2 Samuel 12:8-10 New International Version (NIV)

8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.

According to Nathan's parable David would have inherited his predecessor's property including his wives

Though we never hear of David ever marrying Saul's wives but he went ahead & married numerous wives.

Did God permit him to consummate polygamy?

  • Robert Young, in his literal translation, gives the wives of thy lord into thy bosom so it would appear that God made the wives available (I would say) if David wished to so receive them.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 25, 2018 at 11:58
  • Why do you ask obvious questions ?
    – Lucian
    May 11, 2018 at 22:46
  • @Lucian,obvious to who May 12, 2018 at 12:39
  • @collenndhlovu: You genuinely didn't know that polygamy was practiced in Old Testament times !?
    – Lucian
    May 12, 2018 at 16:48
  • @Lucian,I know that it was practiced,but David was a special case as far as God was concerned May 12, 2018 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


The answer is yes. The God of the OT approves of polygamy.

Proof of this can be found in Deut. 21:15

If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love....

The bible here states dryly the firstborn law in regards to someone that has two wives, it does not seem to condemn this act at all.

In Deut 17:17 the king is instructed not to take many wives, but he is surely allowed to take more than one (According to the Jewish Rabbis the limit is 18, which is exactly what David had. see this question ).

I post here a possible explanation as to why god may have allowed polygamy in ancient times.

First, while there are slightly more male babies than female babies, due to women having longer lifespans, there have always been more women in the world than men. Current statistics show that approximately 50.5 percent of the world population are women. Assuming the same percentages in ancient times, and multiplied by millions of people, there would be tens of thousands more women than men. Second, warfare in ancient times was especially brutal, with an incredibly high rate of fatality. This would have resulted in an even greater percentage of women to men. Third, due to patriarchal societies, it was nearly impossible for an unmarried woman to provide for herself. Women were often uneducated and untrained. Women relied on their fathers, brothers, and husbands for provision and protection. Unmarried women were often subjected to prostitution and slavery. The significant difference between the number of women and men would have left many, many women in an undesirable situation.

So, it seems that God may have allowed polygamy to protect and provide for the women who could not find a husband otherwise. A man would take multiple wives and serve as the provider and protector of all of them. While definitely not ideal, living in a polygamist household was far better than the alternatives: prostitution, slavery, or starvation. https://www.gotquestions.org/polygamy.html

  • 2
    Permitting is not the same as approval.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 28, 2018 at 12:23
  • @curiousdannii indeed that is all I meant. In the passage cited by the OP David isn't encouraged to go into a polygamous relationship either, but is permitted to have as many wives as he wants to as long as he doesn't infringe on others as in the case of Bathsheba.
    – bach
    Apr 29, 2018 at 1:22

Whoever told you that Polygamy is OK and that God allowed it , should go back and Re-read the Bible Thoroughly. In the Bible, there were multiple occasions where God would sometimes turn our sin around to work in His Benefit. If you’d read the Bible then you’ll see that women had no way to make money and they weren’t allowed an education. Women couldn’t read or write. Women were by force, a dependent on her father, or brother, and or Husband Financially. There was also a shortage of men. At times women had to sale themselves into slavery just So they wouldn’t starve, there by forcing women to either choose polygamy,starvation, slavery, or prostitution. Those were the only options. King David Inherited wives when he took the kingdom. Why? Because those women didn’t have anywhere to GO. They would’ve starved or been prostitutes. Again, this was GODs way of turning things around.

GOD made rules to accommodate the situation that was at hand. People use the story of king David to justify polygamy not fully understanding the text. I digress. Men were also allowed concubines. Look up how they treated their concubines. Remember, When I said there was a shortage of men and women were starving. Some still to this day use Gods kindness as an excuse to justify polygamy.
Knowing that In the beginning God made one man and one woman PERIOD. There is nothing Flawed about Gods design. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

  • 1
    Welcome to the S.E. Q&A forum. Thank you for contributing. We are looking for answers that are objective; that is, calm and reasoned. God did allow polygamy, whether he approved of it is the question. Please keep your answers focused and calm. And, no SHOUTING, please.
    – Steve11235
    Apr 17, 2020 at 18:17
  • Whoever told you that Polygamy is OK and that God allowed it ...no one did that in this question. That was the very topic that the question was asking about. While this answer addresses some important ideas, it still needs to discuss 2 Sam 12:8 in order to be considered a good answer.
    – Jesse
    Oct 6, 2022 at 23:51

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