There are 16 thoughts on “Understanding Jacob’s Teachings about Plural Marriage from a Law of Moses Context”.

  1. Pingback: KnoWhy OTL24B — Why Is the Story of David and Bathsheba Significant? (Part 2 of 2) | The Interpreter Foundation

  2. Pingback: KnoWhy OTL24A — Why Is the Story of David and Bathsheba Significant? (Part 1 of 2) | The Interpreter Foundation

  3. I should mention that “no where” in scripture does God ever command a people to practice or live polygamy. It first shows up in scripture from the “seed” of Cain… that alone should tell every truth seeker it is not inspired by “God,” but Satan!
    Another point, there is nowhere in the scriptures where the Lord calls some “act” like lying, being dishonest, stealing, morally promiscuous, or as in this example of having more than one wife and concubines and calls it a whoredom and abomination and then says it is okay under certain circumstances. The Lord’s principles of integrity are principles of righteousness and holiness of character and they don’t change and are the same yesterday, today and forever, God does not lie and neither should those who claim to be His Prophets lie. To be His “seed” one must be obedient to these moral principles of righteousness or they cannot and will not be Gods.

    Another point, for Brigham Young to remove Section 101 without “common consent” and replace it with 132 (His agenda) is contrary to Gods pattern of “common consent,” furthermore, God teaches the “same” moral values yesterday, today and forever. He does not vacillate back and forth from one culture to another. God’s moral integrity has a scriptural pattern from Adam and Eve to Noah, and then to Lehi’s posterity and forward to the “restoration” via the Prophet Joseph Smith by way of D&C 49: 15-17 given March 1831.
    And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.
    16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;
    17 And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 49:15 – 17)

    “Before the world was made” God’s moral law or commandment for marriage was “that he should have one wife.”

    That is the “heavenly pattern,” not polygamy, ever!

  4. Since it is the Lord Himself discussing raising “up seed unto me” (rather than explicitly stating that He is referring to one of his children raising up seed to a deceased brother), is there a reason we should not also consider the definition of the Lord’s seed given by Abinadi in Mosiah 15?

    • That makes perfect sense to me. With this definition “His seed” are those who are faithful in building up His Kingdom.

      I suspect and theorize that a large majority of Church leaders through mid 20th Century were descendants of polygamist families.

  5. The article was interesting, but it fails to make certain points:

    1) The principle of polygamy is to have the number of wives that the Lord wants you have. That number is usually one, but may be more, according to what the Lord says. This is clear because the Savior calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and at least two of these 3 – Abraham and Jacob – practised polygamy, and all 3 were exalted (D & C 132)

    2) Notice that the polygamy that Jacob condemns is that of King David and King Solomon – the infamous abusers of polygamy: King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah. Solomon married pagan women, who introduced Israel to additional pagan practices. Jacob is comparing the wicked Nephites to King David and Solomon.

  6. When I read this, it seems to me that, rather than announcing a new commandment from God regarding a change in a previous levirate marriage custom, that Jacob is commanded to condemn the people for desiring to have multiple wives, contrary to a commandment already given to Lehi, that both the Nephite and Lamanite groups were well aware of. The text of Jacob 2:34 and Jacob 3:5 indicate this:

    And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.
    Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father–that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
    To me the text also seems a bit muddled because although the Nephite men were condemned for merely desiring more wives, they are described as already having broken the hearts of their wives and children by their example.

    • My article is not about plural marriage per se. I address the over all issue because these verses in Jacob have almost exclusively, through the years, been used to either support or condemn plural marriage–as many of the comments here illustrate. The article deals with, specifically, what Jacob meant by his qualifying statement in 2:30 which reads, “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” The article’s argument is that Jacob may have been making allowances for levirate marriages which is addressed in detail in the Law of Moses, and would have to be addressed by Jacob (or Lehi, since he seems to be the one who made the first proscription on plural marriage). Multiple wives and levirate marriage, while related, are very separate issues.

      P.S. Br. Gardner, since we are in the same ward, I would love to discuss this with you more on Sunday. 🙂

  7. Excellent point about the change from fathers to father. It makes we want to know exactly what Lehi taught on this topic and what the historical context was. I have always supposed it was because there was an unequal number of girls to boys with Ishmael’s and Lehi’s combined families. But I don’t know.

    I think it is important to remember that while levirate marriage is plural marriage, I don’t think someone who lived the law of Moses would conflate the two. Multiple wives could be restricted while allowing for levirate marriage, so Jacob would have to address both issues. It would be kind of like in the Church today. We don’t practice plural marriage, but a man can still end up sealed to more than one spouse, but serials rather than at the same time.

  8. Interesting and provocative article. However, a few comments might be added to the mix:
    1. God himself gave multiple wives to David (2 Samuel 12:7).
    2. The condemnation of David & Solomon for having excessive wives and the lack of respect for a Davidic scion is likely part of the Book of Mormon polemic characteristic of an Elohistic (E) document.
    3. Until the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon, the crucial correct reading at Jacob 3:5 “the commandment of the Lord which was given unto our father” [namely Lehi], was not available. Incorrect “fathers” led critics to suppose that this had been a consistent feature of ancient Israelite and Patriarchal law (or at least an inconsistent trait of the Book of Mormon), and this proved to be an obstacle to Mormon apologetics. See Skousen, Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, 755.

  9. Very interesting article.

    “Therefore, while Jacob 2 does not directly cite the practice of levirate marriage, Jacob did address this law when he proscribed plural marriage among his people. His explanation was logical when he proclaimed to the Nephites that plural marriage would not be allowed unless “I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me” (Jacob 2:30).”

    It seems to me that Jacob 3:5 is documenting a specific commandment from God to Lehi and his posterity in the New World that supersedes the Levirate Law.

    In other words, the Lord had specifically commanded Lehi and his posterity to eliminate the practice of levirate marriages from the Law of Moses.

    The commandment to have “save one wife” is categorical. No exceptions are listed or even implied. It even precludes the taking of a deceased brothers wife.

    I agree with you that Jacob 2:30 is making reference to the levirate law which substantiates my point.

    If they were currently living the leverite law as part of the Law of Moses, the passage would have been redundant and even illogical because it implies starting a practice that is currently prohibited.

    The Lord appears to be explaining that the levirate law had been enacted in the past by him and possibly could be commissioned by him in the future under unusual conditions, but was categorically prohibited among those people.

    I also agree with you that the Book of Mormon was not given as a “never intended as a handbook of how the modern Church should operate”

    However, it is troubling that some apologists refuse to interpret sections 42, 49, and the section on marriage written by Oliver Cowdery, as inspired evidence that monogamy is the higher, celestial order of marriage that is given by the Lord.

  10. Notice that the Lord said plural marriage was allowed “to raise up seed unto me.” This is a variation and an expansion of the levirate law to raise up seed unto a dead relative.

    • I think the language here is one of the reasons the levirate marriage idea has not been recognized more by readers of Jacob. But the idea of Lehi’s decedents being a promised people in a promised land who had to remain faithful to God to be blessed is all through the Book of Mormon. Lehi himself tells his sons they have to go get Ishmael and his daughter to “raise up seed to the Lord” in 1 Nephi 7:1.

  11. Brian,
    I appreciate this insight into the text of Jacob. Do you suppose that Jacob himself was facing a levirate marriage after the death of Nephi?

    • Interesting question. I never considered it before, but since Nephi was quite old when he died it is doubtful.

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