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Deuteronomy 21:15 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— If a man have two wives, the one beloved, and the other hated, and they have borne him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the first-born son be hers that was hated;
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, [both] the beloved and the hated; and [if] the firstborn son be hers that was hated:
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— “If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and [both] the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved,
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— If a man shall have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have borne him children, [both] the beloved and the hated; and [if] the first-born son be hers that was hated:
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— If a man have two wives, one beloved, and one hated, and they have borne him children, both the beloved and the hated, and the firstborn son be hers that was hated;
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— When a man shall have two wives—the one, beloved and, the other, hated, and they have borne him sons, both she that is beloved, and she that is hated,—and it shall be that the firstborn son belongeth to her that is hated,
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— 'When a man hath two wives, the one loved and the other hated, and they have borne to him sons (the loved one and the hated one), and the first-born son hath been to the hated one;
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— If a man have two wives, one beloved, and the other hated, and they have had children by him, and the son of the hated be the firstborn,
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— If a man haue two wiues, one beloued and another hated, and they haue borne him children, [both] the beloned, and the hated: and if the first borne sonne be hers that was hated:
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And if a man have two wives, the one loved and the other hated, and both the loved and the hated should have born him [children], and the son of the hated should be first-born;
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, [both] the beloved and the hated; and [if] the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
If x3588
(3588) Complement
כִּי
kiy
{kee}
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
a man 376
{0376} Prime
אִישׁ
'iysh
{eesh}
Contracted for H0582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.).
have x1961
(1961) Complement
הָיָה
hayah
{haw-yaw'}
A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary).
two 8147
{8147} Prime
שְׁתַּיִם
sh@nayim
{shen-ah'-yim}
(The first form being dual of H8145; the second form being feminine); two; also (as ordinal) twofold.
wives, 802
{0802} Prime
אִשָּׁה
'ishshah
{ish-shaw'}
The first form is the feminine of H0376 or H0582; the second form is an irregular plural; a woman (used in the same wide sense as H0582).
one 259
{0259} Prime
אֶחָד
'echad
{ekh-awd'}
A numeral from H0258; properly united, that is, one; or (as an ordinal) first.
beloved, 157
{0157} Prime
אָהַב
'ahab
{aw-hab'}
A primitive root; to have affection for (sexually or otherwise).
z8803
<8803> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Passive (See H8815)
Count - 1415
and another 259
{0259} Prime
אֶחָד
'echad
{ekh-awd'}
A numeral from H0258; properly united, that is, one; or (as an ordinal) first.
hated, 8130
{8130} Prime
שָׂנֵא
sane'
{saw-nay'}
A primitive root; to hate (personally).
z8803
<8803> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Passive (See H8815)
Count - 1415
and they have born 3205
{3205} Prime
יָלַד
yalad
{yaw-lad'}
A primitive root; to bear young; causatively to beget; medically to act as midwife; specifically to show lineage.
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
him children, 1121
{1121} Prime
בֵּן
ben
{bane}
From H1129; a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like H0001, H0251, etc.).
[both] the beloved 157
{0157} Prime
אָהַב
'ahab
{aw-hab'}
A primitive root; to have affection for (sexually or otherwise).
z8803
<8803> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Passive (See H8815)
Count - 1415
and the hated; 8130
{8130} Prime
שָׂנֵא
sane'
{saw-nay'}
A primitive root; to hate (personally).
z8803
<8803> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Passive (See H8815)
Count - 1415
and [if] the firstborn 1060
{1060} Prime
בְּכוֹר
b@kowr
{bek-ore'}
From H1069; firstborn; hence chief.
son 1121
{1121} Prime
בֵּן
ben
{bane}
From H1129; a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like H0001, H0251, etc.).
be x1961
(1961) Complement
הָיָה
hayah
{haw-yaw'}
A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary).
hers that was hated: 8146
{8146} Prime
שָׂנִיא
saniy'
{saw-nee'}
From H8130; hated.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:15-17

