The “Indecency” of Abusing Deuteronomy 24: “Debunk” Series – Part 2

RevAllWet7by Standerinfamilycourt

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.   Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.     –  2 Timothy 2:14-15


We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

Having done that, we will now do the same with each of the most egregiously mishandled passages that apostate theologians and church leaders seek to water down or refute that unpalatable truth with.    You may see these same scholars dutifully applying these principles to other biblical topics,  but when it comes to this one, they’ve never heard of “Herman”.      We will tackle these in subjective order of damage to the church and society, doing the worst of them first, the ones that trap people in a life that the bible makes clear will send them to hell if they don’t repent and sever the illicit “marriages”.

In our view, the most abused scripture on marriage in the Old Testament is purported to “prove” that God instituted divorce through Moses for adultery and other sundry causes, and that once a divorced spouse “remarries”,  they can never be reconciled with the one-flesh partner of their youth.    But is this actually so?

The Principle of CONTENT
As we did with our core truth, Matthew 19:6 we will take Deut. 24: 1-4 back to the original Hebrew manuscript and literal syntax to strip away any bias about what it actually says on the surface.     We will rely on the Hebrew interlinear text tools and the literal syntax for our analysis of content, in order to remove any translation bias that may have occurred in your favorite bible version in more contemporary times.    The text of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 reads (NASB):

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 indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house,  and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife,  then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since 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 gives you as an inheritance.

Naturally, the surface conflict with Matthew 19:6 and some other scriptures is that according to Jesus and Paul, men have no power or authority to dissolve holy matrimony, nor to unjoin a one-flesh entity joined by God.   If Moses was speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, how can he be contradicting the Word Incarnate?     And what exactly was the “indecency” that justified a certificate of divorce (rather than Deuteronomy 22 stoning)?


Young’s Literal translation (YLT) reads:

`When a man doth take a wife, and hath married her, and it hath been, if she doth not find grace in his eyes (for he hath found in her nakedness of anything), and he hath written for her a writing of divorce, and given [it] into her hand, and sent her out of his house,

and she hath gone out of his house, and hath gone and been another man’s,

and the latter man hath hated her, and written for her a writing of divorce, and given [it] into her hand, and sent her out of his house, or when the latter man dieth, who hath taken her to himself for a wife:

`Her former husband who sent her away is not able to turn back to take her to be to him for a wife, after that she hath become defiled; for an abomination it [is] before Jehovah, and thou dost not cause the land to sin which Jehovah thy God is giving to thee — an inheritance.

A few key words need a bit of a deep dive in this passage:

כְּרִיתוּת    kerithuth: divorcement  –  from the Hebrew word karath which means “a cutting”, which in the Mosaic usage functioned like a sort of “quit-claim” deed so that such a woman could survive by marrying another man, perhaps also protecting her from being stoned as an adulteress under the law in Deuteronomy 22 if she did so.     This word is used in just two other scriptures Jeremiah 3:8 and Isaiah 50:1,  and it differs from the other Hebrew word for severing a spouse,  the more generic word, shalach  שָׁלַח  meaning “send (or put) away”.  The latter word was more often used in the post-exile days when stoning was not available to dispose of fully- consummated wives of many years standing, such as in Malachi 2:16.  

 דָּבָר   dabar:  word, saying, commandment, law Many different meanings and 1441 OT occurrences.

עֶרְוָה    ervah / erwat: nakedness, shame, uncleanness

From arah; nudity, literally (especially the pudenda – female genitals) or figuratively (disgrace, blemish) — nakedness, shame, unclean(-ness).   This word has 54 total occurrences throughout the Levitical moral laws and the Genesis account of Noah’s drunkenness.

The Principle of CONTEXT
 The major context for Deuteronomy 24 is the 40-year extended trek through the wilderness under the often embattled leadership of Moses, following the Israelites’  release from captivity in Egypt.   A major biblical covenant was established between God and His people on Mount Sinai.   Bible teacher Ray Vander Laan called that momentous occasion a Divine “wedding” of sorts.   It was the only conditional covenant God made, and it was from the beginning designed to be replaced by the Messianic covenant at the commencement of Christ’s ministry.   After the Ten Commandments were given to Moses near the start of the journey, it wasn’t long before they had to be interpreted and specifically applied to real life stuff.   That Serpent, whose favorite sport was (and still is) saying “Did God REALLY say…??”  had slithered from the Garden to the desert plains.

Moses was constantly putting down large and small uprisings.    He had been given a gig that he would have been the last man on earth to sign up for.    He was leading something like 4 million men, women and children and the various plunder they removed from Egypt, but that wasn’t all they carried out of Egypt with them, as the golden calf incident vividly illustrates.    They had just spent some 400 years learning from the Egyptians how to build marriage around anything but covenant.    In a bit of a double-standard, the descendants of Isaac and Jacob had also carried some distinctive things into Egypt with them, including the custom of kiddushin betrothal with its bride price, which they also carried back out of Egypt into the wilderness.  How amazing was it to hear from Moses that animal sacrifice done daily could atone for living however they chose, despite the Lord’s commandment?   How much of a relief to  Moses. the reluctantly-drafted leader of this multitude  to learn that this system  would allow him to manage sin rather seek to eradicate it  and promote holiness instead?   How disheartening must it have been for the Pharisees to stomach Christ’s New Covenant announcement that obedience to God must now flow from devotion to Christ and gratefulness for His appearing to take away the sins of the world, to such an extent that we begin to emulate Him?    No wonder they (and modern-day Pharisees) hanker again for the days of Moses, but this time with the siren song of Luther and Calvin playing in the background, “Christ died for your past, present and future sins!”    Those bent on justifying their fleshly lusts are indeed comforted by the (false) notion that one cannot wander from their salvation, even though Paul repeatedly warns that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

How, specifically, does kiddushin (Hebrew betrothal) factor into the context of Deuteronomy 24:1-4?   Once a ketubah marriage contract proposal was accepted and the bride price paid, the bride became the legal wife of the groom approximately 12 months before the groom returned for his bride and consummated the marriage.   If the bride committed fornication (played the harlot) during this time, or lied about her virginity and it was discovered on the wedding night, she was brought before the priests and stoned to death unless her parents could produce the “tokens of her virginity” in the form of bloody bed sheets.    However, harlotry was not the only cause for seeking dissolution of the binding arrangement.   Other reasons may have included disease such as leprosy developing during the betrothal period, discovery of too-close a consanguinity, a bleeding disorder, and other causes short of provable infidelity.    The only way in those cases to legally dissolve a ketubah was a writ of divorcement.    Under Moses, this was not an open-ended opportunity to unilaterally divorce a one-flesh spouse (with or without due cause) after God had joined them as one-flesh, but rather a legal way to dissolve the betrothal for a cause other than a capital cause.

To ensure survival of the family lines throughout the deprivations,  as well as the wars in reaching and settling in the Promised Land, Moses also laid down laws that cultivated concurrent polygamy, a practice unrighteously deviating from the holy principle of one-flesh, and a practice that carried over in the Hebrew race from the time of Abraham’s grandsons Jacob and Esau, actually traceable to his concubinage with Hagar.     For example, Moses required the brother of a widow of childbearing age to marry that widow to give her a son, and he did not set aside an exception if that brother was already one-flesh with the living  wife of his own youth.     Moses’ example for that went back several generations to an incident in the family of Judah.    Moses also permitted men to take more than one wife if the first (one-flesh) wife did not produce a son.   That being the case, some sort of writ was likely necessary to prevent a woman not guilty of a capital offense from being stoned as an adulteress if her one-flesh or polygamous husband abandoned her in the wilderness and she had no son or birth family.    Verse 4 specifically prevented men from engaging a sort of arbitrage of the bride price of kiddushin through divorce and remarriage to a materially-enriched widow, but this civil system did not dissolve the one-flesh state that God had created in a wife of a man’s youth.

While studying CONTEXT of this scripture, it is also important to consider the difference in the nature of the presence of the Holy Spirit before and after Jesus was resurrected, and Pentecost arrived 40 days later.    There may legitimately be a difference in the inspired nature of an Old Testament passage, especially one that was later explicitly repudiated by Jesus.    Unlike the provision for the sealing and  constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit that came with the New Covenant, scripture tells us that the presence of the Holy Spirit rested on and departed from God’s Old Testament spokespersons at various times.    We know that Moses was far from infallible because he built his altars and offered sacrifices for his own sins, including the murder of a man.    We know that he was disqualified from entering into the Promised Land despite all that he had accomplished because he committed the sin of unknowingly transgressing a holy symbol of God which stood for Jesus Christ’s crucifixion  when he disobeyed God and struck the rock instead of speaking to it as instructed by God.    If the Holy Spirit revealed this to him, he evidently ignored Him.  Those who quote Jesus’ saying “not one jot or tittle of the Law shall pass away”,  and construe it as authority that everything Moses ever pronounced is still binding as inspired instruction during the New Covenant, are missing the much larger context of the historic overlap or phasing of the major covenants of God.

The Principle of  CULTURE

Hebrew culture was patriarchal and valued virginity enough to pay a bride price for it, so that the bloodlines and inheritance would be uncorrupted and genealogies would be as pure as possible.   Even so, this was not the only law of ceremonial cleanness stringently observed by the Jews of Moses’ day and of Jesus’ day.    Additional laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus deal with the ceremonial uncleanness produced by blood, semen, excrement, disease, touching a dead body, types of animals that could be used for food, etc.  that would exclude a man from the temple of God for a season.   It’s not hard to see how some of these laws, intended mostly for public health and hygienic purposes under the conditions of the time  also tended to encourage polygamy in a misguided effort to maintain a sort hypocritical “holiness”,  not too unlike the civil and ecclesiastical stronghold around serial polygamy today.    When Jesus came along knowing that He would take the place of animal sacrifice, would usher in the age of direction by the Holy Spirit, and a new order where obedience would flow from the heart,  the context of what He said in Mark 7:20-23 gains an incredible power:

And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.   For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.   All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

These things were now true precisely because the Messianic Covenant had suddenly arrived 1400 years since these rules had been promulgated, and was now an unconditional, superior covenant to replace the conditional Mosaic Covenant, with its former dependence on animal sacrifice and stringent regulation of cleanness and uncleanness,  which was never intended to be permanent.

Therefore, when Jesus had His confrontation with the Pharisees in Matthew 19,  if going back to Deuteronomy 24 in agreement with them was appropriate to the kingdom of God, He would have done so.   However under the Messianic Covenant, where His bride was to be purified, as so vividly described by Paul in Ephesians 5, it was necessary to go all the way back to the Garden, and repudiate this transitory law of Moses that only endeavored to “manage” sin.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
By this fourth basic principle of sound hermeneutics, scripture interprets scripture, with the clearest passages helping to answer any ambiguity remaining after an honest analysis of CONTENT, CONTEXT and CULTURE.   Since  God’s word tells us that all scripture is God-breathed, that is,  equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, then if its seems that one scripture contradicts another, it’s a sign of bias or that the analysis is not complete enough.   In other words, we don’t just run with it as the “Reverend All-Wets” of our day are all too prone to do, but we keep studying until the conflict is resolved, and we err on the side of holiness, out of love and gratitude toward the Bridegroom in the meantime!

Part 1 of our series, on Matthew 19:6 built a strong case for this verse (and its counterpart verse, Mark 10:8-9 from the same historical occasion) being the cornerstone verse for this comparison, but as also shown, there are many others.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.   What came directly out of the mouth of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with Deuteronomy 24: 1-4, at least as it applied to the still-living husband or wife of our youth, but not necessarily is it in conflict with dissolving subsequent, non-widowed civil remarriage which actually lacks the characteristic of one-flesh joining by God, as was also the case for the instances of sequential and concurrent polygamy of Moses’ day .

Matthew 5:23-25, 6:14-15, 18:21-35; 1 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:18  –  Jesus and Paul both instructed us that insofar as it depends on us, we are never to leave our relationships unreconciled, much less our sole and exclusive one-flesh relationship.    

Matthew 18:7, 23:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4 – Neither are we to interfere in any way with another person’s entry into the kingdom of God through maintaining an ongoing state of sin by willful direct violation of God’s law.  (Speaking of stumbling blocks, we’re citing the King James version here because virtually all modern English translations wrongfully omit adultery from Galatians 5:19 due to the deliberate choice of the Westcott & Hort late 19th century bible translation team to translate a faulty and incomplete manuscript, and to merge the separate single / married sins of fornication and adultery into the far more fungible “sexual immorality” in order to appear to justify civil divorce with remarriage while having a living covenant spouse.)

Matthew 15:8-9,19-20; Mark 7:6-7, 20-22 –  God indeed “knows our heart” and sets the record straight on moral defilement, not by Deut. 24:4, nor by the letter of any other Mosaic law, other than the Ten Commandments.

Matthew 22:35-40 –  Jesus pared down the 613 laws of Moses to just two easy-to-follow commandments, which actually fully encompass all of the Ten Commandments.   If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, there’s no excuse for disobeying Him when His Son declares three different times that marrying and staying civilly married to a divorced person is adultery, and refusing to remain celibate, as explicitly instructed by Paul in the name of the Lord, in order leave room to reconcile with our sole one-flesh partner, is living and walking in the state of ongoing unforgiveness,.   Moreover,  the first greatest law encompasses the first four commandments, and the second greatest law encompasses all of the last six, as well as the Golden Rule of treating others as we would like to be treated, but with eternal destinations firmly in mind for all persons involved.

Deuteronomy 21:10 -14 –  The situation of taking a captive woman as a wife as a result of war spoils, perhaps polygamously, which might also have required a writ of divorcement if she wanted to go free, where there wasn’t necessarily a one-flesh relationship joined by God.    This is because this was essentially an unlawful marriage, of the type repented of in Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, where a holy God forbid the taking of pagan wives and presumably would not have participated.   It seems a bit unclear why Moses permitted it.

Deuteronomy 22: 13-28 –  The penalty for both fornication by a betrothed wife, for whom a bride-price has been paid under a ketubah, and a fully-consummated wife of some years was always stoning under the Mosaic law.   In the latter case, this law was ripe for possible abuse and false witness, and for this reason, it is possible or even likely that the scope of Deuteronomy 24:1 was expanded over time.    Jesus was likely referring to this when He talked about the hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts.

1 Samuel 25:44 / 2 Samuel 3:13-15 –  Saul gave Michal, David’s betrothed wife to another man;  he later recovered her, even though they were not yet one-flesh.   In this case, the ketubah governed (apparently God chose not to join her with Paltiel)  and Michal was not tainted by the immoral union because she was a valid wife for David to begin with so he was able to take her back.    (That said, David was apparently only supernaturally joined by God with Ahinoam, the first wife he actually took in consummation.)

Isaiah 50:1 / Jeremiah 3:1 –  Aside from Deuteronomy 24, these are the only two instances where reference to a writ of divorcement (also known as a “get”) was used instead of the far more common variations of the word “shalach“, which is putting away, sending away, dismissing, and never with God’s approval if the marriage was consummated and lawful to begin with.     In both of these two instances, He is speaking to Judah or Israel in rhetorical fashion, saying quite emphatically in the first instance that He did not issue such a writ (due to the nature of His character in covenant), and in the second instance, He’s beginning a long rhetorical discourse that actually ends up to Jeremiah 4:1 with God urging His bride to return 5 different times, and declaring Himself to be her Husband.   The point is that Deuteronomy 24 can never be used as conclusive evidence that anyone but Moses permitted the attempted severing of God-joined holy matrimony.    It does not appear that God ever approved of the issuing of a writ of divorcement to any one-flesh spouse.

Jeremiah 3: 8-14 –  Another pervasively-abused passage, typically mentioned almost in the same breath by the Rev. All-Wets of our churches, will be the subject of an upcoming blog in the series.   For now the discussion above suffices, except to note that we had to shift between versions again because of some documentable translation hanky-panky around the word “husband” in verse 14.

Malachi 2: 10-14 –  Some 1,000 years after the bones of Moses had returned to dust, (and about the time of the purge of unlawful wives and children from what remained of Judah after a remnant returned from 70 years’ exile in Babylon), here’s a prophet of the Lord thoroughly dressing down the remarriage adulterer, whose one-flesh wife presumably had been issued a writ of divorcement, since she was evidently still alive for the Lord to stand as a witness with.  Among other graphic rebukes, the Lord makes clear that man’s paper never dissolves a covenant in which God is a party.

Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18 –   Citing the King James version here, because virtually all modern English translations wrongfully omit the phrases, “whoever marries one who has been put away commits adultery” and “causes her to commit adulteryfrom Matthew 19:9, due to the deliberate choice of the bible translation team to translate a faulty and incomplete manuscript.   These are three separate occasions where Jesus redefined the popular understanding of adultery from the patriarchal view (going into somebody else’s civil current wife) to marrying anyone’s divorced partner of either gender under any circumstances.    Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is wrongfully applied to the covenant spouse of our youth because one-flesh joined by GOD is inseverable by man’s paper, and does not even exist with man’s remarriage where there is a prior living spouse.


