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Torah never gives "green light" for polygamy, Orange Yonason

Reader comment on item: Westerners Welcome Harems
in response to reader comment: AnneM Is Correct, ...But...

Submitted by jennifer solis (United States), Dec 14, 2008 at 19:23

Excuse me for butting in on your reply to Anne M, but having read the letter you referenced by Rabbi Tzvi Feeman ("The Torah perspective on Polygamy"), I must object to his statement -

"Even the very verse in which the Torah provides a green light for polygamy frames it within an undesirable circumstance: 'If a man will have two wives, one beloved and the other hated...' ".

The Rabbi here is referring to Deut. 21:15. However, he is taking the verse completely out of context, not to mention ignoring the Hebrew lexicon - the passage has to do with captive women after battle -

"When you go to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautifull woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, then you shall bring her home to your house...She shall put off the clothes of her captivity...after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife...And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money. -Deut. 10-14.

Notice "you shall set her free" in verse 14.

Verse 15 goes on - "If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children [both] the loved and the unloved, and [if] the first born son is of her who is unloved.." - "wives" here is NOT plural in the original Hebrew - "wives" here is actually the SINGULAR 'ishshah - WIFE - and, it is refering to having a second wife, after REJECTING (verse 14) the first; the "unloved" wife (in verse15) refers to the first wife who has been "freed" (in verse 14). "Set her free" in verse 14 uses the Hebrew shalach, which literally means to "send, send away, let go".

Deut. 21:15-17 goes on to state that if a son was born to the wife who was "unloved" (who was sent away, rejected) the father should still remember that son as his first born (regarding inheritence), despite having rejected the mother.

"Neither shall he multiply wives for himself." - Deut. 17:17

Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel are but a few Old Testament believers who married only one woman (a few, for example Moses, married a second time; but only after losing the first wife through divorce, death, etc.)

Polygamy is never instructed, condoned, or "permitted" by God, even in extreme circumstance (as in desimation of the male population after battle; ergo Deut. 21:10-17; i.e., the victorious Jews were instruction by God to take ONE wife from among the captive women; and, even if the wife was later rejected, to remember any son, should there have been one, in bequesting inheritance).

If there was a case where woman out-numbered the male population, what would be wrong with giving them a job - or charity? Polygamy, as a solution to "too many women", or otherwise is NEVER instructed in the Torah (first five books of the Bible), nor anywhere else in the Bible.


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