From Jesus' answer in this Gospel passage,

Teaching about Divorce Mark 10:1-3 (RSVCE) 10 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”

is there scriptural evidence to show that Moses had a command that made it Lawful for a Man to Divorce his Wife?

This question was prompted by The seriousness of sin changed?.

If Moses commanded [from God], it would seem that God had made a reversal twice: After establishing marriage in Gan Eden, the reversal with Moses, and a reversal back again with Jesus.

3 Answers 3


Moses did in fact allow divorce, it was not a law only a permission.

It was permitted here;

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 KJV When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's [wife]. And [if] the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth [it] in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her [to be] his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that [is] abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance.

Jesus however said:

Matthew 5:31 and 32 KJV It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.


Matthew 19:3 through 9 KJV 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 God 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.

So from this we see that Divorce is a man made law, and not permitted by God.

Many read:

Matthew 19:9 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.

To say; that it is okay to divorce a spouse for Adultery, while other read it to say; that if a man divorce his wife, unless she has already committed adultery he causes her to commit adultery.

You must make your own decision as to how that Scripture reads.

  • This was actually a trick question to share knowledge. Command vs. Allow; Commandment vs. Dispensation? I would have accepted your answer except that the Catholic Church sees some of your points differently. Any chance to vote the question up?
    – user13992
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 14:05
  • Your example is not good. Jesus affirms that divorce is OK when adultery occurs. Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 14:07
  • @ClintEastwood My example is good different people read it differently, so it depends on what Denomination you belong to. I agree with your interpation, and have divorced for that very reason. But I have to accept the interpation of those who decided to forgive in the name of Christ.
    – BYE
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 14:42

The short answer to your specific question is "No, no such evidence exists." But the question seems to be alluding to the conversation between the Pharisees and Jesus in Matthew 19. In that passage, the Pharisees asked why Moses "commanded" a man to give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away. In his response, Jesus corrected the terminology saying it was not "commanded" but rather "allowed."

It is beyond the scope of your question, but it may be worthwhile (assuming this is truly a topic of interest to you) to study out the biblical difference between "divorcing" one's spouse and "sending away" one's spouse.

(Additional information per fredsbend's request)

There are two distinct words involved here. In the Old Testament there is the word "shallach" which means to "send away," "drive away," or "drive out." Its corresponding New Testament word is "apoluo." This means to "let loose" to "set free" to "drive out" to "send away." In the Old Testament again, "kerith uth" is a divorcement. The corresponding New Testament word would be a form of "apostasian" which is the actual document decreeing the dissolution of a union.

In English translations these terms tend to become blended, often being taken to mean same thing when they do not. We see this reflected in the KJV where we find Jesus speaking of divorce 10 or 11 times if you account for parallel passages. The KJV translates these words as "put away" in every case, with the singular exception Matthew 5, where the translators changed their approach and translated the 2nd occurrence as "divorce." I see no textual or contextual reason for this change.

In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, there is only one recorded divorce, and that is in Jeremiah 3:8, where God said, "I have divorced Israel." This is the term "kerith uth" mentioned above. We know from reading the Bible and historical documents outside the Bible, that men regularly "put away" their wives. A man could tell his wife that she would see his face no more, and he would "put her away." He didn't divorce her, but just sent her off and chose to fulfill none of his husbandly responsibilities toward her.

So what we have in effect is "apoluo," the sending away, becomes "practical divorce" where "apostasian" is "legal divorce." The consequence of this is that we had men who were putting away their wives and marrying more women without ever granting their previous wives a legal divorce. Therefore the put away woman has no legal right to marry again. With that distinction in mind, read again what Jesus says in Matthew five. As you do so, remember that in every instance but one in that passage, the word is "apoluo" to "send away." We might rightly translate this "abandon," a man abandons his wife and goes off to marry a different one.

Jesus says, "...anyone who (puts away) his wife must give her a (certificate of divorcement)." If they don't, "...anyone who (puts away) his wife except for infidelity, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a woman who has been (put away) commits adultery." Why? Because it hasn't been legalized, or finalized. He is marrying a married woman.

  • Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This is a good answer. It would actually be acceptable and even encouraged if you edit in the "biblical difference between divorcing and sending away." That's the meat and potatoes that the community here live on. I hope to see you post again soon. Here's a +1 in advance.
    – user3961
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 18:14
  • Thank you fredsbend. That's a fair request, and I will edit the answer shortly. I did originally intend to include that differentiation, but opted to not do so because I know the StackExchange culture encourages succinct responses rather than "novels." ;-)
    – DJGray
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 18:26
  • Each SE site is different really. On this one, longer is almost always better.
    – user3961
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 19:16

Examining two Gospel passages on the Teaching about Divorce:

Matthew 19:7-9 (RSVCE)
7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.”


Mark 10:3-5 (RSVCE)
3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.

The Navarre Bible (Compact Edition) note re: Mk 10: 1-12:

This sort of scene is found often in the Gospel. The malevolent attitude of these Pharisees contrasts with the straightforwardness of the crowd, who are attentive to Jesus' teaching. Christ knows how two-faced his opponents are;that is why he asks them what Moses "commanded" (v.3). The Pharisees know that there is no such commandment, and therefore they reply that Moses "allowed" divorce (v.4). Having established the rules of dialogue, Jesus explains that the true commandment is what God established at the moment of Creation (Gen 2:24)[.]

[E]xcept for unchastity is better explained that if one enters into a marriage that is forbidden by God's Law, that marriage is not marriage at all in the eyes of God, and therefore an adulterous union.

A ready example in the Gospels is Herod who had 'married' Hero′di-as, his [Herod's] brother Philip’s wife. John was telling him put away Hero′di-as [because this is unchastity as] “[i]t is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” cf. Mark 6:18 (RSVCE)

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