Do You Want To Know How Monogamy Came To Be?Written by Joseph T Farkasdi
In Hebrew Bible, there is a clear distinction between a love relationship and a marriage arrangement. Love relationships are depicted, over all, as blinding-revealing passion for someone who is object of individual’s attention. For example, Yaakov’s passion for Rachel (B’reshith 29). King David’s lustful desire for Batsheva (Sh’muel Bet 11-12). Samson’s love for D’leelah, dominatrix of Hebrew Bible (Shofetim 16). Just to name a few. A marriage arrangement requires that one’s married to each other fulfill ethical and moral legal obligations that are binding upon them under laws prescribed within community. Further, love between ones married to each other is not guaranteed. Divorce is probable, and arrangements for that are legally prescribed in both Torah and Talmud. Marital strife is likely to occur due to differences in individual needs or unpredictable circumstances, and must be weathered through by adherence to marital obligations. Love can flourish between married partners, and this is "ideal" if individuals work together through struggles and keeping obligations to nurture its continued existence in marriage. In Hebrew Bible, all aspects dealing with legal institution of marriage express polygamy. So, too, do all narratives on marriage lives of people; with what may appear to be rare exception of a few. But, Torah rarely, if ever, gives full disclosure on personal lives of its legendary people. It has selective memory, and midrash of later generations have had to fill in areas not covered. If we were to stretch scripture a little, and interpret that some marriages were intentionally portrayed as monogamous, all this really shows us is two possibilities. The first, is that some men were likely to take only one wife; and/or two, that some should limit themselves to a lesser number. All aspects dealing with what can be described as a monogamous relationship within Hebrew Bible deal with love affair situation of a biblical patriarch and a woman (not always a Hebrew matriarch). Kept in its context, Hebrew Bible presents cultural marriage arrangement of its time – polygamy. It even legally defines proper marriage behavior for husband who is married to more than one wife (D'varim 21.15-17). And, in typical Hebrew teaching style, polygamist marriage narratives teach us that relationships are a struggle between individual needs. And, that obligations – laws, commandments, rules – of being legally married to each other requires that these struggles be worked out within marriage. Great lengths of creativity within marriages of biblical times were taken to accomplish this.
The "idea" that Torah encourages monogamy by showing all struggles happening in polygamist relationships is a later midrashic interpretation of Common Era Palestinian Jews*. [*See footnote below.] The Jews of intertestimal times (the 700 year period between writing of Jewish scrolls, now known as TaNaKH, and writings of Greek New Testament by Greco-Roman Christians of Diaspora). And, for only about a thousand years, has it been upheld through cultural law as ideal within most Jewish communities, and more specifically Ashkenazic community of Old Europe. The rabbis of intertestimal period took TaNaKH scriptures out of their context and applied new meanings to them to deal with present problems occurring within overran, hellenistically influenced Yisrael. The old ways and reasons for these ways were no longer being followed enthusiastically, and new ways were needed to keep integrity of Hebrew teachings.
Hence, new law that appeared in Damascus Document* scroll of intertestimal times that limits marriage to one husband and one wife. The Damascus scroll gives a new definition to what is considered act of fornication. It specifically states that fornication, a sexual sin, is taking of more than one wife in a man’s lifetime. The rationale for this definition of fornication is based upon two quotes from legend narratives of Torah. B’reshith 1.27, "So G-d created humankind in his image, in image of G-d did he create it, male and female he created them" and 7.9, "two and two (each) came to Noah, into Ark, male and female, as G-d had commanded Noah." Both scriptures were taken out of their context and have nothing to do with Moshaic laws regarding marriage. And, one quote from D'varim 17.17 that speaks of King of Yisrael, that he is not to "multiply wives for himself." (A translation of Damascus Document is available in The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation.) [*See footnote below.]
