Divorce and Remarriage
YHWH’s original plan for mankind, before Adam and Eve fell into sin, was for a husband and wife to form an everlasting and unbreakable bond. This bond was to be foundational for mankind and the development of society as YHWH intended. However, when sin entered into the world it affected the ability of some to remain faithful to their marriage vows. Therefore sin in marriage comes about when one of the marriage partners fails to keep their wedding vows (cf. Deut. 23: 21-23). Divorce is not sin, as YHWH Himself made provision for it. In doing so He also made provision for those devastated by a failed marriage to have hope for the future.
The issue of divorce and remarriage is a highly emotive issue. Immense damage to both individuals and churches has been caused largely by the inability of pastors and Christians to rightly divide YHWH’s word. Words mean things, and this is particularly true when it comes to YHWH’s instructions. How can we rightly divide YHWH’s instructions if we don’t know what His words mean?
Pastors and Christians have their theology and understanding of YHWH and Scripture moulded by their denomination or church. Unfortunately, this is also true of Bible-translators as well. Bible-translators have unwittingly, or perhaps wittingly, mistranslated, added or deleted words, and altered the plain sense of YHWH’s inspired word.
It is the purpose of this paper to show that many of the positions held by ‘main-stream’ Christian denominations and churches on the subject of divorce and remarriage are based solely on tradition rather than the plain sense of Scripture. Divorce and remarriage is not totally prohibited in Scripture.
Let us now endeavour to ascertain through the meaning of words what YHWH intended us to understand about divorce and remarriage. NOTE: We will consider two entirely different words in both Hebrew and Greek.
Divorce or Divorcement. (Strong’s Heb. 3748 – sepher kerituth/Strong’s Gr. 647 – Apostasion) – Divorce (cutting of marital bond).
Put away. (Strong’s Heb. 7971 – shalach/Strong’s Gr. 630 – Apoluo) – In the passages under consideration this word, with one possible exception never means divorce.
Here we find the first mention of divorce and remarriage. As YHWH is unchanging (Mal. 3:6) this Scripture must be considered foundational for all other Scripture on the subject. All texts in both the Old (Tanakh) and New Testament (Brit Chadash) MUST CONFORM to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 without contradiction.
Verse 1. There are three essential elements given:
- Reason to end the marriage.
- A certificate of divorce MUST be handed to the woman, only then can the marriage contract be voided and the woman sent out of the house.
All three elements must be present for YHWH to sanction a divorce – this is YHWH’s Torah. Some will argue, without scriptural support, that this only applies to an engaged couple. However, there is nothing to indicate the marriage is not a proper consummated marriage.
Verse 2. This deals with the issue of remarriage which could take place only if all elements contained in verse 1. were observed.
Verse 3. A widow or properly divorced woman were free to marry.
Verse 4. The first husband could not remarry a woman he divorced if she had been married to another man.
Leviticus 21:7. A priest could not marry a divorced woman.
Leviticus 21:14. A priest could not marry a divorced woman or a harlot.
Leviticus 22:13. A widow or divorced daughter of a priest was to be treated as a full member of his family; the divorced daughter was not considered ‘defiled.’
Numbers 30:8-9. A married woman was subject to her husband’s authority, but a widow or divorced woman was accountable for her own actions.
Deuteronomy 22:29. A man forced to marry a woman he had raped could never ‘put her away’ (shalach); therefore he could never divorce her.
Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8 distinguish between ‘divorced’ (sepher keritut), and ‘put away’ (shalach).
Malachi 2:16. This verse is mistranslated in many versions to read ‘divorce,’ whereas it should read ‘putting away.’
This is the first reference to the subject of divorce and remarriage in the New Testament; it should contain no instructions or information that contradicts YHWH’s Torah or other Scripture.
Remember there are two different Greek word just as there were two different Hebrew words.
31. It hath been said, whosoever shall put away (apoluo 630) his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement (apostasion 647). Yeshua is repeating Torah (cf. Matt. 5:17).
32. But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away (apoluo 630) his wife, saving for the cause of fornication (porneia 4202), causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced (apoluo 630) committeth adultery. When this verse is correctly translated it lines up perfectly with Deut. 24. Even if ‘apoluo’ is mistranslated in this verse as ‘divorce,’ the context remains perfectly compatible with Deut. 24; the only permissible reason for divorce is when some ‘uncleanness’(Heb. ervaw 6172/ Gr. porneia 4202 ) is found by a husband in his wife.
A man who ‘puts away’ his wife without giving her a bill of divorcement causes her to commit adultery if she remarries because she is still legally married to the first husband. The only reason for a man to ‘put away’ his wife and divorce her properly is for ‘uncleanness’ or ‘fornication.’
This verse is correctly translated and is a repeat of Matt. 5:32. It is important to remember that divorce is not what YHWH intended, but is the result of mankind’s fallen state. YHWH allowed the termination of marriages so that people could live in hope of a better life.
This verse shows that Yeshua accepted Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as being applicable to both men and women. Notice this Scripture only refers to ‘putting away’ and NOT divorce.
Yeshua validates the timelessness of YHWH’s Torah through support of Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
Paul could not and does not make any statements that contradict Torah or other passages of Scripture. Differences in culture, language, and time make many of Paul’s writings difficult to understand. However, this is no excuse to impose meanings or translations on his writings that were never intended.
Paul is speaking to those that understood Torah and contextually is NOT dealing with the issue of marriage and divorce. He is illustrating how Yeshua freed us from the penalty of sin and provided us with a new life. Like the widow, we too have been set free by a death!
1 Corinthians 7:8-9.
Contrary to what some may teach, ‘unmarried’ does not refer to a virgin that has never married; it means exactly what it says ‘unmarried’ (agamos 22). This includes someone that is divorced, although personally Paul thought it better for them not to marry. He was also endeavouring to discourage the breakup of marriages.
1 Corinthians 7:12-16.
Paul advocates patience for believers, who should wait hopefully for their spouse to accept Torah and Yeshua. A believer who is abandoned by an unbelieving spouse is seen to have been set free, but without the requisite bill of divorce and no mention of possible remarriage.
1 Corinthians 7:27-28.
Paul’s personal opinions are being expressed here. He appealed for married people to remain married, and counters pagan teachings that virgins should not marry (temple virgins!). He was saying it was better for some to faithfully follow Yeshua rather than a husband or wife, but others were free to marry without sin.
1 Corinthians 7:39-40.
Paul’s was of the opinion that a widow to was better off if she remained single.
Clearly YHWH understands the struggles we have in the flesh, and mercifully sent His Son, Yeshua to make atonement for our sins. God acted out of love, and in the same spirit provided hope for the victims of failed marriages through divorce.
YHWH gave his Torah for instruction and expected obedience from his people. In this paper we have looked at YHWH’s instructions pertaining to divorce and remarriage. YHWH will judge those that refuse to obey his instructions. Our job is to make people aware of those instructions – YHWH’s Torah.
Finally, a reminder for those that say the instructions given about divorce were instructions given by Moses and contradicted YHWH’s plans for marriage:
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgements, which YHWH your Elohim commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it. That thou mightest fear YHWH your Elohim, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. (Deut. 6:1-2)