Understanding Difficult Texts

Understanding Difficult Texts - Moses’ wives

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Understanding Difficult Texts
Abraham marries Keturah
Jacobs’s wives
Moses’ wives
Moses’ wives
Gideon’s wives
Elkanah’s wives
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Solomon’s wives
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 Let us examine the passage closely:

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (Numbers 12:1)

The point of controversy was not about Moses marrying again, but about whom he got married to—“an Ethiopian woman”. That was the debate. You can see where the emphasis is. Twice in the text her roots are given - “Ethiopian”! The Bible doesn’t even record her name, but only her country of origin, because that was the issue.

On the other hand the Lord was upset with Miriam and Aaron, and not with Moses in this matter. God calls all the three of them and rebukes the siblings of Moses, and afflicts Miriam with leprosy. Aaron pleads with Moses for forgiveness:

And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. (Numbers 12:11)

Moses did no wrong in marrying an Ethiopian woman; they charged him “foolishly”. They acknowledged their fault. “We have sinned,” said Aaron. Obviously, Moses married the second time when he was a widower.

ONE MIGHT SAY: Didn’t Moses write that a man could take another wife in Exodus chapter 21? Let us read that passage:

If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. (Exodus 21:10)

Well, what does that indicate? Does it mean that God permitted a man to take another wife? Look at another similar passage in that same chapter:

And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed. (Exodus 21:18, 19)

Does the above text mean that God permitted men to strive and smite each other with stones? Not at all! “If men strive together”, means, if that happened (though it was not God’s will), the compensation was—he should pay all the bills! The same way, “If he take him another wife”, does not mean that God intended or encouraged that to happen.

Look at another passage in the same chapter:

And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein; The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his. (Exodus 21:33, 34)

Does the above passage of Scripture indicate that God was encouraging such actions? Not at all! These things might happen in a sinful world, and God tells them what to do if that happens. You cannot undo certain things, therefore there has to be compensation.

The rule is clear about marriage in the Old and New Testament:

Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2)

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. (Proverbs 5:18)

God did not say, “Let every man have his own wives”, nor, “rejoice with the wives of thy youth”. It is singular—wife. But if man multiplied wives unto him, what should be done then? Should they be cast away when they repent? Who will take care of them if they are sent out?

If someone has stolen he can restore it when he repents. But certain sins, like polygamy for instance, cannot be undone. And God gives His rule as to what has to be done. He said:

If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. (Exodus 21:10)

Isn’t that a fair rule? Forgiveness is there when genuine repentance is seen. But remember the consequences and the scar will be deep; the shame and insult and the troubles associated with it they will have to bare all the days of their lives.



Pastor Michael Pedrin Preaching