What Is a Concubine? Why Did God Allow Concubines in the Bible?

A concubine in the Bible was a secondary wife whose role was to provide heirs, children for the family’s workforce, and satisfy the man’s desires. Although Hebrew law granted rights and protections to concubines, they had lower status than wives. Polygamy and concubinage were common among the wealthy and royalty.

Concubines could be Hebrew girls sold by their fathers, Gentile captives from war, purchased foreign slaves, or Canaanite women. Poverty sometimes forced free Hebrew women into concubinage.

The Bible features several concubines: Hagar, Keturah, the Concubine of Gibeah, Rizpah, and many of King David and Solomon’s unnamed concubines.

God did not introduce or approve of concubinage; it was a product of the culture. The law aimed to protect vulnerable women. God’s original design was monogamous marriage.

The purpose of the law was to expose sin and humanity’s need for Christ. The Bible’s inclusion of concubine stories serves to highlight human depravity and the need for redemption.

God’s love and patience endured despite people’s rejection of His ways, culminating in the sacrifice of Jesus for humanity’s sins.