Eve is called Adam's wife in Genesis chapter two. But the Hebrew word can also mean “woman.” It appears that the concept of marriage existed from the beginning, although “marriage” is not mentioned in the Bible until Exodus, which was about 2500 years after Adam. Adam, Cain, Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, Abram and Nahor are all recorded as having one wife.
Because of this I believe the Lord intended us to be monogamous. The only people having more than one wife in the early chapters of the Bible were Lamech, son of Cain, who bragged about his wickedness, and Esau, the rebellious son of Isaac. These are not good recommendations.
Two-thousand years later, Sarah gave Abraham her servant, Hagar, to have a child by her. This gave us Ishmael, and that did not turn out well. The descendants of Isaac, the child of promise, or the Jews, are still dealing with the descendants of Ishmael, the Arabs. Jacob, the trickster, was tricked into marrying Leah, a girl that he did not love, so he then married the girl that he did love, Rachel, and had two wives.
Jacob’s wives each gave him a servant girl to have children by, similar to Sarah and Abraham. In Deuteronomy 27:11-13, Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim were designated for blessings and curses. Blessings were to be pronounced from Mount Gerizim, and curses from Mount Ebal. It is interesting that the tribes chosen to pronounce the blessings were all the of the sons of the wives of Jacob. The tribes chosen to pronounce the curses were of the sons of the servants of the wives, plus Reuben, who sinned against his father, and Zebulon who was possibly disobedient. The discrimination against the sons of the servants of Jacob’s wives may indicate the Lord’s displeasure with the practice of having children by someone not your wife.
Then we have King David with seven wives, and that did not work out well. One of his sons raped his half-sister. Then her full brother, Absalom, killed his half-brother. Absalom then attempted to usurp David's throne. When David was old, another son, Adonijah, again attempted to usurp the throne.
Not to be outdone by his father with seven wives, Solomon had seven-hundred wives (!?!?!) and a bunch of concubines. (First Kings 11:3) Was this wise?
Related to this subject is the question; “Who did the sons of Adam and Eve marry.” The answer is simple. They married their sisters. Our prohibition against marrying near relatives comes from the deteriorated nature of our genes. Today, groups like the Jews and the Amish sometimes have specific maladies and syndromes related to the fact that because of inter-marriage they have a limited gene pool, and regressive genes sometimes show up in the children.
The wedding ceremonies of today reflect traditions that go back thousands of years. If you look at weddings today, they are really almost tribal. One tribe sits on one side, and the other sits on the opposite side. But the wedding brings tribes or families together.
I believe the Lord’s original perfect plan was for each man to have only one wife at a time. God did not provide Adam with two “help-mates.” This original plan allows for the death of a spouse. Divorce is a subject for another lesson.
I praise the Lord for another of His plans – the Plan of Salvation. Praise His name!