“They shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God.”-Leviticus 21:7
What we notice about Leviticus 21:7 is that the same law that prevented a priest from marrying a woman who was degraded by an act of prostitution is also prevented from marrying a divorced woman.
The two are lumped together.
Take a look at this Scripture from Deuteronomy.
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 uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,..“-Deuteronomy 24:1 (New KJV)
“Suppose a man marries a woman and consummates the marriage but later finds her displeasing, because he has found her offensive in some respect. He writes her a divorce document, gives it to her and sends her away from his house.”-Deuteronomy 24:1 (Complete Jewish Bible)
The first thing you need to know is that the Torah specifies only ONE reason that will allow a man to divorce his wife.
That reason is if she has committed an act of sexual immorality.
And when I say “sexual immorality”, of course I am referring to “sexual immorality” as defined by Torah.
That’s what’s meant by “he has fond some UNCLEANNESS in her” or “he has found her OFFENSIVE in some respect”.
Other translations will say “he has found some INDECENCY in her”.
The Hebrew word that is being translated into “uncleanness”, “offensive” and “indecency” etcetera is ERVAH.
ERVAH literally means “nakedness”.
It is a sexual term.
The best way to render this part of Deuteronomy in normal everyday English is to simply say “he has discovered that his wife has committed a sexually immoral act“.
However, men being men have always tried to loosen these strict standards of God’s Law.
For instance, a little bit before the time of Yeshua, disciples of Rabbi Hillel tried to make divorce less restrictive by saying that Deuteronomy 24:1 could also apply to many more different kinds of “unfaithful acts” other than sexual immorality.
Up until that time, sexual immorality was the only legal reason that would permit a proper divorce.
So again, the idea here is that for a Levite priest, who is to be held to God’s highest standards, is not to marry a woman who has been tainted by immoral sexual activity whether through engaging in prostitution or having been through a divorce, which according to Torah law means she has committed an act of sexual immorality (or she wouldn’t have divorced in the first place).
The problem that Yeshua faced in his day is the same problem that exists today.
If a man decided he was tired of his wife, he simply accused her of sexual infidelity, so he could divorce her.
The man didn’t have to prove it.
All he had to do was accuse her, and then he forced her to separate from him.
Actually, according to the law, if the man was able to prove that the woman had really committed sexual immorality, the woman would be executed.
You’ll find many instances of divorce in the Bible, but few executions due to the divorce.
In His day, Yeshua spoke out strongly against this flippant use of divorce.
In my last post, I talked about how the Scriptures make a distinction between one who in the past may have lapsed into sin from time to time and one who regularly practices a given evil behavior.
What I want to say to you is if you had at one time given yourself over to a lifestyle of sin (as defined by Torah), but have repented in Yeshua’s Name, you can be confident that you are no longer labeled by that sin, whether the label was “drunkard”, “fornicator”, “adulterer” or whatever.
But and this is a big “but”, if you continue to revel in a certain evil behavior, refuse to acknowledge that it is a sin or have no interest in ceasing that behavior, well then I have to warn you that you may be in serious danger of God’s judgement.
However, for those have truly repented of their behavior, let go of the terrible guilt of the past and be released to the HASHEM’S SHALOM!
You have been liberated!
Be grateful, move on and focus your energies on helping to build the Kingdom.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
He said to them, “Moses,
because of the hardness of your hearts,
permitted you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so.
And I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife,
except for sexual immorality,
and marries another,
and whoever marries her
who is divorced commits adultery.”