What does the Bible say about Polygamy?
What are the references to polygamy in the Bible? In biblical times it was common to find the custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time. The truth is that the story of polygamy in the Old Testament is, well, a problem. Although monogamy was God's intent (Genesis 2:22-24), the picture blurs quickly after Adam and Eve's Genesis 3 and expulsion from the Garden. By Genesis 4, you have Cain's son Lamech taking two wives.
Moses had two wives as well. The Mosaic Law likewise accommodated the practice of marrying more than one wife, including captured prisoners from foreign conquests (Deuteronomy 21:1-17). It also made provisions for continuing the family line by marrying a brother's wife if he died without producing heirs (Deuteronomy 25:5-12). And the stories keep coming: Gideon, one of Israel's champions, had many wives; Elkanah, a presumably godly man and the father of Samuel, had two wives. (Read more from God’s Plan for Marriage: Dealing with Old Testament Polygamy by Gregory Alan Thornbury)
Top Bible Verses about Polygamy
Exodus 21:10 - If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights.
Deuteronomy 21:15-17 - “If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.
Genesis 4:19 - And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
2 Samuel 12:8 - And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.
Isaiah 4:1 - And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”
Judges 8:30 - Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives.
2 Chronicles 11:21 - Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and concubines (he took eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and fathered twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters).
2 Chronicles 13:21 - But Abijah grew mighty. And he took fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.
Browse more Bible verses related to polygamy, multiple wives, and concubines in the collection of scripture quotes below: