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12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel."
David then repented and ultimately he put away all of his wives and concubines. He took physical care of them but he no longer had sex with any of them. It is believed that his first wife had died and only Bathsheba was left and they bore another son named Solomon. It is obvious throughout the text that David understood that his various marriages and sexual relationships with women were detestable in the eyes of God.
The punishment for polygamy exacted by God can also be seen in the life of Solomon. Solomon's heart was led astray because not only did he have multiple wives, but he took wives who worshipped other gods after he and the Israelites in general had be warned against intermarriage.
They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 4 as Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been." 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.
His disobedience to gods commands concerning intermarriages and polygamy turned him astray, just as God had warned in Deuteronomy 17 when he explained that having multiple wives would turn the hearts of the Kings of Israel. The passage above it is clear that he became enthralled with the gods that his wives worshipped and as such his heart was not totally devoted to the God of Israel who had ordained him and gave him wisdom and wealth. As a result of his disobedience many of the things God intended for Solomon did not come to pass because Solomon ignored the commands of God.
This school of thought also asserts that some of the men who are often cited as being polygamous were not polygamous but did commit adultery. These men include Abraham and Isaac. For instance in the case of Abraham, he never had another wife while Sarah was still alive. Following her death he was free to marry again. Although Abraham did commit adultery and bore a son with Hagar, Hagar was never referred to in the bible as his wife. Hagar was brought to Abraham by Sarah because Sarah could not have children. Abraham did indeed sin because he had sex with a woman that was not his wife, but he was never a polygamist. This is the belief that many hold concerning the actions of Abraham as it pertained to Hagar. However, others contend that Abraham was indeed a polygamist. However those who believe he was polygamist often defend his actions stating "Abraham's polygamy was moved not by lust but sheerly by desire for offspring, and also the contrast commonly drawn between Abraham's union with Sarah and his mere use of the concubine, Hagar." However, whether or not Abraham practiced polygamy or adultery, God had established laws against both.
So then it has been recognized that God did indeed establish a law against polygamy amongst the King's of Israel, so why then did Saul, David and Solomon all practice polygamy. The answer to this question is quite simple: they were operating in disobedience. In addition, God has given every man free will. That is God establishes commandments and laws but because human-beings have freewill we can choose whether or not to obey these commandments and laws.
Additionally, it is obvious throughout the Old Testament that these men were punished. This is particularly true of David who ultimately stopped his polygamist ways and Solomon whose life lay in ruins as a result of his disobedience. It is obvious that God not only did God prohibit polygamy in the Old Testament, but he also punished those who engaged in polygamy with severe consequences.
The purpose of this discussion was to examine polygamy as it pertains to Old Testament text. The discussion began by providing a definition of polygamy as marriage between multiple spouses at one time. The research suggests that there was a great deal of polygamy in the Old Testament, particularly among the most prominent figures in the text including Saul David and Solomon. The research focused on two schools of thought regarding polygamy in the Old Testament. The first school of thought posits that God allowed and condoned polygamy in the Old Testament. This school of thought asserts that God was not bothered by men having multiple wives and in fact many of the men that were showed the most favor in the Old Testament were polygamist.
The second school of thought asserts that God established laws against plural marriages for the Israelites in general and for Israeli kings in particular. The investigation found that God commanded Israeli kings not to behave like the kings of other nations by taking multiple wives. In addition the Israelites were told not to intermarry with certain groups because they worshipped strange gods and they would turn the Israeli Kings away from the God of Israel.
Of these two schools of thought the second school seems to most plausible. It seems plausible simply because it is clear that God did not want the Israeli kings to have multiple wives. In addition, it is obvious that the Israeli Kings that did have multiple wives had problems and suffered consequences because they operated in disobedience. Whatever the case polygamy definitely existed in the Old Testament and there will continue to be debates concerning the practice of polygamy in the Old Testament.
Armstrong, Herbert W. (1963) "Here's the Plain Truth About Old Testament Polygamy. http://www.eternalcog.org/pdf/hwa/Old%20Testament%20Polygamy.pdf
The Bible. New King James Version
Thompson, John L. Writing the Wrongs: Women of the Old Testament among Biblical Commentators from Philo through the Reformation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
A polygamy. (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved November 23, 2008, at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polygamy
Kings 11; 1,3. New King James Version
Armstrong, Herbert W. (1963) Here's the Plain Truth About Old Testament Polygamy."
Deuteronomy 17:14-17. The New King James Version
Samuel 12:11-12. New King James Version
Kings 11; 2,4-6. New King James Version
Thompson, John L. 2001. Writing the Wrongs: Women of the Old Testament among Biblical…[continue]
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