before Pilate,


Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. (John 18:37)


[232] They mocked Him as a king by putting on Him a purple robe–the royal robe of a king; and then for a king’s crown, they put on His head a crown of thorns. On the cross of crucifixion was the inscription of His crime: a “King”. One of the thieves who hung beside Him said, “If he be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross.” Jesus was guilty of being a king. He was honored as a king, He taught as a king, and He obeyed the laws of His birthright as a king.


So Christ came through the lineage of Israel as a king, indeed as a “King of kings”. Though most of the tribes had become dispersed and their identity lost, Judah retained the lawful and hereditary family line. According to prophecy, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh (Messiah, the Christ) come.” (Gen. 49:10) This lineage of royal priesthood was based upon a polygamist line of ancestry.


If Jesus did not marry and have children, then He failed as the true Messiah in the following ways:


  1. He failed as a king by not continuing that lineage of royalty. No worse fate can befall a king than to have his posterity stop because of his failure to have a son to carry on the rights of that throne and genealogical line.


  1. He failed as a patriarch in that patriarchal lineage of Priesthood.


  1. He failed in keeping the laws of Moses, which were to be a perpetual law kept by Israel’s lineage.



  1. He failed as a father, for every man was given the command to “multiply and replenish” the earth and to continue that lineage and seed.


If Jesus were a polygamist, then He obeyed all these laws and commandments according to law, inheritance and the Priesthood.



[234]                             Chapter 23




But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. (I Cor. 7.28)


When our Savior, Jesus Christ, came to organize His church, He chose a special set of men to be the cornerstone of His gospel. These men were His closest companions in His ministry and His special witnesses. They were apostles, and He selected twelve of them. Why twelve? Why not five or ten? He chose twelve to be representative of the twelve tribes of Israel who came from the twelve sons of polygamist Jacob! Here we have an interesting and graphic example of the honor that Christ made toward the principle of polygamy and the lineage of their descendants. Not only did He honor them, but He sought to gather them together as Christians. The mission of the Gospel of Christ was to seek out the lost sheep of the twelve tribes of Israel and gather them together with the Gospel. This mission was particularly directed to the Twelve Apostles (Mat. 10:63, and James made this especially clear when he wrote his epistle “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. (James 1:1)


[235] The writings of the New Testament consist of two gospels by two Apostles and two by Seventies; and the rest of it was written by Peter, Paul, John and a little by James and Jude. There certainly must have been much more written by Christ’s disciples, probably containing information just as important. But because of the absence of that material, we must glean what we can from the existing writings. What we have is enough to assure us that the apostles and disciples all believed in marriage and in no instance condemned plural marriage.


Both modern and ancient historians generally agree that all of the Apostles were married. Clement of Alexandria, born about 150 A.D., occupied a most profound and interesting position in the history of Christianity. He was a philosopher, historian, and Christian whose works are most valuable in formulating much of the early Christian Church. A century and a half later another historian, Eusebius, quoted many portions of Clement’s works. Eusebius was a founder of a theological school and “one of the most learned men of his age.” Said he:


Now Clement, whose words we have just quoted, after what has already been mentioned, with respect to those who reject marriage gives a list of the Apostles who were known to have been married (Stromata 3:52), saying: “Or will they disapprove even the Apostles? For Peter and Philip begot children, and Philip, too, gave his daughters to husbands, and Paul does not hesitate in an Epistle to address his wife (Phil. 4:3; 1 Cor. 9:5,13), whom he did not take about [236] with him that he might facilitate his ministry.” Since we have mentioned these matters, there is no harm in my presenting another narrative of the same author, which he wrote down in Book 7 of the Stromata, relating it in the following way: “They say, indeed, that the blessed Peter, when he beheld his wife being led away to death, rejoiced because of her calling and return home, and called out to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, `O thou, remember the Lord.’ Such was the marriage of the blessed and the perfect disposition of those dearest to them.” (Stromata 7:63,64) Let these matters germane to the subject at hand suffice on my part for the moment at this point. (Ecclesiastical History, by Eusibius, Bk. 3, Chap. 30)


However, celibacy soon became a more holy doctrine in the Church than marriage. Unmarried Priests, Monks, Cardinals, Nuns and even the Pope lived in violation of the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply.” All this was according to the prophecy of Paul that some would “depart from the faith” and would be “forbidding to marry.” (See I Tim. 4:1 & 3)


But “forbidding to marry”, either monogamous or polygamous, is spiritual wickedness, and is surely the basis for much of the immorality and evil of today. God clearly pointed out in the beginning of time that “it is not good for man to be alone.”


But in a short time the philosophies of men and misinterpretations of the scriptures filled the cells of [237] monasteries, convents, caves and deserts with celibate hermits and spinsters. These souls suffered needlessly without love, affection or the kindness of family members. All this misery and mischief was spawned and pawned by the prince of darkness. How many pilgrimages, mortifications, fasts, denials and misery some of these souls have suffered we will never know. Most of them, perhaps because of some act of sin or burning conscience, established for themselves a mortification of the flesh for its purification. How sad it is that men will grasp one sentence here, another sentence there, and conclude with no sense at all. All this misery and suffering could have been avoided if they had realized that the New Testament is like a mirror merely reflecting the laws of the Old Testament.


The Christians and the heathens were not the only ones to give themselves over to some strange penance or peculiar abstinence. In the Talmud we read of a sect of Pharisees called “Moles”. They were so fearful of looking upon a woman and committing the sin of lust or adultery, that they went around with their eyes closed or blindfolded!


Luther contended that Cyprian introduced celibacy as a doctrine to the church around 250 A.D., and St. Ambrose believed it was a doctrine for spiritual persons. However, many Catholic scholars properly understood the scriptures and admitted that marriage was honorable, and that plural marriage was also sanctioned by the Lord. The most celebrated Catholic writers, such as Durandus, a St. Portian in the 14th century; Alphonsus Tostatus, a Bishop of Avila in the 15th century; and especially Cardinal [238] Cajetan, who debated with Luther in the 16th century; and Cardinal Bellarmine–all admit that “a plurality of wives is lawful, according to the divine law. They even went so far as to admit that it would be “lawful even to priests, if the Pope would accept it.


St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), the prolific writer of Catholic literature, also wrote, “Because, for the sake of multiplying posterity, no law forbad many wives.” (The City of God, 16:38)


Christian church officers were required to be married and the fathers of children, according to Paul, who wrote: “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5) He further exhorts the bishops to be “husbands” (v. 2) and “having his children” (v. 4); that deacons should be husbands with “wives” (v. 11). Then going on to Chapter 5: “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, ….” (V. 14) These are the same exhortations of the law in the Old Testament. Saul was a married man, for that was a requirement of membership in the Sanhedrin. This Saul (or Paul) sat on that Sanhedrin council when they voted for the death of Stephen. (See Acts 7:58-60; Acts 8:1-3.) He was so valiant in cleaning up Christians in Jerusalem, where he labored, that he went to the high priest of that council “and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, so that he could drag Christians there back to Jerusalem for punishment. (See Acts 9:1-2.)


[239] Peter, too, was a married man, and Jesus had occasion to visit “his wife’s mother” (Mat. 8:14). The Catholics claim that Peter was their first Pope, but they certainly can’t blame him for their celibate doctrine. In fact, Peter may well have been a polygamist, for he had two homes–one in Bethsaida (John 1:44) and one in Capernaum! (Mark 1:21 & 29)


In the beginning we read that a man should “leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Gen. 2:24) Jesus repeated this law in his teachings. (See Mat. 19:5-6)


What is this doctrine of “one flesh” repeated by Jesus? It means that the woman who, by her own free agency, chooses a man for her husband, must surrender herself wholely to him–so much so that she loses her name by assuming his. She is no longer under the jurisdiction and responsibility of her parents. By the sacred principle, of marriage, she surrenders herself to be his helpmate, his property, his responsibility and even “his flesh. When she becomes his wife, she becomes flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone–or rib of his rib, as the inflection of the story infers.


A woman by nature is meant to be a part of man. The marriage ordinance was instituted to recognize man and woman in that binding relationship, in which they must be “united as one flesh” or they cannot be made perfect.


