From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [1]

Perversion of the marriage institution. Marriage was ordained by God as an intimate and complementing union between a man and a woman in which the two become one physically, in the whole of life, in its purpose to reflect the relationship of the Godhead, and to serve God. With the fall of humankind the divine purpose and function of marriage were damaged by sin, and the marriage relationship often destroyed.

Effect of the Fall on Marriage . The fall of humankind ( Genesis 3 ) caused human hearts to become hard toward God and toward each other. The relational aspect of God's image, reflected in marriage, became marred. Satan tempted Eve to rebel against male leadership ( Genesis 3:1-6,17; contra.  Ephesians 5:33;  1 Peter 3:1 ). Men tended to become dominant and harsh in their leadership (cf.  Colossians 3:19;  1 Peter 3:7 ). Sin brought polygamy, concubinage, incest, adultery, rape, prostitution, and all kinds of immorality (cf.  Leviticus 18,20;  Romans 1:26-32 ) that have damaged or destroyed the marriage relationship. Marriage covenants have been violated (cf.  Malachi 2:14 ).

Termination of the marriage relationship is caused by sin that entered the world after   Genesis 2:21-24 . Death itself, which terminates marriage ( Romans 7:1-3 ), came by Adam's sin. Because of sin divorce arose, and Moses sought to regulate it ( Deuteronomy 24:1-4;  Matthew 19:8 ). Divorce is not instituted or ordained by God; rather it is generated by sin and is contrary to God's ideal for marriage (cf.  Malachi 2:14 ).

Divorce in the Old Testament . Divorce is first mentioned in the Mosaic covenant (cf.  Leviticus 21:14;  Deuteronomy 22:13-19,28-29 ), but it was already occurring in Israel. Under the Mosaic covenant divorce was regulated in situations in which it might become common. It was not permitted (1) when false accusations were made about a bride's virginity; and (2) when marriage occurred because a man had forcibly violated a woman sexually. A high priest was not to marry a divorcee.  Deuteronomy 24:1-4 prohibited remarriage of a woman to her first husband after the death or divorce of her second husband. These texts present legal policy whereby quick and frequent divorce is restrained and discouraged. Divorce is not commended, commanded, or approved by God in these passages, but failure to forbid divorce, especially in   Deuteronomy 24 , de facto means that God's law tolerated divorce to the extent that no civil or ecclesiastical penalty was imposed.

The basis for divorce in  Deuteronomy 24:1 is "some indecency" ( ervat dabar ). The precise meaning of this phrase is uncertain. When the rest of the Old Testament and New Testament are examined, it appears that "some indecency" probably had sexual overtones—some lewd or immoral behavior including any sexual perversion, even adultery. The imagery of spiritual adultery, resulting in God's "divorcing" Israel ( Isaiah 50:1;  Jeremiah 3:8 ), is based on a real referent. Divorce was socially permissible for adultery. Although adultery was punishable by death ( Deuteronomy 22:22-24 ), it could still be included in the broad concept of ervat dabar . It is likewise possible that Jesus employed the general term porneia [   Matthew 5:32;  19:9 ) to refer to ervat dabar in  Deuteronomy 24:1 . However this phrase is understood, the text implies that this continued "indecency" was so vile that divorce was preferred by the husband. To protect the wife, however, he must provide her a certificate of divorce.

This text also recognizes and allows, without condemnation, the remarriage of the wife. In that culture remarriage would be expected since it was difficult for a woman to survive in life unless she was married or remained single in her father's house. This does not necessarily mean that God approves of the remarriage in this text. The text prohibits remarriage to the first husband since the woman has already been defiled. Defilement is best understood contextually as the "indecency" of verse 1, not "defilement" of adultery because of marrying the second husband. Adultery would have been punishable by death of the woman and the second husband, if such had been the case. The second marriage is not condemned, nor is a third marriage forbidden.

 Deuteronomy 24:1-4 , therefore, is a concession made by God to the fallen condition of humankind. It does not approve of or encourage divorce or remarriage, although it allows for both, except for remarriage of a woman to her first husband. These Deuteronomic texts, therefore, regulate divorce.