This latter biblical injunction does not restrict King to one wife only, but instructs him not to create a harem for himself, so that his attention remains on his duties as King. The King is also told in this same passage of scripture not to "multiply horses for himself," "not to return people to Egypt in order to multiply horses," and that "silver and gold he is not to multiply for himself to excess." Neither of these injunctions say that King is restricted to owning only one horse and possessing one piece of silver or gold. The D’varim passage cited as validation by first intertestimal adherents to monogamy is dealing with political-trade transactions of King. Later tradition has ascribed B’reshith 2.24 and Mishlei 31 as further justification that ancient Jews intended for us to form monogamous marriages. Again, scripture is taken out of context to justify a fundamentalist view. With passage of Mishlei, it is expressing ideal wife and likens her to Shechinah, which is feminine image of G-d, Hebrew G-ddess. It does not make slightest suggestion concerning number of wives a man is to have. To say that Bible supports a bias towards (or against) something that it clearly does not is simply wrong to do. And, this kind of interpreting leads to injustice.
Beyond the Arch of Swords: Making Military Marriage LastWritten by Barbara Eastom Bates
Melissa Wallace of Camp Pendleton, California is a tall, wispy woman, with a soft voice and gentle smile. The wife of 25-years to a Sgt. Maj. in Marine Corps, Melissa and her husband John talk wistfully about life that is soon to be behind them, as Sgt. Maj. Wallace prepares for retirement. Melissa and John were married in 1976. Several years later, following birth of their first son, John enlisted in Marine Corps in hopes of finding a better life for his young family. Together Wallace’s have seen four states, two countries and added three more sons to their family. They have survived two overseas tours, one that was unaccompanied, and an average of three deployments a year for last 20 years. They celebrated their silver anniversary this past fall. There is no doubt that Melissa and John have faced challenges that have crumbled lesser marriages. Yet, looking at them today, there is no doubt they are as much in love as day they married.
Melissa reflects, “Throughout John’s service to Corps, I’ve often been asked what it’s like to be married in military. At first thought, I’d reply that marriage is marriage no matter circumstances. But to say so would deny all positive effects military has had on our life together, and there have been many. Marriage in military is tough. It is full of every challenge and adversity you could imagine. Yet, it’s those challenges that make us stronger and ultimately make our marriage better.”
Emily Travis can relate to challenges. A new bride of military, Emily and her husband Todd are currently undergoing a six-month separation, just two months on heels of their nuptials. Emily is 20-years old and away from home for first time in her life while her husband, Naval Petty Officer Travis, is “on a big, gray boat, oceans away.”
“I miss him dearly,” muses Emily, “but I try not to dwell on that. I wouldn’t have chosen to have my husband away from me, but since he is, I’m taking this as an opportunity to show Todd strength of my love for him. It takes real effort to nurture a relationship like ours, and I feel fortunate to have chance to prove I’ll be here for him no matter what, regardless of how long I have to wait.”
The day-to-day details of marriage military style may vary, but underlying theme is same. Marriage requires commitment, understanding and patience, even under best of circumstances. The demanding circumstances of military life lend even more importance to adhering to these values. Relationship expert Barbara DeAngelis, Ph.D., author of Real Moments, writes, “Marriage is not a noun, it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get, it’s something you do...marriage is not a wedding ring, or a piece of paper that proves you are husband and wife, or a party that says you’ve been married for twenty-five years. Marriage is a behavior—it is how you love and honor your partner every day…it is a choice you make, not just on your wedding day, but over and over again, and that choice is reflected in way you treat your husband or wife.”
Melissa Wallace shares a tradition that she and her husband used during deployments and other separations to enrich their marriage. “We kept individual journals all time. The journals were written for each other and were like one big, long letter of all our hopes and fears and feelings. Whenever John would go away, we’d exchange them. With these journals, it was almost like we were still together, because we’d share all day-to-day things you miss out on when you’re apart. Not only that, but we always seemed to learn new, special things about one another we wouldn’t have known otherwise. We still cherish these books years later. It’s like a chronicle of how far we’ve come in our marriage.”