Another part of this union of marriage is the union of creation by which they both unite their flesh to reproduce their own flesh, or children. This [240] union of the flesh produces a body as perfect as that of its parents–a body which is one, yet a part of both parents. Hence, the husband and wife become one flesh, and their children born from that union also become one of their flesh. Furthermore, if a man has several wives, they, too, are all “one flesh” with him. The whole marriage and family union is therefore considered sacred and should be as indissolvable as a man losing a rib.


At this point, it is interesting to note the instructions Paul gave to Timothy and Titus concerning the ordination of men as Bishops and Deacons:


A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, and good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. * * * Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (I Tim. 3:2, 12)


If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; . . . (Titus 1:6,7)


There are several meanings attached to these passages of scripture. One is that Paul intended to prohibit all single or unmarried men from being in the offices of Bishop or Deacon. He saw the necessity of the men in those offices being married to at least one wife. By being married, they would have the experience of being able to teach and to rule blamelessly over a wife and children and “their own houses well”. If a man could not rule well over his own [241] house, how could he take care of others in the Church of God? If this view is correct, then Paul was not really limiting the amount of wives that men could have, but only insisting that they be married. Furthermore, if he was intending that a Bishop and a Deacon be limited to one wife, then he was saying it would be permissible for polygamists to occupy any other office in the Church, since he did not restrict them.


A second meaning that some give to these scriptures is that these offices were not to be conferred upon those who had more than one wife. This interpretation seems logical. It is very certain that many members of the Church had more than one wife. If the members of the Church had only one wife, then Paul was talking nonsense by telling them to limit their wives to one. If there were no polygamists, then why the restriction? The expression, “The Bishop must be the husband of one wife” is a very strong indication that there were many in the church who were the husbands of more than one wife.


Suppose that in 1980 a minister in Colorado wrote to his fellow minister in Idaho and said, “Let those who are ordained to the office of Bishop and Deacon have no slaves or only one slave!” Since there is no slavery in Idaho, his letter wouldn’t make sense. Where slavery does not exist, there is no need for instructions against it.


This is a most interesting observation–that mention is made in an abstract way about certain officers with “one wife”, but absolutely no indication against polygamists. Neither was there any mention [242] of those who were in the Church that were polygamists–that they would have to repent, forsake wives, or cease advocating or living polygamy. Why not say that being the husband of one wife was necessary to be a “Christian” rather than limiting it to a Bishop or Deacon? Or does this infer that the practice of polygamy among Apostles, Elders, Seventies, and Priests, is permissible?


Paul’s recommendations and qualifications to Timothy do not in any way mean that polygamy is a sin. If it does mean that, was he saying that polygamists were not sinning bad enough to keep them from holding other offices in the Church, but that the office of Bishop and Deacon were too holy for polygamists, Foolish thinking! It is very evident that these two positions in the Church required the office holder to be as free from family cares as possible, since so much time and self-sacrifice was required to do merit to the Church. Large families, like the polygamists had, would require more time and effort than some church positions would allow. It is upon this principle that Paul inferred that there were advantages for those with no wife at all. He wrote:


He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. (I Cor. 7:32-33)


Paul also indicated that this was his own advantage, since he was a widower and now able to devote his full time to the ministry.


[243] When Paul wrote to the Romans, he said, “Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all.” (Acts 25:8) The Apostle was admitting that he had not offended any law of the Jews; yet their law always permitted polygamy. This is evidence that Paul had not changed the law in regard to polygamy. Yet, Paul had been preaching the gospel for about 29 years when he made that statement. But some argue against polygamy by quoting Paul when he wrote:


Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. (I Cor. 7:2-3)


This is no more a limitation on the number of wives a man may have than to say, “Let every man have his own servant, and every servant his own master.” Would this be conclusive proof that a master could not have more than one servant because the servant could not have more than one master?


Also, Jesus said to move thy neighbors. Does this mean love only one neighbor? This argumentative word catching is beneath the principle of debate. If a man has two wives, each may be properly styled or called his wife.


[244] The learned Selden has proved in his Uxor Haebraica that polygamy was allowed, not only among the Hebrews, but in various portions of the world, and even in Asia at the time of Christ and His Apostles. Yet, in the writings of the missionaries to the people of Asia, where polygamy flourished, there is no mention that polygamy was a sin. In Paul’s epistles to churches in Greece, where polygamy was accepted, plural marriage was not mentioned. John’s stern rebukes to the churches in Asia for their many crimes did not even mention the many polygamists there. Condemnation of every kind of sexual sin or licentiousness was often repeated through the letters to the churches among the gentiles, but in no instance did they warn them against entering or living polygamy.


When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he listed a long and painful catalog of immoralities. In these chapters of scripture is mentioned every possible sin, but there is no mention of polygamy. He clearly mentioned the sin of a woman with several husbands, but gave no indication of sin in a man having several wives. This letter of Paul’s certainly would have been the place to mention polygamy as a sin, if it were one. Therefore, we must conclude that Paul’s enumerations of sins corresponded with those of the Old Testament law.


During the time of the Apostles’ ministry, there were probably thousands of polygamists who chose to accept Christ. These were faithful people who had obeyed the laws of Moses and the Old Testament patriarchs and wanted to become Christians. If the Apostles were as foolish and as prejudiced as our modern ministers, they would be forced to tell the [245] polygamists that they must give their wives a “bill of divorcement’ and “put them away”. But how could they do that since the only reason that Christ gave for divorcement was for fornication and adultery? If the Gospel of Christ had forbidden these polygamists from entering the Church, then Christ and His Apostles would have mentioned some law, some rule–and would have proclaimed it many times. Nowhere in the ministry of the Apostles did they write anything forbidding polygamists from entering the Church, or from living plural marriage as Christians.


Consider the case of a man marrying the widow of his deceased brother. The Apostles never wrote a word to change this law. Would the Apostles tell them they could not be Christians because they were obeying one of God’s laws? If the Apostles changed that law, we have no record of it in the New Testament.


Peter said that wives should “be in subjection to your own husbands; * * * even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well.” (I Peter 3:1,6) For many centuries, women considered it a great honor to become the daughters of Abraham; but now they have become so righteous, that it would be a disgrace to be the daughter of such a polygamist. Peter explained how to avoid this distinction–simply by ceasing to “do well”, for that was the only way they could avoid being called the daughters of Abraham. If they reject the gospel, then they will have the distinction of not having the name of polygamist Abraham attached to them; nor will they need to worry about associating with him in heaven. To embrace the gospel that Peter advocated would be to embrace the principles [246] that Abraham lived. Only on this premise can anyone be adopted into the family of Abraham, upon whom God extended every conceivable blessing.


Peter had made many sacrifices for the gospel and so had most of the other disciples. At the time, these sacrifices may have appeared to be unredeemable. However, Peter wrote:


Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. (Mark 10:28-30)


To receive “now in this time” as much as a hundredfold of houses, wives, brothers and sisters, was intended to be a great promise and reward. He was at least attempting to present the possibility of such a reward being gained even in this life. But how could a man get a hundred fathers and mothers? It would be possible only if he should get a hundred wives; they would naturally be his parents by marriage. The brothers and sisters would follow along with the wives to become a new part of that man’s family. As for a hundredfold houses, they would be necessary to shelter the hundred wives and their children. lt is only on the principle of plural marriage that such a promise by the Savior could possibly be fulfilled.


[247] After the Church of Christ began to suffer from apostasy within and persecution from without–while the Apostles were still alive, the doctrines and principles of Christ began to fail. “The mystery of iniquity doth already work” (II Thes. 2:7), wrote Paul, and it wasn’t long before some of the pagan philosophies began to appear as doctrine in the Church.


In the 17th canon of the Catholic Church, it was stated that those who had both a wife and concubine would no longer be permitted to keep both. In the 70th canon of their church, all bishops, priests and deacons would no longer be allowed to have wives at all. But even though priests, monks, and cardinals and the Pope himself were forbidden to marry, a fragment of plural marriage continued. All the nuns were permitted to be married to Christ! They were completely dedicated to Jesus as “the brides of Christ”, and each wore a wedding ring to prove it! Thus, Christ is the husband of thousands of wives, to become the most celebrated polygamist of all!



