2/1/16-Concubinage- what is that?
The bible talks a lot in the “Old Testament” about concubines. Now I always thought that meant that the women were just for sex and nothing more. Like prostitutes. Well I had a rude awakening about that. The word can also include males. Young males-(called concubinus), so this wasn’t just about taking women for a harem. It was a Roman tradition also to take mistresses or lovers and it was not considered derogatory at all. These relationships were considered secondary, however, to a wife, and the two did not live under the same roof. For whatever reason, be it a legal or socioeconomic variance which would not allow for a “marriage”, these relationships which we now call “co-habitation” or having a mistress or lover were quite commonplace throughout history.
Levitical Law took it a step farther- allowing the concubine to live under the same roof as the “wife”. The children could also inherit property. The concubine was seen though as a secondary relationship than the wife/husband relationship. Furthermore, you couldn’t take a married woman or that would fall under adultery punishable by being stoned to death. The man, however, could be married.
Of course there are and were various extremes all the way from involuntary concubinage (sexual slavery or trafficking) to arranged social liasons (placage in New Orleans for example). A lot of times it was seen as a form of wealth to have many mistresses or concubines. Look at Soloman for example. He had 300 concubines. Sometimes the women and or her children could inherit property and other times it was not allowed. It was not considered prostitution as the mistress would only be bound to one man- sometimes for many years. Then she could move on to another man. Thomas Jefferson was said to have had his concubine/ mistress for 38 years and had 5 children with her. (Sally Hemmings). Since interracial marriage wasn’t accepted they never married.
Now a days we call it co-habitation, having a mistress, or a lover. It has been common place all down through the ages and is allowed in the Torah. It is not a “sin”. That concept came along with the teaching of Paul the false apostle. ( A hippocrite who had a male lover, Timothy ). Abraham had Ishmael through Sarah’s handmaid Haggar, Jacob had two wives and two handmaids to father the 12 tribes of Israel, etc.. Having a lot of children was seen as a noble thing for the man, providing he could afford them. That’s why usually the wealthy only did it. There were no “dead beat dads” back in the day. It was a man’s duty to provide for his women and children. The man would be shamed publically, otherwise.
Well, I want to talk next about a particular concubine in the bible that you probably have never heard of as she is nameless. We’ll discuss her and what happens to her in our next lesson. It’s NOT a pretty story and it’s been swept under the rug. In fact it caused a WAR and the expulsion of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Guess which tribe?
Till next time…