Does a Holy God Do What He HATES? – Stop Abusing Jeremiah 3: The “Debunk” Series – Part 6

 JudgeAllWetby Standerinfamilycourt

They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord….. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce….Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you…       
Jeremiah 3: 1, 8, 14

So did God divorce Israel?   Is He indeed the author and perfecter of marriage dissolution while both one-flesh spouses live?

Whenever Deuteronomy 24 is abused to promote the evangelical serial polygamy we call “biblical” divorce and remarriage, the brash butchering of this prophetic passage typically follows in the very next breath.    (That is, that very next breath invariably rests its apostate case at verse 8.)   If you stop reading right there, it looks for all the world like it was none other than the Most High Himself Who instituted divorce, and in fact sent away the very apple of His eye!  Better yet, just as through Moses, the Lord apparently said through Jeremiah that He could never take her back!   Why, if God even refused to ever forgive Israel, then surely we’re excused from ever forgiving or reconciling with our one-flesh spouse, aren’t we?

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.

Since then, we have taken each of the major “go-to” verses for evangelical marriage heresy  (Deut. 24:1-4,  1 Cor. 7:15, and Matt. 19:9) through the same disciplined process to show the glaring lack of evidence for using these to overcome the abundance of straightforward scripture that overwhelmingly supports the indissolubility, except by death, of original holy matrimony .   As the series winds down, we address a couple of the secondary passages the remarriage apologists occasionally fall back on.

The Principle of CONTENT:
As before, we go back to the original text seeking to identify and strip away any modifications that may have occurred in the translation process on its way to becoming part of our contemporary English-language bibles.   Such distortions may have come from manuscript selection and possibly from translation bias.    We compare two online source tools for this purpose:  and, finding a few differences between them.    For this purpose, we will compare and take a deep dive into verses 1 and 8, then come back and compare that analysis with a thorough analysis of verse 14.

Jeremiah 3:1 (Young’s Literal Translation):
Saying, `Lo, one sendeth away his wife, And she hath gone from him, And she hath been to another man, Doth he turn back unto her again? Greatly defiled is not that land? And thou hast committed whoredom with many lovers, And turn again to Me, an affirmation of Jehovah.

S4all_Jer 3_1

Biblehub_Jer 3_1

In this passage we see the typical Hebrew usage of ish”  אּישׁ
and “isha” נָשִׁים 
almost interchangeably for  “man / husband” and “woman / wife”, respectively.    We’ve pointed out before that even a betrothed woman was called (and legally considered to be) a wife under Hebrew custom, and that a writ of divorcement was required from the time of Moses to dissolve a betrothal contract.   In our related discussion of Deut. 24:1-4, in Moses’ time this would have been for a situation where the capital offenses of fornication or adultery had not been committed, but over the next few centuries the application of that law had expanded to those situations, as from time to time, the Jews lost the ability to carry out the stoning described in Deut. 22.    Jeremiah lived some 900 years after Moses, during the time of the exile, when the Persians were again denying this practice of Mosaic law, so the substitution of unilateral divorce would have covered most situations where disposal of a betrothed or consummated wife was desired.   We see the reference to fornication (the premarital sin of whoredom, harlotry or prostitution) in this verse –  “zanah”  זָנָה,  (rather than na’aphנָאַף, or adultery) in Jeremiah’s verse 1 utterance.    He seems to be making the analogy of Israel violating her ketubah in selling herself out to idolatry or false Gods.