[248]                             Chapter 24




For the Lord Is our Judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord Is our king; he will save us. (Isa. 33.22)


Since the time of Christ, perhaps nothing portrays the foolishness of man as vividly as his laws governing marriage. Numerous, inconsistent, and outright ridiculous marital laws have marred every era in history. Most of this legislation is bent toward superstition rather than practicality or divine law.


Upon close examination, it will be observed that man’s laws are always changing, but God’s laws remain constant. This often causes a clash between civil and Biblical law. But human legislators should have no more jurisdiction over marriage than they do over baptism or the Lord’s supper. Men might legislate laws contrary to the Ten Commandments if they wish, but that does not invalidate them, nor change God’s sanction of them. Who would suppose that courts and congresses could assume the power to legislate against God’s laws? Nevertheless, such tribunals have often enacted laws against God’s laws of marriage.


[249] Civil authority has no jurisdiction over the freedom of conscience. Men are accountable to the dictates of their own conscience in moral and religious matters, for this is God’s inalienable right to man. Men proclaim and subscribe to the separation of Church and State, which means a church has no right to make laws to govern the state. But, conversely, it also means that the state has no right to govern or dictate laws governing a church or religion.


Had the scriptures forbidden polygamy, all the human laws that could be enacted, could not make it lawful in the sight of God–for that would place men above God. On the other hand, if God has not forbidden plural marriage, then all the men on earth even if joined with the angels in heaven, cannot make it sinful.


Throughout history we have seen the flagrant abuse by both Church and State in their making and enforcing unreasonable and outlandish laws. Suppose Abraham, Jacob or Moses lived in our contemporary society. Many of the “Christian” nations have laws that would put them in jail! But the real burlesque of modern churches is that they would have these men excommunicated!


We live in a generation when men have enacted laws against plural marriage–but they rarely punish men or women for a dozen divorces, sexual seduction, spawning illegitimate children, aborting babies, or whoredom. What an irony–we do not punish what God condemns, but we punish what God has commanded! The prime example: by the hands of men, administering civil law, Christ was condemned and crucified.


[250] Since polygamy seems to have been a popular type of marriage in Biblical times, let us consider when monogamy was originally enforced as a law. Romulus, the founder of Rome, was the leader of a band of outlaws. After their ravaging and sacking the nearby communities, they hid in and among the hills of Rome. Eventually their numbers became so great that they wanted to become a community with wives. Since they had no women among them, they chose to catch the Sabine women, who came to the river to bathe and wash clothes. After their successful rustling, they decided to make a law against any man having too many wives while others had none at all. lt was called monogamy, and this is the first instance of any such law to enforce that system of marriage. But they also believed in divorce, and so it was not uncommon for Romans to have married a half-dozen women in a half-dozen years. This was tandem polygamy. Yet with all the power, size and dominion that the Roman Empire aspired to and attained, their marriage laws continued to be the same as they were with the little band of outlaws who first established them!


lt is said that “Julius Caesar attempted to have a law passed in favor of polygamy, but could not effect it”. The Romans were too much opposed to the practices of the Jewish and Christian people to be persuaded to adopt it.


The Roman Government was monogamous and therefore had an inescapable political pressure on the religion of the Christians. Christianity was not tolerated by Rome until Constantine, the Roman Emperor in the fourth century, decided that all Romans should become Christians. He issued a decree that all [251] Rome would be baptized Christians. Old, young, soldiers, criminals, etc., were all baptized, even though they were not converted. lt was a strange spectacle, but the Romans were not really made Christians; Christianity became Roman.


Monogamy was not the only form of heresy that had been either forced or infiltrated into the Christian religion. As early as the first century, the doctrine of celibacy began to make inroads into Christianity also.


Many gnostic teachers of the first century, such as Simon Magus, Menauder, and Cerinthus, who all studied at Alexandria, later became Christians. They brought with them many of the gnostic teachings which were infused into Christianity and then disseminated as Christian doctrine. Part of this heresy began in the first century, prevailing in the second century, and had permanently corrupted the church in the third and fourth centuries. Much of this gnostic idealism came from some of the Persian or Magian systems of faith. Some of the early gnostic Christians were Valentine, Montanus, Tertullian, and Origen. Saturninus in 115 A.D. was advocating that the moral law was ascetic and severe–that celibacy was more pure than marriage. Another was Bardesanes who wrote in 170 A.D. that disciples of Christ would be closer to God if they would “renounce wedlock, abstain from animal food, and live in solitude on the slightest and most meagre diet, and even to use water instead of wine in the Lord’s Supper”. (Keightley’s History of the Roman Empire, Part 2, Chap. 7) Montanus (175 A.D.) advocated that there should be no second marriages and chaste women should wear veils. His most distinguished disciple was [252] Tertullian, Bishop of Carthage, whose voluminous works have been held in the greatest esteem. Origen, whose learning and numerous writings also had this same gnostic influence, was so devoted to it that he made a eunuch of himself.


The first Platonic philosopher to join the Christians was Justin Martyr, who was beheaded in Rome in 155 A.D. His followers tried to harmonize the philosophy of Plato with gnostics through Christianity. This medium of faith was called the New Platonism. Those involved formed the ideology that those individuals who seek for a higher sanctity should mortify the flesh by avoiding marriage and all indulgences of the senses. From out of the confusing changes came the austere religious hermits, celibate priests, monks and nuns.


By 314 A.D. in the Council of Caesarea, it was decided that if a priest should marry after his ordination, he must be released from his office. This was written into their first canon of scripture. The seventh canon forbid a priest to even be present at the marriage of a bigamist.


In the fourth century a sect called the “Severians” were so pious they said, “woman was the work of Satan, and marriage is diabolical”. Their laws were all bent on celibacy, which in turn led to their own extinction.


But the doctrine of celibacy was not entirely stamped out. The “Valesians” believed that merely restraining themselves from women was not enough. They administered laws that required themselves to be castrated. They were convinced that none but eunuchs could be saved in the kingdom of heaven!


[253] These are the same people who have changed many of the doctrines and laws of God, such as:


Baptism–once submerged in a river, was transformed into a poring, dipping, or sprinkling, all attended with a long ceremony, rites and words, signs of the cross, exorcism, salt and sureties with godfathers and godmothers.


Sacrament–a simple supper of bread and wine, transformed into wafers, robes, liturgies, transsubstantiations of the actual blood and flesh of Christ, to be worshipped and eaten.


Marriage–simple order of matrimony became a spectacle not unlike a circus, with a host of traditional regulations and legal obligations.


Out of this acquisition of peculiar converts, came the new leaders. Their interpretation and understanding soon became law. Their decrees postulated the doctrine that polygamy was acceptable up to about 30 A.D., but after 33 A.D. it was a sin. The curious idea that something could be virtuous, holy and acceptable to God for 4,000 years and then suddenly become immoral, unholy and condemned by the Lord, was enough to make anyone question their doctrine as well as their leadership. Even though God said, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal 3:6), these new shepherds said He did.


All the Bible commentators say that the laws of God are unchangeable, perpetual and perfect, and they agree that the commandments of God to Moses were not changed by Jesus. Yet ministers of today, like the pagan philosophers of Rome, say that they were!


[254] Martin Luther mentioned the plausability of plural marriage in a sermon at Wittenburg in 1522. It was not a hasty statement or conclusion, but one that resulted from a great deal of study in the scriptures. Eighteen years after giving this sermon, he performed a plural marriage to Prince Philip of Hesse. It seems that Philip’s wife was either incapable or refused to bear him a son that would inherit his name and his throne. He appealed to Martin Luther for an answer to the problem, suggesting that since divorce was wrong perhaps taking a second wife was not. Luther and his colleagues wrote him a reply.


XXI. But after all, if your Highness is fully resolved to marry a second wife, we judge it ought to be done secretly, as we have said with respect to the dispensation demanded on the same account, that is, that none but the person you shall wed, and a few trusty persons, know of the matter, and they, too, obliged to secrecy under the seal of confession. Hence no contradiction nor scandal of moment need be apprehended; for it is no extraordinary thing for Princes to keep concubines; and though the vulgar should be scandalized thereat, the more intelligent would doubt of the truth, and prudent persons would approve of this moderate kind of life, preferable to adultery, and other brutal actions. There is no need of being much concerned for what men will say, provided all goes right with conscience. So far do we approve it, and in those circumstances only by us specified; for the Gospel hath neither recalled nor [255] forbid what was permitted in the law of Moses with respect to marriage. Jesus Christ has not changed the external economy, but added justice only, and life everlasting for reward. He teaches the true way of obeying God, and endeavors to repair the corruption of nature.

