Bible Permits Polygamy...Contradicts Itself

Bill Johnson
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Bible Permits Polygamy...Contradicts Itself

Deu 17:14-20 When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me," (15) you may indeed set over you a king whom the Lord your God will choose. One of your own community you may set as king over you; you are not permitted to put a foreigner over you, who is not of your own community. (16) Even so, he must not acquire many horses for himself, or return the people to Egypt in order to acquire more horses, since the Lord has said to you, "You must never return that way again." (17) And he must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself. (18) When he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law written for him in the presence of the levitical priests. (19) It shall remain with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes, (20) neither exalting himself above other members of the community nor turning aside from the commandment, either to the right or to the left, so that he and his descendants may reign long over his kingdom in Israel. (NRSV)

Above is the law which concerned kings of Israel. Verse 17 says a king of Israel "must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away."

2Sa 5:13 In Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, David took more concubines and wives; and more sons and daughters were born to David.

David violated Deu 17:17 when he acquired many wives.

1Ki 15:4-5 Nevertheless for David's sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem; (5) because David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

1Ki 15:5 contradicts Deu 17:17 and 2Sa 5:13, as David turned aside from the commandment in Deu 17:17; the commandment which, according to Deu 17:18, was to be in the copy of the law that was to be written by a king of Israel once they had taken the throne; the commandment that was supposed to "remain with" David and be read in "all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God..."

Not only is the Bible contradictory concerning polygamy, it also permits it. 1Ki 15:5 says "David did what was right in the sight of the Lord...all the days of his life," therefore when he acquired many wives in the sight of the Lord, he did what was "right."


todangst
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Bill Johnson wrote:Deu

Bill Johnson wrote:
Deu 17:14-20 When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me," (15) you may indeed set over you a king whom the Lord your God will choose.

Ugh.... here's a 'basis' for the 'divine right of kings' argument... the 'justification' for every tyrannical act from kings through history.... and christian apologists say that these beliefs are harmless?

Quote:

One of your own community you may set as king over you; you are not permitted to put a foreigner over you, who is not of your own community. (16) Even so, he must not acquire many horses for himself, or return the people to Egypt in order to acquire more horses, since the Lord has said to you, "You must never return that way again." (17) And he must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself. (18) When he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law written for him in the presence of the levitical priests. (19) It shall remain with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes, (20) neither exalting himself above other members of the community nor turning aside from the commandment, either to the right or to the left, so that he and his descendants may reign long over his kingdom in Israel. (NRSV)

Above is the law which concerned kings of Israel. Verse 17 says a king of Israel "must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away..."

2Sa 5:13 In Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, David took more concubines and wives; and more sons and daughters were born to David.

David violated Deu 17:17 when he acquired many wives.

1Ki 15:4-5 Nevertheless for David's sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem; (5) because David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

1Ki 15:5 contradicts Deu 17:17 and 2Sa 5:13, as David turned aside from the commandment in Deu 17:17...the commandment which, according to Deu 17:18 , would have been in the copy of the law that was written for kings of Israel once they had taken the throne...the commandment that was supposed to "remain with" David and be "read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God..."

Not only is the Bible contradictory concerning polygamy, it also permits it. 1Ki 15:5 says that "David did what was right in the sight of the Lord...all the days of his life," therefore when David acquired many wives in the sight of the Lord, he did what was "right."

Nice points.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


Bill Johnson
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todangst wrote:Nice

todangst wrote:
Nice points.

Thanks, but I'm not certain on all of them. See below.

