Polygyny 2 continues with exploring what the New Testament says on the issue of a man having more than one wife. We will look at the scriptures from Yahshua (Jesus) and the Apostle Paul that are used by many Christians to condemn marriage to multiple wives (at the same time) as a sin.
In Western culture marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman. Has this definition caused us to misunderstand the FULL aspect of what the Bible is saying about marriage? The Bible is written in a specific cultural setting of people from 2,000 or more years ago. To understand the Bible and be able to apply it to today's cultural settings around the world, we have to be able to bridge the gap between the biblical world and our world today in order to apply it effectively. With that being said let's start by looking in the Bible.
We already know that Yahweh definitely DID NOT condemn polygyny in the Old Testament, but what did Yahshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) say? In Matthew 19:3-9 Yahshua answers a devious question posed by the Pharisees about divorce and the answer He gives has been used to say that He (Yahshua) considered polygyny a sin. Let's read it:
Matt 19:3 And the Pharisees came near to Him, tempting Him, and saying to Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every reason?
Matt 19:4 But answering, He said to them, Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning "created them male and female"? (Gen. 1:27)
Mat 19:5 And He said, "For this reason a man shall leave father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." (Gen. 2:24)
Mat 19:6 So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.
Mat 19:7 They said to Him, Why then did Moses command to "give a bill of divorce," "and to put her away"? (Deut. 24:1)
Mat 19:8 He said to them, In view of your hardheartedness, Moses allowed you to put away your wives. But from the beginning it was not so.
Mat 19:9 And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, if not for fornication, and shall marry another, that one commits adultery. And the one who marries her who was put away commits adultery.
It would appear quite conclusively that this scripture is saying that the man is committing adultery if he puts away his wife and marries another. But let's investigate a little further. There is a term here that says "that one commits adultery." Who is "that one"?
Let's go to Matt 5: 31, 32 for clarification.
Mat 5:31 It was also said, Whoever puts away his wife, "let him give her a bill of divorce." (Deut. 24:1)
Mat 5:32 But I say to you, Whoever puts away his wife, apart from a matter of fornication, causes HER to commit adultery. And whoever shall marry the one put away commits adultery.
Literal Translation LTV
The original text of Matthew was said by some to be originally written in Hebrew and translated to Greek then to English.
So in order to get the true context of which Yahshua is speaking in we need to investigate the Hebrew word for adultery
meaning: woman that breaketh wedlock.
So as we can see the woman is who Yahshua is speaking about when He says "that one commits adultery". A man who deals with his wife in this manner causes her to break wedlock (commit adultery) and whoever marries her also commits adultery. This scripture does not say anything about forbidding polygyny.
The culture of Yahshua's day was a male dominated one which turned to abuse and mistreatment of women. Men had gotten to the state of dumping their women unjustly and leaving the women to fend for themselves and then the man would marry another woman. Women on the other hand were helpless for the most part to counter it. It was a common abuse of women in that day. Yahshua was addressing one of the common human abuses of the day.
Let's now see the continuity of the concept of proper treatment of a wife throughout the entire Bible by going back to the Old Testament which shows what Yahweh said about this same subject of DIVORCE.
Mal 2:13 This is another thing you do. You drown the LORD's altar with tears, weeping and wailing because he no longer accepts the offerings you bring him.
Mal 2:14 You ask why he no longer accepts them. It is because he knows you have broken your promise to the wife you married when you were young. She was your partner, and you have broken your promise to her, although you promised before God that you would be faithful to her.
Mal 2:15 Didn't God make you one body and spirit with her? What was his purpose in this? It was that you should have children who are truly God's people. So make sure that none of you breaks his promise to his wife.
Mal 2:16 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel. "I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife."
Good News Bible
Yahshua is saying the same thing that Yahweh says in Malachi 2. You the man are sinning when you deal treacherously with your wife, and furthermore it is so serious that when you are guilty of this sin, Yahweh does not even hear your prayers (v:13). Men were abusing women in the culture of polygyny. This was the same issue being addressed in the law of Moses in Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15-17.
Let's now take this a step further. As most students of the Bible know, Yahshua used parables in many of His teachings. He used the cultural settings of the day in His teachings to illustrate important lessons relating to the Kingdom Of Heaven. One of these is the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Let's turn to the scriptures and read:
Mat 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Mat 25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Mat 25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
Mat 25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
Mat 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
Mat 25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Mat 25:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
Mat 25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
Mat 25:9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
Mat 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Mat 25:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
Mat 25:12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Mat 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
So here we have an example of polygyny used by Yahshua to represent Him (Son Of Man) as the Bridegroom and His betrothal to multiple women--an analogy used to illustrate the importance of (Believers) being prepared for His return and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Now tell me, would Yahshua use this as an example if it was a sin?
