Why did Yeshua allow Moses to permit divorce?

Marriage - Divorce signpost in a beach background

In the study below, we will discuss why Moses added the divorce clause to the Torah, and why Yeshua permitted it and what he had to say about it. (For the record, I am not divorced and thus have no dog in the fight. I am simply analyzing what the Bible has to say to say on the subject and attempting to accurately report my findings. — Natan)

Matthew 19:8, Moses permitted. From Yeshua’s statement here, it would seem that Elohim gave Moses certain freedom and latitude to redefine certain Torah principles to accommodate the needs and realities of fallen and sinful man.

In the case of marriage, even though it was Elohim’s highest ideal for a man to leave his parents and cleave to one wife for the rest of his life or until she died (Gen 2:24), the reality is that man too often is incapable of living up to the Creator’s highest ideal because of the hardness or sinfulness of his heart. It is important to note that YHVH gave the marriage command before the fall of man had occurred (Gen 2:24 cp. Gen 3:1–6). In light of the fact of the fall of man when sin entered the world thus negatively affecting the marriage relationship, YHVH allowed Moses to permit divorce under certain circumstances (see Deut 24:1–4).

Had Moses not made allowances for the sinfulness and hardness of the human heart and forbad all divorce in Israel in an effort to strictly adhere to YHVH’s highest letter-of-the-law ideal for marriage, then the societal results might have been unimaginably chaotic. For example, people would Continue reading


The Prophetic Implications of Divorce in Light of the Two Houses of Israel

The teaching that follows is a prophetic view of divorce (and remarriage) as presented in the Scriptures, nothing more or less. The reader may be thinking at this moment that the author in presenting this teaching is really “going out on a limb.” Perhaps so, but keep in mind that there are those who go out on a certain “limb” that is weak only to have it break off from under them, and then there are others who venture out on a different “limb” and what they say later proves to be accurate. The former are discredited, while the later are considered prophetic forerunners as they are helping to move the open-minded into the deeper areas of spiritual and Scriptural truth and into the deeper waters of the heart of YHVH Elohim. We will leave the reader to decide which this teaching is.

For the record, let it be stated at the outset that this teaching neither condones nor condemns divorce. This is the position of Scripture, by the way. It is not YHVH’s perfect will for divorce to occur, but sometimes reality dictates otherwise. Furthermore, in this paper we  shall see that Scripture never presents divorce as a positive occurrence, but as something that is regrettable. Additionally, nothing in this paper should be viewed as advocating divorce. And finally, for the record, the author is happily married to his first and only wife and his best friend and partner in life. Divorce is not even a word in his marital vocabulary, by the grace of YHVH.

Yeshua Teaches on Divorce

While on this earth, Yeshua taught on many subjects pertaining to all areas of human existence—136 in all. He taught on everything from angels to worship, from money to taxes, sexuality to celibacy, fasting to food, joy to sorrow and yes, on the subject of divorce, as well. In Matthew 19:1-12 we read,

“And it came to pass, that when Yeshua had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan; and great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?’ And he answered and said unto them, ‘Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore Elohim hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ They say unto him, ‘Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?’ He saith unto them, ‘Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.’ His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, ‘All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.’”

The prophet Malachi says that YHVH hates putting away, a Hebraism for divorce (Mal. 2:16). Yet Yeshua says above that in the Torah (the Books of the Law) divorce was permitted if one of the parties had a hardened heart resulting in irreconcilable differences. Adultery was cause for divorce if the offending party refused to repent, but Yeshua, by implication, does not seem to limit divorce for reason of adultery only.

YHVH’s Marriage to Israel: An Historical Overview

YHVH Marries the Nation of Israel

The Hebrew Scriptures are the history of YHVH choosing a spiritual virgin bride from among the nations of the world, preparing that bride for marriage and then entering into a spiritual, marital and covenantal relationship with that bride. That bride was the nation of Israel whom YHVH married at Mount Sinai. The Torah-law was the marriage agreement (See my teaching where the Jewish wedding is outlined historically and prophetically in a biblical context available on our web site and entitled, The Bible: A Love Story—The Story of Two Lovers—How YHVH’s Set-apart Feast Days Are the Outline of that Love Story: A Plan of Redemption). Ezekiel describes the marriage between YHVH and Israel succinctly as follows:

“And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt [kanaph which is the corner of a talit] over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I swore unto thee, and entered into a covenant [i.e., a marriage covenant or ketubah] with thee, saith the YHVH Elohim, and thou becamest mine” (Ezek. 16:6-8; read verses 1-43 for context).

