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.