A Very Concise Book Defending Biblical Polygyny

The other day I went shopping for a different book on Amazon and noted that this book was recommended. It was only $10 and I thought, why not?

The title is “In Defense of Biblical Polygyny (Multiple Wives). The author is Elijah J. Israel. It was published in 2021. The link is: https://www.amazon.com/Defense-Biblical-Polygyny-Multiple-Wives/dp/B0849VLT6B/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=In+Defense+of+Biblical+polygyny&qid=1623721352&sr=8-1

Israel doesn’t waste time and gets right to his subject material. He opens with an introduction to his topic and says what his thesis or focus is with the book. He is addressing the “bible believers [who] condemn polygyny because they view the text with a Western lens” (Israel, page 2.)

There are five chapters in this book.

  • What is polygamy
  • The emergence of Christian Monogamy
  • Prevalence of polygyny among the ancient Israelites
  • Fallacious biblical arguments against polygyny
  • Polygyny as a remedy for social ills

In each chapter, typically consisting of a few pages, Israel is very concise and makes his points very well. In the first chapter, Israel goes over the definitions of each form of polygamy. A very, very brief survey of the first few centuries of the Christian era with respect to the promotion of monogamy is the focus of the second chapter. Another survey of biblical men who had plural wives in Ancient Israel is the topic of the third chapter. Israel takes on six arguments against polygamy and offers short rebuttals to each in chapter four. Finally, for societies where marriageable women outnumber marriageable men as in the African-American community, Israel says that polygyny definitely should be an option; that is promoted in chpater five. Footnotes and a bibliography are provided.

If I have to quibble about something with Israel, it would be his statements on page 4 that India and China have more women than men due to female infanticide. I suspect that he got that backwards and meant to say more men than women in these two countries. Perhaps he might correct this in a future edition.

At 51 pages, this book is very readable, packed with the basic information and at $10 essentially an expanded pamphlet that polygyny advocates can distribute. This would serve very well as a concise introduction to the subject, and then the interested reader can move to more advanced and more exhaustive treatments already available on the subject.

Letters to my sister wife. A year later.

Dear Sister wife, March 8,2021

Has it really been about a year later since I wrote to you? Really!? Time goes by so fast! I’ve been through all the ups and downs of 2020. Covid has nothing on what I have been through in my submissive wife training that’s for sure. It’s been very humbling to say the least. Most would say it was the worst year of their lives. No toilet paper, no groceries, mask wearing and no clue of what the future will be like. I on the other hand say it was a pretty amazing year of spiritual change through and through. I have a note card that I pinned to the side of my bed. It says “Sometimes it takes 10 yrs to get the change you desperately need.” Well 2020 was certainly my year. I purposefully shifted mindset to the fathers will for my life in all things. One of the main things I did during my walk was, I actually tested the Father 3 times. Yes I know. I also can’t believe I did that either. Like seriously tested him. Looked up and said “if you actually want submission from me, then the next time I disagree or have a disagreement I will keep my mouth completely shut and let Matthew have his way. Let’s see what happens after that God.” And 3 times he showed up during the mental, emotional and spiritual tests (they are always all in one) and during these tests He said I’m right here, you did well Jessie and I will always love and protect you. Matthew always came back to me in love and either apologized for his words when he was frustrated or he just lovingly discussed what happened. EVERY time. When I passed Gods test the 3rd time, I threw up my hands and submitted to all of him. The 2nd time I tested the father was because the 1st time went so well I lifted an eyebrow and thought, “fluke.” Then when the same fluke happened again the 2nd time I HAD to test once more just to make sure. After all, 3rd times a charm right? From that moment on, freedom came for me and the entire household. Didn’t say I got it all down pat but during this transition I was learning a lot. So many times the Father had to nudge me back in my place. But all of that to know I am free! I want to shout it from the rooftop. No more jealousy no more rebelliousness. (Ok. Maybe not entirely no more but I was definitely nowhere I use to be) All that I have in me is the love for the Father. And I know that I know his in depth love for me. It’s what literally keeps me going. If the path that Matthew and I walk down leads us to you, I am ready to be the best sister wife I can be. I’m spiritually trained up and strong. Taught straight from the Father himself. He took the time to train me. I am humbled. I am submissive, I am empathic, I learned hospitality. I can now lower myself. I can be gentle and kind and not make excuses like I use to. I cannot wait for you to be in our lives. But it’s all on Yahs timing. So Matthew and I will continue to pray and wait. However, we can see a gentle, sweet, kind, spiritual silhouette of an uncovered woman out in the distance. The silhouette just split in three. Shorter ones right next to the bigger. Are these children? The image is getting closer but still I can’t tell if it’s you just yet. We are in prayer.

