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Did Abraham, David and Solomon think having many wives and concubines was sin?

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Related: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/128/… –  Flimzy Oct 20 '11 at 1:36
Just an update: I would love more answers on this, but I'll pick an answer by the end of this week if there's no more answers/updates. –  stringo0 Oct 24 '11 at 3:38
There's no rule that says you need to ever pick an answer if you aren't satisfied that one answers your question fully. I'd say it's better not to choose a half-right answer just for the sake of selecting one. You can also offer a bounty... –  Flimzy Oct 24 '11 at 6:32
Thanks @Flimzy. –  stringo0 Oct 24 '11 at 15:02
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2 Answers


Having multiple wives was not a sin back then, as it is not a sin now (outside if it being illegal).


At the time of Abraham, David, Solomon, and Jesus, polygamy was part of the culture.

Even in Jesus' times, polygamy was allowed and part of the customs of the Israeli people. The historian Josephus noted that Herod was allowed to have multiple wives, because it was the custom in Israel at that time.

Furthermore, it was allowed per the Bible. When God gave the commands to Moses, he gave special instructions for the situations of multiple wives:

Deuteronomy 21:15-17
15 If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, 16 when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love. 17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.

Had God detested polygamy, there would have been a command against polygamy. By comparison, God said that Kings shouldn't take too many wives so that his heart isn't lead astray, which is a further command showing that polygamy was allowed.

Side Note
That laws preventing polygamy began with the pagan traditions of the Roman Empire. It wasn't until 300 years after Christ that Christianity united itself with the Roman traditions. It was then that polygamy became outlawed.


Historical and biblical evidence shows that polygamy was common practice and acceptable in the site of God and the people during the time of Abraham, David, and Solomon. Their polygamy was not a sin, just as it is not now..

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Extremely distilled version of my answer here –  Richard Oct 20 '11 at 20:43
Thanks! What about concubines - it seemed to be normal in the culture, but what's God view of them having concubines - was this acceptable in God's sight from what we know? (I'm guessing it might be similar to slavery) –  stringo0 Oct 20 '11 at 23:34
@stringo0 That's a tough call. They would probably be the same as slaves, I'm guessing, too. I haven't researched concubinage in any detail at all, so I couldn't say. –  Richard Oct 21 '11 at 1:51
Thanks for the honesty - it is definitely a tough topic. –  stringo0 Oct 24 '11 at 3:15
I think it's also important to note that God wanted husbands and wives to love each other, and its hard enough to love one wife without wronging them in some way, let alone trying to split the love evenly between two or more wives. –  user2956947 Mar 16 at 17:39
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There were specific instructions for the king of Israel to not acquire many wives for himself, since that could have the effect of turning his heart away from the Lord. This text predates the first king of Israel, so I would say that David and Solomon should have known that this was forbidden.

(Note: the Bible did not actually forbid them from polygamy, but from having a whole bunch of wives.)

"When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,' you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never return that way again.' And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17:14-17 ESV

As for Abraham specifically, aside from the affair with Hagar, he stayed married to one wife (Sarah) until she passed, after which he married Keturah and had children with her.

The Bible does not explicitly state that polygamy was forbidden, yet it would have been instructive to note that God created Adam and Eve--not Adam and Eve and Shirley and Tina and...

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What I'm saying is the idea of not acquiring "many wives". Solomon didn't have 2. Head hundreds... and some porcupines as well (or something like that). I stated that polygamy was not explicitly forbidden, but having "many wives" like Solomon did was certainly forbidden. I guess that wasn't clear. –  Narnian Oct 20 '11 at 21:37
Aah, ok. The edit makes a lot more sense. –  Richard Oct 20 '11 at 21:40
Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I guess I knew what I meant, but didn't express it clearly. Although if I had come back a month from now, I may have said what the one commentator did... "When I wrote that, there were two people who knew what that meant--me and God... now... only God knows!" –  Narnian Oct 20 '11 at 21:43
Thanks! What about concubines - it seemed to be normal in the culture, but what's God view of them having concubines - was this acceptable in God's sight from what we know? (I'm guessing it might be similar to slavery) (Note: I asked the same for @Richard's answer as well) –  stringo0 Oct 21 '11 at 0:00
But, still, your answer is essentially, "No, it wasn't a sin"? –  Richard Oct 21 '11 at 1:50
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