We have looked in the Bible to see what Yahweh says and what Yahshua said about polygyny. But you may say, "didn't the Apostle Paul clearly teach against polygyny?" Let's turn to the scriptures where he speaks about having only one wife.
1Tim 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of ONE wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
1Tim 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of ONE wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Tit 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of ONE wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
Tit 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
Clearly we see here that Paul is saying church leaders should be husbands of ONE wife. But let's do a little further investigation of the word translated from the Greek as ONE. There are two words in the Greek that can be translated as ONE.
Irregular feminine of G1520; one or first: - a (certain), + agree, first, one, X other.
(Including the neuter [etc.] ἕν hen); a primary numeral; one:
As we can see the Greek word "Mia" can be translated as first or one and the Greek word "heis" refers to the numeral one. All the scriptures that have the statement "one wife" use the Greek word "mia".
What we can determine from the word "mia" is that it could also be translated as first.
Here are some other examples of scriptures that use the word "mia" that are translated to English as "first"
Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the FIRST day of the week...
Luke 24:1 Now upon the FIRST day of the week...
John 20:1 The FIRST day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene
Acts 20:7 And upon the FIRST day of the week
Titus 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the FIRST and second admonition reject;
Here are some examples of the Greek word Heis translated to English as Numeral One:
1Timothy 5:9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of ONE man
Matt 13:46 Who, when he had found ONE pearl of great price
Mark 14:43 And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, ONE of the twelve
Luke 9:8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that ONE of the old prophets was risen again
Acts 23:17 Then Paul called ONE of the centurions unto him,
Romans 3:30 Seeing it is ONE God,...
These are only a few examples of the many consistent cases of the translations of the two Greek words and it's application to the English translation. It is apparent that a case of cultural bias or error caused a mistranslation of the Greek word "MIA" for these three scriptures. It is clear that the Greek word "MIA" in this context should be translated to "FIRST"--..."a man must be a husband to his 'first' wife", If he is to be a leader in the church. In other words he must not have dealt treacherously with his first wife and divorced her unjustly (Malachi 2:13-16). This is exactly in line with what Yahweh and Yahshua has said (Matthew 5:31-32).
In conclusion I want to make sure I make some points VERY CLEAR:
1. Women this article is NOT intended to try to convince you to accept polygyny. It is only intended to clarify what the Bible says on the matter.
2. Men this is NOT intended to give you license to force your wife to accept polygyny in your family.
Polygyny is not for everyone It is not a commandment from Yahweh (which should be obvious). Men if you are interested in polygyny make sure you are up front in the beginning before you get to the stage of courtship. If the woman is not in agreement then move on. Men polygyny is a GREAT responsibility (Financial, Physical, Spiritual, Emotional and other support)--CONSIDER THE COST!
3. Men this is not an excuse to be promiscuous under the guise of "polygyny". In other words do not use polygyny as your excuse to commit fornication or be a "whoremonger". It is also not an excuse to go out and secretly have another woman. You cannot keep it secret forever especially if she becomes pregnant with your child. It's not worth the heartache, dysfunction and division this type of thing causes. This is NOT of Yahweh. Remember, when you deal treacherously against your wife Yahweh will NOT acknowledge your prayers (Mal.2:13)
4. Men if you are in a polygynous culture be considerate of your wife. Consult her if you are considering an additional wife/wives, she has valuable insight in assessing other women and whether they would fit harmoniously in the family. It can save you years of heartache and save you from the disaster of bringing the wrong woman into the family.
5. Women if you are considering getting involved in a polygymous relationship insist on meeting the other wife and make sure she is agreeable to it. This can also save you from GREAT distress and heartache.
6. Pastors, Ministers, Missionaries and Church Leaders: In your zeal to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom of Yahweh around the world it is very important not to repeat some of the mistakes made in the past of imposing your culture on people of other cultures. ie. Christian Names (Western Names), Dress (Western attire), Monogamy, Music etc.
7. Remember Yahweh should be consulted in every aspect of Family life, including marriage and divorce. Women, Yahweh does not require you to stay in a relationship that is abusive. If a man/woman is hostile to Yahweh's way,Yahweh is the one that can release you or tell you what He wants you to do. If you are not hearing from Him get help from others who are. If you are hearing from Yahweh and are in a Church or Fellowship etc. that is clearly led by the Holy Spirit the leader/s will be able to confirm what you have already heard.
The Body of Messiah (Christ) is made up of a Diverse Cultural Family of Believers which include: Messianic Hebrews, Christians (Of Many Denominations), Messianic Jews, Gentiles and Others.
John 10:16 And OTHER SHEEP I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be ONE FOLD, and ONE SHEPHERD.
. As we grow to understand this we better understand the balance of Yahweh's way of life.
I Pray that we allow the Holy Spirit of Yahweh to guide us and lead us into being a unified BODY exhibiting our Love for one another so that the world will know without a doubt who HIS true children are.
Contributing Author: Ahveekhy Ben BinahYah
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