In  Ezra 9-10 intermarriage with foreigners is viewed as a defilement of the holy race and as unfaithfulness to God (9:2; 10:2,10). Shecaniah proposed sending away these foreign wives and children (10:3). Ezra concurred (10:11), so the people "divorced" the foreign wives and their children. The problem centers around Israelites marrying unbelieving foreigners. The "putting away" was to be "according to the law, " but no specific command of this nature can be found in the Law. Although   Deuteronomy 7:1-4 commands Israelites not to make covenants or to intermarry with the people in Canaan when they enter that land, this principle is not normative since the Old Testament permits marriage to believing foreigners (cf. Rahab, Ruth, and Christ's genealogy in   Matthew 1:5 ). The principle of not marrying unbelievers pervades the Scriptures and appears to be the major concern of  Ezra 9-10 . It was feared that the holy seed would be defiled.

The dissolving of the marriages is problematic. This is de facto divinely approved divorce in order to preserve the holy people. We have already observed that God did not ordain divorce, and  Malachi 2:14 clearly states that God hates divorce. We can only conclude that divorce is permitted in some situations. This particular situation related to Israel at that time and appears not to be normative.

Malachi rebukes Israel for profaning the Mosaic covenant ( Malachi 2:10-16 ). One example is the breaking of the marriage covenant by divorcing ("breaking faith with") the wives "of their youth" (v. 14). God declares that he hates divorce! This is the most direct statement of God's feeling about divorce.

Therefore, although the Old Testament presents God's ideal for marriage as monogamous, permanent, and exclusive, the Old Testament likewise recognizes that divorce and remarriage are present because of sin and must be regulated.

Divorce in the New Testament . In  Matthew 5 Jesus discusses the true intent of the Mosaic Law by emphasizing that righteousness issues from the heart, not from external compliance. Illustrating from the seventh commandment (vv. 27-32), Jesus argues that lust, as well as divorce, are the moral equivalents of adultery. Divorce is wrong because it produces adultery in the remarriage, except in the case of fornication ( porneia [   Matthew 19:9 ) is the meaning of "fornication" ( porneia [   Deuteronomy 24:1 ). Some form of illegitimate extramarital sexual intercourse is conveyed by the term. Therefore adultery in a real sense has already transpired, and Jesus states that this is a permissible ground for divorce. Divorce, however, is not required. Some argue that porneia [   Leviticus 20:10;  Deuteronomy 22:22-24 ). However, in New Testament times Jews were unable to impose the death penalty without Roman permission. Therefore, adultery severs the marriage relationship in the New Testament as did the adulterer's death in the Old Testament.

Therefore,  Matthew 5:31-32 is stating that divorce is equivalent to adultery since the divorced person normally remarries. However, if illegitimate extramarital sexual intercourse is practiced by one spouse, adultery has already transpired, and this breaks the oneness of the marriage relationship. Divorce, therefore, is permissible, although never required.

In  Matthew 19:1-12 and   Mark 10:1-12 some Pharisees test Jesus by asking whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus reminds them of God's original ideal for marriage in   Genesis 2:24 : a male and a female were created to become a permanent "one flesh" union. Humankind should not separate (divorce) what God has joined together. Unsatisfied with his answer, the Pharisees raise the issue of the divorce statement in  Deuteronomy 24:1-4 . Jesus states that  Deuteronomy 24:1-4 permitted divorce solely because of man's hard (sinful) heart, but this was not God's original plan for marriage (  Matthew 19:8 ). In  Matthew 19:9 (cf.   Mark 10:10-12 ) he reiterates the principle of  Matthew 5:31-32 : divorce generates adultery "except" in the case of fornication ( porneia [   Mark 10:11-12 ) who initiates divorce for any reason other than spouse porneia [Πορνεία], and marries another, commits adultery.  Luke 16:18 looks at the situation from both directions: the one initiating divorce and the one marrying a divorced person have each committed adultery. For some reason in Mark's argument of the same event as in Matthew (and Luke's separate argument), the exception clause is omitted. The reason for this is uncertain. However, one must accept the exception clause as genuine, valid, and original in Matthew.

