Comment of the Week | June 19, 2016
Comment of the Week | $5 Cash Winner
Commenter Victor wins Comment of the Week and gets $5, enough to have a beer on us. In response to The History of Harems: Women Orbit, Too which touches on the history of harems and how women still exhibit orbiting behavior towards dominant men, he explains how the practice played out in different religions:
Christianity is the product of Greco-Roman culture, whereas Judaism and Islam are Semitic. The Greeks and Romans practiced official monogamy (even if men kept mistresses and slave girls on the side), whereas the ancient Jews and Muslims had regulated polygyny. At the time of Christ, Jews were still polygynous and men having multiple wives would have been common in the world of Jesus and his disciples. When Christianity under the influence of Paul’s teachings separated from Judaism and renounced Torah law, it moved toward Roman cultural practices, which included monogamy. Jews remained polygynous until the 4th century, when Christianity became the official religion of Rome and rabbis were pressured to adopt monogamy under threat of persecution. Interestingly, Jews in the Islamic world remained polygynous into the 20th century. There are fascinating accounts of Yemeni Jews with multiple wives who migrated to Israel in the 1950s and were forced to divorce their “excess” wives to enter the country.
One thing you can say in favor of Islamic polygyny — there were no “illegitimate” children, as children of multiple wives were all recognized as legitimate children of their father, and had inheritance rights (including the daughters). The children of a free man and a slave girl in the Muslim world were also born free and legitimate. That is certainly a better situation to the “monogamy” of Europe that was marred by the common practice of having mistresses and “illegitimate” children who were deprived of legal rights and inheritance.
As the article states, polygyny is much more common in human history than we are led to believe. In nature, the male is by and large the disposable part of the species which is why men have to compete with each other for females – whether its humans competing for money, status, and power or walruses beating each other to a pulp. Women want the sperm of the winners, i.e. successful men are “orbited” by females. Since the sexual revolution, we are regressing back into animalistic behavior like this, with a large number of men being sexually excluded. To the victor go all the spoils.
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