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Is Polygyny A Sin?

Let's start with the question: What is Polygyny? This term is often used in the same context with Polygamy, but there is a distinct difference. Let's go to the dictionary for the definition:

POLYG'YNY, n. [Gr. many, and a female.] 

The practice of having more wives than one at the same time.

POLYG'AMY, n. [Gr. many, and marriage.] A plurality of wives or husbands at the same time; or the having of such plurality. When a man has more wives than one, or a woman more husbands than one, at the same time...

As we look at the difference between the two words I will be focusing on the word that is defined as the practice of having more wives than one at the same time. 

Anyone who has read the bible or is familiar with the bible knows that the practice of a woman having more than one husband at a time was never condoned. However in spite of the fact that there are many cases where a man had more than one wife in the bible many Christian believers insist that according to the bible marriage is only valid and intended to be between one man and one woman, and that a man having more than one wife is sinning. What does the bible really say about this. Is this a sin?

Let's go to the scriptures together (Old and New Testament) and investigate the truth on this matter.

"In The Beginning"

Let's start from the Creation of Man and Woman:

Gen 2:7  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Gen 2:18  And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Gen 2:21  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 

Gen 2:22  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 

Gen 2:23  And Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 

Gen 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." 

Note: In Gen. 2:18 The phrase "an help meet" is translated from the Hebrew word (ayzer) meaning  aide or help. It has nothing to do with any numerical value as insinuated in the English Biblical translation. 

In Hebrew Thought, What Does "One Flesh" Mean? 

The first thing that we need to understand is the word or phrase spoken by Adam (translated in English from the Hebrew)"one" flesh.

The Hebrew word for one is "Echad". Let's look at the definition from Strong's Concordance:




A numeral from H258; properly united, that is, one; or (as an ordinal) first: - a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any (-thing), apiece, a certain [dai-] ly, each (one), + eleven, every, few, first, + highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together.

This is the same word used in the scripture:

Deut. 6:4  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one (H259) LORD: 


The Hebrew word used for "our God" is Elohim which is a plural word meaning Gods. As believers we know that Elohim is in reference to a TRIUNE (three unified as one) God in the form of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

So the statement that Adam made was referring to more than one person being unified with one mind, one purpose and cooperating together not the numeral one for one man one woman.

 The Hebrew word Achad (one) does not just apply to two people being one, but as we can see from the example above, three can be one, families, nations, any type of entity with numerous members can be considered as ONE.

What About Adultery?

 As a believer the question you may want to ask is, What About Adultery? If a man adds on another wife to his first wife (polygyny) doesn't he commit adultery? Let's look at the scriptures and see what it has to say about it.

Exo. 20:14  Thou shalt not commit adultery.(H5003)

Deut. 5:18  Neither shalt thou commit adultery.(H5003)

Let's now look at the Hebrew word for Adultery (Nawaf)

The Strong's Concordance says this:




A primitive root; to commit adultery; figuratively to apostatize: - adulterer (-ess), commit (-ing) adultery, woman that breaketh wedlock. 

Now I want you to notice that the emphasis: woman that breaks wedlock. In the ten commandments it also admonishes the man not to lust after or desire someone else's wife.   

Deut. 5:21  Neither shalt thou desire (H2530) thy neighbour's (H7453) wife, (H802)

Exo 20:17  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet (H2530) thy neighbour's (H7453) wife, (H802)

Lev. 20:10  And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 

Lev 20:11  And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Let's look at the definitions pertaining to these verses starting with the Hebrew word (khaw-mad' ) translated as desire or covet.  




A primitive root; to delight in: - beauty, greatly beloved, covet, delectable thing, ( X great) delight, desire, goodly, lust, (be) pleasant (thing), precious (thing).

And now the Hebrew word (ray'-ah) translated as neighbor

ריע    רע

rêa‛  rêya‛

ray'-ah, ray'-ah

From H7462; an associate (more or less close): - brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover, neighbour, X (an-) other.

As we can see from the scriptures in the old testament ADULTERY involved a MAN taking another man's wife. So if a man (married or unmarried) slept with another man's wife He and the Woman committed adultery. 

Polygyny And The Law Of Moses

The scriptures below are specific instructions (during Moses' time) regarding men who have more than one wife (polygyny) and how they were to treat their wives.

Exo 21:10  If he takes himself another wife, her food, her clothing, and her duty of marriage shall not be lessened. 

Deut. 21:15  If a man has two wives, one beloved and another hated, and they have borne him sons, the beloved and the hated; and if the first-born son was of her that was hated, 

Deut. 21:16  then it shall be in the day when he makes his sons to inherit what he has, he may not cause to inherit the son of the beloved first-born before the son of the hated one, he who is truly the first-born. 

Deut. 21:17  But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated as the first-born by giving him a double portion of all that he has. For he is the beginning of his strength. The right of the first-born is his.

What Did Yahweh (God) Say About Adultery And Polygyny? 

Most everyone is familiar with the story of David and Bathsheba. Through this biblical account we get to see the mind of Yahweh our Heavenly Father on the matter of polygyny and adultery. Let's go to the scriptures:

2Sam. 12:7 ...So says Jehovah, the God of Israel, "I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 

2Sam. 12:8  And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if that was too little, I would have given to you such and such things besides. 

2Sam. 12:9  Why have you despised the Word of Jehovah, to do evil in His sight? You have stricken Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon." 

Modern King James Version

As we can see from the above scriptures Yahweh said He gave David his wives. And Yahweh even said if it was not enough David, you could of asked me and I would have given you more. The thing that Yahweh was displeased with was his taking of another man's wife and then trying to cover it up with murder. 

So as we can see so far, polygyny was not a sin nor was it condemned by Yahweh (God). As a matter of fact He even gave wives to other men besides King David. There are of course plenty of examples in the Bible where Men of God had multiple wives. Jacob had four wives. Polygyny was what Yahweh's Nation of Israel was founded on.

Was Polygyny Condemned In The New Testament?

But what about the New Testament? Was there a change? What did Yahshua The Messiah (Jesus) say about polygyny and adultery? Did Paul the Apostle, commissioned by Yahshua condemn polygymy?

For the answers to these questions stay tuned for Part 2 

Contributing Author: Ahveekhy Ben BinahYah

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