UPDATE:  (with a “hat tip” to covenant marriage stander, John Hasch for pointing out the contemporary bible translation discrepancy versus the manuscripts and more-faithful older translations such as King James Version, Douay-Rheims, and the 1599 Geneva Bible)    We also find that the original texts do not ascribe to God the saying in Jeremiah 3:1,  but are instead faithful to ascribe the saying to men only, in the form of Mosaic tradition.    By contrast, most of the contemporary translations unfaithfully ascribe the saying directly to God.    Quoting John Hasch, concerning his observation in studying the versions and texts:

“This is a sad example of how the modern translations have taken the words of God and completely turned them 180 degrees. Look at Jeremiah 3:1 in a King James Version Bible. ‘They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.’  Note the language used: ‘THEY SAY…….’ and ‘SAITH THE LORD’. This verse is painting a contrast – first, what others have said, then what God has said. This same pattern was used by Jesus, for example in the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time...’  (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31) After Jesus stated what others said, He then corrected the record with his own instruction – ‘But I say unto you…’ (Matthew 5:22, 28, 32) In Jeremiah, God was calling the people back to Him in spite of their past transgressions. He wanted (WANTS) relation with us. Read the rest of Jeremiah 3 to see a story of our God who cries out for us to repent and return to Him. Next, take a look at Jeremiah 3:1 in other, more modern translations. ‘They say…’ has been replaced with various other wording, including ‘God says…’, thereby attributing the false first premise to God Himself.

By making the additional observation that Jesus later used the same language in the Sermon on the Mount  when He raised the moral standard for the kingdom of God back to that which God established in the Creation (since Jesus was part of the “let us” who was a present eyewitness to that event),  John is also applying the additional hermeneutical principles of Context and Comparison.   John correctly observes that Jesus is here abrogating so very many of the abusive Mosaic traditions that emerged under the rabbi’s over the centuries since the bones of Moses had turned to dust in the ground, as the prophet Jeremiah was likewise attempting to do under Holy Spirit inspiration in his day.   Going undetected, the contemporary translation fraud obscures this very important bit of context.

Jeremiah 3:8 (Young’s Literal Translation):
And I see when (for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery) I have sent her away, and I give the bill of her divorce unto her, that treacherous Judah her sister hath not feared, and goeth and committeth fornication — she also.

S4all_Jer 3_8

Biblehub_Jer 3_8

In verse 8 we begin to see both terms shalach שָׁלַח   (sending away) and “karath”   כָּרַת (cut off) for the severing of the marriage tie.   We see that Israel is receiving her “divorce paper” before Judah has.    Further, we see that Israel has now been charged with adultery  na’aphנָאַף,  while Judah has been charged with harlotry “zanahזָנָה,    Further discussion of this is deferred to the CONTEXT discussion which follows next.    So, is Yaweh irrevocably divorcing Israel, or does He remember His unconditional covenant after a period of chastening her?     Verse 14 appears to give a clear answer to this:

Jeremiah 3:14 (Young’s Literal Translation):
Turn back, O backsliding sons, An affirmation of Jehovah. For I have ruled over you, And taken you one of a city, and two of a family, And have brought you to Zion…

S4all_Jer 3_14


Biblehub_Jer 3_14

Here Jeremiah tells us that rather than repudiating the apple of His eye, God is affirming the indissolubility of His covenant with her, and urging her to return to Him, to cease her backsliding and be faithful to the One who cares for her.   In verse 14, (as contrasted with verse 1),  we don’t see the word ish”  אּישׁ  used for “husband”, but rather the word “baal” בָּעַל .   Baal (ruler) is also the term by which the Lord called Himself with respect to Israel in the poignant passages of another exilic prophet, Isaiah (Is. 54 and 62), depicting the role of the husband as the head of the wife.    The literal translation, “I have ruled over you”, for this reason is rendered, “I am married unto you” in the King James version, and “I am your husband” in the NIV.


The Principle of CONTEXT:
Jeremiah was the prophet whom God appointed young, who ministered in Judah under the last five kings, from Josiah to Zedekiah.   The northern kingdom, Israel, had fallen to Sennacherib following God’s judgment several years before the southern kingdom, Judah fell to Nebuchadnezzar.   Two other prophets had preceded Jeremiah, whose messages were remarkably parallel to his, namely, Hosea of the northern kingdom, and Isaiah who also ministered in Judea and was slightly older than Jeremiah.   All three predicted that God would discipline His people by removing His hand of protection for a season in order to give them over to the pagan culture which they already worshipped, and all three predicted the restoration of the Hebrew nation under God’s hand.   All three used man’s invented divorce mechanisms as an analogy, then each asked the rhetorical question under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, thereby sharply contrasting God’s character with man’s: “if you seek to return, will God take you back?”

As further prophesied by Jeremiah, God’s “legal separation” with Israel was not a dissolution, but was to last 70 years.    Two other prophets, Ezekiel and Ezra ministered toward the end of the period of exile, the latter man of God bringing forward the cost of restored sovereignty:  the righteous purging of their unlawful spouses and the resulting children, as described in Ezra, chapter 10.   Since these were not one-flesh unions (in the sense that God did not join them), they were orderly civil dissolutions, just as a civil divorce of an adulterous remarriage would be today.

Context is provided by the prophesied future event that was fulfilled when the returned exiles rebuilt the temple 70 years after going into captivity, and were able to rebuild the Jerusalem wall with God’s restored favor shortly after obeying Him in purging the unlawful marriages with which He had not covenanted.    According to Rabbi Eliezer Ben-Yehuda,  “as the civilization of the people reached a higher plateau and, especially under the teaching of the prophets, the Jewish people’s moral and religious consciousness developed, the polygamous marriage system gradually declined. This is noticeable in Israel after the return from the Exile.”
On the surface, the chastening God brought about during the Exile made a fairly lasting impression on the morality of the Jewish patriarchy, but as Malachi later decried, this also elevated the immoral use of the “get” (writ of divorcement) to promote serial monogamy instead, which of course, was a complete departure from the covenant behavior God had graciously demonstrated toward them, and was behavior which Jesus later rebuked.

Just as context was provided by God’s allowance of the Babylonian captivity (the “divorcement” spoken of by the three prophets),  followed by the return from exile and rebuilding the temple (God’s dwelling place, hence covenant restoration, whereby the writ was torn up),  further evidence has been on display in modern times that God did not permanently divorce Israel.    Another prophecy was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel was miraculously restored as a nation, and God thereafter fought off the rabidly-hostile Arab enemies that surrounded her.    Indeed, in the 1990 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was decisively reminded of the Abrahamic Covenant:

And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed….

…when the late Mr. Hussein vainly attempted to invade Israel.


The Principle of CULTURE:
Throughout Israel’s history, God made a succession of covenants with them, most of these were permanent and unconditional, but at least one, the Mosaic Covenant, was largely conditional and was designed from the beginning to be replaced by the Messianic Covenant, with the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.   Hebrew culture followed those covenants, but to this very day, tends to dwell on the Mosaic Covenant (the only one that was transitory), even though it was been replaced with a Covenant that is infinitely superior and will never be dissolved.    The writ of divorcement was a man-made component of the transitory Mosaic era, as were some 613 external Levitical laws which Jesus simplified to just two internal ones.

The Hebrew culture into which Jeremiah, and the other prophets whom he echoed, spoke was remarkably similar to our culture today.    Each of these, as we’ve shown,  used the Mosaic “bill of divorcement”, not in an approving way, but as a rhetorical analogy with which they each immediately contrasted God’s holy character.  Because the permanent covenants, such as the Abrahamic Covenant, have little appeal to the flesh compared with the Mosaic Covenant, the human tendency (then and now) is to forget the attributes of God’s character that make the superior, everlasting covenants possible.   Because of this, we make our golden calves of unilateral divorce and remarriage today, and we insist that the resulting temporal affluence is a sure sign of God’s “blessing”.     Jesus brought this idea back down to earth 500-600 years after these prophets in a very forceful way in Luke 16:

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.

19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’


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.   In this case, it is resolved simply by reading on and catching the rest of what that prophet had to say, sometimes within the same chapter, and certainly within the same book.