One Nation (Wife) Becomes Two Nations or Houses

Now at the foot of Mount Sinai YHVH married one (spiritual) woman comprised of several million Israelites who were descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob comprising of 12 tribes. Those 12 tribes remained as a single national entity for 500 years until the death of King David’s son, Solomon. When Solomon’s son Rehoboam became king over the nation of Israel the northern ten tribes of Israel revolted against Rehoboam and under the leadership of Jeroboam seceded from Israel and formed a separate nation whose capital was Samaria. In countless places Scripture refers to this nation as the House of Israel, or Ephraim, named after the largest and most prominent tribe of the Northern Kingdom.

Those Israelite tribes which remained loyal to Rehoboam were named the house of Judah after the most prominent tribe of the Southern Kingdom.

Whereas YHVH had married the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, 500 years later that nation split into two. It was still the nation of Israel, but it was like a woman with a split personality who acts like two people. Indeed… (to continue reading this article, go to http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/divorce.pdf)


“Marriage isn’t for you…”

From http://www.faithit.com/seth-adam-smith-marriage-isnt-for-you/

1 ½ Years After “I Do,” He Saw Marriage Wasn’t for Him—When He Looked at His Wife, He Knew

They met when they were 15 and were best friends for 10 years—but after being married just 1 year, the truth hit him HARD.


By Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for 10 years until … until we decided we no longer wanted to be just friends.  I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: Marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy,” which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?” while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.


Outline of the Song of Solomon as It Relates to the Biblical Hebrew Wedding

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A marriage of cosmic proportions is about to take place between Yeshua the Messiah and his saints who keep his commandments, have the testimony or faith of Yeshua, who are washed in his blood and follow him (the Lamb) wherever he goes. This ministry is dedicated to helping to prepare you (the bride) for Yeshua (the Bridegroom). The Song of Solomon is a  poetic and romantic picture of this wedding process.

Maybe this will give you a different, more Hebraic, perspective on the Song of Solomon—the most romantic book in the Bible.

The Three Main Phases to the Jewish Wedding and the Biblical Feasts

1) Betrothal (Shitre Erusin) – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost

2) Consummation and the Wedding Feast (Nesuim) – The Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles

3) Together for Eternity (Olam Haba) – The Eighth Day picturing the New Jerusalem

The Three Main Phases and Sub-Phases of the Wedding in the Song of Solomon

Song 1:1–3:5 — The Betrothal Phase (Erusin)

a) The Ketubah. The young man prepares a marriage contract or covenant which he presents to the young woman and her father called a ketubah (writing). This is a formal written document which stipulates the terms of the proposal he is making.

b) The Bride’s Price or Mohar. This is the price the young man is willing to pay the father for the father’s permission for the young man to marry his daughter.

c) The Cup of Acceptance. If the marriage contract and the bride’s price are acceptable to the father, the young man would pour a cup of wine for his intended and would hold it out to her. If she would accept it and drink it then this would be her acceptance of his proposal. The bridegroom would then prepare for the joyous occasion of the upcoming marriage by bringing gifts for his beloved which would be tokens of his love for her. After the young man left to return to his father’s home, the bride would begin to prepare herself for the upcoming marriage ceremony. She would start with a ceremonial cleansing (or mikveh) whereby she would purify herself in preparation for her husband. At this point the young couple were betrothed.

The Preparation Phase

a) The groom would go to prepare a place for her. Though the couple was legally bound in marriage they would not cohabit. The groom would return to his father’s house and begin to prepare a wedding (honeymoon) chamber for his wife. This process would take up to a year or more. Only when the father of the groom would approve that the chamber was ready would the groom be released to get his bride.

b) The bride would make herself ready. While the groom was preparing a place for his bride, she would be busy preparing herself by making herself beautiful. When the young bride would leave the house she would wear a veil to show that she was “spoken for” and that she was no longer available since she was “bought with a price”. She was consecrated to her bridegroom.

Song 3:6–6:1 — The Reunion Phase

a) Upon receiving word from the father the wedding chamber was complete, the groom would steal away to fetch his bride. She would not know the day or the hour of his coming, so she had to be continually ready for his arrival. She had to be ready at a moment’s notice. She and her bridesmaids had to make sure they had plenty of oil in their lamps in case he came at night.

b) Coming for the bride. The coming of the groom would be a surprise to the bride. He would come accompanied by his two groomsmen (or two witnesses). When the wedding party would get close to the bride’s house they would give a shout and blow the ram’s horn (shofar) to let the bride know they were coming. They would charge right into the house and carry off the bride and bridesmaids.

