Jacob became a polygamist by responding to circumstances that arose before him regarding marriage and marital relationships. His marriages sowed seeds for family expansion but also of discord that threatened healthy interactions within his family. Thus, Jacob’s polygamy formed the foundation for fulfillment of God’s promise but also exposed features of such family structure to enable an understanding of the issues of polygamy applicable to present day husband-wife interactions and relationships.
Interactions within Jacob’s family provide opportunity to understand various issues of polygamy. Jacob found himself a polygamist by responding from the heart to circumstances before him regarding marriage and marital relationships. He loved one woman, his uncle’s daughter Rachel, and worked hard to fulfill his part of an agreement to satisfy the dowry requirements by serving her father Laban for seven years as a shepherd. However, on the wedding day he was deceived into wedding her senior sister Leah. He remained determined to marry Rachel. The girls’ father appealed to him to complete the wedding process with Leah and marry Rachel as well thereafter. Jacob accepted. He fulfilled his dream of marrying the woman he loved but also honored her senior sister’s right to wed first. He accomplished these by marrying both sisters, the older before the younger.
Later, as Rachel’s hope of having a child with Jacob began to fade, she offered her maid Bilhah to Jacob: “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her” [Genesis 30:3]. Jacob accepted and had two male children with Bilhah. Leah became jealous of Rachel’s success with Bilhah and offered her maid Zilpah to Jacob. He accepted the offer as well. The two maids became his wives in addition to Leah and Rachel. He married Leah, Rachel, and Bilhah because of his love for Rachel. He married Zilpah to extend to Leah the same opportunity that he extended to Rachel.
Thus, he became a husband of four wives because of responding positively to circumstances that arose in his relationship with Rachel. He became an incidental polygamist, thus sowing seeds for the family expansion that God promised his grandfather Abraham. Furthermore, his polygamy sowed seeds of family discord that initially threatened to derail fulfillment of God’s promise of prosperity but ultimately became a vehicle to convey fulfillment of the promise. Thus, Jacob’s polygamy formed the foundation for fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham but also exposed features of polygamous relationships to enable an understanding of the issues of polygamy applicable to present day husband-wife relationships.
We discuss Jacob’s polygamy in a two-part study. First, in the current study, we examine his becoming a polygamist by responding positively to circumstances that arose before him regarding marriage and marital relationships. Also, we examine how his polygamy sowed seeds for family expansion as well as seeds of discord that threatened healthy interactions within the family. In the second part, we examine the unhealthy family interactions and relationships that resulted from his polygamy and triggered events that initially threatened the family but ultimately led the family to multiply and prosper.
David and Abigail discovered love through mutual admiration of shared core values. They met as Abigail sought to mediate an escalating dispute between David and her husband. She recognized David as a leader and future king of Israel with God-fearing reputation and mediated the dispute by appealing to his Godliness. She prayed he would avoid any blemish that could constitute a guilt on his conscience. Thus, she sought to preserve his reputation that she and others admired. David appreciated and admired her for understanding and respecting his virtues and principles. Their mutual admiration of shared values became foundation for love and marriage.
The biblical account of interactions among Abigail, Nabal, and David begins with a quarrel between Nabal and David that threatened to escalate into David attacking and destroying Nabal’s household. However, Nabal’s wife Abigail intervened and mediated the dispute successfully. She used her understanding and respect for David’s Godliness and his mission in Israel to redirect him from seeking vengeance against Nabal. David appreciated Abigail: “…for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands” [1 Samuel 25:33]. Further, he thanked God for placing her in position to redirect him from anger: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me” [1 Samuel 25:32].
This encounter between Abigail and David formed the foundation for them to fall in love. They later got married when Abigail became available to remarry after Nabal died. Therefore, we study their encounter as a biblical example of successful courtship.
Abigail’s entreaty to David was motivated by needing to save her household from potential attack by David and his men. She sought to dissuade him from the attack by appealing to his reputation as a God-fearing man and future king of Israel. Her appeal struck a chord of appreciation and admiration in David: he appreciated her as an “angel” that God placed in his path to redirect him from anger and admired her for recognizing, understanding, and respecting his core virtues and principles. He had taken leave of his values to seek retribution against Nabal, but she called him back by reminding him that his reputation as a child of God and future king of Israel is inconsistent with “the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” or self vengeance [1 Samuel 25:31].
Let’s recall that Abigail went to David to mediate an escalating dispute between him and her husband. The mediation was successful [1 Samuel 25:35]: “Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, ‘Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.’” Thereafter, Abigail returned to her home and husband while David and his men returned to their base. However, the mediation process established mutual admiration and respect between Abigail and David. After Nabal died, David proposed marriage to Abigail and she accepted. In this bible study, we examine what happened in the mediation that became the foundation for love and marriage of Abigail and David.
A marriage arranged to serve extraneous interests likely will be unsuccessful and bring no benefit to the couple. Example: David-Michal marriage was motivated by interests different from any desire by the couple to live in marital love. Michal’s father Saul sought the marriage to lure David into danger. David embraced the marriage to show military valor and triumph over Philistines. Michal, on her part, was infatuated with being the king’s wife. Furthermore, while David believed in life founded on worshiping and serving God, Michal had no such belief or understanding. They were unequally yoked before God; therefore, incompatible for marriage.
We discuss David-Michal marital interactions to learn from their experience. Their marriage was driven by inappropriate motivations, got off on the wrong foot, and ended without discernible benefit to them individually or as a couple. We study negatives from their marriage to enrich our understanding of positive aspects of modern day marriages.
Michal’s father, Saul, the first king of Israel, lobbied hard to persuade David to marry Michal, because he wanted to use the marriage to lure David to death to eliminate him from contending for the throne of Israel. Michal, on her part, appeared to love David. However, later events showed that all she really cared about was getting married to a young man that was highly admired among her contemporaries and expected to become the king of Israel sometime later. She was in love with the prospect of such a marriage but did not know or understand David enough to care about him as a potential husband. David apparently got into the marriage to show himself equal to the challenge for a gruesome conquest and mutilation of several Philistines, the then number one enemy of Israel. He cherished his “prize” for the valiant victory, brought to life through marriage to Michal, but did not love or care about her as a wife.
David-Michal marriage, therefore, was arranged to satisfy interests totally extraneous to the marital interest of David and Michal. The marriage was driven by inappropriate motivation. In this study, we discuss events leading to David-Michal marriage to understand the marriage got off on the wrong foot because of inappropriate motivation. Also, we note that David and Michal separated for a long time and re-united thereafter. We discuss the separation and re-unification to underscore their lack of personal commitment either to their marriage or to each other. Further, we discuss a specific event that brought their mutual dismay to the surface. We use information from the event to understand their marriage was unsuccessful because they were unequally yoked before God and, therefore, incompatible for marriage.
In this bible study we learn about business partnership agreements, leadership responsibilities, and re-alignment of relationships at marriage. The study focuses on interactions between Jacob and Laban during Jacob’s final six years in Paddan Aram and between Jacob and his wives in deciding to leave Paddan Aram to return to his Cradle in Canaan.