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 attempts to interpret Jeremiah 3 as “evidence” that God instituted divorce, 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, and Jeremiah’s.

Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:6-11; Genesis 17:4-8   –  All of the parts of the Abrahamic Covenant form an unconditional promise of God to His people, Israel.   As a central theme, the  Abrahamic Covenant is substantially more important as a lens for interpreting any of the Exilic prophets (including Jeremiah) than the Mosaic Covenant, because the former looks forward to the permanent Messianic Covenant which has now replaced the latter.

Hosea 2:16-17 –  In one of the most amazing illustrations in the bible, the prophet Hosea was instructed by the Lord to marry a known prostitute and have children by her.   After obeying, Hosea grieved (as a covenant marriage stander grieves) as he watched his wife chase after those who could provide luxuries and delicacies for her.    He distanced himself from her emotionally but never lost his care and compassion for her, telling his children “Plead with your mother, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” (2:2).    Yet Hosea went on to speak of a time of discipline followed by redemption and restoration, resulting in Hosea expressing the outcome:  “In that day, you will call me ‘my husband’ [ishi], and no longer will you call me baali [master or possessor].

Hosea 2:19-20 –  The Lord had told Hosea that his marriage would be an extended metaphor for God’s relationship with His people.
I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.

Isaiah 49:24-26; 50:1-2 –   In the latter verses of this passage, the Lord asks (rhetorically) through Isaiah, “Am I the one who abandoned you [ did I issue a bill of divorcement or sell you into slavery] ?   No, it was your own sins that did that.”    Keeping in mind that there were no chapter breaks in the original text, and that Isaiah was prophesying about the Babylonian captivity still more than a century into the future, it’s helpful to look at the verses that immediately precede this, assuring the actual deliverance from that captivity.   God “divorcing” Israel?   Not so much!

In fact, Hosea 3:2-5 is the parallel to this passage and also to Jeremiah 3:14-15, when Hosea rescues his disgraced and demoralized Gomer from the slave block:
So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.  Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.”
 For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.

Isaiah 54 – Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
 “For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the Lord of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth.
 “For the Lord has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”
Says your God.
 “For a brief moment I forsook you,
But with great compassion I will gather you.

Isaiah 62 – It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”  [Hephzi-Bah]
And your land, “Married” [Beulah]
For the Lord delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 – Far from a “divorce”,  this subsequent inspired pronouncement through the prophet Jeremiah was the future promise of the Messianic Covenant, a substantially increased and costly commitment to Israel….”My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “

Ezekiel, chapter 16 – this prophet also speaks graphically of Israel’s harlotry and God’s redemption from that disgraced state, of the humbling and forgiveness that follows, another parallel account to the Hosea prophecies that preceded the exile, but this time from within Babylon.

Ezekiel 20:40-44 – “For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.   I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.   And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.   And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.   And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

Romans, chapter 11 –  One of the unsavory legacies of the fact that some of the Protestant Reformers may not have themselves been regenerated disciples of Jesus Christ, is the cluster of companion heresies that join with and reinforce the heresy that holy matrimony is dissoluble by men.   As we’ve shown before, one such heresy is “once saved, always saved”,  and the other is known as “replacement theology” (supersessionism) : the idea that Israel somehow forfeited the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant by rejecting Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and instead crucifying Him.    Aside from myopically selective embrace of scripture that this theory obviously entails, it also shows an egregious lack of understanding of both the nature of covenant, and of God’s character in covenant.    Paul certainly knew that God had not “divorced” Israel.   In fact, he urged the Gentile converts to make the Jews jealous of their newfound relationship with Christ.


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 has 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) it must be so and conflicting scriptures can therefore be ignored, considered “analogy” or “hyperbole” rather than reconciled with rigor and discipline.

