“Seven Women Shall Take Hold of One Man” (Isaiah 4:1)

I was reminded recently of Isaiah 4:1, which has often been used as prooftext for polygamy. It reads:

“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.”

The key here is identifying “that day.” Is is a future day, perhaps part of “the last days?”

It’s also important to remember the there are no chapter breaks in the Hebrew Bible. Those are man made and while they do a pretty good job most of the time, they are arbitrary. This is a good example. Isaiah 4:1 actually belongs to the end of chapter 3, which is a pronouncement of judgment on Jerusalem and Judah.

We read in the first three verses of chapter 3:

For behold, the Lord GOD of Hosts is about to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support: the whole supply of food and water, the mighty man and the warrior, the judge and the prophet, the soothsayer and the elder, the commander of fifty and the dignitary, the counselor, the cunning magician, and the clever enchanter.”

Chapter 3 addresses Jerusalem’s current wickedness, not the distant future.

So, what happens when we put 4:1 back in its rightful place at the end of chapter 3?

“…therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion [Jerusalem], and the Lord will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground. And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.”

That day” refers to the day the Lord was “about to remove from Jerusalem supply and support” when “thy men shall fall by the sword.” He’s referring to his day, not “the last days.”

Because of Jerusalem’s wickedness the men would be wiped out and the women would be left husbandless and childless (“our reproach”), which was a source of shame in that day. It’s nothing to do with polygamy as we think of it. And even if it were, look at why it happened. I don’t think that’s anyone’s idea of a good time.

Side note on Isaiah: there is a tendency among some LDS people to view all of Isaiah as a metaphor for or prophecies of still-future events, but I don’t believe that’s what Jesus says at Bountiful. Rather, Jesus cites Isaiah 54 (3 Nephi 22) specifically and then encourages the Nephi to study “these things” referring to Isaiah 54.

Context, as always, is king.

4 thoughts on ““Seven Women Shall Take Hold of One Man” (Isaiah 4:1)

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  1. You are not addressing the fact and avoid it like the plague that Jehovah compared himself to a polygamist in metaphor, such thing would be impossible for him to do if polygamy were abhorrent in every case (which it is except it be authorized). So obviously metaphorically Jehovah had two authorized wives, which also obviously would not be sinful (after all…this is Jehovah). Monogamy extremist hate the scripture that points this fact out. Explain this my knowledgeable brother
    2 Wives (prophetically speaking, that is)
    Aholah/Samaria & Aholibah/Jerusalem (Ezekiel 23),
    Israel & Judah (Jeremiah 3).

    “And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah hersister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.” Ezekiel 23:4
    So obviously as you stated…taking ALL scripture, there is such a thing as authorized polygamy.
    Please reply in integrity , and if you don’t know..just say you don’t know.


    1. I’m not avoiding it. Metaphors are not meant to be taken literally. That’s why they are metaphors.

      “Metaphor: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.”

      There is no such things “authorized polygamy” lest God be a liar. You’re also avoiding Jesus’ words during His mortal ministry:

      “And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (SINGULAR), and the TWO shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer TWO, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”


      1. You don’t use a metaphor for the Lord comparing a sacred thing ie The Lord…with a unclean thing like…a pig..or a sexually abhorrent thing like how they thought of homosexuality. No where would such a metaphor be used in sacred writings comparing the Lord God with an unclean abhorrent thing…and you sense this. next…
        made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (SINGULAR), and the TWO shall become one flesh why do you think the language should include polygamy..if the standard and culture the story is written in …only includes one wife as the base or minimum norm. Other languages have different avenues for displaying metaphors like becoming one…becoming one flesh has symbolic implications…a child..and procreation. Both of which becoming one flesh occurs “with two becoming one flesh”. Before you bring it up in the NT when the bishop must be the husband of one wife….the language the bible is written in interprets this as “at least” one wife…in other words married. Rabbis in that cultural time period as well as ecclesiastical leaders (in Christianity) had to have one wife (doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t have more) . And this info I’m giving you is not your normal apologetical material…you can check it with actual scholars…not your pastor or bishop. As you see, our assumptions based on our current knowledge base can be in serious error but taken the scriptures in their cultural timeframe, language use..they make perfect sense. But taken with our “traditions of men” view we assume…one wife. assumptions when addressing cognitive dissonance (for instance the Lord referring himself to an abhorrent sinner of the greatest magnitude) are an indicator of one who has not done their homework and studied both sides. Yeah…men mess up when it comes to polygamy..and monogamy…they’re/we’re men after all. Another instance of incoherence of scripture……it is better to not touch a woman. wrong..scholars know the reference was a response to another letter. We don’t know what the first letter was…..its probably speaking of missionary work where people must leave the home and go on frequent journeys or some question in relation to that…then and only then…is it “better to not touch a woman”. All these questions and responses (not apologetic but actual degreed academia) easily address these issues…and Lo…all of a sudden no cognitive dissonance. And the truth will set you free.


      2. You are welcome to your opinion and belief system. I don’t feel inclined to argue the point any further because I won’t change my mind. Polygamy or plural wives is an afront to God and He would never command, condone or endorse adultery. It’s a sin. It always has been and it always will be and I will go to my grave declaring it so.

        I won’t be replying to any more comments from you regarding this post.


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