Marriage Outside Paradise
1. Outside of Eden what did the continuation of marriage result in, and the descendants of which son of Adam survived the Flood?
THE expelled couple, Adam and Eve, kept up their marriage outside of the Paradise of Eden. We can be sure that, from then on, it was not a peaceful marriage. Out there on the cursed ground they began bringing forth their sin-infected children in a dying condition from birth onward. Adam “became father to sons and daughters.” (Gen. 4:1; 5:4) In course of time new marriages were transacted. The mature sons of Adam were married to the mature daughters of Adam. So it is recorded that afterward their first-born son Cain “had intercourse with his wife and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch.” In the Bible six generations are recorded from Cain, who lived off to himself “in the land of Fugitiveness to the east of Eden.” (Gen. 4:16-24) Cain had a younger brother named Seth. The human family of today traces its descent from Seth, not from Cain, all of whose offspring suffered destruction in the great Flood. Among Seth’s descendants were Enoch the prophet and Noah the builder of the ark in which eight human souls survived that world-wide flood.—1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 2:5.
2. Who introduced polygamy, and how did disobedient “sons of God” enter into human marriage?
2 Regarding the preflood days of Noah, Jesus Christ himself tells us that “people were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark.” (Matt. 24:38) How those marriages were performed the Holy Bible does not report. Polygamy was introduced by Lamech, a descendant of wicked Cain, for Lamech took two wives to himself. (Gen. 4:19-24) In Noah’s days before the flood “sons of God” from heaven materialized upon the earth in order to marry the good-looking “daughters of men.” It is reported that these disobedient “sons of God” satisfied their passion by “taking wives for themselves of all whom they selected,” and had a mongrel offspring who were called Nephilim, “the mighty ones who were of that world, the men of fame.” How many wives each of those passionate “sons of God” selected and took for themselves, and whether they took legally married women away from their legal husbands because of being so good-looking, the Bible does not say.—Gen. 6:1-4.
3. How did polygamists fare in the Flood, and by adherence to what type of marriage will the human family be kept alive into Paradise restored?
3 One thing is certain: all polygamists were wiped out by the Flood, for the surviving Noah and his three sons had each but one wife. Since Jesus Christ said that things will be in his days in the “time of the end” of this wicked world as they were in the days of Noah, we know that no bigamists or polygamists will be permitted to survive the end of this wicked world and thus live on into Paradise under the kingdom of God. Accordingly, the human family started from a man with but one wife; the human family was preserved from the great Flood by a man who had but one wife, together with his monogamous sons; and the human family will be kept alive without interruption through the end of this “present wicked system of things” by godly men and women and children who adhere strictly to monogamy, the marriage of one woman with one man.
4. How did God show that he authorized the marriage of the offspring of the Flood survivors, and what now makes expectant survivors of Armageddon examine their relationships?
4 Immediately after the Flood, Jehovah God blessed Noah and his three sons and said to them, just as he had said when blessing Adam and Eve in the Paradise of Eden: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” Thus he authorized the marriage of their offspring, also saying: “As for you men, be fruitful and become many, make the earth swarm with you and become many in it.” (Gen. 9:1-7) Today, over forty-three centuries later, men think that the earth is swarming with men and that there is a population explosion. But the destruction of this wicked system of things in the universal war of Armageddon will greatly reduce earth’s population, as the Flood did. Hence all persons dedicated to God, who are looking forward to enjoying married life in the promised earthly Paradise under God’s kingdom, are now conscientiously examining their relationships. They want to bring these into harmony with the rules and standards of God’s Word as to morals, marriage and divorce.
5. (a) As regards marriage customs and standards what is the big question for us in this “time of the end”? (b) May some marriage practices that God permitted in the past be taken as the standard now?
5 Today marriage customs and standards differ throughout the earth. In the various lands the man-made laws may approve and allow these. But the big question in this critical “time of the end” is, Does the present-day law of Jehovah God approve of these? What is God’s law of marriage that applies now in this “time of the end”? There are some past marriage practices that God permitted and regulated among his chosen servants in centuries before Christ, but today we may not even take these as the standard for married persons who want to please God now. So let us make an examination.
