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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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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