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What Is a Concubine?

A concubine can be equated to being a married man’s official and socially accepted mistress. She may live with the man or be accorded her own home, but she holds a lesser social status to the first wife or any other wives that the man might have. She generally exists for the man’s pleasure.

Concubines were common in many cultures, kings and princes often had several to hundreds of concubines. The men in Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Israelites, Asians and cultures in the Middle East had concubines. A concubine, could be considered a wife without the security and privileges of marriage. She cannot be involved with any other man. Depending upon the society, some concubines were highly respected and loved. Their existence added to the man’s high social status. He obviously had to be rich to be able to support more than one woman. He would buy her lavish gifts, jewelry and clothing. Lavish ceremonies were accorded to concubines when they bore children and even when they died.

Some cultures allowed the concubine to bear children. These children would be recognized as the man’s offspring but they could not rise up to the level of their siblings from the real wives. They were all taken care off, and could marry to raise up their own social status. In the Bible, when Sarah could not bear children, Abraham took on a concubine, Hagar who bore him a son. Jacob too had so many sons through his two official wives and two concubines.

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