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The 12 Books of Abraham

    FAQ 85

    Is Proverbs 5:15 Really
    a Monogamy-Only

    Q. The Bibles says: "Be faithful to your own wife and give your love to her alone" (Proverbs 5:15, TEV).

    I think that this question illustrates the very real danger of using paraphrased versions of the Bible to establish doctrinal truth. At face value, this is a monogamy-only text. In fact, this is a perfect illustration of translator-bias. Interesting though this piece of human molestation of Scripture may sound to monogamy-only ears anxious to be tickled, this is absolutely not what the Bible actually says:

      "Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well" (NIV)

      "Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well" (KJV)

    To see the liberties that some translators take, see what the next verse of the Today's English Version (Good News Bible) says:

      "Children that you have by other women will do you no good" (v.16, TEV).

    But what does the Bible actually say?

      "Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? (NIV)

      "Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets" (KJV)

    The earlier verses in this passage are about fleeing prostitutes and the metaphor used in the Hebrew means simply that a man must not sow his seed beyond his own wife or wives. There is no sense here in which a man is to have only one wife and only have children through her. Coming from Solomon, who had a thousand wives and concubines and innumerable children, this would make him one of the arch-hypocrites of all history! Worse, such a statement would have made Yahweh, the author of Torah, to be in error.

    Flee from the prostitute!

    The meaning of the cited passage is that a man is to enjoy sex (drinking water) from his own marriages (cistern), whether with one wife or several. His seed (fountains) is not to be "dispersed abroad" (outside the marriage covenant) or scattered "in the streets" (with harlots).

    Other paraphrase bibles, like the Contemporary English Version, is almost as bad as the TEV:

      "You should be faithful to your wife, just as you take water from your own well. And don't be like a stream from which any woman may take a drink. Save yourself for your wife and don't have sex with other women. Be happy with the wife you married when you were young" (Proverbs 5:15-18, CEV).

    Had the translators said, "..don't have sex with other women you aren't married to", then the paraphrase would have been pretty good and in harmony with not only the the rest of Elohim's (God's) Word but with the sense of the original Hebrew metaphor. But as it stands, it is strongly hinting at a monogamy-exclusive doctrine. When the KJV says: "Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth" (v.15), the clear meaning is that a husband should not discard his first wife for another or others but continue to delight himself in her as he did when he first married her. The same meaning is to be found elsewhere in Scripture, and most clearly in Malachi 2:14b, at a time when unrighteous men, who were not wealthy enough to support a second wife, were discarding (divorcing) their first (older) wives for (presumably) younger, prettier ones. Yahweh makes it very clear what He thinks about divorce, namely, that He hates it (v.16).

    The Word of Elohim (God) is everywhere potentially twistable, and men have, throughout the millennia, been only too glad to twist them to make them 'fit' into their pre-conceived doctrines. The plain sense of Proverbs is that men are not to have sex with women they aren't married to by covenant according to Yahweh's holy statutes, and so risk having illegitimate children of fornication and adultery. We must therefore be stringently faithful to ALL scripture, neither ignoring those passages that don't fit in with out pet human doctrines nor twisting them, as the paraphrases often do, to fit in with theirs.

    There is no such thing as a monogamy-only proof-text scripture. At any rate, I have yet to find one. But everywhere I see polygamy spelled across the pages of Scripture - not because I want to see it there - but because it is written plainly into Yahweh's Torah for everyone to plainly understand.

    Be faithful to those you are covenant-married to, exclude ALL others!

    Author: SBSK

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    First created on 18 January 2002
    Updated on 16 May 2016

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