Love, Jessie

Result of Pope Nicholas I’s Campaign Against Polygamy

I was wondering why “R. Geshom ben Judah, known as the Meor Hagolah, light of the exile, issued a, takana, ordinance prohibiting bigamy” (B. Hooper, 2007) and found this blog post discussing different scholars’ attempts to precisely identify the motivating factors for the ban, or kherem.

During Hooper’s discussion, he mentioned one scholar’s attempt to tie the ban to the activity of the Roman Catholic Church in the two centuries prior to the ban. Either Hooper or the scholar Zeev Flak (or both) didn’t make the very likely connection between cause and effect as shown in the quote below.

Another approach to isolating the stimulus which necessitated Rabbenu Gershom to issue his ban against polygamous marriage is to look towards the Christian society which surrounded the Jews of Germany. This line of thinking is reflected in Zeev Flak’s work Jewish Matrimonial Law in the Middle Ages. In his work Falk goes to great length to provide the context for Rabbenu Gershom’s ban, starting in the mid ninth century when Pope Nicholas I (858-67) campaigned against polygamy in the Catholic Church. By the tenth century bigamy was not longer a problem among Christians, however, the Church attempted to curb concubinage and divorce among its devotees. 

Benji Hooper

Pope Nicholas I’s campaign was successful. But then the Church saw the rates of concubinage and divorce increase to the point where it required the attention of the Church!

It’s really hard not to see a direct cause and effect here!

Ban polygamy and concubinage and divorce increases! Mandatory monogamy does not bear good fruit.

Marriage Laws: How many wives can a king have?

In the the Mishnah’s fourth book of Damages, Tractate Sanhedrin, there is an interesting short discussion of how many wives a king may have.

But first, what is the Mishnah?

The Mishnah is a six-part code of descriptive rules formulated toward the end of the second century A.D. by a small number of Jewish sages and put forth as the constitution of Judaism under the sponsorship of Judah the Patriarch, the head of the Jewish community of Palestine at the end of that century.

Jacob Neusner

The discussion is located in the second chapter of Sanhedrin, fourth section, clauses E-I.

2:4 E. He shall not multiply many wives to himself (Dt. 17:17) — only eighteen.

2:4 F R. Judah says, “He may have as many wives as he wants, so long as they do not entice him [to abandon the Lord (Dt. 7:4)]

2:4 G R. Simeon says, “Even if there is only one who entices him [to abandon the Lord] — lo this one should not marry her.”

2:4 H If so, why is it said, He should not multiply wives to himself?

2.4 I Even though they should be like Abigail [I Sam. 25:3]

Who pulls the strings?

I’ve been thinking on yesterday, and how I was told by another woman how perfect I make myself out to be because I practice and teach women submission and patriarchy. This woman that “needed to be honest with me” is also a head covered, Torah observant woman. (Eye roll.) Why don’t you actually get to know me and ask questions? (Please and thank you). Which is why I can’t help but think about how much our fellowships are being subtly controlled by the women there.

So how’s y’alls fellowships doing? I’ll tell you what, our fellowship here doesn’t talk about submission, nor do we EVER talk Biblical marriage/polygyny. We only talk about “non triggering” topics. That’s what the women call them. It’s super cute and catchy, huh? And, we don’t talk about such things even if they are in the Torah portions. Why do you think that is? Well, I ask, what husband wants to go home to a contentious wife?

I really just want to encourage you ladies to keep the good walk of faith, in faith. Gravitate to women who are actually PRACTICING submission, meaning they don’t just cluck like a bunch of loud hens. They walk the walk. It may have very little to do with poly, or a lot to do with poly. And, please be cautious, or better yet, stay out of the company of women that say phrases like, “WE (they speak for their husbands) aren’t called to that lifestyle. My husband would tell me.” Sure he would. “My husband said he can’t handle another woman in the house.” You may certainly be right about that one. Who in the heck wants 2 unsubmissive wives with mouths and attitudes? But, do you think he would say no to 2 or 3 fully submitted, Yah fearing women? “It’s in the Bible and some people have chosen that life style, but it isn’t for us.” Again, that speaks for her idea of family structure, not his.

Speaking FOR your husband and family is not ok. But, having genuine concerns and fear is something else. “It makes me feel…..”, or “This isn’t easy because…..” Those are valid statements, but feelings shouldn’t be the rule. Gravitate to a woman, even if not in a plural marriage, who is fully on board with submitting to her Heavenly Father and Head of the household…the one whom she calls master, whom she says “yes sir” to regularly. A sister who can be commanded to do something and not have to think twice about it. Follow that woman. Don’t have that woman in your fellowship? Then let it start with you.

