Jacob’s polygamy

Where did Jacob’s troubles begin? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jacob is the patriarch who embraced polygamy. To be fair, he was kind of tricked into it, but still, he had more than one wife. Unfortunately, as we go through the story, we will see that this leads to trouble for Jacob. After all, some siblings of his will not get along with others and considering they call different women, “Mom” that could explain some of it.

For the positives, it looks like when Jacob comes in at one point, Rachel has borrowed some mandrakes from Leah to increase fertility for herself and says Leah can sleep with Jacob tonight in exchange. Thus, one can understand that it looks like Jacob knew that when he came home that evening, he’d be sleeping with someone.

It wasn’t just Rachel and Leah. They also gave their female servants to Jacob to sleep with to continue their family line. Thus, four different women in the text become mothers and all do so through Jacob.

One reason for this is that Leah was being neglected by Jacob because he had a greater love for Rachel. As a result, God allowed Leah to get pregnant more often and closed the womb of Rachel. Leah is the one who in the end provides Jacob with half of his sons and has a daughter as well.

Still, polygamy is one of those practices that never seems to end well for those involved in Scripture. Rachel always carries a position of the favorite and thus, her children carry positions of favor with Jacob as well. As we go through the history of Jacob and his family, we will see this play out more and more. In the account of the birth of most of Jacob’s children, you find some squabbling taking place and if this was the worst of the effects of polygamy, there wouldn’t be much of a case, but later on, we’ll see more.

It’s also worth noting that Jacob’s brother, Esau, also had married multiple women and they were a source of grief to Rebekkah. Esau’s solution was not to get rid of them, but to marry another woman he thought his mother would approve of. Later on in Israelite history, getting rid of wives that are outside of the covenant would be more necessary.

Thus, aside from perhaps Pharaoh and Abimelech who have harems in Genesis, Lamech, Esau, and Jacob are the only ones I can think of at least that have multiple wives. We don’t know enough about the inner workings of those other families to speak about them, but we do know enough about Jacob.

Polygamy was one of those borderline practices God tolerated in the Old Testament, but in the time of the new covenant, He was much stricter on. Most Jews at the time of Jesus were highly monogamous. Paul will later write that an elder needs to be the husband of one wife and yes, we will look at that passage a lot more when we get there.

For now, just know Jacob has rough times coming ahead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Who Are You Getting Into Bed With?

Who will you wake up to the next morning? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re looking at the way the Bible treats marriage and divorce going straight through it and looking at relevant passages. This time, we’re looking at Jacob going to get a wife. He becomes smitten with Rachel over her older sister Leah and decides to work seven years for her father in order to win her hand.

So after seven years, Jacob comes to her father, Laban, and tells him that he has done the work and he wants to sleep with Rachel.

I bet he does.

So there’s a big party for a wedding and Jacob takes his bride into the tent. All is well. He has got the woman he wanted.

Or so he thought.

When he woke up the next morning, Leah was there. Now why would this not be noticed beforehand? A few reasons. First, the intimacy would have happened at night and it would be dark and Leah could have still worn a veil. Second, Jacob could have been tremendously drunk from a wedding.

Either way, Jacob was tricked. He goes to Laban and tells him that he worked for Rachel and not Leah. Laban tells him that the older daughter needs to be married first and Jacob can get Rachel if he does seven years more work.

I’d just like to pull out a principle from this. Today in our culture, sex is treated like a recreational activity. It’s just something that two people do together when they want to have some fun. This is not to deny that having sex is something fun that can be done by two people, but is that all that it is? Could it not be more?

Many boys and girls are ready to jump into bed with most anyone they come across for various reasons. Many a boy wants to have sex because he’s convinced that will make him a man. Many a girl wants to have sex because she wants to be loved and thinks this is the way to get love. The idea is often that boys give love to get sex and girls give sex to get love.

However, sex is really a big deal and does change a relationship greatly. Unfortunately, too many people don’t know who they’re getting into bed with and can even easily have a one-night stand and then realize that the woman is pregnant or that one of the lovers has an STD. Rates of such are extremely high in our country and while sometimes unplanned pregnancy is taken care of with the evil of abortion, there isn’t always such a way to handle an STD.

Naturally, I hold that sex should be reserved for marriage and that after a time of dating in our society. Too often, sex is treated as part of the dating, as if you are testing the person to see how they are. Such a rejection after can be extremely painful. While I have never had sex outside of marriage, I can say having gone through a divorce, it is a rejection to a man deeply on this level as well. It is as if you gave yourself entirely to a person in every way and they said “Not good enough.”

My ultimate conclusion is I still encourage that you save sex for marriage, and yes, I say this as someone who knows I will have to marry before I get to enjoy this gift again. That doesn’t bring me joy to think about, but I am convinced it is still the best way to go. Mainly, this is for the women since really, the women control the market here. Guys are normally the pursuers after all.

So women, here is the deal. You are worth a lifetime covenant. Don’t give yourself to a man for anything less. You deserve better. Men do too, but men are normally not the ones in charge of the market.

In our culture, you definitely need to know who it is that you’re going to be going to bed with. As said earlier, there can be long-term consequences that do not go away if you make an unwise choice. Ultimately, what our culture needs is a much higher view of sex and marriage than we already have instead of the cheap view of both that is the norm.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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