Easton's Bible Dictionary
The ordinance of marriage was sanctioned in Paradise (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). Monogamy was the original law under which man lived, but polygamy early commenced (Genesis 4:19), and continued to prevail all down through Jewish history. The law of Moses regulated but did not prohibit polygamy. A man might have a plurality of wives, but a wife could have only one husband. A wife's legal rights (Exodus 21:10) and her duties (Proverbs 31:10-31; 1 Timothy 5:14) are specified. She could be divorced in special cases (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), but could not divorce her husband. Divorce was restricted by our Lord to the single case of adultery (Matthew 19:3-9). The duties of husbands and wives in their relations to each other are distinctly set forth in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 7:2-5; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18, 19; 1 Peter 3:1-7).
Noah Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language
1. (n.) A woman; an adult female; -- now used in literature only in certain compounds and phrases, as alewife, fishwife, goodwife, and the like.
2. (n.) The lawful consort of a man; a woman who is united to a man in wedlock; a woman who has a husband; a married woman; -- correlative of husband.