Jesus' teaching confirms and elaborates the Old Testament concepts of marriage and divorce. God's ideal for marriage is a monogamous, permanent, and exclusive union. Because of humankind's sin divorce arose, and Moses permitted a certificate of divorce to regulate it. Divorce, however, is equivalent to adultery because it generates adultery. So the one initiating divorce and the one marrying a divorced person commit adultery. The only exception to this rule is when one of the marriage partners has committed fornication ( porneia [Πορνεία]), which itself is adultery. When this occurs, the other spouse may legitimately divorce the partner who has committed fornication. Such, however, is not required and should be a last alternative.

First Corinthians 7:1-16,39 argues that married people should stay married. First, spouses should not leave/divorce ( chorizo [Ἀποχωρίζω]) their marriage partners (v. 10). This is the ideal (v. 39). If a spouse should leave/divorce a marriage partner, he or she has only two options: (1) remain unmarried or (2) be reconciled. Remarriage is not an option. Second, a believer should not divorce an unbelieving spouse (vv. 12-13). However, if the unbeliever leaves, the believing partner is not bound to the principle about maintaining the marriage. The marriage is thereby dissolved. Paul says nothing about the issue of remarriage.

Conclusion . God-ordained marriage is a monogamous, permanent, and exclusive union. The entrance of sin into the world brought divorce. God hates divorce because it is contrary to his ideal. Understanding the sinfulness of humankind, he graciously tolerates divorce while establishing regulations to curb it. Jesus upheld the ideal of permanent marriage, making clear that divorce is equivalent to adultery in breaking the oneness of marriage. Initiating divorce and/or marrying a divorced person produces adultery. The only exception to this principle, and, therefore, the only legitimate ground for divorce is illegitimate extramarital sexual intercourse on the part of a spouse. Divorce is permitted for this reason, but not demanded. Reconciliation should always be sought when fornication or separation has occurred. It is also permissible to dissolve a marriage if an unbelieving spouse departs/deserts the believer. Believers should, however, always love and accept divorced people and seek to encourage them in reconciliation and godly ways.

Ralph H. Alexander

See also Family Life And Relations; Marriage

Bibliography . D. J. Atkinson, To Have and to Hold  ; H. W. House, ed., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views  ; W. F. Luck, Divorce and Remarriage: Recovering the Biblical View  ; J. Murray, Divorce  ; J. H. Olthhuis, I Pledge You My Troth .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

God’s plan for marriage was that it be a permanent union between one man and one woman – a union broken only by death. Divorce was something God hated ( Genesis 2:24;  Malachi 2:16;  Matthew 19:3-6;  Romans 7:2-4). From earliest times, however, people on the whole rejected God, and polygamy and divorce became common practices ( Genesis 6:1-8;  Romans 1:20-27; see Marriage ).

Examples from Bible times

Among the Israelites of Moses’ time, marriage disorders had become so widespread that Moses set out special laws designed to deal with the problem. In particular he wanted to stop easy divorce and protect women from unjust treatment.

For instance, if a man tried to find an excuse for divorcing his wife by accusing her (falsely) of sexual immorality before marriage, he was fined for his cruel accusation and prevented from divorcing her ( Deuteronomy 22:13-19). He could divorce her only if there was a valid reason, and only if he gave her divorce documents that protected her rights should she want to marry someone else. He could not take her back if he later changed his mind, and she could not go back to him if her second marriage came to an end ( Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

Moses’ decision to permit divorce in certain circumstances was not because he approved of divorce. Rather he was trying to reduce divorce and restore some moral order to society. When Jews of later times quoted Moses’ law as approval for divorce, Jesus referred them back to God’s original standard. According to that standard, to divorce and remarry was adultery ( Mark 10:2-12;  Luke 16:18;  1 Corinthians 7:10-11). The only exception that Jesus allowed was the case where a person’s adultery was already destroying the marriage ( Matthew 5:31-32;  Matthew 19:3-9; see Adultery ; Fornication ).