6. How did Abraham’s wife Sarah try to compensate for her long barrenness, and does God approve of such a course today?
6 Four hundred years after the Flood Jehovah’s friend, the patriarch Abraham, was a man married to one wife, Sarah. When he was eighty-five years old and Sarah seventy-five years old, they still had no child because of Sarah’s barrenness. Sarah decided to adopt a child. To this end she gave her Egyptian maidservant Hagar to Abraham to have intercourse with in order to generate a desired son. Hagar bore a son, who was named Ishmael; and Sarah adopted this child as her own. There is no record that for the next fifteen years Abraham had any further relations with Hagar as a secondary wife. However, such a way of compensating for a barren wife, or even present-day artificial insemination, in order to get a child is not approved by God now. Even though God promised to bless Ishmael and multiply him, yet God did not accept this adopted child to be Abraham’s heir. Sarah herself must become the mother of the heir.
7. (a) How did God show a secondary wife had not been necessary for Abraham to pass to a son God’s blessing concerning the Seed? (b) Does the custom in many lands of having secondary wives make this practice right for God’s servants today?
7 Years later Almighty God revived the reproductive powers of Abraham and of Sarah and miraculously gave Abraham a son through Sarah, when she was ninety and he a hundred years old. There had really been no need of a secondary wife for Abraham in order to get a male heir to whom to pass God’s covenant promise concerning a Seed for blessing all the families of the earth. Some years afterward Sarah urgently requested that the secondary wife Hagar and her son Ishmael should be dismissed from the household. God approved of this, and Abraham obeyed God’s indicated will and sent Hagar and Ishmael away, never to return. (Gen. 16:1 to 21:21; Gal. 4:22-31) Today Jehovah God does not approve of his servants’ having secondary wives, even though a man’s having women as secondary wives besides his legal wife may be the accepted, allowed custom in many countries.
8. (a) Whose example did Abraham’s son Isaac follow as to marriage? (b) In picturing what great fact could Isaac thus serve?
8 Sarah’s only child, Isaac, stuck to just one wife. He followed the divine example set forth in the Paradise of Eden and also set forth in the Flood survivors, Noah and his three sons. Isaac did this, despite the fact that his wife Rebekah was barren twenty years before she produced the twins Jacob and Esau. (Gen. 25:19-26) In this way Isaac faithfully served God’s purpose in picturing that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, would have only one spiritual bride, namely, God’s true Christian congregation made up of 144,000 faithful footstep followers, whom God adopts as his spiritual children. (Gal. 4:28-31) Writing to these children of God, the apostle Paul says to the Christians in Corinth to whom he had brought the truth about Christ: “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, for I personally promised you in marriage to one husband that I might present you as a chaste virgin to the Christ.”—2 Cor. 11:2.
HAVING MORE THAN ONE WIFE AT ONE TIME
9. (a) How did Jacob arrange to get a wife from his uncle Laban? (b) Against what sin was Jacob’s deep love for Rachel a protection?
9 Of Isaac’s twin sons Jacob was the one whom God chose as the man to receive the divine promise made to Abraham for blessing all the families of the earth by the Seed of God’s “woman.” Jacob wanted to be like his father Isaac and have just one wife, namely, Rachel, the daughter of his own uncle Laban. Jacob was a relative of Laban, but Jacob was not given Rachel free. So Jacob said to Laban: “I am willing to serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.” This being agreed to, Jacob served seven years for Rachel. “In his eyes they proved to be like some few days because of his love for her.” Not merely that the time passed quickly because Jacob was so deeply in love as to be unaware of the length of time; but rather that he loved Rachel so much that he thought seven years of hard work to be a cheap price to pay for such a precious girl. Jacob’s deep love for Rachel was a protection for him against immorality. During his seven years of engagement to Rachel he maintained his virginity, the same as she did hers, that he might be morally clean when he married her.
10. In this respect how was Jacob a model for Christians of today?
10 In this respect Jacob was a model for Christians of today. How many men professing to be dedicated Christians now would be willing to pay a bride price of seven years of shepherding or other hard work and still think it cheap? How many of them would have the moral strength to keep virginity, or the single state, during seven years of being engaged to marry, in order to offer themselves chaste and clean to their marital partners? Even with an engagement period much less than seven years, all dedicated Christians should respect the engagement, as Jacob did, and keep good morals.
11. (a) With what in view did Jacob ask his uncle Laban for Rachel at the end of seven years’ work? (b) In marriage how had his twin brother Esau shown disrespect for his parents and the Abrahamic covenant?
