Passage on Two Wives


I’m trying to find a Biblical (I think it is) passage where the story begins with a man who had two wives, one loved, the other unloved. The latter had 2 kids or sons, and when the former was sad, the guy told her, “Am I not better for you than all the children in the world?” or something like that. I don’t remember what happened next.

I searched for a bunch of stuff and found Deut 21:15 which is not it, and Jacob and his Leah and Rachel which is also not it.

Would appreciate any help. Thanks!


From what you describe it sounds like the tale of two wives, Rachel and Leah. Leah was the unloved wife. (Genesis 29:30) Just incase it isnt though, Maybe one of these is what Youre looking for:

Lamech, and his wives. (Gen 4:19-24).

Gideon has many wives and many sons (Judges 8:30).

David has a seemingly insatiable appetite for women. He has many wives (2 Sam 5:13)

Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. They led his heart away from the Lord, and led to the break-up of his kingdom (1 Kings 11:3-4).

He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
(1 Samuel 1:2)


I think that it is the account of Hannah and Peninnah.

From the RSV CE 1 Samuel 1 3-8

Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh,[a] where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phin′ehas, were priests of the Lord. On the day when Elka′nah sacrificed, he would give portions to Penin′nah his wife and to all her sons and daughters; and, although** he loved Hannah, he would give Hannah only one portion, because the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her sorely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elka′nah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”**

It implies that Penin′nah had more than two children and does not explicitly state that she was not loved, but I do think it is implied that Hannah was the favorite. Other translations state a double portion (e.g. the NRSV)


That is absolutely correct. It is the very beginning of the first book of Samuel (or the first book of Kings, if one is using the Douay-Rheims Bible.) :thumbsup:


Hello all,

Were any of these polygamist acts ever favoured by God? For example, I know in Solomon’s case that is was of his own fault and also that Ishmael’s birth to Abraham and his slave Haggar, was a result of Sarah’s consent and not God’s.

But is there any moment where God did give consent to this? Please note, I know this is not the question but it is kind of relevant.


That’s got to be it, though I do remember that loved / unloved thing. Hmm… Thank you.


I don’t know if it was “favored”, but it certainly was permitted by God, and even in NT times it was practiced, but gradually faded out at least in Christianity St. Paul stated that a Bishop be the husband of only one wife, which implies that the practice of having multiple wives was still in place, but also seems to imply it was not the most desirable state. Also, St. Paul speaks of marriage in terms that imply monogamy in other places in the NT. I don’t know when the practice was explicitly forbidden by God, if it was, or if it gradually dawned upon the Church by guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the OT, it likely was permitted for reasons of populating the earth, according to what I have read. The CCC most definitely states polygamy among Christians is forbidden. Perhaps someone with familiarity with Church history and the Church Fathers has some knowledge of this.


Thank you for your response :slight_smile:


No, these acts were not favoured by God. Rather, he permitted them because he had to work with our sinfulness and hardness of heart, just as he permitted divorce under the Law of the Old Covenant.

In Genesis 1-2, we read that God’s original plan was for marriage between one man and one woman - Adam and Eve.

In the Gospels, where Christ raised marriage to the level of the Sacrament of Matrimony, he reaffirms that God’s original plan was for “two to become one flesh - man and woman”. This automatically excludes not only divorce but any other perversion of the Sacrament, be it promiscuity, polygamy or sodomitic marriage.



…I think that you’ve combined two passages into the narrative that you are recalling:

1 Samuel 1 (Elcana and Anna and Phenenna) where Elcana feels deep sorrow for Anna’s infertility (she eventually gives birth to the prophet Samuel) and Genesis 29, 30, 35 (Jacob and Rachael and Leah), where Jacob falls in love with Rachael but is tricked by Laban (father-in-law) to marry Leah; Jacob does in deed have a preference (greater love) for Rachael, whose two sons become his favorites.

…and the quote you recall is from Elcana who attempts to comfort Anna: ‘Am I not better then ten sons to you?’ (paraphrased)

Maran atha!



Hi, Romano!

…I don’t understand your explanation about the differences in Bible versions, could you expand on that?

Maran atha!




…I can’t recall a single passage in the Old Testament that it is clearly stated as you’ve asked…

Though it is clear from the context that those instances that you’ve noted have been treated differently because they dealt with the Promise… God’s Salvific Plan would come about due to His Own Doing not man’s… so God rejected those children that man would have chosen as their “firstborn.”

…notice though that the prophets (as far as I can recall) were in deed Commanded to follow a different path then all others, including David and Salomon–their failures, in my estimation, reflected the curse placed on Israel (1 Samuel 8).

Maran atha!



Hi CB!

…it was Ordained by God:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

(St. Matthew 19:4-9)

]24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:15-16)
…the problem is that, from the Garden of Eden, man has continually rejected God’s Command and followed his own desires.

Maran atha!





Hi, Romano!

Thanks for the reply!

…I never knew that–every Bible I’ve seen has both, including the online DR version I use from the BibleGateway.

Thanks, again, for the clarification.

Maran atha!



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