A difficult situation arose in New Testament times when one partner in a non-Christian marriage later became a Christian. The Christian was not to divorce the non-Christian partner, but was to do everything possible to make the marriage work harmoniously. If the non-Christian partner was not willing to continue the marriage and departed, the Christian partner had to let it be so and consider the marriage at an end. The statement that in such cases the Christian partner was ‘no longer bound’ seems to mean that he or she was free to remarry ( 1 Corinthians 7:12-15).

A universal problem

In any society where there is a widespread breakdown of marriage, the result will be an increasing number of social and family problems. The Creator knows what is best for his creatures, and where people reject the plan he has laid down, they will have troubles (cf.  Deuteronomy 10:13).

There is often no clear-cut solution to the complications that arise because of divorce and remarriage. In some cases, no matter what is done, some ideal will be broken. Moses accepted less than the best because of the people’s ‘hardness of heart’, which suggests that the right course of action may at times mean choosing the lesser of two evils ( Matthew 19:8).

Repentant sinners can receive God’s merciful forgiveness for divorce and adultery as they can for other sins ( 2 Samuel 12:13; Psalms 51;  Psalms 145:14;  Isaiah 43:25). Whatever people might have been guilty of previously, when God forgives them the church must also forgive them ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; cf.  Matthew 6:14-15). Although Christians must, like Jesus, uphold God’s standards when others want to destroy them ( Matthew 19:3-9), they must also, like Jesus, give help to those who, having broken God’s law, are later repentant ( Luke 7:36-50;  John 8:1-11; cf.  Hosea 14:4).

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

 Deuteronomy 24:1-4

Divorce was common enough among the Jews in New Testament times to cause division among the rabbis as to the valid basis for divorce. The passage in Deuteronomy did not give clear guidelines. “Because he hath found some uncleanness in her” ( Deuteronomy 24:1 ) left room for interpretation. One group of rabbis insisted that divorce could be granted only if the wife was immoral. Another group argued that divorce could be secured by the husband if the wife displeased him in any way. Among the Jews, only the husband had the right to secure a divorce. The wife might leave her husband, but she could not divorce him. The situation was different in the Roman world. There the wife had equal rights with the husband in the matter of divorce.

The teachings of Jesus are the clearest to be found in the Bible concerning divorce. He refused to be drawn into the rabbinical controversy over the possible valid basis for divorce. When such an attempt was made ( Matthew 19:3-9;  Mark 10:2-12 ), Jesus referred His questioners to the Old Testament law. They cited the permission granted in  Deuteronomy 24:1 . Jesus pointed out that this was not God's original intent. Divorce was permitted only because of “the hardness of your heart” ( Mark 10:5 ). Then Jesus went back to God's original intent which was permanent monogamy, one man and one woman together for life. He supported this by referring back to  Genesis 1:27 and   Genesis 2:24 . God intended marriage to be permanent.

On another occasion as Jesus taught about divorce ( Matthew 5:31-32 ), He referred to the passage in  Deuteronomy 24:1 as common knowledge among His hearers. He did not give His approval to the practice of divorce. Rather, He showed the consequences of divorce in the lives of people. If a man divorced his wife, he made her an adulteress unless the basis of the divorce was her own immorality. This statement has been understood in various ways. One idea is that Jesus was giving here a justifiable ground for divorce. If the wife violated her marriage vows, the husband had the right to divorce her. However, another suggestion is that Jesus was not making a law. Instead, he was saying that the husband would make the wife become an adulteress unless she had already become one by her own action. A divorced woman in Palestine of that day had few choices. To survive she could remarry or become a prostitute. In either case she was guilty of adultery. In a few instances, the divorced wife might have been able to return to live with her parents. Whichever interpretation of Jesus' statement is considered best, He indicated that God's intention was permanent marriage.

On only one occasion did Paul deal with the matter of divorce in his writings. The church at Corinth asked him questions concerning marriage. In his response to their questions, he had to give advice in matters relating to the marriage of a Christian with another Christian and that of a Christian with a nonbeliever ( 1 Corinthians 7:10-13 ). With regard to the marriage of two Christians, he cited the teaching of Jesus. The Christian man should not divorce his wife, and the Christian woman should not separate from her husband. In the matter of a Christian married to a nonbeliever, Paul did not have a specific teaching from Jesus. But he gave his advice under the guidance of God's Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 7:40 ). He stated that a Christian was not to take the initiative to divorce the nonbeliever. So long as the nonbeliever was willing to live in a proper marriage relationship, the Christian was to maintain that relationship.