Your Highness hath therefore, in this writing, not only the approbation of us all, in case of necessity, concerning what you desire, but also the reflections we have made thereupon; we beseech you to weigh them, as becoming a virtuous, wise, and Christian Prince. We also beg of God to direct all for His glory and your Highness’s salvation.

May God preserve your Highness. We are most ready to serve your Highness given at Wittenberg the Wednesday after the feast of Saint Nicholas, 1539.

Your Highness’s most humble and most obedient subjects and servants,

Martin Luther,

Philip Melancthon,

Martin Bucer,

Antony Corvin,


John Levingue,

Justus Wintferte,

Dennis Melanther.

(From History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches, Vol. 1, by James Benign Bosuet)


All went well with the new marriage until Philip’s new mother-in-law decided that it was either [256] too wonderful or too terrible to be kept a secret. Pandemonium wasn’t the only thing to fall on Luther’s head, and he resolved that society wasn’t quite ready for these pearls from the Bible. He concluded that if anyone else wanted to be united in plural marriage, they would have better success in asking someone other than himself to perform the ceremony.


The founder of the Church of England was also a polygamist. This was King Henry VIII, who had been married for nearly 20 years to Catherine of Aragon. But then he fell deeply in love with Anne Boleyn. Finally in the year 1532 he was privately married to her, and like that of the German Prince, it was done in a secret ceremony. The Roman Church had instilled a fear to make people believe that polygamy was unchristian; so those who didn’t believe their doctrine were under the painful necessity of keeping their plural marriages secret.


But King Henry was always under the fear of having trouble with society and with the Church, so he sought for a divorce from his first wife. But the Church would not sanction it, whereupon the King pronounced himself the head of the Church in England. The Church of England now had for its founder a polygamist! It is evident that the majority of the people did not consider polygamy an issue because they acknowledged him as the head of their Church over the celibate Pope of Rome!


The 20-year marriage, which had resulting children, was dissolved by a divorce through an act of Parliament and was considered “null and void and of no effect.” But 20 years later by a similar act it was considered “accepted, to stand with God’s law, [257] valid and to all intents and purposes.” This royal king and priest had a total of eight marriages before his life concluded. In 1539 anyone who denied the law of transubstantiation (sacrament of Lord’s supper becoming the actual body of Christ) was a heretic, and the offender was to “be burned to death and to forfeit, as in cases of high treason”.


In the year 1547, it was all repealed and set aside. In 1553 Queen Mary came to the throne and all was revived again. Hundreds were burned alive. In 1562 this doctrine was abolished and said to be “unproveable by holy writ and repugnant to the plain words of scripture.”


God could not be of one mind during the reign of Henry, another at the time of Queen Mary, and then another with Elizabeth. Neither can God be so variable as to be one thing with Moses, another with Christ, and still otherwise with men after them. The word of God stands through time as always–the word of God! “God never meant His works for man to mend”, said Dryden.


Napoleon Bonaparte wanted children and especially an heir, but Josephine could have none. She was a virtuous noble woman, but the only alternative was to divorce her so that he could marry another. The reasons for the divorce were announced, but this was the turning point in his career. From this time on, his life became a disaster. As one author said,


One cannot, even now, after so long a time, contemplate the tears of Josephine [258] and the subsequent disasters of Napoleon, without cursing the narrow bigotry of monogamy, and wishing that the golden age of polygamy had returned before his day. (History and Philosophy of Marriage, Campbell, p. 193)


The history of the Jewish nation also reached a climactic point during these “Dark Ages”. Polygamy was once a law and considered as such, but today it is different. Some Jewish narrators are inclined to believe that “the polygamous marriages of some of the Patriarchs. . . need excuse and apology,” while others accept it as an ancient law and even practice polygamy today.


The famous scholar and historian, Flavius Josephus, has been named among the Jewish polygamists. It is not known how many wives he had, but the Jewish scholar, Dr. Irving H. Cohen, acknowledged that Josephus had “one wife in Palestine and another in Egypt”. (Jews of the Torah, Cohen, p. 66)


Justin Martyr asserted that during his time in the second century, the Jews were permitted to have four to five wives. The scholars of Jewish history acknowledge that–


Among the Judges, however, polygamy was practiced, as it was also among the rich and the nobility. (Jewish Encyclopedia 10:120)


Conflicts of the law were confusing. Jewish law reached the Middle Ages with polygamy permitted, but not much practiced. In the codification of the [259] Jewish Law, Maimonides (`Yud’ Ishut XIV) makes it lawful for man to contract many simultaneous marriages. However,


An express prohibition against polygamy was pronounced by R. Gershom b. Judah, (960-1028) which was soon accepted in all the communities of northern France and of Germany.

Some authorities suggested that R. Gershom’s decree was to be enforced for a time only, namely, up to 1240, probably believing that the Messiah would appear before that time….

The Jews of Spain practiced polygamy as late as the fourteenth century. The Spanish Jews, as well as their brethren in Italy and in the Orient, soon gave up these practices; and today, . . . but few cases of polygamy are found among them. (Jewish Encyclopedia, 10:121)


In 1843, Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, proclaimed the validity of the Bible and God’s sanction, of the doctrine of “having many wives and concubines.” He, too, was under the necessity of practicing polygamy in secrecy, because of the superstitious and prejudiced minds of his time. But by 1852 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepted that doctrine and publicly announced it nationwide.


As a rather humorous sidelight, the famous midget Tom Thumb went to visit Brigham Young, saying that he didn’t understand the principle of [260] polygamy. Brigham replied, “Well, Tom, when I was your size, I didn’t understand it either.” And not even too many Mormons understood it–only from 3% to 18% ever practiced polygamy at any one time during its 38-year history in the LDS Church.


However, some of the Mormons, including the widow of Joseph Smith, organized a church of their own in 1862 (The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) mostly because they did not believe or accept the doctrine of polygamy. Yet on April 14, 1972, they accepted a ruling that would permit polygamists to join their church!


Here is the unbelievable paradox of Mormonism: one church initially and vehemently rejected polygamy, but later accepted polygamists into their church; the other adopted polygamy as a tenet of their faith and members suffered persecution, prison and even death to defend it—then within a few years they rejected it and anyone who advocated or practiced it would be excommunicated!


Our Founding Fathers bequeathed to this nation a document establishing freedom–assuring its citizens the freedom of conscience, religion, and personal privacy against big government interference. Those patriots spilled their blood to preserve this Constitution, and inalienable rights became a sacred trust. However, wicked men soon got into office, swearing to defend that Constitution, but forming laws directly contradictory to it.


Why have the laws of God been changed? Because men have adopted their own superstitions and prejudices in preference to God’s inalienable rights [261] to man. For instance, here are some superstitions of our time that have changed the laws of God:


  1. Human law can supersede divine law. Man has made, and usually does make, laws which are contrary to those of God.


  1. Marriages are not binding unless civil authority approves. Customs, regulations and courts can overturn the moral code of laws which God has established.


  1. Women may be seduced and rejected without any legal recourse. Unless a state-approved ceremony is performed, there is little legal claim. If a child is conceived, a state-approved abortion may be performed with state tax money.


  1. Prostitution can be and often is legal. Licenses, medical checks, permits and income tax from prostitution are part of our tradition, and often countenanced (if not practiced) by civil authority.


  1. Polygamy was lived in the Old Testament but done away in the New Testament. This is part of the unscriptural traditions that have more validity than the Bible.


  1. Polygamy is a crime. Polygamy was lived by the most recognized men of God in the Bible, but it is outlawed by many civil legislators.


  1. Jesus was a bachelor. Most ministers believe that Jesus was too holy to be married, or else marriage was too unholy for Jesus. They suppose [262] that the law of increase was God-given for everyone and everything but Jesus was exempt from that law.