_ _ If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated — In the original and all other translations, the words are rendered “have had,” referring to events that have already taken place; and that the “had” has, by some mistake, been omitted in our version, seems highly probable from the other verbs being in the past tense — “hers that was hated,” not “hers that is hated”; evidently intimating that she (the first wife) was dead at the time referred to. Moses, therefore, does not here legislate upon the case of a man who has two wives at the same time, but on that of a man who has married twice in succession, the second wife after the decease of the first; and there was an obvious necessity for legislation in these circumstances; for the first wife, who was hated, was dead, and the second wife, the favorite, was alive; and with the feelings of a stepmother, she would urge her husband to make her own son the heir. This case has no bearing upon polygamy, which there is no evidence that the Mosaic code legalized.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:15-17

_ _ This law restrains men from disinheriting their eldest sons out of mere caprice, and without just provocation.

_ _ I. The case here put (Deuteronomy 21:15) is very instructive. 1. It shows the great mischief of having more wives than one, which the law of Moses did not restrain, probably in hopes that men's own experience of the great inconvenience of it in families would at last put an end to it and make them a law to themselves. Observe the supposition here: If a man have two wives, it is a thousand to one but one of them is beloved and the other hated (that is, manifestly loved less) as Leah was by Jacob, and the effect of this cannot but be strifes and jealousies, envy, confusion, and every evil work, which could not but create a constant uneasiness and vexation to the husband, and involve him both in sin and trouble. Those do much better consult their own ease and satisfaction who adhere to God's law than those who indulge their own lusts. 2. It shows how Providence commonly sides with the weakest, and gives more abundant honour to that part which lacked; for the first-born son is here supposed to be hers that was hated; it was so in Jacob's family: because the Lord saw that Leah was hated, Genesis 29:31. The great householder wisely gives to each his dividend of comfort; if one had the honour to be the beloved wife, it often proved that the other had the honour to be the mother of the first-born.

_ _ II. The law in this case is still binding on parents; they must give their children their right without partiality. In the case supposed, the eldest son, though the son of the less-beloved wife, must have his birthright privilege, which was a double portion of the father's estate, because he was the beginning of his strength that is, in him his family began to be strengthened and his quiver began to be filled with the arrows of a mighty man (Psalms 127:4), and therefore the right of the first-born is his, Deuteronomy 21:16, Deuteronomy 21:17. Jacob had indeed deprived Reuben of his birthright, and given it to Joseph, but it was because Reuben had forfeited the birthright by his incest, not because he was the son of the hated; now, lest that which Jacob did justly should be drawn into a precedent for others to do the same thing unjustly, it is here provided that when the father makes his will, or otherwise settled his estate, the child shall not fare the worse for the mother's unhappiness in having less of her husband's love, for that was not the child's fault. Note, (1.) Parents ought to make no other difference in dispensing their affections among their children than what they see plainly God makes in dispensing his grace among them. (2.) Since it is the providence of God that makes heirs, the disposal of providence in that matter must be acquiesced in and not opposed. No son should be abandoned by his father till he manifestly appear to be abandoned of God, which is hard to say of any while there is life.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Deuteronomy 21:15

Two wives — This practice, though tolerated, is not hereby made lawful; but only provision is made for the children in this case. Hated — Comparatively, that is, less loved.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Deuteronomy 21:15

If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another (g) hated, and they have born him children, [both] the beloved and the hated; and [if] the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

(g) This declares that the plurality of wives came from a corrupt affection.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
two wives:

Genesis 29:18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
Genesis 29:20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him [but] a few days, for the love he had to her.
Genesis 29:30-31 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. ... And when the LORD saw that Leah [was] hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel [was] barren.
Genesis 29:33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I [was] hated, he hath therefore given me this [son] also: and she called his name Simeon.
1 Samuel 1:4-5 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: ... But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.
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Gn 29:18, 20, 30, 33. 1S 1:4.

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