Thus the intention of God from creation has been that man and woman live together in a permanent marriage relationship. Divorce was allowed in the Old Testament as a protection to the married partners and a means to salvage whatever good could be gained from a bad situation. But Jesus clearly taught that it was not the proper action for His people.

The Scripture does not give specific instructions as to what a divorced person should do. The nearest is Paul's advice that the woman who separates from her husband should remain single or else be reconciled with her husband ( 1 Corinthians 7:11 ). This advice was given in a context where Paul urged the single state for anyone who was not married.

Clayton Harrop

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [4]

As the ancient Hebrews paid a stipulated price for the privilege of marrying, they seemed to consider it the natural consequence of making a payment of that kind, that they should be at liberty to exercise a very arbitrary power over their wives, and to renounce or divorce them whenever they chose. This state of things, as Moses himself very clearly saw, was not equitable as respected the woman, and was very often injurious to both parties. Finding himself, however, unable, to overrule feelings and practices of very ancient standing, he merely annexed to the original institution of marriage a very serious admonition to this effect, viz. that it would be less criminal for a man to desert his father and mother, than without adequate cause to desert his wife,  Genesis 2:14 , compared with  Malachi 2:11-16 . He also laid a restriction upon the power of the husband as far as this, that he would not permit him to repudiate the wife without giving her a bill of divorce. He farther enacted in reference to this subject that the husband might receive the repudiated wife back, in case she had not in the meanwhile been married to another person; but if she had been thus married, she could never afterward become the wife of her first husband; a law, which the faith due to the second husband clearly required,  Deuteronomy 24:1-4 , compare  Jeremiah 3:1 , and  Matthew 1:19;  Matthew 19:8 . The inquiry, "What should be considered an adequate cause of divorce," was left by Moses to be determined by the husband himself. He had liberty to divorce her, if he saw in her any thing naked, any thing displeasing or improper, any thing so much at war with propriety, and a source of so much dissatisfaction as to be, in the estimation of the husband, sufficient ground for separation. These expressions, however, were sharply contested as to their meaning in the later times of the Jewish nation. The school of Hillel contended, that the husband might lawfully put away the wife for any cause, even the smallest. The mistake committed by the school of Hillel in taking this ground was, that they confounded moral and civil law. It is true, as far as the Mosaic statute or the civil law was concerned, the husband had a right thus to do; but it is equally clear, that the ground of just separation must have been, not a trivial, but a prominent and important one, when it is considered, that he was bound to consult the rights of the woman, and was amenable to his conscience and his God. The school of Shammai explained the phrase, nakedness of a thing, to mean actual adultery. Our Lord agreed with the school of Shammai as far as this, that the ground of divorce should be one of a moral nature, and not less than adultery; but he does not appear to have agreed with them in their opinion in respect to the Mosaic statute. On the contrary, he denied the equity of that statute, and in justification of Moses maintained, that he permitted divorces for causes below adultery, only in consequence of the hardness of the people's hearts,   Matthew 5:31-32;  Matthew 18:1-9;  Mark 10:2-12;  Luke 16:18 . Wives, who were considered the property of their husbands, did not enjoy by the Mosaic statutes a reciprocal right, and were not at liberty to dissolve the matrimonial alliance by giving a bill of divorce to that effect. In the latter periods, however, of the Jewish state, the Jewish matrons, the more powerful of them at least, appear to have imbibed the spirit of the ladies of Rome, and to have exercised in their own behalf the same power that was granted by the Mosaic law only to their husbands,  Mark 6:17-29;  Mark 10:12 .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

 Deuteronomy 24:1-4 permits the husband to divorce the wife, if he find in her "uncleanness," literally, "matter of nakedness," by giving her "a bill of divorcement," literally, a book of cutting off. Polygamy had violated God's primal law joining in one flesh one man to one woman, who formed the other half or converse side of the male. Moses' law does not sanction this abnormal state of things which he found prevalent, but imposes a delay and cheek on its proceeding to extreme arbitrariness. He regulates and mitigates what he could not then extirpate. The husband must get drawn up by the proper authorities (the Levites) a formal deed stating his reasons ( Isaiah 50:1;  Jeremiah 3:8), and not dismiss her by word of mouth. Moses threw the responsibility of the violation of the original law on the man himself; tolerating it indeed (as a less evil than enforcing the original law which the people's "hardness of heart" rendered then unsuitable, and thus aggravating the evil) but throwing in the way what might serve as an obstacle to extreme caprice, an act requiring time and publicity and formal procedure.

