How many Wives can a Man have?

Marriage one man and one woman:

The clearest evidence that monogamy (the practice of marrying or state of being married to one person at a time) is Yahweh’s ideal and teaching is from Yahshua’s teaching on marriage in Matthew 19:3–6. He cited the Genesis creation account, in particular Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, saying “the two will become one flesh”, not more than two!!!

Another important biblical teaching is the parallel of husband and wife with Yahshua and the Church in Ephesians 5:22–33, which makes sense only with monogamy – Yahshua will not have multiple or many brides!!!

The 10th Commandment “You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife [is singular, NOT plural] … ” (Exodus 20:17) also presupposes the ideal that there is only one wife. Polygamy (the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time) is expressly forbidden for church elders (1 Timothy 3:2). And this is not just for elders, because Paul also wrote: “each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Paul goes on to explain marital responsibilities in terms that make sense only with one husband to one wife.

The example of Yahweh people is also important. Isaac and Rebekah were monogamous – they are often used as a model in Jewish weddings today. Other examples were Joseph and Asenath, and Moses and Zipporah. And the only survivors of the Flood were four monogamous couples.

Polygamy’s origins and consequences:

It is very important to remember that not everything recorded in the Bible is approved in the Bible or approved by Yahweh. Consider where polygamy originated – first in the line of the murderer Cain, not the line of Seth. The first recorded polygamist was the murderer Lamech (Genesis 4:23–24). Then Esau, who despised his birthright, also caused much grief to his parents by marrying two pagan wives (Genesis 26:34).

Skeptics often try to discredit this teaching by pointing to examples of multiple wives in the Bible. But what does the Bible really teach?

Yahweh forbade the kings of Israel to have “many wives” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Look at the trouble when Israel’s kings disobeyed, including deadly sibling rivalry between David’s sons from his different wives (2 Samuel 13, 1 Kings 2); and Solomon’s hundreds of wives helped lead Solomon to idolatry (1 Kings 11:1–3).

What about men in the Scripture who were polygamous and had more than one wife?

Abraham and Sarah would have been monogamous apart from a low point in their faith when Hagar became a second wife – note how much strife this caused later with Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants to this day (Genesis 16, 21). Jacob wanted only Rachel, but was tricked into marrying her older sister Leah, and later he took their slave girls at the sisters’ urging, due to the rivalry between the sisters. Jacob was hardly at a spiritual high point at those times, and neither was David when he added Abigail and Ahinoam (1 Samuel 25:42–43). Also, Hannah, Samuel’s mother, was humiliated by her husband Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah because of Hannah’s previous barrenness (1 Samuel 1:1–7). And note carefully, NOWHERE in Scripture does it ever say Yahweh approved of these polygamous marriages!

Why do some people claim Yahweh allowed it?

Yahweh’s allowing of polygamy seems more like the case of divorce, which Yahweh tolerated for a while under certain conditions because of the hardness of their hearts. Remember, Yahweh is also allowing sin to continue in the world, but does that mean Yahweh approves of sin, the answer is NO!!!  It was never the way it was intended from the beginning (Matthew 19:8).

Whenever the Mosaic law had provisions for polygamy, it was always the conditional: “If he takes another wife to himself … ” (Exodus 21:10), never an encouragement or approval!

Yahweh put a number of obligations on the husband towards the additional wives, which would discourage polygamy. In view of the problems it causes, it is no wonder that polygamy was unknown among the Jews after the Babylonian exile, and monogamy was the rule even among the Greeks and Romans by New Testament times.

There are many people who frequently claim that marriage between one man and one woman is not the only type of marriage deemed acceptable by the Bible’s authors.  These people take Scripture out of context, and these people who promote multiple wives marriages are not doing so with the approval of Father Yahweh, they only seek to satisfy their own evil desires! They will discard this article and only want to justify and excuse their evil desires for many wives.  Any truth seeker will remind themselves that when Yahweh created Adam in the beginning, he only created one woman, not many women for Adam.  And also, Yahshua has ONE BRIDE, not many brides!  Even those two examples are enough to expose this lie and deception that Yahweh approves multiple wives to a single man!

Shalom,

Yeremyah

(Written with the help of Jonathan Sarfati’s article on marriage.)