King Solomon's 700 Wives

I am teaching my Sunday School class about King Solomon and the scripture on his 700 wives astounded the whole class. Was it acceptable for the men of the day to have multiple wives even though the commandment against adultery existed?

Thank you.

Matt Flanagan

Wonder how he memorized their names. :rolleyes:

[quote=mattflanagan]I am teaching my Sunday School class about King Solomon and the scripture on his 700 wives astounded the whole class. Was it acceptable for the men of the day to have multiple wives even though the commandment against adultery existed?

Thank you.

Matt Flanagan
[/quote]

Having marital relations with one’s own wife was not considered “adultery”.

Are you under the impression that there was a rule against bigamy in the Old Testament?

Common sense might have dictated against having 700 mothers-in-law, however.

Peace in Christ…Salmon

I guess that is my major question I am trying to find out. Was bigamy allowed and if so, was there a cap on how many wives you could have? Also the Bible says Solomon had 300 concubines. Was that allowed?

This is somehing I have been wondering too. Not only did Old Testament leaders have more than one wife, it always made me queasy about the fact that God had no issue with Jacob marrying sisters, which later became illegal. And Abraham took another wife after Sarah had Issac, before Abraham’s death.

I know that we should not impose our values on history. Many tribal communties that experienced much war viewed marraige as a good investment in security policy, because it provided alliances. They also thought it was good for men to have more than one wife, with the (probably valid) excuse that so many men died in the field fighting that there were not enough men to go around, and if there were a one for one allocation of spouses than many women would not have an opportunity to be wives, which would greatly limit their ability to contribute to society. Not to mention that a large pool of unmarried women might be dangerous to domestic stability and morality of the married.

But when did polygamy become unacceptable under Jewish law. Was a formal declaration ever made?

In Genesis, those who took more than one wife were usually those that did not follow God’s will so well…like the contradiction the line of Cain and the line of Seth.

In Exodus (21:10) God tells Moses that loosely that if a man takes another wife, he must not reduce the amount of food, clothing, or conjugal rights of the first. It is hard to see how a man could treat 700 women equally. Leviticus lays out clearer guidelines about whom a man can marry in terms of blood relations.

The reign of Solomon represents the fall of man from the grace of God in a sense. In the beginning God offered him anything he wanted, and he asked for wisdom, which pleased God and gave him a great beginning in Biblical history. What he did with his wisdom did not always please God. He seemd to be more and more concerned with political ambitions and establishing himself in the world, and less about his relationship with God.

To me, Solomon represents some one more concerned about what his actions signify (look how great he followed the letter of the law), than the substance behind the actions (how poorly he honored the spirit of the law). On the one hand, he built the elaborate first Temple. on the other hand, he had 700 wives.

There’s already at least one other thread on this:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=35052&highlight=polygamy

My answer is the one I gave there:

The Bible simply states the information as a fact and never endorses or praises it. In fact, if we look at those in the Bible who had multiple wives, misfortune always came to them as a direct or indirect result of their polygamy. For example, Jacob’s sons, born from several different mothers, develop rivalries among themselves, resulting in the selling of their brother Joseph into slavery. David’s son’s, born from different wives, fight and kill among themselves for the throne after his death. Solomon’s many wives lead him away from God and into paganism in his later years, weakening the kingdom and leading to it’s breakup. The examples could be multiplied. I think the bad effects of polygamy in the Scriptures speak for themselves.

The Scripture writers allow the events and actions of the characters speak for themselves, as the above post states. Very good writing technique. The big problem with multiple wives was that it encouraged foreign wives who brought their pagan religious customs and idols into the royal family and so debased the practice of the Jewish religion. This was decried over and over by the prophets, so there was plenty of warnings against the practice.

How did he ever remember their names? Let alone birthdays and remembering who was who. :rolleyes:

[quote=Joe Kelley]Wonder how he memorized their names. :rolleyes:
[/quote]

That’s the easy part. How about celebrating on average 2 anniversaries a day. That is a lot of anniversary dinners not to mention you have to share the anniversary with more than one wife.
You have to figure that after the 100th wedding the butterflies that accompny a wedding day would go away for old Solmon it would be rather old hat. Imagine the priest oh you again!!

