Anything in the OT that bans polygamy?

Hi. I already accept that polygamy is banned in the New Testament. I am also looking for passages in the Old Testament Bible that shows polygamy was unrighteous.


Well God gave Adam a helper not helpers. And you can look at how the covenant between God and Abraham was for his son Isaac and not Ishmael too. I’ve heard this is because Sarah was his wife and not Hagai


There is nothing in the OT (or NT for that matter) that calls polygamy a sin. Sure, there are a lot of problems, like jealousies, envy, neglect, etc that tends to be associated with polygamy, but having marital or interpersonal problems does not equal sin any more than the jealousies in monogamous marriages.


So your logic is that if God wanted polygamy, he would have made additional helpers for Adam. The problem with this logic is that it presumes that God had only one way (how he made things in the beginning) to show what he wanted. God could’ve shown polygamy to be okay in multiple ways, like bringing it up later on, and that’s precisely how we find out about it in the Bible, along with all the other rules that God wanted for marriage.

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Your logic assumes that you only need to find something in bible to prove whether or not something is good or not. We know from sacred tradition that polygamy is not ok.


See the Bible Study I gave here in which I address the problem. Polygamy is condemned even in the OT

Fr. Sebastian
Los Gatos, CA


I notice that you did not address my rebuttal to your claim and instead jumped to another issue. Do you agree that God can show what’s moral in ways besides just including them in the “beginning”?

More directly to your point, I am not an advocate for Sola Scriptura but nor should teachings beyond the Bible conflict with the Bible. Such is the problem with the Catholic teaching on marriage. I can agree with Christians when it comes to what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, but when it comes to polygamy, many believers fail miserably in their logic and understanding of the Bible.

Catholic teaching does not contradict the Bible but helps to understand what is in it.

The story of Christianity is a story of gradual revelation.

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19 Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.

This is the first polygamist recorded in the bible. I think the bible gives clues that he is the first period.
In the midrash God sends the flood because of his polygamy. Lamech was the sixth generation in the line of cain, seventh if Adam is counted. I like him being sixth since he is a type of man of sin.

The poem below is Lamech’s message to his wives.He tells them that vengence from Cain is seven times Cain the first murderer, It was fatricide. This is a generation of sin. He tells them that venegence from him is seventy seven fold. Remember how many times Jesus told His diciples they would have to forgive? seventy times seventy seven. This is a generation of man that is wickedness maxed out. A generationis that begins in sin seven times more than what is just. Sin peaks in the life of Lamech. Lamech is a type of man of sin. He is a sign of the increasing sin in man that has reached it’s end. Can’t be more sinful than seventy seven times more sinful than the first man to murder another man and it was his brother the first prophet. Cain started a tradition .And it reached it’s capacity for evil in Lamech.the first polygamist. I think the bible’s is teaching that polygamy is not so good.

23 Lamech said to his wives,

“Adah and Zillah,
Listen to my voice,
You wives of Lamech,
Give heed to my speech,
For I [n]have killed a man for wounding me;
And a boy for striking me;
24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold,
Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

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oops Listening to Father Sebastian’s talk about polygamy in the OT. Father beat me to the Lamech lesson :flushed:

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Fancy giving a bullet point summary for those of us who don’t have an hour to spare on this subject?

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Theological and Exegetical debate that is driven by bullet points ends in heresy. If you want that read Luther’s Shorter Catechism. Otherwise, turn off the cell phone, turn off the TV, and give yourself the benefit of studying something for even, yes, an hour!!! :wink:

Fr. Sebastian Carnazzo
Los Gatos, CA


There are plenty of things i study for over an hour. Polygamy is not going to be one of them. Frankly it is irrelevant to my life and i was just mildly curious by the thread since there are many instances of it in the OT.

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Not from the Old Testament, which is sacred tradition. There are multiple examples.

OT is sacred scripture

I think the point there is that killing two people is seventy times worse than killing one and nothing to do with polygamy.

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If you separate Scripture from tradition you might miss some things.

Interesting, especially the bit about Sodom. Have you read Genesis 19 4:
But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

in relation to Ezekiel 16 which repeatedly refers to Sodom and her daughters, e.g. verse 49:
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

In the Genesis quote you will see that the ‘men of the city’ come, and then ‘even the men’ come. Could not the men of the city be women? Could not the ruling council of councilmen be women? Ezekiel strongly suggests that they are. Sodom was a matriarchy would be a natural conclusion. That is why Lot’s wife who was an adult was turned to stone. She was of ‘the men of the city’. Lot, who was not originally from Sodom, offered his daughters, not for sex, but to serve the matriarchy. As virgins they could be married off for political gain.

If that is the case then is it not up to men to marry as many women as possible and keep them in their place so that another Sodom doesn’t happen? In your own words you say that the ‘wisdom’ of women influences one track thinking men; ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’. Maybe Sodom is the end-result? Maybe polygamy is a way to circumvent it?

(Yes, I know. ‘That’s not the way it’s been interpreted’. I get that a lot. However, given this interpretation, to me, is also logical and could reduce the friction between, say, secular views on LGBT and the Catholic position as well as soothe Muslim-Catholic relations, does it not serve to bring humanity together rather than divide it?)

I have read this text a thousand times and have never seen such possible
interpretations. In fact, the whole thing seemed to get more strange as I
read along, but then I got to the end of your statements and it all made
sense. In fact, if you read your statement backwards then it’s perfectly
logical. Unfortunately, this is what’s called eisegesis, not exegesis.
You are starting with a preconceived idea, that idea is evident in your
last few words. You are then attempting to read the Biblical text through
that lens. Try removing the lens first.

You said that you are aware that this is far from the traditional read of
the text. That’s correct. It’s also very far from any scholarly
commentary on the text by anyone who has a PhD in Biblical Studies, whether
Jew, Christian, or Agnostic. You can’t take a text out of the community
that produced it and say that you know more about it than those who
composed it and have preserved it for millennia. Imagine taking this email
of mine and reading a sentence here contrary to how I intended it. Then
when I tell you that you have misread what I meant, you tell me that you
know more about what I meant than what I think I meant. I think the
ridiculous nature of the exercise is evident enough.

I’ll challenge you. Go to church this Sunday. Truly pray to God for
clarity and ask him to forgive you of any sins which you may have committed
or any ideas you have in your mind that are contrary to His revealed word.
Then go to confession. Spend some time praying afterward. Then receive
communion. Then Sunday afternoon, take another look at Genesis 19. I
think you may see things differently at that point. I will be praying for
you. I also know many others here in this forum will be praying for you as
well. May God bless you!

Fr. Sebastian
St. Elias Church
Los Gatos, CA


I’m not so sure about that. I read those two lines as a type of repetition for the sake of emphasis. We find that in many places in the OT.

The speech of Lamech might be addressing premeditated murder (that is, if Cain didn’t know what murder was, Lamech certainly did… but he committed it anyway).

No… that seems an overly literalistic reading of that verse. In the Song of Songs (3:10), we see a reference to the “daughters of Jerusalem.” Would you therefore conclude that Jerusalem was a matriarchy, ruled over by women?

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