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It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’”    


Now we turn to the subject of divorce, the third antithesis between Jesus’ teaching and that of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus gave the ground of divorce. Matthew picked up this subject again in chapter 19.


It was also said,

There were two schools of thought on divorce during Jesus’ day:

The Hillel group said it was permissible for a husband to divorce his wife for any reason.

The Shammai group taught that divorce was permissible for a major offense.

Jesus referred to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 by the phrase “it was also said.” The Mosaic Law allowed divorce and did not regard those divorced and remarried as committing adultery.

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. Dt 24:1-4

Whoever divorces his wife,

Women did not have the right of divorce in Israel but men did. God provided the “Certificate of Divorce” to protect the wife from reckless and capricious divorce. That certificate did not allow a man to send his wife out the door without legal rights. Under this bill, the husband could not remarry his wife again or she him. This provision was a concession by God to the sinfulness of men.

let him give her a certificate of divorce.’

Divorce in Israel was a domestic matter and not something that went to court. A man could simply divorce his wife by giving her a document in writing. Having this document, a woman could marry again. This was especially important for the woman for economic reasons, for most women did not have a source of income. Some turned to prostitution to sustain themselves.

Mosaic divorce was a concession by God. Divorce includes the right of remarriage. The “certificate of divorce” releases all claim of the husband on the wife.


Divorce is concession to the sinfulness of man, not a primary ideal of God.


Divorce is a concession by God to the sinfulness of man. God’s ideal is the stability of permanence in marriage. Every person I know who has gone through divorce has experienced greater pain than they imagined. Their primary thought is to relieve their present pain in marriage, but they only find greater pain in divorce—not to mention more serious social issues such as the harm their children suffer in the loss of a parent.