Day 129: A Polygamy Problem

Genesis 30:8-21

When Leah saw that she had finished bearing, she took Zilpah, her handmaid, and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, bore Jacob a son. Leah said, “How fortunate!” She named him Gad. Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, bore Jacob a second son. Leah said, “Happy am I, for the daughters will call me happy.” She named him Asher.

Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother, Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”

She said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes, also?”

Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.”

Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, “You must come in to me; for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”

He lay with her that night. God listened to Leah, and she conceived, and bore Jacob a fifth son. Leah said, “God has given me my hire, because I gave my handmaid to my husband.” She named him Issachar. Leah conceived again, and bore a sixth son to Jacob. Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good dowry. Now my husband will live with me, because I have borne him six sons.” She named him Zebulun. Afterwards, she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah.

We can see here that Jacob wasn’t the only one who could make deals. Rachel decided to make a deal with Leah for Reuben’s mandrakes by using Jacob as the payment. We read here that Jacob went along with it. I think that this demonstrates a serious problem caused by polygamy.

God didn’t make a man to be split between more than one woman. I don’t think he can handle it without completely losing control. It harmed Jacob in such a way that he gave up
his own will. I doubt that he liked being used as a currency, or being told who he was going to have to sleep with. The truth we read about in the Bible is that when men took many wives, they ended up being influenced in bad ways by them. We see that this is true with Jacob. A man may like to think that he’s in control when taking many women, but the Bible shows us that having multiple wives is a way for a man to lose control of his life. Even King Solomon, possibly the richest and most powerful man in the world of his day, was harmed because he took many wives.

We know that He cares for women who are being mistreated by their husbands because he made it so clear in the record of Leah and Jacob. Leah bore more children to Jacob than any of the other women and it appears that he spent very little time with her. I think that God made it pretty clear that He respects marriage between one man and one woman.

It’s nice to see that God blessed Leah with a daughter too.