The topics of plurality of wives, marriage and divorce considered in the footnotes in An Exposition of Deuteronomy 33 by William Parkinson.
In a very lengthy footnote on pages 691-703, Parkinson addresses questions concerning the plurality of wives and concubines in the Old Testament, even among God’s people, and the institution of marriage itself as God first ordained it. In a statement remarkably applicable to our modern context, Parkinson declares that God “at first created but one man—and, for this man, but one woman, whom he gave to be his wife. Gen. 2:18, 21-24. Thus He plainly signified, that a man should have but one wife at the same time. See Mal. 2:14-15. Hence, too, the marriage union is a New Testament figure of the nobler union between Christ and the church. Eph. 5:23, 31-32.” The practice of a plurality of wives and use of concubines were, he writes, “usages which God has never authorized; and which, though He suffered them, like many other wicked usages, to prevail—yet, that commonly—perhaps universally—He has marked them with tokens of His great displeasure; as, for instance, in Jacob, David, and Solomon. That, however connived at in former ages, they are usages which have no countenance in the New Testament. Christ often spoke of marriage; but always mentioned it as a relation existing between one man and one woman only” [emphasis his]. Parkinson goes on to explain in some detail the provision that Christ made for a lawful divorce, as well as the Pauline teaching (under the inspiration of the Spirit) in 1 Cor. 7 concerning what may take place when one of the spouses in a marriage becomes a Christian while the other remains a heathen. For those seeking more light on these subjects, this footnote by Parkinson will provide much assistance.