The Law of Divorcement is considered in detail on the Divorce and Remarriage page

Without doubt, divorce is a violation of God's original plan for mankind. Our respect for this fundamental principle demands that married couples seek to resolve marital conflicts, and if the situation becomes intolerable, separate as a purpose to provide opportunity to work towards a possible reconciliation. It is only when reconciliation is not possible that divorce and remarriage becomes permissible.

...Christ flatly denounced divorce for just "any cause," which the Pharisees and others were guilty of.

Married couples especially those in Christadelphia must strive to make their marriage work because as couples their marriage ought to be a manifestation of Christ and his bride, but sometimes they do fail because of sinful flesh. It is something those responsible will have to give an account of at the judgment seat of Christ, and he will judge the situation since only he can because only he knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, not us. *

1 When a man [ish] hath taken a wife [ isha], and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour [chen ] in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness [ervat davar] in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement [sefer keritut], [keriythuwth, # <3748>, "a cutting (of the matrimonial bond), i.e. divorce." ] and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house [bais].

'ervat davar' also 23: 14 translated unclean thing (shameful thing - OJB)

Uncleanness <6172>, ervah, or fig (disgrace, blemish) "nudity... nakedness, shame, unclean (-ness).

"Any defect found in a woman" (Ges)...the main idea is nakedness.

To put away [shalach] a wife because the husband found fault with her in her nakedness though permitted under the law was likely included in our Lord Yahoshua's rebuke - "hardness of heart". Because it was not a formal divorce the woman was not free to remarry. Without the bill of divorcement she was bound to her husband as long as he lived.Therefore Yahweh introduced the the divorce [ keritut/keriythuwth] law - she was legally divorced and no longer under bondage [she could remarry]

2 And when she is departed out of his house [bais], she may go and be another man's wife [ ish acher (wife of another)]. [a future marriage]

Wife is in italics (KJV) but the context is plain ..."wife" is correct. To suggest this implies girlfriend or concubine is a misrepresentation of the plain teaching of the scripture.

We know from verse 2 that the second marriage did not defile her and does not contradict verse 4. The remarriage of a divorced woman was not defiling, as so often claimed. Remarriage per se was not stigmatized as adulterous, nor was a remarried woman regarded as an adulteress. The Law did not require the divorced woman and her second husband be put to death. This consideration should lead us to exercise caution before stigmatizing remarriage as adulterous!

In those days, only the men could put away their wives. The women were completely depended on the men for support. To send or put away their wives was very hard-hearted of them (Matt 19:8)! Giving the bill of divorcement is a merciful act allowed by God to dissolve the marriage so that the ex-spouse is free to marry another (verse 2). God, through Moses, made a provision for the women who were put away to dissolve their marriage by divorce so that they could re-marry and be supported.

Her former, or ex-husband is referred to as baal, # <1167>, or ex "master, lord." What a sharp contrast in these two words! Her first marriage had been absolutely dissolved. Otherwise, she would have committed adultery if she became another man's wife, and both would have been stoned to death according to the Law (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; John 8:4-5)! No, God did not legalize sin by allowing for divorce!*

3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement [sefer keritut], and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house [bais]; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife [isha];

Her latter, or present husband is referred to as iysh, # <376>, "a husband." It is the same word as "Man" in Gen 2:23, referring to Adam from whose rib Eve was taken and she became his wife (Gen 2:24).*

4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife [isha], after that she is defiled [hutamma'ah] ; for that is abomination [ to'evah] before Yahweh: and thou shalt not cause the land [ha'aretz] to sin, which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance [ nachalah].

The point of prohibiting the husband in remarrying his first wife was to discourage a hasty and frivolous divorce. If a divorce was too easy to obtain it could be abused.

...To break this law of the LORD was an "abomination." ...Why " ?

If the husband could easily remarry the same woman, divorce would become nothing more than a "legal" form of adultery. Later prophetic writings confirm this truth set forth by Moses (Jer 3:1). God wanted both marriage and divorce to be seen as serious, permanent issues. One could not be married or divorced casually, and then remarried to each other again; it had to be carefully thought out. It is interesting to note that the Law honouring marriage immediately follows this verse.