Song 3:6–8:4 — The Wedding Phase or Nuptials (Nesuim)

c) The wedding party would arrive at the groom’s father’s house where the newlyweds would enter the wedding chamber and consummate the marriage and honeymoon for seven days. This established their covenant union. During intercourse, blood is spilled proving that the bride was a virgin.

The Celebration Phase

The celebration would last for seven days while the newlyweds are in celebrating their honeymoon. Following this would be the marriage supper which is given in honor of the newlyweds.

Song 8:5–14 — Eternity Together (Olam Haba)

The newly married couple begins life together.


Divorce and Remarriage: A Messy Business — My Thoughts

I got this email  question today from one of this blog’s readers about divorce and remarriage:

Natan, what about the provision in Torah for a woman to marry another man if she is divorced? I get confused when Yeshus said that if a man divorced his wife that he causes her to commit adultery. This has been a hot button issue for my wife and I for years. Insights?

Here is my answer:

Most churches allow for divorce, but some do not permit remarriage under any circumstances. This is an extreme position, although those who teach this can make a strong case that this is what the Bible teaches.

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Some churches teach that divorce and remarriage is acceptable in some instances, but not in other. This is where it gets sticky and depends on the interpretations of many clear as well as some difficult to understand biblical passages. Each marriage and divorce case is unique. Each situation needs to be evaluated case by case based on biblical guidelines. My thoughts below on divorce and remarriage are only general in nature, and are based on my best understanding of scriptural principles.

Some churches take the approach that all sins can be forgiven except the sin of divorce and remarriage (D and R). This would mean that D and R is the unpardonable sin for which the blood of Yeshua is ineffective. I do not hold to this position.

Scripture says that YHVH hates divorce. Why? Because he had to divorce his own (spiritual) wife, Israel, because of her adultery. But he’s going to remarry her, but this  time redeemed Israel, which is a new, spiritually regenerated bride. Furthermore, Yeshua died to pay the price for her capital sin of adultery. On our website (www.hoshanarabbah.org), I have a teaching about the prophetic implications of divorce where I discuss this issue.

The Torah allows for divorce and remarriage following certain protocols. Yeshua Continue reading


Yeshua’s Thoughts on Divorce

Mark 10:2–10, (cp. Matt 5:31–32 and 19) Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? Yeshua confirms the fact that divorce wasn’t part of YHVH’s original marriage plan, but that Moses allowed divorce only for a specific reason.

Divorce 1

In the Torah, divorce was permitted for lack of virginity at the time of marriage, and for specific sexual sins committed that violated the marriage covenant (note Deut 22:13–14 cp. Deut 24:1–4), yet eventually (by the time of Yeshua), among some of the Jews, the divorce laws had become so relaxed that a man could put his wife away for any reason (Matt 19:3). To those Jews who had such a liberal interpretation of the Torah’s divorce laws, Yeshua was addressing not what the Torah specifically said, but what the religious-legal interpretations had become of those laws.

To bring the concept of marriage and divorce back to the Creator’s original design, Yeshua upheld that, according to the Torah—YHVH’s master plan, marriage between a man and a woman was inviolable and that divorce was permissible only for certain gross sexual sins and for (irreconcilable) hardness of heart (see more at Matt 19:8–9).

The bottom line of what Yeshua is saying is this: YHVH’s highest ideal is for a man and woman to marry and become one, as YHVH Elohim (the Godhead — the Father, the Holy Spirit/Mother, and the Son) is one, of which the marriage is to be a reflection. Sadly, because of the hardness of the sinful human heart, divorce happens, which Moses permitted under certain circumstances, but not for just any reason. Divorce, though permissible, is YHVH’s lowest ideal for the family, since it leaves in its wake so much ruination.

Mark 10:10–13, Divorces…little children. The proximity to Yeshua’s teaching on divorce with his blessing the little children presents us with an interesting juxtaposition of ideas. It’s as if the Gospel writer is obliquely conveying to us the fact that divorce is detrimental to families — especially to children.

Mark 10:11, Divorces his wife and marries another. Tertullian (A.D. 160–220), the early church father, understands this to mean that he who divorces his wife in order to marry another does so unlawfully and is thus an adulterer. He concedes that Moses allowed for divorce and that Yeshua accepts this provision in the Torah, but not if it’s done for the wrong reasons and, therefore, unlawfully (Ante-Nicene Church Father, vol 3; “Tertullian Against Marcion”; Book 4, chap 34; pp. 404–405; Hendrickson, 1995).


New Video: Abraham on Dealing With Struggles in Marriage & Ministries

The Bible is a book of life about real people with real struggles in the marriages, ministries, families, friends and associates. We can gain strength, comfort and wisdom from people like Abraham as this video explains.