11 At the end of the engagement period Jacob said to Laban his aged uncle: “Give over my wife, because my days are up, and let me have relations with her.” (Gen. 29:18-21) Jacob now had a right to ask for Rachel as his wife, not just to enjoy the marriage bed with her but to set up an independent home of his own and raise a family, inasmuch as he was now eighty-four years old and also the natural heir of the Abrahamic promise. By now Jacob’s twin brother Esau had been married forty-four years. Esau was a wild, adventurous hunter and a passionate man. Contrary to the wishes of his parents, who feared Jehovah God and respected the Abrahamic covenant, Esau married unbelieving women of the land, two Hittites. “They were a source of bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah,” his parents. Yes, Esau became a polygamist, of his own choice and action. When he was seventy-seven years old he took a third wife, a cousin of his, an Ishmaelitess. (Gen. 26:34, 35; 28:8, 9) This was when his twin brother Jacob was starting to work out his bride price to get possession of Rachel, a believer in Jehovah the God of Abraham and Isaac.
12, 13. How was Jacob, contrary to his wishes, led into polygamy?
12 Jacob did not become a polygamist intentionally, to imitate his brother Esau. Polygamy was not of Jacob’s original planning. The only woman he wanted was Rachel. However, on the wedding night Laban presented to Jacob as wife Rachel’s sister Leah, under a heavy veil that concealed her identity. The next morning Jacob discovered that he had had relations with Leah, not Rachel.
13 Why had Laban played this trick on his son-in-law? Because Leah was older than Rachel, and Laban her father argued that it was not the custom of the land to marry off the younger daughter before the first-born. Along with Leah, Laban gave his maidservant Zilpah to serve as Leah’s own maid and also as a secondary wife, should that become advisable. But Jacob had only one real love and still wanted Rachel. So Laban suggested to Jacob that he work another seven years in payment of bride price for Rachel. Jacob agreed.
14. When did Jacob receive Rachel as wife, and how did Jehovah God show whether he approved or disapproved of Jacob’s polygamy under these circumstances?
14 At the end of the week-long celebration of the marriage of Jacob and Leah, Laban gave Jacob Rachel in marriage, and Jacob began paying off the bride price in hard work. In love of Rachel he stuck to his contract. He worked out the full price, which he still thought to be far less than the worth of beloved Rachel. Laban gave a maidservant also to Rachel. (Gen. 29:9-30) It is thus seen that Jacob was tricked into polygamy. However, he married sisters who feared Jehovah; and Jehovah God did not express his disapproval. In fact, he blessed Jacob with twelve sons and one daughter by these two sisters and their maidservants.
15. (a) What regulation did God make as to the same man’s marrying sisters in Israel? (b) How did King Solomon follow Esau’s example, but what had God wisely commanded concerning future kings of Israel?
15 Later, when Jehovah God organized these twelve sons and their families into the nation of Israel and brought this nation out of slavery in Egypt, Jehovah still permitted polygamy in this nation. But he forbade a polygamist’s marrying fleshly sisters during their lifetime. He commanded: “You must not take a woman in addition to her sister as a rival to uncover her nakedness, that is, besides her during her lifetime.” (Lev. 18:18) The greatest polygamist in the history of the nation of Israel (but not of the world) was King Solomon of Jerusalem. “He came to have seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives gradually turned away his heart,” from worshiping Jehovah as the only living and true God. This was because Solomon followed Esau’s example in marrying foreign wives, including the daughter of the ruling Pharaoh of Egypt. (1 Ki. 11:1-3) Wisely Jehovah God had commanded concerning the future kings of Israel: “He should also not multiply wives for himself that his heart may not turn aside, . . . he must write in a book for himself a copy of this law from that which is in charge of the priests, the Levites. And it must continue with him and he must read in it all the days of his life, in order that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God.”—Deut. 17:17-19.
16. While permitting polygamy in Israel, what also did God do regarding it?
16 So God did permit polygamy in ancient Israel, but he laid down legal provisions regarding it in order to protect the original wife of the polygamist as well as any other wife and their children. (Deut. 21:15-17) The practice of polygamy doubtless served to build up a big population in the nation of natural Israel.
17. What was the state of polygamy in Israel in Jesus’ day, and to what standard for his followers did he hold as regards marriage?