In verse 2, marrying another the woman is NOT defiled. In verse 4 she IS defiled by remarrying her former husband

...Her former, or ex-husband is now referred to as baal, # <1167>, or ex "master, lord." Her first marriage had been absolutely dissolved. Otherwise, she would have committed adultery if she became another man's wife, and she would have been stoned to death according to the Law (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; John 8:4-5)!

No, God did not legalize sin by allowing for divorce! The certificate of divorce had to be handed to the woman for her protection, that her former, or latter husband could not accuse her of adultery, which carried the death sentence, should she remarry. The certificate of divorce was clearly a humanitarian act that protected the women.

Why would God say in verse 2 that she may go and be another man's wife, and then in verse 4 say she has been defiled by remarrying? Does God give ordinances which then defile us? Absolutely not! Obviously, then, it cannot mean that.

...Would God contradict Himself, or give permission to do something that would be defiling? The woman's remarriage was not defiling since she had married lawfully (verse 2). This law of prohibition in verse 4, if you will, concerned her first husband who divorced her in the first instance for some uncleanness (verse 1), and was, therefore, not permitted to take her back because of it!

...According to the Jewish Historian, Josephus, men divorced their wives, remarried and divorced for the dowries they received, and used any excuse to do so. It was "legal" adultery, and this whole concept of what they did was abominable in God's eyes and caused "the land to sin..." This latter part of verse 4 is so often over-looked.*

Before Deuteronomy 24 some Jewish men had been putting away their wives for any cause. Though marriage from the beginning was meant to be permanent according to Adam's proclamation which undoubtedly met with the approval of the Elohim, Yahweh had not issued any laws prohibiting or regulating divorce to this point.

Some hard-hearted men were marrying wives casually and putting them away (but not divorcing) for frivolous reasons. [Yahweh introduced divorce regulation in Deut 24:1-4 to stop this iniquity].

For the woman this was a great hardship. It was a form of abandonment. Because she was only put away (shalach) she was not permitted to remarry - she was still married to the husband who had put her away - he could take her back to wife any time if he felt inclined, or leave her abandoned with no hope for the remainder of her life. (If she did remarry both she and her new husband would be stoned for committing adultery Lev 20:10). [The man could marry any number of women - as long as they were unmarried. During the pre-Messiah age polygamy was tolerated].

Unlike nowadays, women were entirely dependent upon the men for their homes, food and so on. A woman put away (shalach) was in a sad and tragic position, facing destitution. She would never be able to have children. So in Deuteronomy 24 Yahweh introduced new divorce (keriythuwth) laws to regulate the evil of putting away 'he hateth putting away' (shalach).

If a man chose to cast out his wife, he now had to give her a bill of divorcement (keriythuwth). This was a legal writ. This was a permanent and irreversible divorce absolute - he could never take her back, even if the new husband died - that would be an 'abomination' in the sight of Yahweh (Deut 24:4). So Yahweh forced the husband to recognise the seriousness of his actions and not to act hastily or frivolously in either marrying or divorcing.

The bill of divorcement was physical proof she was no longer in marriage bondage to her former husband (now referred to as Baal - Lord v4). It was indeed a merciful provision freeing her from tyranny. It was her protection (and her new husband's) against being stoned for adultery. Now, she could remarry and be supported and raise a family with her new husband (iysh - same as Gen 2:23-24). Her new marriage was in no sense defiling and was certainly not adultery - otherwise she and her new husband would have been stoned. Yahweh does not contradict his own laws!

He can use a woman to teach when men have failed - see 2Chron 34:22 . We believe Sister Mello has provided an authoritative (true to scripture), harmonious, consistent in depth exposition on the subject of divorce and remarriage which happens to coincide with the teaching of our beloved Brother John Thomas. 


'...we see clearly that occasionally outstanding incidents called forth supplementary additions to the Book of the Covenant. The divorce laws of Deut. 24 : 1-4 are doubtless of this nature. These probably legalized certain existing practices and put an end to grave abuses. But they, again, subserved a purpose other than the practical and obvious. A wife who was formally dismissed by her husband could not become his again - neither could any in Israel become God's once more if they "found no favour" in His eyes, because of "uncleanness". Each sinful generation would have to bear its punishment of rejection even though the promise to the entire race remained inviolate (Ezek. 18: 1-4).

Law and Grace Ch 6

5 When a man [ish] hath taken a new wife [isha chadasha], he shall not go out to war [milchamah], neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home 1 year [ in his bais shanah echat], and shall cheer up his wife [ gladden his isha] which he hath taken.

