What Is A Concubines In The Bible

What Is A Concubines In The Bible

The Bible mentions concubines in different capacities, most often as secondary wives or lovers to kings, and women to whom men had pledge their rights. A concubine was ranked lower than a wife and had fewer rights and resources than a wife, though some concubines were of higher social status or had a better relationship with their partner than his wife.
In ancient times, concubinage was a form of marriage in which a man and a woman were not legally married but maintained a permanent, mutually faithful union. Concubines were initially considered part of a man’s household and were responsible for various tasks and duties. In addition, concubines sometimes served religious, historical, or political functions, as well as offering companionship, stability, and social status.
The Bible mentions concubines both favourably and unfavourably. In the Old Testament, some concubines were considered part of a polygamous relationship and were fully accepted, such as with Abraham and Sarah, and their concubines Keturah and Hagar, among others. Other times, the Bible mentions more negative situations, such as the stories of David and his many concubines, and the situation of concubines in the book of Judges.
For men, concubinage gave them the benefit of maintaining a long-term relationship without having to adhere to all the rules of a full legal marriage. This meant they could enjoy the benefits of having a partner without the restrictions or responsibilities that came with a traditional marriage.
Concubines could also provide other services to their partners than those that could be obtained in a full marriage. Men could use them as spies in hostile nations and as political or social tools during times of turmoil. They could also provide a channel for their partners to achieve closer ties with their own or another nation’s aristocracy.
For women, concubinage offered them the opportunity to increase their social and financial standing. They could obtain protection and prestige from their partner’s social status. Along with access to material goods, concubines could sometimes gain considerable political influence. In addition, concubines produced heirs for their partners which opened up new avenues for the inheritance of wealth and power.
There are numerous stories in the Bible about concubines and the implications that concubinage had for those involved. In some stories, the concubines appear as people of great power, such as Bathsheba, mother of Solomon. In other stories, concubinage is seen in a negative light, as with the story of Dinah and her two concubines.

Historical Background of Concubines

The practice of taking concubines dates back to ancient times. Evidence of concubinage is seen in the Bible in various books and stories, as well as in some cultures such as the Chinese and Japanese. The practice of concubinage varied from culture to culture, with some cultures believing that it offered a man the opportunity to obtain a more prestigious position and political influence, while others saw it as simply a way to maintain an intimate relationship without any legal entanglements or obligations.
In ancient China, concubines were considered an essential part of a man’s imperial household and were responsible for various tasks. They often had political and religious roles and were considered to be in a higher social standing than wives. Women who became concubines often saw it as a way to increase their family’s wealth and political power.

The Status of Concubines in The Bible

In the Bible, concubines were seen as lower than wives in terms of both power and prestige. They had fewer rights and resources than a wife and were often considered to be the property of their partner. The Bible indicates that it was common for kings and other powerful men to have concubines, though their number and status varied from one man to the next.
Concubines in the Bible were often treated poorly. In the book of Judges, for example, we are told of a man who is compelled to marry his concubine after desecrating her and referring to her as a “dog.” On the other hand, some stories portray concubines in a favourable light, such as when Abraham, Sarah, and their concubines are seen as a family of equals.

Religious Perspective on Concubines

Religiously, the Bible is quite clear on the position of concubines. It is seen as something that is sometimes necessary, but must not be abused. The Bible is clear that a concubine must be treated with respect and that her rights must be honoured. It also states that a man must not take a concubine simply for the purpose of having sexual relations with her.
On the other hand, Islamic scholars state that concubinage is allowed and encouraged, as long as it is done in a respectful, harmonious way. Concubines are seen as an important part of a man’s successful, productive life. They are valued and respected and must be treated so, even though their relationship may not be the same as a wife.

Contemporary Perspective on Concubines

In modern society, most people view the idea of concubinage as antiquated, oppressive and outdated. This is seen as an institution of control, in which one partner has access to all the benefits of a relationship with another partner without any of the obligations of a legal marriage. In contemporary society, most relationships are founded upon respect and mutual understanding rather than some form of patriarchal control.
In recent years, there has been much debate about the concept of concubinage, particularly with regards to its implications for gender equality and the power dynamics between partners. Some have argued that concubinage is outdated and should no longer be accepted, while others have argued that, in the right circumstances, it can be beneficial for those involved.

Modern Practice of Concubinage

Although concubinage is generally considered to be a thing of the past, there are still some aspects of it that remain. In some cultures, particularly in the Middle East, concubinage may still exist in certain forms, though it is generally far less blatant than in the past.
In contemporary society, concubinage is much more subtle, but it may still be happening. Some relationships that involve romantic and sexual partners, where there is an unequal power dynamic and unequal access to resources, may be considered a form of concubinage.
This can be difficult to assess without knowing the specific context and motivations of those involved in the relationship. However, it is clear that although concubinage may still exist, it is not an acceptable practice in modern society, and must be viewed through the lens of respect and mutual understanding.

Rights & Obligations Of Concubines

It is important to remember that concubines, even those in ancient times, did have rights and privileges. In the Bible, we are shown that concubines have the right to protection and respect, just as a wife does. We are also told that a concubine should not be taken for any other reason than for the purposes of providing companionship and stability.
Further, concubines also had certain obligations and responsibilities. For example, they were expected to be loyal to their partner and serve them with respect. They were also expected to perform certain duties within the household, such as caring for children and assisting in running the household.

Implications Of Concubines

The practice of concubinage has had a long-lasting impact on both societies and individuals. On a societal level, the effects are varied. In some cultures, it has led to a perception of women as being inferior to men, and this has had a pervasive impact on social and gender norms.
On an individual level, the implications are even more varied. Some women have found themselves caught in a cycle of abuse or exploitation as they were taken advantage of by their partners. Others have benefited from the stability provided by their concubines and the ability to gain wealth and social status.


The practice of concubinage was a common occurrence in the Bible and in numerous other cultures. It was a way to maintain an intimate relationship without the requirements of a full legal marriage.
Concubines had both rights and obligations and the implications of those practices are still seen today. Modern society does not accept concubinage as a legitimate form of relationship and it must be viewed through the lens of respect and mutual understanding.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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