The school of Shammai represented fornication or adultery as the "uncleanness" meant by Moses. But ( Leviticus 20:10;  John 8:5) stoning, not merely divorce, would have been the penalty of that, and our Lord ( Matthew 19:3;  Matthew 19:9, compare  Matthew 5:31) recognizes a much lower ground of divorce tolerated by Moses for the hardness of their heart. Hillel's school recognized the most trifling cause as enough for divorce, e.g. the wife's burning the husband's food in cooking. The aim of our Lord's interrogators was to entangle Him in the disputes of these two schools. The low standard of marriage prevalent at the close of the Old Testament appears in  Malachi 2:14-16. Rome makes marriage a sacrament, and indissoluble except by her lucrative ecclesiastical dispensations.

But this would make the marriage between one pagan man and one pagan woman a "sacrament," which in the Christian sense would be absurd; for  Ephesians 5:23-32, which Rome quotes, and  Mark 10:5-12 where even fornication is not made an exception to the indissolubility of marriage, make no distinction between marriages of parties within and parties outside of the Christian church. What marriage is to the Christian, it was, in the view of Scripture, to man before and since the fall and God's promise of redemption. Adulterous connection with a third party makes the person one flesh with that other, and so, ipso facto dissolves the unity of flesh with the original consort ( 1 Corinthians 6:15-16). The divorced woman who married again, though the law sanctions her remarriage ( Deuteronomy 24:1-4), is treated as "defiled" and not to be taken back by the former husband. The reflection that, once divorced and married again, she could never return to her first husband, would check the parties from reckless rashness.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [6]

Is the dissolution of marriage, or separation of man and wife. Divorce a mensa et thoro, 1:e. from bed and board,

in this case the wife has a suitable maintenance allowed her out of her husband's effects. Divorce a vinculo matrimonii, 1:e. from the bonds of matrimony, is strictly and properly divorce. this happens either in consequence of criminality, as in the case of adultery, or through some essential impediment; as consanguinity, or affinity within the degrees forbidden, pre-contract, impotency, &c. of which impediments the canon law allows no less than 14. In these cases the woman receives again only what she brought. Sentences which release the parties a vinculo matrimonii, on account of impuberty, frigidity, consanquinity within the prohibited degrees, prior marriage, or want of the requisite consent of parents or guardians, are not properly dissolutions of the marriage contract, but judicial declarations that there never was any marriage; such impediment subsisting at the time as rendered the celebration of the marriage rite a mere nullity.

And the rite itself contains an exception of these impediments. The law of Moses, says Dr. Paley, for reasons of local expediency, permitted the Jewish husband to put away his wife; but whether for every cause, or for what cause, appears to have been controverted amongst the interpreters of those times. Christ, the precepts of whose religion were calculated for more general use and observation, revokes his permission as given to the Jews for their hardness of heart, and promulges a law which was thenceforward to confine divorces to the single cause of adultery in the wife,  Matthew 19:9 . Inferior causes may justify the separation of husband and wife, although they will not authorize such a dissolution of the marriage contract as would leave either at liberty to marry again; for it is that liberty in which the danger and mischief of divorces principally consist. The law of this country, in conformity to our Saviour's injunction, confines the dissolution of the marriage contract to the single case of adultery in the wife; and a divorce even in that case can only be brought about by an act of parliament, founded upon a previous sentiment in the spiritual court, and a verdict against the adulterer at common law; which proceedings taken together, compose as complete an investigation of the complaint as a cause can receive.