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 (


Martin Luther (circa 1522)
But you ask, “Is there no reason for which there may be separation between man and wife?”  Answer: Christ states here Matt. v. 31-32, and in Matthew xix.9, only this one, which is called adultery, and he quotes it from the law of Moses which punishes adultery with death.  Since now death alone dissolves marriages and releases from obligation, an adulterer is already divorced not by man but by God himself, and not only cut loose from his spouse, but from this life…because now God here divorces, the other party is fully released, so that he or she is not bound to keep the spouse that has proved unfaithful, however he or she may desire it.

“For such ruthless wrath of God is sufficient evidence that they [i.e., the Jewish people] assuredly have erred and gone astray. Even a child can comprehend this. For one dare not regard God as so cruel that he would punish his own people so long, so terrible, so unmercifully … Therefore this work of wrath is proof that the Jews, surely rejected by God, are no longer his people, and neither is he any longer their God” (“On the Jews and Their Lies,” Trans. Martin H. Bertram, in Luther’s Works [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], p. 265).

Verse 1.They say, etc.; as the margin of Authorized Version correctly states, the Hebrew simply has “saying.” Various ingenious attempts have been made to explain this. Hitzig, for instance, followed by Dr. Payne Smith, thinks that “saying” may be an unusual equivalent for “that is to say,” “for example,” or the like; while the Vulgate and Rashi, followed by De Wette and Rosenmüller, assume an ellipsis, and render, “It is commonly said,” or “I might say.” But far the most natural way is to suppose that “saying” is a fragment of the superscription of the prophecy, the remainder of which has been accidentally placed in ver. 6, and that we should read, “And the word of the Lord came unto me in the days of Josiah the king, saying.” So J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Graf, Naegelsbach. If a man put away his wife. The argument is founded on the law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which forbade an Israelite who had divorced his wife to take her again, if in the interval she had been married to another. The Jews had broken a still more sacred tie, not once only, but repeatedly; they worshipped “gods many and lords many;” so that they had no longer any claim on Jehovah in virtue of his “covenant” with his people. Shall he return, etc.? rather, Ought he to return? The force of the term is potential (comp. Authorized Version of Genesis 34:7, “which thing ought not to be done”). Shall not in the next clause is rather would not. Yet return again to me.  So Peshito, Targum, Vulgate, and the view may seem to be confirmed by the invitations in vers. 12, 14, 22. But as it is obviously inconsistent with the argument of the verse, and as the verb may equally well be the infinitive or the imperative, most recent commentators render, “And thinkest thou to return to me?” (literally, and returning to me! implying that the very idea is inconceivable). Probably Jeremiah was aware that many of the Jews were dissatisfied with the religious condition of the nation (comp. ver. 4).

Verse 14.Turn, O backsliding children. There is a play upon words, or rather upon senses, in the original, “Turn, ye turned away ones” (comp. ver. 12). To whom is this addressed? To the Israelites in the narrower sense, for there is nothing to indicate a transition. Long as they have been removed from the paternal hearth, they are still “sons.” For I am married unto you. The same Hebrew phrase occurs in Jeremiah 31:32. Its signification has been a subject of dispute. From the supposed necessities of exegesis in Jeremiah 31:32, some (e.g. Pococke and Gesenins) have translated, “for I have rejected you,” but the connection requires not “for” but “though,” which, however, is an inadmissible rendering; besides, the Hebrew verb in question nowhere has the sense of “reject” elsewhere (yet the Septuagint already has it, virtually at least, in Jeremiah 31:32, q.v.). The literal meaning is for I have been a lord over you, i.e. a husband. Israel is despondent, and fears to return. Jehovah repeats his invitation, assuring Israel that he does not regard the marriage bond as broken. He is still (in spite of ver. 8) the husband, and Israel the bride (comp. Hosea 2; Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 54:6, etc.). One of a city, and two of a family. The promises of God are primarily to communities, but this does not prevent him from devoting the most special care to individuals. “One of a city, and two of a family,” even though there should be but one faithful Lot in a city, and two such in a family (larger than a city, a single tribe containing only a few mishpa-khoth, or clans), yet I will admit these few to the promised blessings.”