Anyone who knows me enough will know that I'm not overzealous when it comes to establishing errors in the Bible. With that said, I'm not sure if the example of a contradiction I gave above is strong enough for me to endorse since Deu 17:17 isn't specific - it just says "many wives." Additionally, the Mishna apparently states that a king of Israel may only have up to 18 wives, including concubines (this is controversial in the Talmud). However, since I argue against the Bible in a religious context, the Talmud has no bearing on the it as it's not part of it - except with regard to the understanding of Hebrew in some cases since language is a social phenomenon). Also, Deu 17:17 may not be specifically what was to be written by a king of Israel once they had taken the throne. I will mention, however, that nothing seems to indicate this. In fact, Deu 17:18 seems to indicate the the opposite: "When he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law written for him in the presence of the levitical priests." Verse 18 seems to indicate that the the law that was to be copied was the ambiguous one spoken of in verse 17.

Well, the more I think about this issue the more I'm inclined to drop it as an example of a contradiction since it's not clear. Anyway, one thing that is clear, is that the Bible does permit polygamy (at least with regard to David), by way of contradiction. Whether this poses problems for the Bible and its followers, I do not yet know. I'll have to look further into it.

Here is an article written by Robert Turkel (aka J.P. Holding) regarding polygamy in the Bible:

Quote:
C. Dennis McKinsey begins his commentary on polygamy with the words, "Polygamy is widely condemned as repugnant, if not immoral." From there he cites instances of polygamy in the Bible, ranging from the mild (Jacob, two) to the absurd (Solomon, who knows!). The common response to this is to note that God nowhere endorses polygamy; Skeptics may respond that neither is it condemned. The only "condemnation" is implicit and by example. God created but one Eve for Adam. Multiple wives led, for most men who were polygamists, to multiple troubles. Then shouldn't God have said something more direct? Not necessarily. Polygamy counts as one of those acts in the hierarchy of morals that has been reckoned at times to be a "necessary evil" -- not meaning, as McKinsey says, that God changes his mind about what is moral, but that what is moral may be superseded by what is moral on other grounds. To use the classic example, lying is wrong unless you have Jews in your cellar. Then lying becomes a moral imperative.

We therefore need only show that there are circumstances in which polygamy might be a moral imperative, and we can produce these, from a contextually neutral source. Karen Armstrong, certainly no friend of fundamentalism, notes in her biography of Muhammed [190-2] that early Islam allowed polygamy. McKinsey no doubt views polygamy in terms of "pure male chauvinism" and a desire to have many bed partners. In some cases there was no doubt abuse in that direction; Solomon seems to have been a prime example, who paid the price of indiscretion via being drawn into idolatry. However, Armstrong notes social factors in Muhammed's time that mitigated the "evil" of polygamy, and these factors apply just as readily in more ancient Biblical settings:

* Polygamy was Muhammed's solution to the problem of orphans and widows. Men who died for whatever reason left behind sisters, daughters, and other relatives who needed protection. New guardians might not be scrupulous about administering the property of orphans and might even try to keep women unmarried so they could keep the of the deceased husband property. Polygamy allowed an already-married guardian with better interests for the survivors to step in, in an era before there were social, legal and governmental organizations to take up the case. Obviously these conditions applied in the earlier world of the ANE as well.

* Armstrong notes that there was probably a shortage of men in Arabia in Muhammed's era, "which left a surplus of unmarried women who were often badly exploited." Such women in the ANE found themselves compelled to take up a life of prostitution, and less scrupulous persons may resort to female infanticide.

Critics like McKinsey should therefore take some caution before condemning polygamy as "repugnant." The matter is not that simple; the practice would almost certainly be repugnant in our modern nation, because none of the social conditions exist which exert a moral influence making polygamy a "necessary evil." But there is a vast difference between our modern world and the ancient Near East.

http://www.tektonics.org/lp/polygamy.html

Holding is well known for his poor scholarship, so I wouldn't be surprised if the above article is filled with errors. I'm lazy at the moment so I'm going to finish up my post now. I'm not sure if I'll respond to Holding's article on polygamy in the Bible. I'd rather deal with very damaging issues concerning the Bible.


Randalllord
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1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

While this doesn't say one can have multiple wives, it implies that a common man may practice pologomony as to be a bishop you can only have one wife.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. - Seneca