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wife
/wīf/
noun
noun: wife; plural noun: wives
  1. a married woman considered in relation to her spouse.

In Hebrew, the word “isha/ishah” means both woman and wife, interchangeably.

con·cu·bine
/ˈkäNGkyəˌbīn/

noun

historical
noun: concubine; plural noun: concubines
  1. (in polygamous societies) a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives.

Pilegesh (Hebrew: פילגש‎) is a Hebrew term for a concubine with similar social and legal standing to a recognized wife, often for the purpose of producing offspring.

Zonah(Hebrew:זונה) is a Hebrew term for a prostitute. (there is a female AND male pronunciation — FYI)

Often, Hebrew Israelite women and men are in a battle over concubinage. Men are quick to say that a woman’s virginity is a factor as to whether or not she is a wife or a concubine. The women are made to feel shame for any past they may have; it seems that there is no area for repentance and teshuvah in this topic.
Many who are Hebrew Israelites now were not always awake to who they were. They were born and raised Christian or something else. They lived their lives however they saw fit , and then found out they were Hebrew. Then they turned away from their old ways, striving for righteousness.
But often, a woman is told that, if she is not a virgin when she marries, then she is not a wife — she is a concubine.
When you ask what a concubine is, you may receive a variety of answers — a concubine is a slave-wife, a concubine is a woman who is not a virgin, a concubine is a wife without covenant, a concubine is a girlfriend, a concubine is a woman who has children from another relationship, a concubine is a woman that’s not good enough to be a wife but you still want to bed her.
Whatever the case may be, there is scriptural evidence implying some of these. Others are simply personal opinions of the masses often accepted as fact.

Concubine as a slave-wife: Often in scripture we see a slave girl being taken and lain with, and children are made from that woman. A slave has no choice to consent to or decline to do what is their master’s wish — if a man had a slave girl, and he wanted to lay with her, he could and she would become his concubine. If a woman had a slave girl and she wanted her husband to lay with her, he could and she would become his concubine.
Female slaves were given over to any man to whom her master wished to gift her.
Slavery is not legally done today, so this idea is archaic among us, at best.
(A female slave can become a concubine, but being a concubine does NOT mean you are suddenly a slave! We are all to be dutiful servants of our husbands if we observe the Torah or the Quran, but you are NOT a slave. Even queens were servants to their kings.)
Concubine as a non-virgin: You will hear that a woman who is a non-virgin is only able to receive concubine status with her husband, and not full-wife status (thereby conversely saying that virgins get full-wife status). You will hear many reasons why — some will say if a woman had sex with a man and lost her virginity, then she is THAT man’s wife. The reasoning behind this is because to many Israelites, sex equals marriage. They will pull out verses to support this claim. But they are neglecting other verses on the matter — while sex is needed to complete the marriage “ceremony”, you also need an agreement between parties that this is what you will be to each other, and you need witnesses to the agreement. When a man took an unmarried/unbetrothed Daughter of Israel in a field, he had to pay her father the bride price and basically complete the ceremony. If not, he was seen as having defiled her and messed with her status in society. Sex is not ALL you need to do to be considered a wife.
So think about people’s younger sexual conquests — no, sisters, you are not married to those men if there was no agreement with them that that is what you were doing. No, brethren, you are NOT married to those women if there was no agreement with them that that is what you were doing. (and you know that was not the agreement you had with those people — outside of the righteous Hebraic construct, many things occur and sexual promiscuity is had by both genders.)
Let me point out some non-virginal women in scripture that, when married, were described as wives and not concubines (because scripture is very explicit in titles — what’s there is there and what isn’t there can only be speculated on) —
Ruth (Book of Ruth — widowed; she becomes a wife of Boaz in the end)
Abigail (1 Samuel 25 — widowed; becomes a wife of King David)
Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11)
Bathsheba is a particularly interesting case — while being married to Uriah, Bathsheba committed adultery with King David, which is a sinful act, and became pregnant. Then David had Uriah killed so that he could have Bathsheba as his wife. Never was Bathsheba referred to as his concubine. …and scripture was very clear as to who was concubine and who was not.

Concubine as a wife without covenant:The Babylonian Talmud (the Talmud being a Jewish book that doesn’t hold any one rule for or against anything, and is largely a book of debate and opinion) states that a concubine is a wife without covenant: (from Wikipedia:)”the difference between a pilegesh and a full wife was that the latter received a marriage contract (Hebrew:ketubah) and her marriage (nissu’in) was preceded by a formal betrothal (“kiddushin”), which was not the case with the former. According to R. Judah, however, the pilegesh should also receive a marriage contract, but without including a clause specifying a divorce settlement. (this final line I can agree with — I believe people should understand the nature of their relationship and that things should be clear and concise to the point that it could be written out and both parties would be in agreement on what’s written on that paper)

Concubine as a woman who has children from another relationship: This belief has no foundation in scripture. I can’t find evidence anywhere — a woman who was a widow and had children could be made a full-wife to a man if he wished it.
Kohanim have restrictions on who they can and can’t marry, but not every man is a priest. If you are a Kohan/Cohen, you should be fully aware on your marital restrictions according to Torah, and you should abide by them. A Kohan cannot marry a zonah or a divorced woman (Lev. 21:7) and a kohan gadol (A HIGH priest) cannot marry a widow, a divorced woman, a zonah, a non-Hebrew or converted woman, OR a non-virgin (Lev. 21:13-15). Notice there’s a difference between a priest and a HIGH priest — not every priest is a high priest (the rules in this chapter for the high priest begins at verse 10).

As I mentioned earlier, scripture is very clear on what women were concubines or not. It did not hinge on whether or not that woman was a virgin, it hinges on what that woman’s agreement was with that man. The Most High never frowned on a woman being a wife OR a concubine. And in Hebraic society, being a concubine was NOT seen as a bad thing — she was a wife, she respected and submitted to her man as her husband and her head.
What a woman must do is make sure she understands the relationship she has with her man. I am big on things being clear and concise — I don’t like to be confused as to what we are to each other. I think a woman should request clarity and transparency, and if she agrees with the terms of that relationship, those two are able to do whatever it is they chose per that agreement according to Torah. (of course there are prohibited marriages, but the only one that hinges on a woman’s virginity is that to a Kohan gadol)

KNOW YOUR TORAH IF YOU’RE GOING TO LIVE BY IT, AND YOU WON’T EVER BE DECEIVED.

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