What is a concubine? Why did God allow men to have concubines in the Bible?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
A concubine is a female who voluntarily enslaves and sells herself to a man primarily for his sexual pleasure. Concubines in the patriarchal age and beyond did not have equal status with a wife. A ...

July 01 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Tom Huntford
The proper, "theological" answer--that is, the answer based on the Word of God is..."I don't know". Nobody knows, because God has not told us why godly men such as Abraham had multiple wives and concubines, and were not rebuked, but when we get to the New Testament, "a bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife", and we see no examples of multiple wives in the New Testament.

The great "theological temptation" that MUST be resisted, is to speculate as to the reason, then turn that speculation into doctrine.

If God changes his rules through time, that is his prerogative, as Creator and Lord of the universe.

March 28 2016 11 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini William Holmes
The key word in the question is "allowed." Nowhere in the Bible does it state that God "allowed" concubines in the sense of it being "permitted." Obviously, God "allowed" for concubines because they were part of the culture. However, it should be noted that many things in the Old Testament culture were allowed without them necessarily being good or ideal. In fact, there are multiple instances in which the presence of multiple wives and concubines led to increased problems (both David and and especially Solomon being examples).

So, it might be best to understand that God "allowed" for concubines simply because this was the development of the culture. However, nowhere is the practice of concubines condoned by God.

March 27 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Shirley H Wife, mother, veteran in the spiritual war we all face!
A concubine was a woman considered part of a family, used to bear children. Consider Abram and Sarai and her hand maiden Hagar, who bore Ishmael.
In those days if a child was not born, it was always thought that the woman was barren. So the practice was what we would consider a surrogate mother.

Leviticus 18:17, "You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter..."

Leviticus 20:14, "If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness.."

Deuteronomy 17:17, "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself." (A principle governing kings)

1Samuel 14:49, "...the names of his (King Saul's daughters with Ahinoam) were these: of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Local."

1Samuel 18:27, "...Then King Saul gave him (David) Michal his daughter as a wife."

2 Samuel 3:7, "And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah..."

2 Samuel 5:13, "And David took more concubine and wives from Jerusalem...also more sons and daughters were born to David."

2 Samuel 12:8, "I gave you your master's house and your master's wives..."
David received King Saul's property as the new King. David already was married to Michal, his mother- in-law, was Ahinoam. Plus he had killed Uriah and taken Bathsheba. This is in the Prophet Nathan's parable to King David.

God designed the family, this practice, though common, was not God's plan.
Taking wives, concubines and animals were as "spoils of war." God does not say why he allowed it.

The law spoke of marriage and family. We know by reading the Bible that many problems came because of the sins of distortion of God's plan.

Sin begets many consequences. We need to focus on God.

July 18 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Danny Hickman Supporter Believer in The Gospel Of Jesus Christ
Why did God allow men to have concubines? 

First we need to settle on a good idea of what a concubine is/was. It just might be that the practice still goes on to this very day. 

The Easton Bible Dictionary defines a concubine thusly: A female conjugally united to a man, but in a relation inferior to that of a wife. The concubine was a wife of secondary rank. There are various laws recorded providing for their protection (Ex 21:7, Deut 21:10-14), and setting limits to the relation they sustained to the household to which they belonged (Gen 21:14, 25:6). 

The only difference in that practice and the ones I witnessed while growing up, is the second woman (what's known now as the "side piece") didn't live with the man and his wife. The wife knew about the woman, and there was no animosity between the two. I had it in my family. My family member had seven children with his wife and four children with his "second woman." In essence, he had two families. I have a friend whose father had two families. 

Clinical knowledge of this kind of human behavior is limited knowledge, at best. These women don't "sell themselves" into a relationship or that kind of lifestyle. It's a common male dysfunction of his ego that makes him want more than one woman. It's a common female dysfunction of her emotional health to accept such an arrangement. The alternative for a man is to treat all women the way he wants to be treated. The alternative for a woman, one who didn't have a money tree planted out back, was to be a harlot or a seductress, whom Solomon referred to as a deep pit, and a narrow well, respectively (Proverbs 23:27). 

Why does God not do something about inequality that isn't due to natural causes, but is designed by men? 

Why does God allow human trafficking to go on and on? 

Why does God allow women to be raped? Even men are raped. Why does He allow that to happen?

We could do this until the twelfth of never. Maybe these questions are asked to hint slyly that God doesn't really care about some of us. After all, He did say that He loved Jacob, but Esau, "[He] has hated." He said that out of His own mouth (Mal 1:2,3). He wasn't talking about His emotions, however, it's an idiom about how a father will favor one son over another. He doesn't actually hate His other son. 

These questions have a solid answer to them. No part of the answer is that God doesn't love us all. I've heard "christians" opine that God loves His children (christians) but He doesn't love those who are not His. That's not true. God is love (1 Jn 4:8). What does that mean? It means that the way water is wet, God is love. Water doesn't penetrate materials that repel water, so it doesn't get those items wet, but the water in and of itself, is still wet. God doesn't show His love when He chooses not to but He is still managing His creation from a posture of pure and impeccable love.

Here's His answer to any such question as the one asked here, and the ones I added: Paul answered it when he wrote to the Roman church:

What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? God forbid. For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who shows mercy (Romans 9:14-16). 

In other words, it matters none what we think about what God chooses to do. We can't choose God's mercy or work to make it happen. 

Is it fair to a woman if she works all day for ten dollars, if a man works for one hour and receives the same pay? It is if she agreed to work all day for ten dollars.

September 18 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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