- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: No
- Included in Naves: No
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: Yes
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: No
- Included in BDB: Yes
In the Bible denotes a female conjugally united to a man, but in a relation inferior to that of a wife. Among the early Jews, from various causes, the difference between a wife and a concubine was less marked than it would be amongst us. The concubine was a wife of secondary rank. There are various laws recorded providing for their protection (Exodus 21:7; Deuteronomy 21:10-14), and setting limits to the relation they sustained to the household to which they belonged (Genesis 21:14; 25:6). They had no authority in the family, nor could they share in the household government.
The immediate cause of concubinage might be gathered from the conjugal histories of Abraham and Jacob (Genesis 16;30). But in process of time the custom of concubinage degenerated, and laws were made to restrain and regulate it (Exodus 21:7-9).
The difference between wife and concubine was less marked among the Hebrews than among us, owing to the absence of moral stigma. The difference probably lay in the absence of the right of the bill of divorce, without which the wife could not be repudiated. With regard to the children of wife and of concubine, there was no such difference as our illegitimacy implies. The latter were a supplementary family to the former; their names occur in the patriarchal genealogies, (Genesis 22:24; 1 Chronicles 1:22) and their position and provision would depend on the father's will. (Genesis 25:6) The state of concubinage is assumed and provided for by the law of Moses. A concubine would generally be either (1) a Hebrew girl bought of her father; (2) a Gentile captive taken in war; (3) a foreign slave bought; or (4) a Canaanitish woman, bond or free. The rights of the first two were protected by the law, (Exodus 21:7; 21:10-14) but the third was unrecognized and the fourth prohibited. Free Hebrew women also might become concubines. To seize on royal concubines for his use was probably the intent of Abner's act, (2 Samuel 3:7) and similarly the request on behalf of Adonijah was construed. (1 Kings 2:21-24)
CONCUBINE, noun [Latin , to lie together, to lie down.]
1. A woman who cohabits with a man, without the authority of a legal marriage; a woman kept for lewd purposes; a kept mistress.
2. A wife of inferior condition; a lawful wife, but not united to the man by the usual ceremonies, and of inferior condition. Such were Hagar and Keturah, the concubines of Abraham; and such concubines were allowed by the Roman laws.