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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 5676 divorce, in OT
5676 divorce, in OT

5676 divorce, in OT

Usually initiated by the husband who issued his wife with a certificate of divorce and sent her from his home, divorce broke the marriage bond and allowed parties to remarry. It was not part of God’s original purpose for marriage, and is permitted only because of human sinfulness. God is depicted as taking divorce proceedings against adulterous Israel.

The nature of divorce

Divorce dissolves a marriage Mk 10:4 pp Mt 19:7 The certificate of divorce was a legal document ending the marriage. See also Lev 22:12-13 Divorce ends the restrictions on a priest’s daughter which were the result of her marriage; Nu 30:9 Following divorce a husband is no longer responsible for his wife; Dt 24:1-2 Divorce properly entered into allows the parties to remarry; Hos 2:2; Mt 5:31

Divorce was not God’s original intention Mal 2:10-16 God’s displeasure at those of his people who divorced their Jewish wives to marry foreigners, thus breaking faith with their partners and with God; Mt 19:4-8 pp Mk 10:5-9 The Law of Moses did not command divorce, but regulated an existing practice, particularly to protect the wife. See also Ge 1:27; Ge 2:24

Circumstances permitting divorce

Displeasure Dt 24:1 See also Dt 21:13-14; Mt 19:3

Returning exiles were required to divorce their foreign wives Ezr 10:10-11 See also Ezr 10:2-3

Circumstances where divorce was not allowed

Dt 22:13-19 where a husband makes false accusations about his wife’s virginity; Dt 22:28-29 where the marriage is contracted following the rape of a virgin

Restrictions on remarriage after divorce

Former partners who marry others Dt 24:3-4 See also Jer 3:1

Priests could not marry divorcees Lev 21:7,14; Eze 44:22

The divorce between God and Israel

It was due to Israel’s unfaithfulness Jer 3:6-10 See also Isa 50:1; Jer 31:32

God’s desire for reconciliation Isa 54:4-8 See also Isa 62:4-5; Eze 16:60-63; Hos 2:14-16

See also

5662certificate of divorce
6243adultery, spiritual