See Paley's Mor. and Pol. Philosophy, p. 273; Doddridge's Lectures, lect. 73.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Divorce. A dissolution of the marriage relation. The law on this subject is found in  Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and the cases in which the right of a husband to divorce his wife was lost are stated in  Deuteronomy 22:19;  Deuteronomy 22:29. The ground of divorce is a point on which the Jewish doctors of the New Testament era differed widely; the school of Shammai seeming to limit it to a moral delinquency in the woman, whilst that of Hillel extended it to trifling causes, E.G., if the wife burnt the food she was cooking for her husband. The Pharisees wished perhaps to entangle our Saviour with these questions in their rival schools,  Matthew 19:3; but by his answer to them, as well as by his previous maxim.  Matthew 5:31-32, he declares that he regarded all the lesser causes than "fornication" as standing on too weak ground, and set forth adultery as the proper ground of divorce,  Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:9;  Mark 10:11-12;  Luke 16:18.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

Divorce. Divorce is "A Legal Dissolution Of The Marriage Relation". The law regulating this subject is found in  Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and the cases in which the right of a husband to divorce his wife was lost are stated.  Deuteronomy 22:19;  Deuteronomy 22:29.

The ground of divorce is a point on which the Jewish doctors of the period of the New Testament differed widely; the school of Shammai seeming to limit it to a moral delinquency in the woman, whilst that the Hillel extended it to trifling causes, for example, if the wife burnt the food she was cooking for her husband.

The Pharisees wished, perhaps, to embroil our Saviour with these rival schools by their question,  Matthew 19:3, by his answer to which, as well as by his previous maxim,  Matthew 5:31, he declares that he regarded all the lesser causes than "fornication" as standing on too weak ground, and declined the question of how to interpret the words of Moses.

Webster's Dictionary [9]

(1): ( n.) A legal dissolution of the marriage contract by a court or other body having competent authority. This is properly a divorce, and called, technically, divorce a vinculo matrimonii.

(2): ( n.) To make away; to put away.

(3): ( n.) To separate or disunite; to sunder.

(4): ( n.) To dissolve the marriage contract of, either wholly or partially; to separate by divorce.

(5): ( n.) The separation of a married woman from the bed and board of her husband - divorce a mensa et toro (/ thoro), "from bed board."

(6): ( n.) The decree or writing by which marriage is dissolved.

(7): ( n.) Separation; disunion of things closely united.

(8): ( n.) That which separates.

King James Dictionary [10]

DIVORCE, n. L. See Divert.

1. A legal dissolution of the bonds of matrimony, or the separation of husband and wife by a judicial sentence. This is properly called a divorce, and called technically, divorce a vinculo matrimonii. 2. The separation of a married woman from the bed and board of her husband, a mensa et thoro. 3. Separation disunion of things closely united. 4. The sentence or writing by which marriage is dissolved. 5. The cause of any penal separation.

The long divorce of steel falls on me.


1. To dissolve the marriage contract, and thus to separate husband and wife. 2. To separate, as a married woman from the bed and board of her husband. 3. To separate or disunite things closely connected to force asunder. 4. To take away to put away.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [11]

This was explained by the Lord. Moses had suffered a man to put away his wife for any cause, as we see in  Deuteronomy 24:1,3; but the Lord maintained God's original ordinance that what God had joined together, man had no right to put asunder, therefore a man must not put away his wife except for fornication, when she herself had broken the bond.  Matthew 5:31,32;  Matthew 19:3-9 . A Bill Of Divorcement must be given to the woman, the drawing up of which, and having it witnessed, was some little check upon a man's hasty temper.

Divorce is used symbolically to express God's action in putting away Israel, who had been grossly unfaithful, and giving her a bill of divorcement.  Isaiah 50:1;  Jeremiah 3:8 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 Deuteronomy 24:1-4 Ezra 10:11-19 Matthew 5:31,32 19:1-9 Mark 10:2-12 Luke 16:18

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [13]

Was tolerated by Moses for sufficient reasons,  Deuteronomy 24:1-4; but our Lord has limited it to the single case of adultery,  Matthew 5:31,32 .

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [14]

DIVORCE . See Marriage.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [15]

See Marriage.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

Divorce [MARRIAGE]