[quote=mattflanagan]I am teaching my Sunday School class about King Solomon and the scripture on his 700 wives astounded the whole class. Was it acceptable for the men of the day to have multiple wives even though the commandment against adultery existed?

Thank you.

Matt Flanagan
[/quote]

Plus the 300 concubines; add to that 1000 mothers-in-law to please and you do have a big problem - a major headache with all of those nagging women :smiley:

Yes it is true that Solomon, against Yahweh’s advice took on these wives and concubines. It was a common practice to give a daughter in marriage to seal a treaty.

Maggie

[quote=Maccabees]That’s the easy part. How about celebrating on average 2 anniversaries a day. That is a lot of anniversary dinners not to mention you have to share the anniversary with more than one wife.
You have to figure that after the 100th wedding the butterflies that accompny a wedding day would go away for old Solmon it would be rather old hat. Imagine the priest oh you again!!
[/quote]

With so many wives and concubines, and will all those other nagging women hanging around, how did he have time for alliances, eating dinner or paying general attention to his people? :whacky:
Maggie

[quote=MaggieOH]Plus the 300 concubines; add to that 1000 mothers-in-law to please and you do have a big problem - a major headache with all of those nagging women :smiley:

Yes it is true that Solomon, against Yahweh’s advice took on these wives and concubines. It was a common practice to give a daughter in marriage to seal a treaty.

Maggie
[/quote]

How many treaties did you need in ancient times. I think he had more wives than the number of known countires during his lifetime.
Let’s face it he got a little carried away here.

[quote=MaggieOH]With so many wives and concubines, and will all those other nagging women hanging around, how did he have time for alliances, eating dinner or paying general attention to his people? :whacky:
Maggie
[/quote]

Well according to the Bible he left the kingdom of Israel in a decline partly because of neglect. To busy with the wives perhaps and of course to busy for the one true God whom he was very close to when he was younger. Solomon started out as a great king but he left as a king whose potential was never fulfilled. Oh well he left us some of the greatest poems and proverbs ever penned.

[quote=Maccabees]How many treaties did you need in ancient times. I think he had more wives than the number of known countires during his lifetime.
Let’s face it he got a little carried away here.
[/quote]

He must have been exhausted :wink:

[quote=Maccabees]Well according to the Bible he left the kingdom of Israel in a decline partly because of neglect. To busy with the wives perhaps and of course to busy for the one true God whom he was very close to when he was younger. Solomon started out as a great king but he left as a king whose potential was never fulfilled. Oh well he left us some of the greatest poems and proverbs ever penned.
[/quote]

How did he have time to pen any of them. I think that they are the work of someone else using the name of Solomon.

I think the kingdom went into decline because he had his mind on flesh instead of spirit :o

[quote=MaggieOH]How did he have time to pen any of them. I think that they are the work of someone else using the name of Solomon.

I think the kingdom went into decline because he had his mind on flesh instead of spirit :o
[/quote]

Since the Song of Solomon is pretty steamy I am pretty sure he penned that one.:bigyikes:

[quote=Maccabees]Since the Song of Solomon is pretty steamy I am pretty sure he penned that one.:bigyikes:
[/quote]

Yep, so steamy that a priest of my acquaintance thought that it was too racy for me to proclaim it :). He told me to read the alternate :o

Maggie

[quote=Maccabees]Since the Song of Solomon is pretty steamy I am pretty sure he penned that one.:bigyikes:
[/quote]

Well if he is the author then the wife in question must have been pretty steamy too :o

Thankfully he didn’t write scripture for each one of his wives we would have one long Bible.

Song of Solomon was always a one of controversy for the Jewsih leaders as it read to much like an erotic love story for thier liking thus a few controversial debates it it should be in scripture or not.
But a strong tradition that it was the work of Solomon helped it gain legitamacy.
The early church allegorized it as the union of love between Christ bride and Christ the Groom. The fathers didn’t have a problem with it since they took that approach.

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