  1. Polygamy is a sin equal to adultery. Nowhere in the Bible can such a ridiculous absurdity be supported, but our modern preachers say so.


  1. Polygamy today cannot have religious sanction. Polygamists found in Catholic, Protestant or Mormon churches are quickly excommunicated. Abraham, Jacob, David, Moses, Joseph Smith and a host of other prophets would not find fellowship in the churches of today.


  1. The Gospel can change. Men have changed the Gospel and intend to change it more as they “progress” with civil regulations, customs and the voice of the people. God said His blessings are always predicated upon specific laws. Mankind intend to get the same blessings regardless of what laws they obey.


As a result of man’s superstitions and prejudices, let’s compare the laws of God to those of man:


  1. God said to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. (Gen. 1:7)


Man says we must control births; the earth has too many people on it now.


  1. God said that if a man should entice a maid and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. (Ex. 22:16)


Man may seduce a hundred girls as a sport, and he surely need not endow them as wives.



  1. When a man has had carnal knowledge of a woman, he may not put her away all his days. (Deut. 22:29)


Man says that he can put away as many wives as he marries– all legally if he can afford to pay the court.


  1. God says that when a woman is joined to a man, they shall be one body and one flesh. (Gen. 2:24; 1 Cor. 6:16)


Man says that only the civil courts have a legal right to make a man and woman united.


  1. God said that if a man have two wives, that he must treat them equally in his inheritances. (Deut. 21:15-17)


If a man have two wives, the second marriage is null and void. He surely shall not have two wives, nor equally support them.


  1. If a man and woman commit adultery, they shall be put to death. (Deut. 22:22)


Adultery is popular; house key exchanges are modern games. They shall not be put to death.


  1. God said there shall be no whores among the daughters of Israel (Deut. 23:17) The whore shall die. (Lev. 21:9)


Man says that prostitutes shall not die, but they shall be paid richly and given the finest clothes, cars, apartments, licenses, and shall be highly respected as a necessity to the community.


[264] In 1862 the United States passed an anti-bigamy law. It would disincorporate a church practicing polygamy and limit their amount of real estate to $50,000. Any value to exceed that would be forfeited to the United States Government. This act was to curb polygamists from owning property through “theocratic institutions inconsistent with our form of government”.


In March 1882 they passed the Edmunds Act, named for Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont. This provided for a fine not to exceed $300 and imprisonment not to exceed six months, or both, if found guilty of having a polygamous wife. It also declared any person living polygamy incompetent for jury service. Furthermore, it declared any person in polygamy ineligible for public office.


This act became so flagrant as to impose the interpretation that any person professing even a belief in polygamy as a religious principle, was considered ineligible to vote or hold public office. A “Commission” appointed by the Federal Government in Utah declared that in the first year after this bill was passed, 12,000 men and women were excluded from registration and voting. Anyone who would not deny the charge of polygamy was considered guilty.


On February 19, 1887, another amendment known as the Edmunds-Tucker Act was made a law, without the signature of President Cleveland. The Attorney General proceeded to confiscate both real and personal property of the Mormon Church. This act abolished territorial women sufferage, disinherited children born in plural marriage, prescribed a comprehensive “test oath” for polygamists to sign [265] or they would be unable to vote, hold office, or serve on juries. The act also required all marriages to be certified in the probate courts. The act eventually led to the confiscation of over one million dollars in property and cash from the Mormon Church. These and other interpretations against polygamy were upheld by the Supreme Court.


It is ironical that at the time these laws were being enacted against polygamists, prostitutes were swarming around Washington, D.C., like bees around a hive. Furthermore, many Congressmen were bestowing “gifts” upon these harlots while making such unconstitutional laws.


If God would have given a law against plurality of wives as He did against the plurality of husbands, then the matter would have been settled. He clearly stated that anyone with plural husbands should be stoned to death. But with plural wives, He honored the men, the wives, and the children, adding blessings and promises and continuing His communication with them. Thus the difference between the laws of God and those of men.


Any qualified lawyer who understands law will admit that there must be a review of the whole law to determine the meaning of any statute in the law. Thus, any sentence in the Bible having a doubtful or questionable meaning must be compared to all the law that has been given on that subject.


The Mosaic law is referred to over 200 times in the New Testament, and in not one instance was it criticized or considered obsolete or changed.


[266] If you take a watch or an engine with cogs, wheels, shafts and gears, and remove one part, it will throw the whole works into disorder. So it is with the laws established by Moses. This is why the Savior said that not one jot or tittle would be removed.


To judge a law properly, we can do as Jesus said and look at its fruits. Our complicated system of lawyercraft and civil madness that fills our courts with marriage and divorce legislation and litigation, could only be the propagation of Satan himself. But let’s briefly consider the fruits of both monogamy and polygamy.


The Fruits of Monogamy


Adultery and homosexuality are becoming commonplace. Prostitution thrives as one of the biggest industries of our society. Venereal disease has reached epidemic proportions. Depopulation and sterility are the natural results of prostitutes and their patrons. Sex and sensualism have entered the schools, pornographic magazines, movies, and they are creating a people described by Jeremiah: “They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.” (Jer. 5:8) Their illicit affairs have made a rich industry of contraceptives and medical sterility. Divorce and re-marriage are popular with many people, causing children (if they are allowed to be born) confusion as to who their parents are.


The Fruits of Polygamy


Polygamy is a written law of God and given by heavenly instruction. It is moral and has been [267] honored by God’s people for thousands of years. It gives a woman the chance to marry the man she wants. It provides a man with children if his first wife is barren. It stops prostitution. Men who can provide for a large family have the opportunity to do so. A woman may be one of several wives, yet she enjoys more freedom and more right to choose her kind of work or where to spend her time than a monogamous wife. The resulting children can play at home in a controlled atmosphere with their brothers and sisters, rather than having to choose their friends from among the “gentiles”.




With all of the legal confusion, pagan traditions and warped morality of our generation, it is no wonder that the devil and his imps are able to rule over modern Christianity. Our “civilized” society has produced a world filled with crime, whoredom, illegitimate children, and venereal diseases–bulging the walls of our prisons and insane asylums. We are suffering from broken homes, aborted children, atheism, divorce, and homosexuality!


The reasons are simple: we have invented laws and regulations opposed to those which God has given. The Prophet Daniel said that in the last days the devil would have power over men to “speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws ….” (Dan. 7:25) Jesus contended against the same evils by saying, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God!” (Luke 16:15) But the evils in Jesus’ day were [268] not as wicked as they are in our time. We have sophisticated crime; we have had state and federal laws to legalize iniquity and punish men for obeying God. We have gathered together the wickedness of all the corrupt ancient nations by incorporating (1) the immorality of Babylon, (2) the marriage laws of Rome, (3) the conniving money manipulations of the Pharisees, and (4) the atheistic educational systems of the pagans. Yet we have the audacity to boast of our advanced lawful and civilized society!



[269]                             Chapter 25




Nothing is more desirable in a large family than to have peace, union and cooperation among the members. To see love and happiness radiate in a family is one of the greatest blessings of mortal man. For the polygamist, this was his greatest desire, effort, and goal. To achieve this accomplishment, however, it required following certain rules of conduct and government in the family.


One polygamist wrote an outstanding set of family rules which could serve as a guideline for others. Therefore, an abridgement of these 27 rules comprises the remainder of this chapter.


Rule 1st. Let that man who intends to become a husband, seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and learn to govern himself, according to the law of God: for he that cannot govern himself cannot govern others; let him dedicate his property, his talents, his time, and even his life to the service of God, holding all things at His disposal, to do with the same, according as He shall direct through the counsel that He has ordained.


