David had many wives & concubines

David had many wives and concubines

David had many wives and concubines

We know that David married many more wives other than the seven listed by name.  However, we don’t know how many more.

2 Samuel 5 says “David married more wives in Jerusalem.”

The Brown commentary states “In this conduct David transgressed an express law, which forbade the king of Israel to multiply wives unto himself in Deuteronomy 17:17.”

We do know from 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 3 that “David acquired still more wives and concubines who, in turn, bore him more children.”

We know we had at least ten concubines.  2 Samuel 20:3 tells us “And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in to them. So they were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood.”

          These were the concubines that his son Absalom defiled in 2 Samuel 16:22.  “So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”


  • Al Grayson

    The king was also forbidden to “multiply” horses. This surely didn’t limit the king to one horse.
    The LORD YHWH, the preincarnate Son, told David (via the mouth of the prophet Nathan) that He had given him many wives, including the 10 widows of Saul, and if David had only asked, He would have given him more. SO – WHY did he steal the wife of Uriah, and murder poor faithful and honorable Uriah?
    King Solomon violated this law by taking 700 wives and 300 concubines but it wasn’t mentioned. What Solomon was condemned for was marrying pagan foreign women from the very first one, a daughter of the pharaoh.

    • Thank you for sharing!

    • Tim

      @Al, you may need to recheck a couple things. First, there is no indication that I can find in scripture that Saul had 10 concubines. There are only two women associated with Saul (Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz; 1Sam 14:50; Rizpah – concubine, 2Sam 3:7). Ahinoam would not have been eligible for David to engage in marital relations with because she was the mother of Michal, one of David’s wives. Rizpah is only ever called the concubine of Saul, including a late reference after Bathsheba (2Sam 21:11) keeping that association with Saul and not David.

      You seem to misunderstand what is promised in the passage you allude to in 2Sam 12:8. Giving Saul’s house and his wives to David did not necessarily mean that David slept with them. As previously mentioned, at least one of those could not have happened. The other has nothing to suggest that it did. Possession of a previous king’s harem was indication that a new king was succeeding the previous. That COULD include sexual intimacy as seen in the matter between Abner and Ishbosheth (2Sam 3:7) and with Absolom’s rape of DAVID’s 10 concubines (2Sam 15:16). However Abishag was considered part of David’s harem (2Ki 2:2:17-22) and thus Adonijah’s request was tantamount to a demand to be made king despite the fact that David had never been sexually intimate with the girl (1Ki 1:4).

      Thus when God says “if too little I would have added to you many more things like these” 2Sam 12:9, that was not an indication that God could/would have given David more women to add to his harem, but is talking about the authority and kingly prerogatives that go with the throne. Follow in context the series: anointed king, delivered from the previous king, gave you your masters house & wives (cultural recognition of succession) house of Israel & house of Judah (actual rule over the entire kingdom). You will see that this understanding is a better fit than an after the fact offer for a bigger harem.

      While OT scripture’s permissiveness of polygamy is an uncomfortable fact for Christianity, it was permitted. However Jesus gives a clear and explicit difference between permissiveness and what is right when talking about divorce and comparing it to the creation of man (Matt 19) and the 10 commandments. While polygamy was permitted, it has always been shown to be the way of conflict and failure (c.f. Proverbs 5:18–19; Rival wife – Leviticus 18:18; 1 Samuel 1:6; Genesis 30:1)


    And yet 1 Kings 15:5 states: because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he had commanded him all the days of his life, and except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. So apparently multiple wives and concubines are acceptable to the LORD.

    • Great perspective! Thank you for sharing. He’s shown throughout the Bible how having multiple wives have led to times of trouble. Jacob and David are two prime examples.

    • Tim

      @Maria, that is a tragic misunderstanding of scripture. Permissiveness is not the same as right. (C.f. Matt 19). Proverbs praises monogamy (Prov 5:18-19). The wife of your youth does not mean ignoring one’s hypothetical future second, third or fourth wives, but rather a passionate, loving exclusivity with the first wife a man marries the precludes ever becoming intimately involved with any other woman. Twice in the OT having multiple wives at the same time is called “rival wife” (Lev 18:18; 1Sam 1:6) and the word choice there is telling. Scripture expects that the two (or more) would be antagonistic to one another. We certainly see that play out between Rachel & Leah as the site owner alludes to in her recent response to you. Polygamy, much like divorce, is something that while permitted in scripture is also shown to be ultimately undesirable to the Lord. Thus we see the commands given in 1Tim 3:2, 12 that those who lead the church be monogamous, inherently prohibiting from church leadership anyone who possess or have possessed multiple wives. This must necessarily then be taken into account when we look at Deut 17:17 and see that yes even for kings, multiplication by anything other than 1 is too many.

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