More Ribs, Anyone?

Since I have been talking about a woman and her creation from the rib of Adam and marriage, I thought I would look at polygamy in the Bible, since after all, if God made man to marry woman, it would be interesting to see the men who God created who married multiple wives.  Is this marriage?  It appears that for some, it is (and maybe that explains the presence of the short ribs on either side…).

The first we hear of polygamy is from Gen. 4:19.

Genesis 4:19 "Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.4:20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock.4:21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe.4:22 Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.4:23 Lamech said to his wives: "Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.4:24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold."…5:1 This is the list of the descendants of Adam. When God created humankind, he made them in the likeness of God.5:2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them "Humankind" when they were created."

It doesn’t sound like God was too upset about Lamech taking two wives, especially since the author of Genesis ends the descendants of Adam sounding pretty happy with the whole line of people from Adam down to Enosh.  In fact, Lamech, who lives 770 years (!) has a son who is the famous Noah.  So clearly God had no problem with Lamech having two wives.  In fact, Lamech and one of his wives gives birth to Noah, the savior of people in the flood.  If God was upset about polygamy then, you wouldn’t think that he would choose a son of a polygamist to save people from the flood that God was about to send.

One famous polygamist is none other than Abraham:

Gen. 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar,16:2 and Sarai said to Abram, "You see that the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.16:3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.16:4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.16:5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!"16:6 But Abram said to Sarai, "Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.16:7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.16:8 And he said, "Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am running away from my mistress Sarai."16:9 The angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit to her."16:10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, "I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude."16:11 And the angel of the LORD said to her, "Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the LORD has given heed to your affliction.16:12 He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin."

So here is a case where the wife, Sarah, gave a slave-girl to Abraham as a wife to produce a child (it would also be interesting to look at the issue of slaves here and how God doesn’t seem to be too upset with Abraham and Sarah having a slave).  But back to polygamy–God was not upset about this.  In fact, he tells Hagar to go back to Sarah and submit, while at the same time promising that Hagar’s children: "will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude."  (see also Gen. 17:20 for a repeat of this promise).  That doesn’t sound like punishment for having two wives, now does it?  Is that marriage?  I suppose Abraham and Sarah made ‘one flesh’ and Abraham and Hagar made ‘one flesh’ as well–so yes, that is a marriage (if you believe that ‘one flesh=marriage).

But what is really interesting is found in the list of laws in Deuteronomy: 

21:15 If a man has two wives, one of them loved and the other disliked, and if both the loved and the disliked have borne him sons, the firstborn being the son of the one who is disliked,21:16 then on the day when he wills his possessions to his sons, he is not permitted to treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the disliked, who is the firstborn.21:17 He must acknowledge as firstborn the son of the one who is disliked, giving him a double portion of all that he has; since he is the first issue of his virility, the right of the firstborn is his.

Notice there is no prohibition on having two wives–it has to do with inheritance laws.  There is nothing condemning polygamy.  It doesn’t say–"if a man has two wives he legally can have only one, since they are one flesh" or something like that.  It is taken as a given that some men have two wives.  

There are certainly other passages about polygamy in the Old Testament.  These have to do with Jacob, David, Solomon.  So when you hear these anti-gay activists cry out "What’s next if you allow gay marriage–polygamy?"  You can now answer and state that the very thing they fear is found in their precious Old Testament–and some of the examples seem perfectly acceptable to God.


And although this is off the subject, it is interesting to hear what the laws of Deuteronomy 23:2 have to say about children of an ‘illicit’ encounter:  they will never, down to the 10th generation, be ‘admitted to the assembly of the Lord."  I wonder what these modern day Christians have to say about this–especially since it would be very difficult to prove that for the past 10 generations there had been no illicit encounters that produced them.  Are good little Christians going to make laws that prohibit the children of illicit encounters from marrying (down to their 10th generation)?  Or taking away their rights?  Are they going to make laws that prohibit the children of these illicit encounters from adopting children?  Of course they aren’t, even though God has condemned them for 10 generations!  So the next time you hear one of these anti-gay activists screaming out against gays and lesbians because of a few scriptures, kindly ask them about their parents and if they were born out of wedlock. If they were (or if anyone in their direct line for the past 9 generations), then they should be reminded about their own punishment and about the next 8 generations of punishment.  That probably won’t help matters, but it will at least give you an idea how these people pick and choose scripture to punish people while at the same time ignoring the rest of the texts.

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