[270] Rule 2nd. Let him next seek for wisdom to direct him in the choice of his wives. Let him seek for those whose qualifications will render him and themselves happy. Let him look not wholly at the beauty of the countenance, or the splendor of the apparel, or the great fortune, or the artful smiles, or the affected modesty of females; for all these, without the genuine virtues, are like the dew-drops which glitter for a moment in the sun, and dazzle the eye, but soon vanish away. But let him look for kind and amiable dispositions; for unaffected modesty; for industrious habits; for sterling virtue; for honesty, integrity, and truthfulness; for cleanliness in persons, in apparel, in cooking, and in every kind of domestic labor; for cheerfulness, patience, and stability of character; and above all, for genuine religion to control and govern their every thought and deed. ***


Rule 3rd. When a man has obtained his wives, let him not suppose that they are already perfect in all things; for this cannot be expected in those who are young and inexperienced in . . . married life. They, as weaker vessels, are given to him as the stronger, to nourish, cherish, and protect; to be their head, their patriarch, and their saviour; to teach, instruct, counsel, and perfect them in all things relating to family government, and the welfare and happiness of themselves and their children. Therefore, let him realize the weighty responsibility now placed upon him, as the head of a family; and also let him study diligently the disposition of his wives, that he may know how to instruct them….


Rule 4th. Betray not the confidence of your wives. There are many ideas in an affectionate confiding wife which she would wish to communicate [271] to her husband, and yet she would be very unwilling to have them communicated to others. Keep each of your wives’ secrets from all the others, and from any one else, unless in cases where good will result by doing otherwise.


Rule 5th. Speak not of the faults of your wives to others; for in so doing, you speak against yourself. * * * This is calculated to weaken their confidence in you, and sow division in the family. Tell each one of her faults in private in a spirit of kindness and love, and she will most probably respect you for it, and endeavor to do better for the future. * * *


Rule 6th. Avoid anger and a fretful peevish disposition in your family. A hasty spirit, accompanied with harsh words, will most generally beget its own likeness, or, at least, it will eventually, sour the feelings of your wives and children, and greatly weaken their affections for you. * * * Do not find fault with every trifling error that you may see; for this will discourage your family, and they will begin to think that it is impossible to please you; and, after a while, become indifferent as to whether they please you or not. How unhappy and extremely wretched is that family where nothing pleases–where scolding has become almost as natural as breathing!


Rule 7th. Use impartiality in your family as far as circumstances will allow; and let your kindness and love abound towards them all. Use your own judgment, as the head of the family, in regard to your duties in relation to them, and be not swayed from that which is right, by your own feelings, nor by the feelings of others.


[272] Rule 8th. Suffer not your judgment to be biased against any one of your wives, by the accusations of the others, unless you have good grounds to believe that those accusations are just. Decide not hastily upon partial evidence, but weigh well all things, that your mind may not become unjustly prejudiced. When one of your wives complains of the imperfections of the others, and endeavors to set your mind against them, teach her that all have imperfections and of the necessity of bearing one with another in patience, and of praying one for another.


Rule 9th. Call your wives and children together frequently, and instruct them in their duties towards God, towards yourself, and towards one another. Pray with them and for them often; and teach them to pray much, that the Holy Spirit may dwell in their midst, without which it is impossible to maintain that union, love, and oneness which are so necessary to happiness and salvation.


Rule 10th. Remember, that notwithstanding written rules will be of service in teaching you your duties, as the head of a family, yet without the Holy Ghost to teach and instruct you, it is impossible for you to govern a family in righteousness; therefore, seek after the Holy Ghost and He shall teach you all things, and sanctify you and your family, and make you one, that you may be perfected in Him and He in you, and eventually be exalted on high to dwell with God, where your joy will be full forever.


Rule 11th. Let no woman unite herself in marriage with any man, unless she has fully resolved to submit herself wholly to his counsel, and to let him govern as the head. It is far better for her not [273] to be united with him in the sacred bonds of eternal union, than to rebel against the divine order of family government, instituted for a higher salvation; for if she, altogether turn therefrom, she will receive a greater condemnation.


Rule 12th. Never seek to prejudice the mind of your husband against any of his other wives, for the purpose of exalting yourself in his estimation, lest the evil which you unjustly try to bring upon them, fall with double weight upon your own head. Strive to rise in favor and influence with your husband by your own merits, and not by magnifying the faults of others.


Rule 13th. Seek to be a peacemaker in the family with whom you are associated. If you see the least appearance of division arising, use your utmost efforts to restore union and soothe the feelings of all. Soft and gentle words, spoken in season, will allay contention and strife; while a hasty spirit and harsh language add fuel to the fire already kindled which will rage with increasing violence.


Rule 14th. Speak not evil of your husband unto any of the rest of the family for the purpose of prejudicing their minds against him; for if he be informed thereof, it will injure you in his estimation. Neither speak evil of any members of the family; for this will destroy their confidence in you. ***


Rule 15th. If you see any of your husband’s wives sick or in trouble, use every effort to relieve them, and to administer kindness and consolations, remembering that you, yourself, under the same circumstances, would be thankful for their assistance. [274] Endeavor to share each others’ burdens, according to the health, ability, and strength which God has given you. Do not be afraid that you will do more than your share of the domestic labor, or that you will be more kind to them than they are to you.


Rule 16th. Let each mother correct her own children, and see that they do not dispute and quarrel with each other, nor with any others; let her not correct the children of the others without liberty to do so, lest it give offence. The husband should see that each mother maintains a wise and proper discipline over her children, especially in their younger years: and it is his duty to see that all of his children are obedient to himself and to their respective mothers. * * *


Rule 17th. lt is the duty of parents to instruct their children, according to their capacities in every principle of the gospel…. Suffer no wickedness to have place among them, but teach them the right way, and see that they walk therein. And let the husband, and his wives, and all of his children that have come to the years of understanding, often bow before the Lord around the family altar, and pray vocally and unitedly for whatever blessings they stand in need of, remembering that where there are union and peace, there will also be faith, and hope, and the love of God, and every good work, and a multiplicity of blessings, imparting health and comfort to the body, and joy and life to the soul.


Rule 18th. Let each mother commence with her children when young, not only to teach and instruct them, but to chasten and bring them into the most perfect subjection; for then is the time that they are [275] the most easily conquered, and their tender minds are the most susceptible of influences and government. * * * She is more directly responsible than the father; for it cannot be expected that the father can always find time, apart from the laborious duties required of him, to correct and manage his little children who are at home with their mothers. * * * Some mothers, though not careless, and though they feel the greatest anxiety for the welfare of their children, yet, through a mistaken notion of love for them forbear to punish them when they need punishment. * * * The stubbornness of the children, for the most part, is the effect of the mother’s indulgence, arising from her mistaken idea of love. By that which she calls love, she ruins her children. * * * Therefore, we repeat again, let mothers begin to discipline their children when young.


Rule 19th. Do not correct children in anger; an angry parent is not as well prepared to judge of the amount of punishment which should be inflicted upon a child, as one that is more cool and exercised with reflection, reason, and judgment. Let your children see that you punish them, not to gratify an angry disposition, but to reform them for their good, and it will have a salutary influence; they will not look upon you as a tyrant, swayed to and fro by turbulent and furious passions; but they will regard you as one that seeks their welfare, and that you only chasten them because you love them, and wish them to do well. Be deliberate and calm in your counsels and reproofs, but at the same time use earnestness and decision. Let your children know that your words must be respected and obeyed.


Rule 20th. Never deceive your children by threatenings or promises. Be careful not to threaten [276] them with a punishment which you have no intention of inflicting; for this will cause them to lose confidence in your word; besides, it will cause them to contract the habit of lying: when they perceive that their parents do not fulfil their threatenings or promises, they will consider that there is no harm in forfeiting their word. * * * Be careful to fulfil your word in all things in righteousness, and your children will not only learn to be truthful from your example, but they will fear to disobey your word, knowing that you never fail to punish or reward according to your threatenings and promises. * * *


Rule 21st. Do not be so stern and rigid in your family government as to render yourself an object of fear and dread. * * * Justice should be tempered with mercy, and love should be the great moving principle, interweaving itself in all your family administrations. When justice alone sits upon the throne, your children approach you with dread, or peradventure hide themselves from your presence and long for your absence. * * * Be familiar with your children that they may delight themselves in your society, and look upon you as a kind and tender parent whom they delight to obey. * * * If you have been tyrants, they may be influenced to pattern after your example. If you are fretful and continually scolding, they will be very apt to be scolds, too. If you are loving, kind, and merciful, these benign influences will be very certain to infuse themselves into their order of family government.


