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Guided Tour

Index of

The 12 Books of Abraham

    20. Abraham the Monogamist?

    A common objection I hear from people concerns Abraham's polygamy. Herbert Armstrong, the late leader of the Worldwide Church of God, declared that Abraham was a monogamist. And I have heard many Protestant ministers say the same thing. They argue that Hagar, Sarah's servant girl, was never Abraham's wife but that she was 'used' adulterously to get the promised seed 'ahead of time'. Well, this is a half-truth. Yes, Sarah was in a hurry to have the promised seed and didn't believe she could conceive as she had had her menopause and was old. Yes, she lacked faith. Yes, she was wrong to expect the promised seed to come through Hagar. Yes, Abraham was wrong not to discourage her in that thought. But was the relationship between Abraham and Hagar adulterous - a disastrous mistake? See what the Bible says:

      "Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife" (Gen.16:2-3, NKJV).

    If someone tells you that Abraham was an adulterer or a fornicator, get them to read out this passage and challenge them to prove from the Bible that being married to a wife is a sin!

    Fact: Sarah was Abraham's wife and Hagar was Abraham's wife. They were both his wives and nowhere is he accused of being an adulterer by Yahweh or anyone else. True, Hagar was a pilegesh-wife (concubine) or a wife of lesser status than a full wife, but she is nevertheless called a wife in the scriptures, the same Hebrew word used of Sarah ('ishshah).

    Similar attempts are made to 'prove' that Jacob had two wives and not four because he married his two first wives' maidservants who became concubines (though they were later elevated to full wives with equal inheritance rights). But again they are referred to as 'wives' (Gen.30:9; 37:2).

    Detractors also say that after Sarah died Abraham married monogamously to Keturah. But they seem to read their Bibles with their sunglasses on or in a dark closet for it is written:

      "Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east" (Gen.25:1-6, NKJV).

    After Sarah's death he married Keturah as a full wife. We know he had concubines (Heb. pilegesh) at this time which he could conceivably have had before or after Sarah's death, or both. In any case, Abraham had at least two wives before Sarah passed on and a minimum of 3 afterwards, two of them being Keturah and Hagar.

    Amazingly, there are some who even claim that King David was a monogamist who sinned! Do they don their sunglasses when they read 2 Samuel 12:8? It is true that David had a lot of domestic trouble after his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam.12:11) but that was not because he had been living in sin for having had many wives before but because he had committed sin with another man's wife and then murdered the husband.

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    Last updated on 26 February 2009

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