What Counts as Marriage in the Bible?

Marriage in the Bible is depicted as a divine union between two individuals, established by God in Adam and Eve’s time. It represents commitment, partnership, and mutual love, with teachings found in both the Old and New Testaments. This perspective is elaborated in this article.

Different Forms of Marriage in the Bible

Ever wondered about the diverse marital arrangements mentioned in the Bible? Well, you’re in for a treat. Let’s dive right in and explore the various forms of marriage that the Good Book talks about. And trust me, it’s not just the “one man, one woman” narrative you might be thinking of.

Monogamy: One Man, One Woman

The most commonly recognized form of marriage in the Bible is monogamy, where one man is married to one woman. This is the kind of marriage that Adam and Eve had, setting the precedent for many to follow.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:24

Polygamy: One Man, Multiple Wives

Yep, you read that right! Several biblical figures, including Abraham, Jacob, and King Solomon, had multiple wives. While it might raise eyebrows today, it was quite the norm back then.

“He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines…”

1 Kings 11:3 (referring to King Solomon)

Levirate Marriage: Marrying a Deceased Brother’s Wife

This one’s a bit unique. If a man died without having children, his brother was expected to marry the widow to ensure the deceased’s lineage continued.

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife…”

Deuteronomy 25:5-6

Concubinage: A Relationship Without the Formal Title

Concubines were women who had a relationship with a man but without the full status of a wife. Think of them as partners without the official marriage certificate. Notable biblical figures like Abraham and King David had concubines.

“And Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah.”

Genesis 25:1 (Keturah is often referred to as a concubine in other biblical passages)

Captive Marriage: Marrying a Prisoner of War

In certain circumstances, Israelite men could marry women captured in battle. There were specific rules to ensure the woman’s dignity and rights.

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife…”

Deuteronomy 21:10-11

Conclusion

The Bible, with its rich tapestry of stories and characters, offers a fascinating look at the diverse forms of marriage practiced in ancient times. While some of these might seem unconventional today, they provide a window into the cultural and societal norms of the past.

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