Women of the Word: David’s Ten Concubines


In Old Testament Biblical times, it was common for men to have one or more wives and also several other women who they were not married to. These other women were called concubines and had lower status than the wives. King Solomon is probably the most infamous for this practice. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Three passages in the book of 2 Samuel (15:16; 16:22; 20:3), however, tell us that Solomon’s father, David, also had his share of concubines.

When he was running away from his rebellious son, Absalom, David left ten concubines behind to take care of the palace. Absalom took revenge on David and raped all ten women in a tent on the roof of the palace, in the sight of all Israel. Absalom later died in a tragic way and David was able to come back to the palace. When he returned, he took the ten concubines and put them in a house to themselves. David continued to provide for these women, but they were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows.

1. David’s ten concubines were not treated the way God intended for women to be treated. The sin of David and the sin of Absalom affected these ten concubines in the most horrible way. They suffered because of the wrong actions of others. They were looked on as slaves. They were treated as objects to be used, instead of people to be respected and loved. After being violated and abused, they were cast aside and forgotten until the day they died.

Just as God never intended for men to enslave men as personal property through slavery, He never intended for men to enslave women as their sexual property either. The practice of having concubines still goes on today under the name of polygamy, and even though it is found in the Bible, it is not Biblical. When God created Adam, He created one woman named Eve – not ten different women to keep him company. God created women as equal companions for men, not as subservient chattel.

Throughout much of the Bible and even in past and present history, we hear story after story of how women have been treated as inferior to men, maligned, assaulted, and exploited. When Christ came to earth, He treated women in the opposite manner. From His entrance into the world through the womb of Mary, to speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, to forgiving the woman caught in adultery, to giving His mother into the care of John while He hung dying on the cross, Jesus the Christ did more to elevate the value and position of women than any one else before Him.

Christ treated women with compassion, respect, and dignity because that is how He intended for them to be treated. Christ created women, and Christ loves women. He is the strongest advocate for women and the greatest champion for womanhood, and those who believe in Him should follow His example. In Are Women Human?, author Dorothy L. Sayers wrote:

Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there had never been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, who never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as ‘The women, God help us!’ or ‘The ladies, God bless them!’; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously, who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no ax to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious.

2 thoughts on “Women of the Word: David’s Ten Concubines

  1. Pingback: Women of the Word (Recap 11) | The Virtuous Girls

  2. Pingback: Women of the Word | The Virtuous Girls

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