Appendix Note 2, from the book, Song of Songs: Life in the Harem of God
To begin an authentic relationship with our Lord we must first discover how we got here. How did we come to be in the Harem of God? Many of us have never thought about it, and have no idea. So lets us look into the mirror of life and discover who we really are to the King.
There are tree kind of wives presented in the Old Testament. The distinctions between them have to do with their dowry, something our post modern world has no living memory of. Dowries can come from either the woman’s family or the husband and /or his family. These monies are usually stored away by the woman in case she was widowed. Or she may have invested it, as the woman of valor in Proverbs 31, who used the money to buy a field.
First kind of wife came with a dowry. A few examples of this kind of wife would be Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel (although Leah and Rachel complain that their father has not provided the agreed upon monies.)
Then Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has been using up the money given for us. All the property which God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children; now then, whatever God has said to you, do.” Gen. 31:14 -16
The Second kind of wife was the concubine. Sometimes referred to as a bought wife. This woman’s family is too poor to provide a dowry. The dowry is provided by the husband and/or his family. These dowries and the monies always belonged to the woman, not the husband.
The third kind of wife is the captive woman, she has no dowry. She must be a virgin and kept for at least a month untouched. Because she had no family or dowry in many ways she has more rights than the wives or the concubines with dowries. She may not be divorced under any circumstances, because she has no family to return to. If after a month the man decides that he does not want to take her, he may not sell her. But must then act as father or brother and take care of her or arrange a marriage to a close relative..
Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. Num. 31:17-18
“When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hands, and you take them captive, and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you have desire for her and would take her for yourself as wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall put off her captive’s garb, and shall remain in your house and bewail her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. Then, if you have no delight in her, you shall let her go where she will; but you shall not sell her for money, you shall not treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her. Deut. 21:10 -14
This must have bee quite frightening to these young girls. They may have watched as the man who claimed them kill their whole family. Even if they have been taken around the corner of over the hill, they would have known what happened. After such a violent act the men involved would not returned home but rather they were sent off with the priests for a seven day period of cleansing. One supposes that these girls would have been sent to or dropped off with the man’s extended family. [Num. 31:21-24]
There is more going on here than meets the English readers eye. The take them captive in the Hebrew is “to take captivity captive”, which is a double negative and as all double negatives they cancel each other out. This is a Hebrew idiom for “restoration” [c.f. Judg. 5:12; Ps 68:18; Jer. 30:10, 46:27; Eph. 4:8].
These women were NOT to be slaves. They were not captives to be used or abused. They were to be “restored” to God’s people. No longer were they to be enslaved to the pagan gods, that they had grown up with. They were now free. They had truly been Redeemed, by the very man who slaughter their family[Deut. 20:16-17].
It is of all the laws of Torah, the most astounding. Both His mercy and His judgment is here. And a reminder that only the virgins, those whose faith is pure can come.
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear,
and Grace my fears relieved.
What kind of bride are you?