This Law was God's way of honouring and blessing the marriage covenant in an effort to preserve the sanctity of marriage. Newly married men were exempt from military and other state services for one year so they could stay at home, grow in their love one to another, procreate, and be happy with one another.

This Law contained the provision for strengthening marriages and guard against divorce.

heirs together of the grace of life - 1 Pet 3:7*

*Sis Valerie Mello

The relaxing joy of such a time is commended as a blessing, to be retained in mind and action ever afterwards. See Prov. 5:18; Ecc. 9:9. As a type, this anticipates the joy that will be experienced by Christ's multitudinous Bride at "the marriage of the Lamb" - Rev. 19: 7.

However, Christ returns not only as a bridegroom, but as a "strong man", to destroy the forces of darkness and illuminate the world with his glory (Psa. 19:5). In that regard, he will prove to be a "man of war" (Exod. 15:2-3), for "in righteousness, he shall judge and make war" (Rev. 19:11).

But first "judgment must begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. , 4:17) with the object of perfecting the bride" (Eph. 5:25-27), after which, the saints in glory will assist in

"executing vengeance upon the nations, and punishments upon the people" (Psa. 149:7),

and so fulfilling "the judgments written". To fit the type before us, there must be a period of time answering to the honeymoon, a stay of war service and official duties on the part of the Bridegroom in Rev. 19:7-8: a time of great blessing and relaxed happiness.

What a joy it will be when, clothed upon with immortality, saints will meet those of like

precious faith and also be introduced to heroes of the past like Noah, Abraham, Moses, the Apostles, and, greatest of all, "the king of his glory" (Isa. 33:17).

In Eureka Vol. 3 p. 389 Bro. Thomas writes:

"The birth of David's son was celebrated by the acclamation of a multitude of the heavenly host praising the Deity, and saying,

'Glory to the Deity in the highest over the earth peace, and good will towards men'.

Glorious, however, as this announcement was, the listeners to it were only a few simple shepherds; but in the approaching musical festival on Mount Zion, the performers will be not less than 144,000, immortals; who, like the Imperial President of the Festival, were once

dead, but then are living for the aeons; while the listening and delighted audience, marshalled and convened by the King of glory, themselves illustrious and immortal, number

"ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands" - ch. 5:11.

How gratified they will be in beholding the Royal Child, whose birth they celebrated over eighteen centuries before, enthroned by the Eternal Power, according to the words of Gabriel, in his father David's seat; and instead of a vile clamor for his crucifixion, in the very place where he was condemned and put to death, songs of thanksgiving and praise, ascending in immortal strains to the Deity, from the innumerable multitude of the redeemed".

"One year". Is there a type here foreshadowing the time allotted for the marriage supper of the lamb

6 No man [ish] shall take the nether [ lower ] or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life [nefesh] to pledge.

A mill for grinding grain had both upper and lower stones. To take one or the other would render the grinder ineffective, and as it was daily needed by the owner to provide the necessities of life...

A creditor must not take either stone...How incongruous it would be for an Israelite to pray: "Give us this day our daily bread" if a fellow-Israelite had rendered ineffectual the means of preparing it!

As manna represented the bread of life, the handmill represented the preparation of the Word of life for absorption. Nothing must be permitted to render that ineffectual!

The Christadelphian Expositor

7 If a man [ish] be found stealing [kidnapping] any of his brethren of the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel], and maketh merchandise [enslaves] of him, or selleth him; then that thief [ganav] shall die; and thou shalt put evil [rah] away from among you.

There was always a risk that such blindness might lead to the oppression of a fellow Israelite. This was emphatically forbidden.

All Israelites - high and low, rich and poor - were equal in their enjoyment of redemption from Egypt and membership of the Covenant nation. None was to forget it: so none was allowed to make a bondman of another Israelite.

"And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: but as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee and serve thee unto the year of jubile: and then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as bondman. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God" (Lev. 25: 39-43).

Such bondmen were always to be foreigners: "they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel ye shall not rule one over another with rigour" (verse 46). A foreigner on the other hand was not allowed to make a bondman of any Israelite who sold himself into his service: "As a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight" (verse 53).

Any Israelites who could were to regard it as a bounden duty to redeem any such needy brother and thus remove the anomaly presented by a member of the Covenant People serving one of the heathen.