They {a} say, If a man shall put away his wife, and she shall go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return to her again? shall not that land {b} be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many {c} lovers; yet {d} return again to me, saith the LORD.

(a) According as it is written, De 24:4.

(b) If he take such a one to wife again.

(c) That is, with idols, and with them whom you have put your confidence in.

(d) And I will not cast you off, but receive you, according to my mercy.

And I saw, when for all the causes by which backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put {k} her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

(k) And gave her into the hands of the Assyrians.

Jeremiah 3:1. They say — That is, men use to say, If a man put away his wife — Or give her a bill of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1; and she go from him — In consequence thereof; and become another man’s — Engage herself to another; shall he return unto her? — He cannot take her again according to the law, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Or, rather, will a man do such a thing? If the law were not against it, would any man be inclined to take such a woman again? Certainly not. Such playing fast and loose with the marriage-bond would be a horrid profanation of that ordinance, and would greatly pollute the land. Thus they had reason to expect, that God would refuse ever to take them again to be his people, who had not only been joined to one strange god, but had played the harlot with many lovers. If we had to do with a man like ourselves, after such provocations as we have been guilty of, he would be implacable, and we might despair of his ever being reconciled to us again. But he is God and not man, and therefore he adds, Yet return again to me — Namely, forsaking all those other lovers; which invitation implies a promise, that he would receive them upon their repentance and reformation.

Jeremiah 3:14. Turn, for I am married unto you — I am in covenant with you, and this covenant, notwithstanding all your unfaithfulness, I am ready to renew with you. Hebrew, בעלתי בכם, which Blaney translates, I have been a husband among you; observing, that God hereby “means to remind them that he had fulfilled the covenant on his part, by protecting and blessing them, as he had promised when he engaged to be their God: and therefore, as they had never any reason to complain of him, he urges them to return to their duty, and promises, in that case, to be still kinder to them than before.” I will take you one of a city, &c. — Some interpret these words thus: “I will receive you, though there should be but one from a city willing to return, and two from a province, or tribe.” This prophecy was accomplished in the letter, after the edict of Cyrus, when several of the Israelites returned to Palestine, but only by little and little, and, as it were, one by one. But undoubtedly it was intended to be understood chiefly, in a spiritual sense, of their conversion to Christianity, and their reception into the gospel church, into which they partly have been, and probably hereafter in greater numbers will be admitted, “not all at a time, or in a national capacity, but severally, as individuals, here and there one.” See Isaiah 27:12.


(1) The parable of the guilty wife who is condemned in spite of all her denials is carried out to its logical results.

They say.—Better, So to speak, as introducing a new application of the figure. The direct reference is to Deuteronomy 24:4, which forbade the return to the past husband as an abomination, a law which the recent discovery of the Book of the Law (2Kings 22:10-11) had probably brought into prominence. But there is also an obvious allusion to the like imagery in Hosea. There the prophet had done, literally or in parable, what the law had forbidden (Hosea 2:16; Hosea 3:3), and so had held out the possibility of return and the hope of pardon. Jeremiah has to play a sterner part. and to make the apostate adulteress at least feel that she had sinned too deeply to have any claims to forgiveness. It might seem as if Jehovah could not now return to the love of His espousals, and make her what she once had been.

Yet return again to me, saith the Lord.—The words sound in the English like a gracious invitation, and—in spite of the authority of many interpreters who take it as an indignant exclamation, and return to me! an invitation given in irony, and so equivalent to rejection, as though that return were out of the question—it must, I think, be so taken. The prophet has, as we have seen, the history of Hosea in his mind, where there had been such a call to return (Hosea 2:19; Hosea 3:3), and actually refers to it and repeats it in Jeremiah 3:7; Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:14. It surely implies a want of insight into the character of Jeremiah to suppose that he ever came before men as proclaiming an irrevocable condemnation, excluding the possibility of repentance.