The Principle of CONSULTATION:
Whom is it most appropriate to consult on the authority of scripture which seeks to “sanctify” marriage to another while still having a living one-flesh spouse?     Due to the carnality of man which tends to escalate over time, that is a very important question which requires a strong knowledge of church history to reliably answer.    Hopefully, we’ve made it clear with indisputable evidence up to this point exactly where Jesus and the Apostles (including Paul) stood.   They discipled the next generation of followers of The Way, who in turn discipled the successive generations of the ante-Nicene church fathers.   It makes sense therefore to start the consultation with the writings of those who knew the Apostles (for example, Luke and Mark), and with those whom the next generation  discipled.

We need to be a bit skeptical while consulting theologian commentators from the time  of the Reformation forward when it comes to this topic.    Some will be biased in defense of the heretical Westminster Confession of Faith, which dominated mainline Protestant Churches from the 17th century, and others will be swayed by the tampering with word translations that began to occur in the lexicons published after the latter half of the 19th century.    On this basis, an equal number of later scholars will refute and discredit the many writings of the disciples of the Apostles, literally lapsing into “Reverend All-Wet” mode, and only superficially applying the  principles of disciplined hermeneutics  that we’ve just stepped through together.    For example, in convoluted fashion they’ll say that “scripture cannot contradict itself”,  so since “most scholars agree” (a presumption based on confirmation bias — and a weakened, distorted application of the COMPARISON principle that completely bypasses application of both the CONTEXT and  CULTURE principles) …that porneia “should always be” translated as “sexual immorality”,  all of the many scriptures that refute this must therefore be interpreted as not universally authoritative, and the church fathers should be dismissed as “flawed” asceticists.   Two free downloadable scholarly books are available, here and here, that will be very helpful in carrying out the CONSULTATION step for almost every scripture we’ll be examining in this series.   Our Church Fathers and Church Wolves series will also be historically helpful.        What follows below is intended to be a sampling and not exhaustive.    Once again, it shows that the proponents of the heretical view did not surface for centuries after the first disciples of the apostles were unanimous in the faithful gospel.

Clement of Alexandria (circa 215 A.D.)
Now that the scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication,” and it regards as adultery the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.   The Church cannot marry another, having obtained a bridegroom;  each of us individually has a right to marry the woman he wishes according to the law; I mean here first marriage.

Tertullian ( circa 160-220 A.D.)
A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commits any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage?    Such is God’s verdict, within narrower limits than men’s, that universally, whether through marriage or promiscuously, the admission of a second man to intercourse is pronounced adultery to true, moreover, is it that divorce “was not from the beginning,” that among the Romans it is not until the six hundredth year from the building of the city that this kind of “hard heartedness” is set down as having been committed.  But they indulge in promiscuous adulteries, even without divorcing their partners: to us, even if we do divorce them, even marriage will not be lawful.

Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

FB profile 7xtjw   SIFC Note:   All of the above quotes are from  Daniel R. Jennings, “Except for Fornication – Why Evangelicals Must Reevaluate Their Interpretation of Matthew’s Divorce Exception Clause” (2011)
Sean Multimedia (

R.A. Torrey (circa 1890)  – Moody Bible Institute
“Look at this legalized adultery we call divorce.  Men marry one wife after another, and are still admitted in good society, and women do likewise.  There are thousands of supposedly respectable men married to other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women married to other women’s husbands.”

Bill Gothard (circa 1983)  – (morally-discredited evangelist who was forced to step down from the bible institute he founded)

“….God has expressly forbidden a divorced woman who has remarried to return to her first husband — even if the second husband dies. (See Deut. 24:4 and Jeremiah 3:1)…”

Dr. John MacArthur (circa 2009) – President and founder, Masters Theological Seminary in Sun Valley, CA (a multi-point inspiration for “Rev. All-Wet”)

“…As a matter of fact, in the same passage where Moses permitted husbands to issue a certificate of divorce, the law added this restriction:  ‘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 the 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.   Clearly, the second marriage — whether biblically-justified or not becomes as binding as the original marriage was supposed to be.   A return to the original spouse is strictly forbidden.”

