The former prompts the interpreter to bring new questions to the biblical material, Burgeoning literature by feminist scholars reflecting creative interpretation and is framed by the larger discussion of the relationship of Judaism to Christianity. of the Biblical Theology Movement was a renewed interest in the meaning of. groups supporting the traditional definition of marriage and same-sex marriage .. religious term permeated with biblical significance—that churches believe is. Due to these shifts, the meaning of biblical symbols was increasingly .. G.H. Lewes and His Relationship with the Author George Eliot. Eliot's essay through the lens of her burgeoning love affair with Lewes during the.
Zillah also bore Tubal-cain….
Lamech said to his wives: This emphasis must be viewed in the context of how Genesis refers to wives of other men in the pre-patriarchal period again, after Adam and before Abraham.
The only other specific men46 in Genesis 4: This is significant given the number of fathers named in the pre-patriarchal genealogies Gen. Third, Lamech not only practiced polygamy, he is presented as the first polygamist. While the text does not state explicitly that he was the first man to take more than one wife, this is the clear implication of the emphasis placed in the text on his two wives.
Adam had one wife Eve ; even Cain, the first murderer, evidently had one wife Gen. Thus, not only was Noah monogamous, but so were his three sons. The Genesis narrative goes to some lengths to draw attention to the contrasts between the family of the wicked Lamech and the family of the righteous Lamech.
All of the names following Cain in the Genesis 4 genealogy are paralleled by the names following Seth in the Genesis 5 genealogy: Bad Lamech has a daughter named Naamah; good Lamech has a son named Noah 4: Bad Lamech has three sons whose names are given in the text 4: These are the last things we are told about both men.
It is difficult not to see an intentional contrast between bad 46 Not counting Adam, of course Gen. If this is correct, it would constitute an additional indication of disapproval for the practice of polygamy. Just as the first male head of the human race, Adam, had been monogamous, so is the new male head, Noah, and his three sons as well.
What Does Holy Matrimony Mean? A Bible Study
Advocates of polygamy confidently cite these two men as positive examples of polygamy approved by God. Hebrews also cites Jacob as an example of faith Heb. If Abraham and Jacob had multiple wives, so the argument goes, then apparently God approved of the practice. Abraham and Jacob were persons who trusted in the Lord and were blessed by him, and Abraham in particular is commended for having obeyed the Lord in faith by leaving Mesopotamia for Canaan Gen.
But this hardly means that either Abraham or Jacob was faultless. One must also consider the possibility that God never specifically told the patriarchs that polygamy was wrong and that this was a practice he tolerated during that period but did not approve.
The fact is that the patriarchs engaged in all sorts of behaviors that Genesis does not directly criticize, including the following actions that have nothing to do with polygamy: Regal Books, That inference, though plausible, seems unnecessary. What does seem necessary is to recognize a significant measure of literary artifice in the construction of the genealogies, presumably by way of selectivity and manner of presentation rather than outright creative fiction. Genesis neither justifies sin nor ignores it, but rather shows that God is faithful to his promises regardless of the moral failures of those he chose to bless.
She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. SPCK, Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: I gave my servant 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!
She gives the orders, and Abram and Hagar merely carry out her wishes. It was because she had borne Abram no children that Sarai gave Hagar to him Gen. Genesis reports that Sarai in effect blamed God for her lack of a child: Genesis does assert that in some cases God actively withheld the blessing of children from some women or actively granted that blessing to other women Gen.
Even today among the Arabs the barren woman is exposed to disgrace and even grievous wrongs. These views, which derive from the human code of honor, and the customs to which they give birth also play a role in the patriarchal stories. The text indicates this by describing their actions in language that parallels the account of the actions of Eve and Adam in the temptation narrative: Adam and Eve Genesis 3: Marks, Old Testament Library, rev.
Westminster Press, Von Rad used the term Oriental to refer to people in what is now more commonly called the ancient Near East.
Sarai, of course, was not an Israelite, since Israel Jacob was her grandson. Waltke with Cathi J. A Commentary Grand Rapids: In two places Genesis says that God listened to the voice of a human being Gen. The reader is meant to understand that Abram erred in allowing his wife to persuade him to have sexual relations with Hagar, just as Adam erred in allowing his wife to persuade him to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The parallels between Genesis 3 and 16 go further. Just as Adam had tried to shift the blame for his eating of the forbidden fruit to his wife Gen. Neither Abram not Sarai handled the situation responsibly. Modern categories of social relationships do not always correspond neatly with ancient ones. In polygamy, the culturally normal pattern was that the man took additional wives from outside his household.
Such a woman left the family in which she was born and became the wife of the man to whom she was united, becoming a member of his household under his direct authority in that patriarchal culture. Either the woman consented to the marriage herself or, far more commonly, her father or other responsible male family member gave consent. The man could also bring women into his household as concubines, essentially slaves available to him for sexual relations but typically lacking at least some of the legal rights and protections of a wife.