(8) And I saw, when for all the causes.—Better, perhaps (following a conjectural emendation, which gives a much better sense), And she saw that for all the causes. The technical fulness of the words suggests the thought that they were actually the customary formula with which every writing of divorcement began, recapitulating the offences which were alleged by the husband against the wife. The actual repudiation consisted, of course, in the bitter exile and loss of national life, which Hosea (Hosea 2:1-13) had predicted under a like figure. Judah had witnessed the sin and the punishment, and yet was following in the same path.

(14) Turn, O backsliding children.—In his desire to individualise his call to repentance, the prophet drops his parable, or rather combines the sign and the thing signified, with the same assonance as before—turn back, ye children who have turned away.

I am married unto you.—The tender pity of Jehovah leads Him to offer pardon even to the adulterous wife. Jeremiah had learned, in all their fulness, the lessons of Hosea 1-3.

One of a city, and two of a family.—The latter word is the wider in its range of the two—a clan, or tribe, that might embrace many cities. The limitation to the “one” and the “two” is after the manner of Isaiah’s reference (Isaiah 1:9) to the “remnant” that should be saved, and reminds of the “ten righteous men” who might have saved the cities of the plain (Genesis 18:32).

 Dr. David W. Jones and Dr. John K. Tarwater (2005)  –  In this article, we have sought to call attention to various scriptural clues that we believe point to the indissoluble nature of covenants in which God is a participant. We have noted that the language used to describe the nature of biblical covenants, the manner in which biblical covenants are established, and the way in which God deals with violations of biblical covenants all point to the enduring nature of these covenants. We are convinced that this evidence, coupled with the absence from Scripture of any dissolved covenant in which God is a participant, provides evidence that points to the permanence of biblical covenants.

If the materials marshaled in this introductory study are accurate, we believe that their potential for influencing our understanding of the institution of marriage is great. While there is certainly more work to be done, such as proving the covenantal nature of marriage (cf. Gen 2:24; Prov 2:16-17; Mal 2:10-16), proving that God is a part of nuptials (Gen 2:23-24; Matt 19:6), and exegetically handling the so-called “exception clauses” in Matthew’s Gospel (cf. Matt 5:32; 19:9), it is our hope that this study will contribute to the church’s understanding of marriage and divorce, as well as the nature of biblical covenants.

Myron Horst, Biblical Research Reports
In Jeremiah 3 God states that He gave Israel a certificate of divorce. However at no point did that annul or end the covenant that He had made with the ten northern tribes of Israel even though Israel had married other gods. Jeremiah 3:1 says “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” In spite of the command by Moses in Deut. 24:1-4 that a divorced woman could not return to her first husband, in Jer. 3:1 God says to Israel, “Yet return again to me.”

God infers that the instruction given in Deut. 24:1-4 on divorce and remarriage is not a command that He gave to Moses. God says in Jer. 3:1 “They say” not “I said” in referring to Deut. 24:1-4. He then goes on to ignore the command that a divorced woman may not return to her first husband by saying “yet return again to me.”

Jesus also implied that divorce and remarriage in Deut. 24:1-4 was something that Moses permitted because the people demanded it, but it was not a permission that God gave. Jesus said that from the beginning it was not so. In Matt. 19:8 Jesus said, ” Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Jesus at no point indicated that Deut. 24:1-4 was a command that God gave to Moses.  Hardness of heart is refusing to believe what God has said and is sin.

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:  Hardness of heart separates us from covenant.  It never dissolves the covenant because of God’s ownership and participation.   However, marriage is for this life only, and human life is finite.   Hardened hearts always simply run out of time on the earth.   The family court gavel is a purely human contrivance, and a presumptuous one at that, to vainly imagine that it would ever speak for the Most High.

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
Matthew 19:8

 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.   But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.   For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,  while it is said,

Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”
Hebrews 3:12-15

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


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