October 21, 2020

Matthew 5
Divorce vv.31 & 32 – Part 2

Remember that it was a man’s world. The liberal view of Hillel, the convenience divorce of Greece and Rome, and the syntheses of these cultural norms all led to a man-sided approach. Shamai, although accused of legalism, sided with the woman. He did not want to see women with no rights, especially when it came to the protection and nurture she deserved as a mother and homemaker. Her rights must be recognized and defended. Moses and Jesus agreed.  A woman was not a “throw-away”.

Indeed, the whole point of Moses providing a “certificate of divorce” to the woman (Dt. 24:1) was to protect her from the former husband returning and forcing her back into marriage. The divorce certificate was her defence against being treated like property. It meant she had the legal right to say “no”.

She had other rights as well. In Exodus 22:10 Moses delineates the basic rights she had as either concubine or wife. The man was required to provide there with “food… clothing… marital rights.” If these were not provided she had the right to divorce him, although, as history proved, it would be a difficult road.