As for any Israelite who esteemed the privileged status of his brother so lightly as to kidnap and sell him for gain, only one punishment was appropriate: "If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you" (Deut. 24: 7).

 Liberty was the God-given right of an Israelite.

Law and Grace Ch 3

8 Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do.

9 Remember what Yahweh thy Elohim did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.

10 When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.

11 Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.

12 And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:

13 In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before Yahweh thy Elohim.

14 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:

15 At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto Yahweh, and it be sin unto thee.

16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. 

In refutation of the theory that Jesus died as a substitute it may further be said :

1. If Christ died as a substitute, no man after his death ought to die, but they do.

2. If Christ died as a substitute he ought not to have been raised from the dead, unless the punishment due to sin was death for three days; in such case no saviour was necessary.

3. If Christ died as a substitute, all men, good and bad, should equally share the benefit of his death.

4. If Christ died as a substitute there is no place for forgiveness.

5. If Christ died as a substitute all benefits should accrue from his death alone to those in whose stead He died, whereas the believer is saved by His life. (Rom. v. 10.]

6. Lastly, the words " substitute " and " substitution " are absent from the language of the Bible.

But one may say :

a. " Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. v. 6.)

b. "If one died for all, then were all dead." (2nd Cor. v. 14.)

c. " Christ died for us.'' (1st Thess. v. 10.)

d. " Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust."

The word " for " in the above quotations, if used in the sense of substitution, traverses the principle of eternal justice, viz., that " every man shall die for his own sin." But there is another meaning to the word " for." A man may do a thing for, on behalf of another, without necessarily doing it " instead " of him. To illustrate this see the following quotations :

God hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (Luke 1. 69), i.e., on behalf of us, not instead of us. Christ, who also maketh intercession for us. (Rom.viii 34.)

Obviously not " instead of " us. A substitutional death involves two insurmountable difficulties. The first—eternal death of the sacrifice. The second, freedom from death of those atoned for. This must be a wrong interpretation of the Scriptures because it would exclude Christ from resurrection and preserve his disciples from ever entering the grave.

Again, one may say, Is it not written, "The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all ? "

Yes, but in what way ? Physically he did not, and could not, as a substitute, bear the suffering of all mankind, for they still suffer, but the Father who loved His only begotten

Son put upon him all the chastening and scourging (Heb. xii. 5-6] necessary first to redeem himself (Heb. ix. 12) and secondly to prepare him for the position of a perfect example to his fellow men.

" Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered ; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." (Ibid. v. 8, 9.)

In fact, in this respect his own personal suffering was not a sufficient and complete exhibition of that which the Father requires all his children to see, for it is written that the apostle Paul was a "chosen vessel unto Christ to bear his name before the Gentiles, and kings and the children of Israel " (Acts 9: 15) as an example to fill up that which was lacking of the afflictions of Christ (Col 1: 24 RV).

The Temple of Ezekiel's prophecy 5.6.7.

17 Thou shalt not pervert the judgment [mishpat] of the stranger [ger], nor of the fatherless [yatom]; nor take a widow's [almanah's] raiment to pledge:

18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman [eved] in Egypt [Mitzrayim], and Yahweh thy Elohim redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

He had suffered in Egypt not only as a slave but as an alien. Never was he therefore to perpetrate the same wrongs as he had suffered himself against any alien in his own midst. "If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Lev. 19 : 33-34; cf. Exod. 23 : 9).

Law and Grace Ch 3

19 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that Yahweh thy Elohim may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.

20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

Kindness (Deut. 22 : 1-4), humaneness to both men and animals (Deut. 22: 6-7), chastity (Deut. 22: 13-21), generosity (Deut. 23 : 19; 24: 19-22) - these were the kind of virtues which befitted God's People. Cursed indeed were those who flouted them (Deut. 27 : 11-26). (It was as Moses said,

"And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good ?" (Deut. 10 : 12-13).

Israel therefore had no illusions as to what was meant when God declared,

"Ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people that ye should be mine" (Lev. 20 : 26).

And, though that divine wish seems to have been utterly frustrated by Israel's past record, yet fulfil itself it will nevertheless. Like all God's purposes, it will yet translate itself into fact. God's word will not return to Him void, but accomplish that which He pleases, and prosper in the thing whereto He sent it, when finally the time comes for the Deliverer to come out of Zion and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

Law and Grace Ch 6