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matthewhenry
Aug 22nd 2016, 06:18 AM
Hi everyone

Just a simple question, what was the difference between a wife and a concubine in Old Testament times?

I had the impression a concubine was sort of a 'slave wife' or as it might be described today as a 'mistress'. Would that be correct?

Matthew

Eyelog
Aug 22nd 2016, 10:40 AM
Hi everyone

Just a simple question, what was the difference between a wife and a concubine in Old Testament times?

I had the impression a concubine was sort of a 'slave wife' or as it might be described today as a 'mistress'. Would that be correct?

Matthew


Hello, Matthewhenry.

You are basically correct. The following article is informative, but I don't agree with all it says about concubinage in the Bible: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concubinage#In_Ancient_Judaism.

BrianW
Aug 22nd 2016, 01:37 PM
Basically a concubine was a woman who willingly/voluntarily enslaved and sold herself to a man ( or a man's wife if she were barren for example) primarily for sexual and child bearing purposes.
A concubine could not marry her master because of her slave status although, for her, the relationship had to be exclusive and continuing.
A concubine possessed most of the same rights as a wife but did not have the same status or respect.

This was legal and it is assumed that God allowed it for the same reason He allowed divorce and polygamy: The hardness of men's hearts.

Gotquestions.org sums up things pretty well
http://www.gotquestions.org/concubine-concubines.html



We can also surmise a reason based on the culture of the day. Unmarried women in ancient times were completely dependent on their family members, such as their fathers, brothers, etc. If for some reason a woman had no family members or her husband had died or divorced her, she would be left with few options for survival. Most women in ancient times were uneducated and unskilled in a trade. Providing for themselves was very difficult, and they were vulnerable to those who would prey upon them. For many women in dire situations, becoming a concubine was a much more suitable option than prostitution, homelessness, or death. At least a concubine would be provided a home and afforded a certain amount of care.

Diggindeeper
Aug 22nd 2016, 02:37 PM
But, from what I understand, neither she nor the children she birthed could receive inheritance like the actual wife and her offspring.

BrianW
Aug 22nd 2016, 03:05 PM
That would depend on whether the man and his wife had children of their own. If the wife was barren then the offspring would be accepted and gain inheritance. Many times that was the reason a concubine was brought into the situation in the first place.
If the husband and wife had offspring of their own any child conceived with a concubine was still considered family however inheritance, status, respect etc would go to the man and wife's children first and then trickle down.

It was pretty much the same if a man had more than one wife. The first wife had the most status, respect etc and her children would be first in line for inheritance and the rest. If the first wife didn't or couldn't have children then things could change.

You have to remember though that in those days woman were more or less considered "property" for lack of a better word. Yes, many times love happened and marriage come about because of it but more often than not marriages were arranged or more or less an arrangement. Families sold daughters into marriage or they were given, along with a dowry to help pay for their care, for other reasons and the daughters had no say about it or "rights" whatsoever.

Some of the marriage arraignments were agreed upon between two families while the one who would be married were still very young children or even infants.

Edit: I think that jayne posted something really informative about this stuff in an old polygamy thread in Contro. Or maybe it was you? I'll have to see if I can find it.

chad
Aug 22nd 2016, 10:25 PM
Gideon had wives and a concubine. Gideon's concubine had a son called Abimelech.


(Judg 8:30 KJV) And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.

Wives H802. 'ishshah, ish-shaw'; fem. of H376 or H582; irregular plur. nashiym, naw-sheem'; a woman (used in the same wide sense as H582):--[adulter]ess, each, every, female, X many, + none, one, + together, wife, woman. Often unexpressed in English.



(Judg 8:31 KJV) And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.

Concubine H6370. piylegesh, pee-leh'-ghesh; or pilegesh, pee-leh'-ghesh; of uncert. der.; a concubine; also (masc.) a paramour:--concubine, paramour.


In Judges 9:18 - the concubine is describes as a maidservant.

(Judg 9:18 KJV) And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother.

Maid Servant H519. 'amah, aw-maw'; appar. a prim. word; a maid-servant or female slave:--(hand-) bondmaid (-woman,) maid (-servant).


Possibly, the different names are used to differentiate the woman who were married to Gideon and those who he had a child with through someone he was not married to?



Hi everyone

Just a simple question, what was the difference between a wife and a concubine in Old Testament times?

I had the impression a concubine was sort of a 'slave wife' or as it might be described today as a 'mistress'. Would that be correct?

Matthew

CurtTN
Aug 23rd 2016, 01:29 AM
But, from what I understand, neither she nor the children she birthed could receive inheritance like the actual wife and her offspring.

Jacob's did! 12 tribes from 12 sons several from concubines.