Your covering should be able to speak authoritatively over you and his household. He should be able to correct you when needed, and tell you who he doesn’t think fits the bill in your friendships. If a “friend” isn’t helping you to grow, strengthening you, keeping you accountable and uplifting you spiritually, you need to move on. She is probably one of the reasons why your fellowship can’t be open in discussing all the triggering things men WANT to talk about. These women, even though not married to your husbands, can actually have control over THEM in the fellowship!! It’s always wise and good to be friendly, but by becoming close friends with women that resist submission, you may be enabling them to continue their rebellion. Thus your fellowship stays STUCK. Period. When will patriarchy and Biblical marriage ever be brought up and discussed? So if there is never any change, expect to find egg shells on your husband’s feet. Will you help him pick them off, or will he have to do it alone?

Here’s to Heroes (or Heroines)

I think it’s safe to say that we all have people we admire and consistantly listen to. I’m not advocating hero worship, but there are a few out there that just simply CHARGE ME UP. As far as celebrity personalities, I try to regularly catch JP Sears and Mike Rowe. They tell the bare naked truth, even if it hurts. Someone I just recently discovered is a bold anti feminist named Suzanne Venker. A page I follow on social media shared one of her podcasts, so I gave a listen. Then I listened to two more, and I have to say I’m hooked!

I haven’t researched her enough to know exactly what her faith is, and I’m not sure that I would call her patriarchal. But faith-based or not, she nails how feminism has totally wrecked our culture, and thus our families. This website and featured writers unashamedly stand on the Word of God as the answer to all of our societal ills, but I for one welcome even a possibly more secular voice loudly proclaiming the undeniable truth. Below is a sampling…

In the Same Way – Understanding I Peter 2:13 – 3:7

Here at 113Restoration.com, our guiding principle is I Corinthians 11:3. The word picture we use to represent this verse is shown below. Hierarchy is represented by the superior positioned on the left side of the arrow with his subordinate on the right side of the arrow.

God the Father (YHVH) <- God the Son (Yeshua) <- Man <- Woman

In his letter to the exiled descendants of the ten tribes who were at that time living in and around Asia Minor (see I Peter 1:1-2), Peter was both explaining some fundamentals of the faith that they needed to know and giving excellent advice for walking in their public and private lives. My purpose here is not to expound on the entire letter, but to demonstrate that in the section 2:13 – 3:7 he was teaching the exiles the importance of respecting one’s superior in the hierarchy and loving one’s subordinate, in particular one’s wife. Let’s begin by considering I Peter 2:13-17.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God, that by doing right you silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Act as free people, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-servants of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

I Peter 2:13-17

Peter tells us to submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. From the context, it looks like he specifically means the political rulers. He is saying that kings and governors are sent by Him, the Lord, as his agents for punishing evildoers and praising the righteous. That means if these rulers are sent by Yeshua, then we as Yeshua’s subordinates fear God and honor the king. I also want to point out that while we can act as free people, we should use our freedom, not to cover evil, but by behaving as bond-servants for God (see Romans 6:22 and I Corinthians 7:22 for Paul’s thoughts on this.)

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are harsh. 

I Peter 2:18

Peter now turns from free men honoring the king to the relationship between master and servant. He tells servants to be subject to their masters with all respect. Subordinates respect their superiors.

Moving from the general case of servants being subject to their masters, Peter now addresses the specific instance of Jesus Christ as the Master, and redeemed men as his servants.

21 For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps, 22 He who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being abusively insulted, He did not insult in return; while suffering, He did not threaten, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

I Peter 2:21-25

What is the purpose that Peter is referencing here? The purpose is for each redeemed man to imitate Yeshua as He walked here on the Earth. Yeshua is our Example. Peter gives examples of how Yeshua humbly walked but what I really want to highlight is that Yeshua kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously (see Genesis 18:22-33). This Righteous Judge is none other than YHVH Himself. We were sinners and straying like sheep, but now we have returned to the Shepherd through his suffering, death and resurrection.

Yeshua looked to His Father and acted in love towards us. This is His example. I can represent this with another word picture.

God the Father <- entrust/respect – Yeshua the Son – love -> redeemed sheep

In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your pure and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely the external—braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on apparel; but it should be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way the holy women of former times, who hoped in God, also used to adorn themselves, being subject to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; and you have proved to be her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

I Peter 3:1-6

“In the same way”, as servants respect their masters with all respect (2:18), so are wives to be subject to their husbands. Peter is saying that unredeemed men can be won over by their wives’ respectful behavior. Yes, wives must place their husbands above themselves in the patriarchal hierarchy, but that willing and respectful submission is so powerful it can win men for Christ!!!

