It is with some trepidation and alarm that we see emerging in the Christian polygamy movement a false doctrine, based on a misinterpretation of the Torah, which says that if a man marries two sisters that he is committing a grave sin. Worse, the father of our tribe, Israel, is accused, retrospectively, of being a sinner - that is, had he lived in the time of Moses and after, his taking two sisters as wives would have placed him under condemnation, they say. We are then treated to a load of gobbledegook about how Jacob 'sinned in ignorance' because what he did was before the time of Torah, and so he is forgiven.
The origin of this doctrinal confusion is explained in an earlier writing, Did Jacob Sin in Marrying Two Sisters? to which I gave a negative answer. My purpose in this article will be to take my arguments one step further and to show how utterly nonsensensical the 'anti' position is.
And indeed my message to all polygamous women is: "May you be like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel".
"Yahweh make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel" (Ruth 4:11, NKJV).
Recently I received a letter from a distressed lady who wrote in to this ministry. She had been participating on a discussion on this subject and on the family of Jacob generally at another patriarchal Christian site:
Indeed. There are many 'theoreticians' out there evolving their own polygamy talmuds, many of whom have never lived polygamy or have had minimal exposure to it. As I argued in my FAQ, I have no objection to people arriving at different interpretations when there is room in the scriptures for alternative ones but I do object most strongly when they try to enshrine their opinion as dogma and then look down upon all others who disagree with them.
"I was somewhat irritated at how some of the e-mails were 'putting down' the family of Jacob and Leah and Rachel, and I felt compelled to write what I felt. We have known a good deal of families with sisters married to the same husband and their relationships have seemed to thrive all the more. So perhaps you can
see why I was somewhat offended by the subject and the offhand manner and dismissal it received ... I suppose I shouldn't mind it, but it just seems like sometimes some people really don't understand polygamy even when they say they do. And it almost seems belittling to me when they disregard certain things about it."
When looking at the Law of Moses as our source of revelation there are three things we need to bear in mind:
What this means in practice is as follows. Before Moses there was a Patriarchal Law whose government, the Book of Hebrews informs us, was the Melchizedek Priesthood. This was later replaced by an inferior or preparatory Priesthood - the Levitical - because the children of Israel refused to live Yahweh's higher laws at Mt. Sinai. This required that they approach Elohim (God) face-to-face, but they chose rather to have an intermediary priest in the form of Moses, his successors, and (ultimately) the Levitical Priests. The existence of so many statutes were not necessary in the millennia prior to Moses because the patriarchs communed face-to-face with the Elohim (God) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Written laws and regulations multiply in proportion to the increasing spiritual gap between man and Yahweh.
- 1. Holy thought the Torah was, and is (we at in this ministry are Torah-observers), it was nevertheless incomplete and in places (purposefully) faulty, adapted by Yahweh to the hard-heartedness of the people to whom it was given;
- 2. Christ brought the Torah to its completion by
(a) removing the ceremonial law, and
(b) elevating certain parts of the moral law to a higher and compeletely perfect plane (e.g. His statutes on adultery);
- 3. The New Covenant Torah (Law) of Christ is identical morally and authoritatively to the Patriarchal and Noachian statutes that preceeded the Law of Moses.
What this means is that sisters marrying the same husband was never a sin in Yahweh's eyes, and never will be, provided there is no cultivated rivalry. The statute on sisters was added to the Law of Moses, not to 'root out' Leah-Rachel marriages, but to address hard-heartedness. In effect, Yahweh was saying: "Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sisters marrying the same husband ... in fact it's the preferred mode ... but if you are going to be hardhearted and quarrel then it is better you don't marry the same husband, for everyone's sake."
It would be utterly absurd from Yahweh's point-of-view, would it not, for Him to select Leah and Rachel as models of Israelite womanhood to then have Him supposedly undermine Himself with a statute making their union to a single husband a SIN!! Indeed, it is as ridiculous as the monogamy-only idea of Yahweh upholding His relationship to Israel as a polygamous one (or Christ to the Church) were polygamy to be a SIN!! Absurd! Even worse that that, was not Yahweh married allegorically to two sisters - Jerusalem and Samaria (Judah and Israel)??
The fact that women married to a single husband are rightly termed SISTER-wives should serve to underline my point even more: the ideal relationship between wives should be SISTERLY, and so what better arrangement for a polygamous marriage than actual sisters living together in harmony?
The irrationality and stupidty of some men and women really does make my head spin sometimes. When Yahweh holds up an ideal for us to imitate, He does not carelessly leave Satan an opportunity to accuse Him of exalting SIN. Indeed, I will go so far as to say that those who say marriage of sisters polygamously is a sin are, without perhaps knowing it, mocking El Elyon - the Most High.
I have been accused, because I take this position, of grinding my own axe, because I am married to two sisters. Let it be stated here and now that I am not married to two sisters, and never have been. However, if two sisters were to approach me for marriage I would unhesitatingly accept both and bless the names of Leah and Rachel as I did so.
The logo below, which we use a lot in this ministry, is of a Hebrew shin extended by adding a fourth arm. In each of the four arms of this letter (which is commonly associated with the Hebrew word for salvation, yasha, as in Yah'shua = Jesus) are the four names of the Four Leading Ladies of Israel: Leah, Rachel, Rebekah and Sarah (from right to left).
For thousands of years, on every Sabbath, the fathers of Israel have recited the b'rakhah, just as Yah'shua (Jesus) did over the children in Mark 10:16, saying:
Hallelujah! May Yahweh bless all four of these women in perpetuity!
"Yahweh make you [my sons] like Ephraim and Manasseh" (the sons of Joseph and grandsons of Jacob), and "Yahweh make you [my daughters] like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah" (the wives of the three chief patriarchs).
In case our readers have forgotten, The Most High Elohim (God) is pleased to have His Name associated in perpetuity with these three Patriarchs, "I am the Elohim (God) of your father -- the Elohim (God) of Abraham, the Elohim (God) of Isaac, and the Elohim (God) of Jacob" (Ex 3:6, NKJV), a designation repeated over 100 times in the Bible.
We are, are we not, a little foolish if we denigrade these men of Melchizedek and their wives (in spite of their human faults and failings) by accusing any of them as being lawless in their marriages. Yahweh blessed their marriages and they are used as models for us to emulate. And that, in this ministry, we attempt to do!
Let no-one in or out of the Christian/Messianic polygamy movement intimidate you over the question of the legitimacy of a man marrying two sisters. You have the Law of Yahweh on your side. The only thing you are obliged to watch out for is to ensure that you (if you are a man) do not marry two sisters who don't get on well, who show carnal rivalry and who may vex one another. No right-minded patriarch would bring such a pair into his family, sisters or not, who was a destabilising influence anyway, would he? It's really common sense.
Leah and Rachel, Sisters and Sister-Wives