17 When Israel came under the rule of the world-conquering Romans in the first century before the Christian era, polygamy had fallen off among the Israelites or Jews. Says The Jewish Encyclopedia (Volume VIII, page 336): “Monogamy was the rule among the Jews in Roman times, but there were notable exceptions.” By the law given to the Israelites through Jehovah’s prophet Moses, the Jews who still claim to be under that law could feel free to practice polygamy the same as their distant relatives do, the Arab Mohammedans. In sharp contrast, Jesus Christ declared God’s will for his footstep followers to be marriage that copied the example in Paradise. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was perfect and sinless. So in the matter of human marriage he held to the standard of the perfect man in Paradise, that of a man’s having but one living wife. (Matt. 19:1-9) It is the only standard that will be permitted in the Paradise soon to be restored under God’s kingdom.
18. Why should a worshiper of Jehovah be willing that a wife should cost him something, and what wife could be considered as “from Jehovah”?
18 Before the much-married King Solomon fell away from God’s pure worship, he wrote these words: “Has one found a good wife? One has found a good thing and one gets good will from Jehovah.” (Prov. 18:22) “The inheritance from fathers is a house and wealth, but a discreet wife is from Jehovah.” (Prov. 19:14) A worshiper of Jehovah God should be willing, therefore, that his wife should cost him something, either before or after marriage, especially such a wife as would get him good will from Jehovah, a wife such as he could consider “from Jehovah” because of her complete dedication and exclusive devotion to God.
19. What examples of payment of a bride price does the Bible offer?
19 In Bible times among God’s chosen people it was the custom to pay a bride price as the initial expense of having a wife. David the giant-killer paid two hundred foreskins of Philistine soldiers for his wife Michal, King Saul’s daughter. (1 Sam. 18:20-27) The prophet Hosea paid fifteen silver pieces and one and a half homer-measures of barley for his wife. (Hos. 3:1-3) Jesus Christ paid for his spiritual bride by the sacrifice of his own life. (Eph. 5:25, 26) Remember, too, that Eve cost Adam a rib.—Gen. 2:21, 22.
20, 21. In places, what expensive marriage custom still exists for the bride’s father, and what Bible examples do we have of it?
20 That ancient custom still persists in many parts of the earth today. Also, in some parts it is the custom for the father to give a dowry along with his daughter, that is, money, goods or an estate which a woman brings to her bridegroom at marriage. This is expensive to her father. But the giving of dowry was anciently practiced even in the nation of Israel. Take the case of Caleb, the companion of Joshua in spying out the land of Canaan. In spite of his age he was permitted to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land of Palestine with Joshua as the successor of the prophet Moses. Caleb had to conquer his portion of the land. He promised to give his daughter Achsah to the man capturing the enemy city of Kiriath-sepher. His nephew Othniel captured it. When Achsah was being given him as wife, she asked an addition to a certain dowry from her father Caleb. Hence to a southern piece of land for her, Caleb added the needed springs of water.—Josh. 15:13-19.
21 Pharaoh king of Egypt married off his daughter to King Solomon. To the bride Pharaoh gave as a “parting gift,” or dowry, the city of Gezer, which city King Solomon then built up. (1 Ki. 9:16, 17) A dowry is not a way of paying a man to marry one’s daughter, but it does give material assistance to the man taking her. It spares her of being entirely an expense to her husband.
22. (a) At Pentecost A.D. 33 were bride price and dowry abolished for the Christian congregation, and what are the indications? (b) According to God’s new covenant, what standard of marriage must Christians follow today?
22 When the Christian congregation was established on the day of Pentecost, A.D. 33, the original members were Jews and those who had become Jewish proselytes by circumcision. For three and a half years the Christian congregation continued exclusively of Jews and proselytes. These Jews brought their marriage customs in some regards over to Christianity. Even Jesus Christ their Leader used Jewish marriage customs to illustrate his talks by parables. (Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13; Luke 12:35-40) Some marriage arrangements of the Jews were, indeed, abolished by Jehovah’s new covenant with the Christian congregation, although he had set them forth and had authorized them in his law to the Jews through Moses. But no record exists that bride price and dowry were abolished or forbidden among Christians, no, nor wedding celebrations either. Jehovah’s new covenant, however, did restore to the Christian congregation the perfect standard of marriage that he himself set up with the perfect man and woman in the Paradise of Eden. That standard we Christians must follow today.
(Other articles in this series to follow)