There are, it should be noted, places in which the expression has a more literal meaning e. Genesis and the Definition of Marriage—page 16 woman, not a slave girl answerable to the master.
Neither the servant girl nor her father had any say in the matter. With her mistress of absolute power, she is given to Abraham to give birth to a son. Abraham accepts this, and Hagar is not asked. Indeed, this is the only reference to Hagar as his wife in the Bible. Martin Goodman, George H. Jewish and Christian Traditions 13 Leiden: Brill,38 Abingdon Press,1: Trials of Family and Faith Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, In addition to the statements by Wenham and Fretheim already cited, see, e.
Newsom and Sharon H. Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary J. InterVarsity Press,10; David J. Essays in Honor of Marvin R. Doubleday, This translation suggestion has generally not been followed, though it is found in the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh. In any case, the point stands that in context the relationship in fact is a form of concubinage. It appears that in agreeing with Sarai that Hagar was her servant, Abram was declining to claim Hagar as an actual wife.
It may even have been worse, as will be explained shortly. A review of the narrative about Abram and Sarai preceding the Hagar incident shows that Abram, at least, had enough experience with the Lord to know that having sexual relations with Hagar was the wrong thing to do.
What Does Holy Matrimony Mean? A Bible Study
The Lord had promised to Abram when he was already 75 years old that through him all of the families of the earth would be blessed Gen. When Abram expressed concern that he would die childless and that his servant Eliezer of Damascus would become his heir, God assured Abram that his own biological son would be his heir Schneider, Mothers of Promise: Women in the Book of Genesis Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, In fact, it may be even worse than that. Sarai herself explained that her action was prompted by the belief that God was preventing her from conceiving Abram a child Gen.
Far from trying to help God, Sarai appears to have been trying to defeat God. Thus, even though her action would have occasioned no criticism from other people, it was an act of unbelief, of mistrust in the Lord. Of course, she did not act alone. It is sometimes thought that Abraham took Keturah as his wife after Sarah had died, based on the fact that his taking Keturah as a wife is mentioned in the narrative after Sarah had died Gen.
In conclusion, technically Abraham was not a polygamist, though his practicing of concubinage was not consistent with monogamy either. Abraham and Sarah never meant for Hagar to be a wife in the full sense, but only a surrogate mother. Furthermore, Genesis is rich with indications of divine disapproval of the union of Abram and Hagar.
Therefore, despite the lack of any explicit condemnation of his relationships with Hagar and Keturah, Abraham is not a sound example of divinely approved polygamy in the Bible. Genesis gives a surprisingly lengthy account of how they came to be married Gen.
The sons of Isaac and Rebekah, however, were not monogamous. Their two sons Esau and Jacob both ended up with more than one wife. Yet there is more to the story. At the age of forty he took two wives described as Hittites Gen. Since the genealogy of Esau later in Genesis lists three wives whose names do not match the earlier names, there is some debate among interpreters as to how many wives Esau actually had.
Orthodox Jewish interpreters over the centuries have suggested that one, two, or all three of the wives were renamed, resulting in anywhere from three to six total wives for Esau. However, one of those two wives happened to have the same 75 Ibid.
Genesis and the Definition of Marriage—page 20 name as his third wife. Since Esau is generally presented in a negative fashion until his late reconciliation with Jacob Gen. This brings us to Jacob.
His story is really the most straightforward of the patriarchs. Genesis is quite clear: Jacob had two wives and also two concubines.
Children in the Hebrew Bible
It is also quite clear about how this situation developed. Rebekah and Isaac sent Jacob to Paddan-aram, where Rebekah had grown up, partly to get Jacob away from his vengeful brother Esau When the seven years were complete, Jacob asked for Rachel Laban felt quite justified, since, as he explained to Jacob, it was against his culture to marry off the younger daughter before the elder.
Laban offered to allow Jacob to marry Rachel in addition to Leah if he would agree to stay and work for Laban seven more years, which Jacob did The trickster had himself been tricked: The distinction between children, youth, and young adults is not neatly delineated. As in modern, Western culture, biblical Israel does not have a set time or ritual that clearly designates a person as an adult.
However, the age of marriage would mark a significant transition in a person's life and can serve as a marker of adulthood. A girl would be eligible for marriage about the time she began menstruating, likely in her early teenage years clearly youth by our standards. Many of the younger female characters in the Bible, such as Rebekah in Gen 24, are of increasing interest to the text when they reach marriageable age. A young man would likely be about 10 years older than his prospective wife, an age at which he would have some resources to support a family.
For example, Isaac marries Rebekah, who is a generation younger than he is Isaac is the son of Abraham; Rebekah is the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham's brother; see Gen Some children and youth in the Bible are relatively famous. Girls also have significant roles: Boys and young men receive more attention from the Bible's writers than do girls.