Rule 22nd. Let each mother teach her children to honor and love their father, and to respect his teachings and counsels. * * *


[277] Rule 23rd. Suffer not children of different mothers to be haughty and abusive to each other; for they are own brothers and sisters the same as the children of the patriarch Jacob; and one has no claim above another only as his conduct merits it. * * * Always speak well of each of your husband’s wives in the presence of your children; for children generally form their judgment concerning others, by the sayings of their parents…. Examples will sometimes reform, when precepts fail.


Rule 24th. Be industrious in your habits; this is important as fulfilling the law of God; it is also important for those who are in low circumstances, that they may acquire food, and raiment, and the necessary comforts of life; it is also important for the rich as well as the poor, that they may be able more abundantly to supply the wants of the needy, and be in circumstances to help the unfortunate and administer to the sick and afflicted; for in this way, it is possible even for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven. ***


Rule 25th. When your children are from three to five years of age, send them to school, and keep them there year after year until they receive a thorough education in all the rudiments of useful science, and in their manners, and morals. * * * Let mothers educate their daughters in all kinds of domestic labor; teach them to wash and iron, to bake and do all kinds of cooking, to knit and sew. . . and to do all other things that will qualify them to be good and efficient housewives. Let fathers educate their sons in whatever branch or branches of business they intend them respectively to follow. Despise that false delicacy which is exhibited by the sons and [278] daughters of the rich, who consider it a dishonor to labor at the common avocations of life. * * * They would let their poor old father and mother slave themselves to death, to support them in their idleness, or at some useless fanciful employment. The daughter will sit down in the parlour at her painting or music, arrayed in silks and fineries, and let her mother wash and cook until, through fatigue, she is ready to fall into her grave…. But such daughters are not worthy of husbands, and should not be admitted into any respectable society; they are contemptible drones, that would be a curse to any husband who should be so unfortunate as to be connected with such nuisances. * * * Embellishments only render such characters a hundred fold more odious and disgustful than they would otherwise appear.


Rule 26th. Use economy and avoid wastefulness. How discouraging it would be to a husband who has a large family, depending mostly upon his labor for a support, to see his wives and children carelessly, thoughtlessly, and unnecessarily, waste his hard earnings. Let not one wife, for fear that she shall not obtain her share of the income, destroy, give away, and otherwise foolishly dispose of what is given to her, thinking that her husband will furnish her with more. Those who economize and wisely use that which is given to them, should be counted worthy to receive more abundantly than those who pursue a contrary course. Each wife should feel interested in saving and preserving that with which the Lord has entrusted her, and should rejoice, not only in her prosperity, but in the prosperity of all the others; her eyes should not be full of greediness to grasp every thing herself, but she should feel [279] equally interested in the welfare of the whole family. By pursuing this course she will be beloved; by taking a contrary course, she will be considered selfish and little minded.


Rule 27th. Let husbands, wives, sons, and daughters, continually realize that their relationships do not end with this short life, but will continue in eternity without end. Every qualification and disposition, therefore, which will render them happy here, should be nourished, cherished, enlarged, and perfected, that their union may be indissoluble, and their happiness secured both for this world and for that which is to come.


(Taken from The Seer, by Orson Pratt, Vol 1, pp. 174-187, Washington, D.C., November 1853)



[280]                             Chapter 26




. . . it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)


Polygamy began in Genesis of the Bible and it has been going on ever since. In spite of 486 translations, the Bible still tells the same story: God’s choicest people lived plural marriage. Many try to separate the laws of the Old Testament from the New; but if that could be done, then Christ came to destroy the law even if He said He didn’t. But when men revoke or change the law of God, they consequently change and revoke the blessings. No wonder monogamists have never received the choice blessings given to the polygamists!


The Bible is not only a good yardstick by which to measure the laws and doctrines of salvation, but it must be used to free men’s minds from the shackles of priestcraft, bigotry and superstition. Prejudiced popes and over-righteous reverends have slammed and slurred polygamy until they have almost obliterated it. In their “holy war” against God’s laws, they have acted the part of the devil’s disciples. But the cry of “delusion” and then proving it are two different things. Neither ministers nor mobs have ever presented an intelligent opposition to polygamy; so their fight is all fluff and froth.


[281] The greatest missionary effort of today consists of ridding our minds of the dross that has been flowing out of the pens and pulpits of these mischief makers for the past 2000 years. Little wonder that Jesus told them, “Ye teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:7), and “thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Mat. 15:6). But these manmade deceptions have always entered into the realms of religion. About 2500 years ago, Jeremiah the Prophet explained that “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so” (Jer. 5:31). So times haven’t changed!


It is almost inconceivable that God would reveal so much information to his true prophets speaking to them personally, in visions, in dreams, through the Urim and Thummim, and by angels–and yet forget to mention that plural marriage was wrong! How could all these polygamist prophets be so right about the laws of God and yet be so ignorant about polygamy if it were a sin?


It is very evident that the devil always makes war against things coming from God. Lucifer’s propaganda and proclamations are often dispensed through those who wear the robes and frocks of ecclesiastics; or in publications from the finest presses; or they are heard in the howls of mobs or in the tirades of political aspirants. They have all had their day of defiance against polygamy.


Neither the laws of God nor nature are affected by man. Human agencies, or pulpit-pounders, have no control over when the tide will rise or when the sun [282] will set. Neither can they affect any other mandate of God. The Lord’s laws of marriage will also continue to exist, with or without the sanction of mortal man.


Man cannot legislate on sin anymore than he can forgive sin. The Lord dispenses perpetual laws and man has no power to put them asunder. Any rivalry with God is perilous. Human agencies and individuals have regulated monogamy and opposed polygamy; and what is the result? These same men may live with half a dozen women in their legal and consecutive divorce system–which God has condemned. Or they may participate in extra-marital relationships or prostitution, which man has made legal, but God has condemned. The result is a people corrupted by their own law system.


Unconsciously we have become moored to the pagan philosophies of Rome, Greece and the Babylonians. Polygamy is being called a “Relic of Barbarism”, but it was a relic that God’s prophets had chosen for their family lifestyle. The Bible forbid prostitution but permitted polygamy; our society forbids polygamy and permits prostitution!


Take monogamy as it is today, in Protestant countries, and we see that the old Roman leaven is still in it. Christianity has not reformed and purified that system so much as it has corrupted Christianity. Most of us in these countries are accustomed to congratulate ourselves upon our happy escape from the bondage and the bigotry of the Papal Church. But we are mistaken. We have not escaped. Rome binds [283] us in stronger shackles than the iron chains of the Holy inquisition. Her shackles are upon our consciences: they are intertwined with every fibre of our social life. (History and Philosophy of Marriage, Rev. James Campbell, p. 144)


Both old Rome under the heathens, and modern Rome under a desecrated Christianity have enjoyed the fruits of their decadent marriage system. Their apostate doctrine and influence have spread into every nation where Christianity predominates.


Let’s consider the problem facing 1,000 contending divisions of Christianity and which is illustrated in the following example: A polygamist living in the Orient, or the Far East, or even in the United States, is confronted by a “Christian” missionary, who wants the man to join his church. But the missionary said he cannot be a Christian and continue to be a polygamist. But the polygamist contends that he married all of his wives under the same conditions; they all bore him children; they all love him; and he loves all of them. The modern minister is confronted with the following problems:


  1. Since the Old Testament says polygamy has God’s approval and the New Testament does not disapprove of it, how can it be justly condemned?


  1. Where in the New Testament does it say that a polygamist, his wives or his children cannot be baptized?


  1. If he should baptize them, are they not Christians as much as anyone else?



  1. If only the monogamists’ children are allowed to be baptized, where is it so written?


  1. Since both the Old and New Testaments forbid any man to “put away” his wife, where is the law that would allow him to do it?


  1. Can a minister tell anyone to lawfully divorce his wives?


  1. Since all this man’s wives were married under the same conditions, what scripture tells him which ones are to be divorced?


  1. If the polygamist divorces his wives, where does it say they can marry again?


  1. Where in the teachings of Christ does it say that men must honor all the laws and the prophets who lived polygamy for 4,000 years, but must condemn anyone who lives those laws today?


  1. Where in the Bible does it permit a man to destroy his family, destroy his love for his wives destroy the wives’ love for him, and destroy the love of their children–just so he could join a church that says it is right to do so?