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

I Peter 3:7

“In the same way” as Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ enables His redeemed men to die to their sin and live for righteousness, so do husbands enable their wives to die to their sin and live for righteousness. Outside of the equality they share in salvation, the husband must regard his wife as a subordinate and helpmeet.

The English phrase in an “understanding way” does not, in my opinion, adequately translate the Greek word ‘gnosis’ (G#1108). In Greek, ‘gnosis’ means the following:

  1. knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding
    1. the general knowledge of Christian religion
    2. the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced
    3. esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians
    4. moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living

The redeemed husband dwells with his wife and brings her into a deeper and more perfect knowledge, and teaches her to know what is lawful and not lawful (what agrees with Torah and what doesn’t, what is holy and profane, what is clean and unclean). He understands what she lacks and supplies it so she is elevated in her understanding and walk. This isn’t about letting the wife continue in sinful behavior because she’s “weaker” and her husband needs to “understand” her.

As Yeshua trains and elevates the husband, so also does the husband train and elevate his wife.

The husband respects Yeshua and obeys Him. The wife respects her husband and obeys him.

Yeshua loves the husband. The husband loves the wife. Doing this honors his wife and he shares with her the joy and grace of salvation for in this, they are equals. Significantly, as the husband lives in an understanding way with his wife, his prayers are not hindered!!

Nevertheless, as for you individually, each husband is to love his own wife the same as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:33

If a husband does not teach his wife and elevate her as Yeshua has taught and elevated him from being an unredeemed wandering sheep, he is not behaving righteously and his prayers will be hindered. Perhaps that’s a tactful way of saying “ignored”? If a husband listens to his wife more than he listens to Yeshua, as Adam did Eve, would Yeshua be disrespected? Wouldn’t that husband’s prayers get hindered (ignored)?

Marrying Young – Good Idea or Bad?

Lori Alexander over at her blog, the Transformed Wife, wrote an article questioning why the Christian church at large does not seem to support young adults marrying early.

She questions why Christian parents seem to prefer sending their children to college to learn instead of encouraging them to marry young. Mrs. Alexander quotes someone on Twitter with whom she agrees:

“I would love to see: 1) Parents take more of an active role in their children’s courtships; 2) No more long engagements; 3) Teens/Young Adults chasing Christ under teaching parents, pastors, and family worship and a full dismissal of the statement ‘don’t get married till after college.’ If it be the will of the Lord for your lives: Chase Christ. Get married. Have kids. Grow. Grow. Grow. Grow. #make18adultagain”

@AdamPage85 on Twitter

She says she agrees with him 100%. I only partially agree with the gentleman.

His first point is that parents should take more of an active role in their children’s courtship. According to Scripture, that is the father’s responsibility, not both parents.

Mr. Page’s second point is an either/or proposition in that there are good points on both sides. A long engagement allows for time for the young couple to see each other in good and bad situations. On the other hand, a short engagement period means it’s less likely, but by no means guaranteed, that premarital sex would take place. There are other pros and cons.

As to Mr. Page’s third point about teens and young adults should be chasing Christ under teaching parents, pastors and family worship, I would strike the “pastors” from the sentence. Fathers are the primary teachers in the family. The husband teaches the wife and they together teach their children in family worship. Pastors and rabbis are Yeshua’s servants to train the fathers, however, Yeshua remains the father’s Master.

Getting rid of the notion of “don’t get married until after college” is another either/or proposition. It is true that there are professions that require advanced education. A college degree does add greater potential to earn more money throughout a working lifetime. If a young man meets a young woman in college and they decide to marry, that will put a great deal of stress on a fledgling marriage. College requires a great deal of time and effort and for the money involved, the student should give 100%. It is also true there are ways to earn a living and provide for a family that don’t require college degrees.

I think the big problem with Mrs. Alexander and Mr Page’s position is that they are treating young men and women equally. The men are responsible to provide for their household, and the women are to assist their husbands and be home for their children.

If women are focused on building their careers, they are not focused on helping their husbands nor on raising their children. For this reason, I have no problem with young women not going to college and marrying young. This way, they don’t exit college saddled with student debt. Neither are their minds and spirits poisoned by carefully crafted appeals to their emotions. They will more readily depend on and respect their husbands.

Young men on the other hand should indeed have a close relationship with Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). If they are not ready to follow Yeshua, teach their wives, and be able to provide for young families, they need to delay marriage. Being tested in a hostile environment that today’s colleges and universities have become is a good way for the young men to become experienced in spiritual combat and practice applying the lessons they learned from their fathers. On the other hand, a young man who hasn’t been given a strong foundation can fall to the manifold deceptions on campus. Therefore, I can argue that a somewhat older, godly and financially secure man is a better choice for a young girl.

All of the above said, what I teach my sons is “jobs, marriage, babies” in that order.