Last month, the article about the “Rule of First Mention” (called the “Rule” in that post, as will also be the case for this post) closed with a promise to address the fact that, if God specifically allows something that the “Rule” might otherwise call “evil,” “forbidden,” etc., then obviously, that particular activity is not evil, forbidden, etc. Specifically discussed were five activities: 1) Working with metal; 2) playing musical instruments; 3) owning cattle; 4) living in a tent; and 5) polygamy (or, more accurately, polygyny).
When Moses was given instructions by God for building the Tabernacle, he was told that the Children of Israel were to bring to him very specific things as offerings, including brass: “And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass” (Exod. 25:3).1,2 Rather than just claiming that an offering of brass implies that God approves of working with brass, we see that God actually commanded that men work with brass. One such verse (out of many) should suffice to make the point: “And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one” (Exod. 26:11).
Playing musical instruments is also commanded by God. One verse, again, should suffice to make the point: “Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings” (Psalms 33:2).
God blessed Abram with great riches, including cattle: “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold” (Genesis 13:2). If it were evil to own cattle, then God helped Abram to sin.
The Children of Israel lived in tents, as was commanded by God: “And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts” (Numbers 1:52).
So we see that the “Rule” is, in fact, not a rule at all, but just a clever device invented by those who desire to twist God’s Word to support their own beliefs. “But,” you are thinking, “God nowhere tells a man to have more than one wife. Therefore, the ‘Rule’ is not totally wrong.”
So, lest you accuse this writer of being inconsistent, here are several passages that either approve of, or require, polygyny. First, those passages that approve of polygyny.
If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: (16) Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: (17) But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. (Deut. 21:15-17)
Notice that God does not say, “If a man have two wives, he shall be stoned to death for violating the ‘Rule.’” Rather than forbidding it, He regulates the practice of polygyny.
God also regulates the practice of taking more than one wife when the first wife was a servant before becoming the man’s wife: “If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish (Exod. 21:10). (Be sure to look up and read the various passages from which all of the verses quoted in this post are extracted. As we are taught in hermeneutics classes, “Context is King.”)
There are three commands of God that, under certain sets of circumstances, would require that a man have more than one wife if he is obedient to the command. The first is found in Exod. 22:16-17: “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. (17) If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.” The only exception given is “If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him,” in which case the man must still pay “the dowry of virgins.” There is no exception made if the man already has a wife. A very similar command is found in Deut. 22:28-29 (please read this passage), with the difference being that this situation can be interpreted as rape rather than seduction, and it has the added stipulation that he may not divorce her as long as he lives. Again, there is no exception made if the man is already married.
The third command of God that might require a man to have more than one wife is found in Deut. 25:5-10. Rather than quote the passage, it will be summarized here.(Please look up this passage and read it for yourself.) If two brothers live together, and one dies without having fathered a male heir, the surviving brother must marry the widow and raise the first male born to that union as his dead brother’s heir. As in the two situations involving virgins, there is no exception made if the surviving brother is already married.
1 Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version.
2 As always, please read he entire context, not just the verse or passage quoted in an article. (This applies to all articles posted to this blog.)