The real truth is simple. A true Christian is taught and is willing to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”. He also knows that God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” and that in His teachings there “is no variableness neither shadow of turning”. His laws and commandments have included plural marriage. A true Christian knows that God has always honored the polygamists [285] and their children more than He ever did the monogamists, and that such a man is entitled to the blessings of Abraham. He also knows that the ancient patriarchs were never told to obey the law of monogamy; that Moses never issued such a law; and that Jesus never made up such a law. History shows that monogamy became a law with a band of outlaws hiding in the hills of Rome; thus it could not have been a mandate from heaven.


Any church claiming to be a true Christian church must accept polygamy. Otherwise, how would it be possible to honor all of the prophet-polygamists of the Bible, and still honor a minister who condemns their lifestyle?


All the evidence in the Bible proves that polygamy was not a sin, that God encouraged it, that He gave laws on how it should be lived, and then gave promises and blessings to those who lived it. Yet our modern Christians won’t believe it! Thus, it proves that any man, or any church, that condemns the law and practice of polygamy is not of God!


We read in the Bible that all men will be judged according to their works (Rev. 20:12); therefore, men and women will have different degrees of glory. Paul explained that “one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (I Cor. 15:41-42) Thus there are “many mansions” in the Kingdom of Heaven (See John 14:2).


But where does that put the polygamists? John, the beloved apostle, had a vision and beheld the great throne of God in heaven and the holy city where He dwells. But on the gates of that great city [286] were the “names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel….” (Rev. 21:12) What!! God puts the names of polygamist children on the gates to heaven? The more we read the Bible, the more we are convinced that God honors the polygamists. Even Jesus is suspected of this, as He said:


There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. (Luke 13:28)


But there are so many pious Christians today that are disgraced to associate with polygamists here in mortality; so they will surely be offended to associate with them in heaven. What a shocking experience it would be for the “modest” and “temperate” ladies of today to greet polygamists in the Kingdom of Heaven! Oh dear, how they will scorn such a situation. They will probably be eager to leave, without even waiting to be “thrust out”. It is certain that our over-righteous reverends will do so.


Jesus charged the chief priests and elders with sin because they would not admit to things which they knew to be true. He then told them that “the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Mat. 21:31) The chief priests, elders and ministers of today are guilty of the same sins. They refuse to admit or accept those things which have come from God–such as the law of plural marriage.


[287] To clarify His position, Jesus said: “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39). The work that Abraham did was to live righteously with several wives for about 19 years! When Jesus held up Abraham as a model saint, He didn’t say to do all the works of Abraham except for his polygamy. Thus, all who want to enjoy the association of Abraham must honor his lifestyle; otherwise, they will not enjoy his society in heaven. Jesus said so.


The ancients almost venerated children. Luther said that “the fruit of the womb was valued so highly among them and was such a precious thing that people regarded physical virginity or honor as very little in comparison”. (Luther’s Works, 46:291) But this is not the case with us. Children are often the product of accidents–if they are allowed to be born at all.


Our streets are swarming with prostitutes, mothers are butchering their offspring, virgin children are being seduced, adultery is commonplace, and divorce is nearly as frequent as marriage.


It is a day of prophetic fulfillment–a day when we are taught to believe these things are sinful that God has commanded; and the things which are lawful are the things God has forbidden. Surely we have degenerated into an era of paganism.


Divorce was once considered very serious; but today it is popular and marriage is considered unnecessary. “Test Marriages” called pare-marriage relationships are customary, and 70% to 75% of college-age youths are already living together.


[288] Picture of a couple getting a marriage license and the person at the counter saying:


“Do you, John, take Mary, in this test marriage, to love, honor, and cherish until one of you decided to split?”


Polygamy is not a trial and error system of marriage. It is a law given to a righteous people for the purpose of raising an honorable family. God said of Abraham: “I know him, that he will commend his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment….” (Gen. 18:19) David said that “children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalms 127:3) We have reversed that ideology. Children now are accidents, or orphaned or aborted. But most frequently they are prevented by contraceptives or sexual surgery. It was [289] Rachel who bewailed, “Oh give me children, or else I die”; but women today are saying, “Give us laws and government aid so we can make our children die.” Polygamy is not meant for those people.


Blessings which are intended for the righteous are not to be enjoyed by the wicked. To do so would bring temporal and spiritual cursings. Hence, that which will bring a blessing to the righteous will bring a cursing upon the wicked. The ark of God brought blessings to the Israelites while it was in their hands, but when it was taken by the Philistines, who had no business with it, it brought cursings, plagues, and death. Conversely, when the righteous attempt to live by the practices of the heathen, they, too, will become cursed.


A wicked man can have but little love for his wife. But, a righteous man, being filled with the love of God, is sure to express that heavenly attribute in his thoughts and his character. This will draw respect and confidence from his wives and children. But, who are these righteous people? Israel, Israel–always Israel! The Bible is a book about Israelites. It is a book for the Israelites. God chose a special people on whom He would bestow his choicest blessings. They were to be a “kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Ex. 19:6), who would be called Israel. But who are the Israelites? They came from the 12 sons of Jacob, the polygamist, and eventually became scattered throughout the nations. The Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. The Jews are descendants of one of Jacob’s 12 sons called Judah. It was prophesied that in the latter days these Israelites would again be gathered together.


[290] To Israel were given the Ark of the Covenant, the Urim and Thummim, the oracles of revelation, the rights of the Priesthood, visions, dreams, the ministering of angels and the blessings of victory over all their enemies against untold odds. To this were added the blessing of numerous posterity and other incomprehensible blessings of heaven. But what has happened that these things are not apparent today?


Paul the Apostle foresaw the future and what would happen to the Gospel of Christ. He was saddened to realize that there would “come a falling away” (II Thes. 2:3). When he wrote to Timothy, the reality of it had already come and he said, “all they which are in Asia be turned away” (II Tim. 1:15). Then he marveled that those in Galatia were “so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” and also that “there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-7).


But with the sadness of this general apostasy, he understood that “the times of refreshing shall come”, which was to be “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). It would be brought about “that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Eph. 1:10)


But this was only a part of ancient prophecy concerning the latter days.


[291] All of the prophets testify that in these last days, war shall come upon all nations as it never has before. Jesus also testified that “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” (Mat. 24:7) Isaiah the prophet said that “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war” (Isa. 3:25). So many men will fall by the sword that:


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)


Although a similar situation had occurred before in Israel, this was to take place when nations shall not lift up their swords again for a thousand years, “neither shall they learn war anymore”. It is for those few men that are left that the Lord said, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold”. But those men are polygamists with seven wives! Can you imagine that the Lord will introduce his thousand year reign on the earth with a bunch of polygamists? The Lord manifests His approval of this condition according to Isaiah, who said, “The Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night….” (Isa. 4:5) These are the dwelling places where polygamist men are living with seven women!


Right after his mention of seven women taking hold of one man, Isaiah said:



In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy…. (Isa. 4:2-3)


He said that the “Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion,” by turning them over to polygamist living! And then shall the “branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious”!!


God loves His children and He does everything He can for their happiness. In perfect wisdom and in a just, kind and benevolent manner, he brings about conditions and gives commandments which are for their best good. There is no evil or mischief in His laws. They are given for the best possible reasons and to enable the receiving of the best possible blessings.


But we have become an ungrateful people. We, who have a Bible in our hands, fail to appreciate what its history has taught us. We refute its doctrines and do not acknowledge its laws. It has ever been so. Out of ten men who were healed of leprosy, only one gave thanks to Jesus and praise to God. (See Luke 17:11-19) So it is with our present generation. We are totally indebted to the polygamists and their descendants. To Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and their descendants, we are indebted for conveying a knowledge of the true God. We are indebted to those polygamists for the Bible itself. And, how much more should we feel indebted to them for Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, [293] who came through that strain of prophets, priests and kings who lived polygamy!


It is with the greatest honor we pay tribute to those comparatively faithful few, who, in the face of prison, expulsion, excommunication, and even death itself, have maintained their integrity by defending the laws of God. Indeed they are the salt of the earth, and their lives and their doctrines shall stand as a witness to the unalterable truths of God throughout the eternities.