The remainder of the citations are from :

Benson Commentary  Her former husband may not take her again — This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which, by this offer, he now acknowledgeth. Defiled — Not absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but with respect to her first husband, to whom she is as a defiled or unclean woman; that is, forbidden; for things forbidden are accounted and called unclean, (Jdg 13:7,) because they may no more be touched or used than an unclean thing. Thou shalt not cause the land to sin — Thou shalt not suffer such lightness to be practised, lest the people be polluted, and the land defiled and accursed by that means.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
. after that she is defiled] Ambiguous indeed, as the most carefully chosen terms of some laws often are. But the natural meaning is that she is unclean to the former husband by her union with the latter. It cannot be a matter of indifference to him that she has been another’s, as (presumably) the popular humour took it. Such easy passage of a woman from one man to another did defile her: it is an abomination before Jehovah (notice the peculiar construction before and the absence of thy God after the divine name). She was, therefore, taboo, or unlawful to her first husband. Marti suggests that the uncleanness may have a demonistic origin (cp. Deuteronomy 22:9-11). This, of course, may have been the motive of the original law, but if so, it has disappeared from its present form.

thou shalt not cause the land to sin] Sam., LXX ye shall not, etc. Cp. Deuteronomy 22:9.

which the Lord thy God is to give thee, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 4:21.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary
This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which by this offer he now acknowledgeth.

After that she is defiled; not simply and absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but respectively, or as to her first husband, to whom she is as a defiled or unclean woman, that is, forbidden; for things forbidden are accounted and called unclean, Judges 13:7, because they may no more be touched or used than an unclean thing.

Thou shalt not cause the land to sin, i.e. thou shalt not suffer such abominable lightness and lewdness to be practised, lest the people be polluted, and the land defiled and accursed by that means.

Geneva Study Bible
Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is {b} defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

(b) Seeing that by divorcing her he judged her to be unclean and defiled.


FB profile 7xtjw   SIFC Note:  The most faithful of the commentators above carefully note that the defilement existed prior to the first marriage and divorce (functioning more like an annulment, actually),  hence it was not the second marriage that defiled her.

Father God, in Jesus’ holy name, may the Person of the Holy Spirit be faithful to carry this message to at least that one (hopefully many) prodigal husband or wife who now feels trapped and ensnared, indeed who sees no way out of what he or she knows is a wrongful, non-covenant marriage, and who longs with all their heart to make their covenant family whole again, redeeming the generations from repeating this debilitating pattern of sin.   May Your holy anointing rest on these words and that person, and may you make them a level path back to their inheritance in the kingdom of God.   May  You, O God, open their eyes to the only act of true eternal love that will restore their non-covenant spouse to a chance to inherit the kingdom of God, and may You give them the holy resolve to do it, blessing their righteous obedience to Your commandment.

We ask these things in Jesus’ name, thanking You in advance for the extra measure of grace you are pouring out over them.    Amen.

(Next blog in the series:  Part 3, “I Don’t Know My ‘Deo‘   From My ‘Douloo’  –  (Do You?)   Stop Abusing 1 Cor. 7:15″ )

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall   |   Let’s  Repeal No-Fault Divorce!





2 thoughts on “The “Indecency” of Abusing Deuteronomy 24: “Debunk” Series – Part 2”

  1. You typed — “Deuteronomy 21:10 -14 – The situation of taking a captive woman as a wife as a result of war spoils, perhaps polygamously, which might also have required a writ of divorcement if she wanted to go free, where there wasn’t necessarily a one-flesh relationship joined by God. This is because this was essentially an unlawful marriage, of the type repented of in Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, where a holy God forbid the taking of pagan wives and presumably would not have participated. It seems a bit unclear why Moses permitted it.”

    Ruth was a Moabites and Rahab a foreign harlot were both lineage of Messiah.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Doug. It is true that both women were foreign wives, but it is also true that neither of them was the one-flesh wife of any living person at the time they married their Hebrew husbands, Boaz and Salmon, respectively. In an era where concurrent polygamy was tolerated among the Jews, we don’t know whether either of these men had other living wives prior to these marriages. If they did, God would not have supernaturally joined them as one-flesh, but as we see from the case of Bathsheba (through Solomon), and Rachel (through Benjamin) it was not strictly necessary to be a one-flesh covenant wife to be in the lineage of Jesus.

      As for their nationality, it is clear that God looked on the heart of these women in selecting them. His objection to the pagan wives was to their idolatry which would turn their husbands’ hearts away from God. In both of these cases, these women declared their loyalty to the one true God well before their marriages took place.

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