Do You Need to Repent of Adultery?
You Might Be Surprised!
If you’ve ever been married, or even ENGAGED, there’s a pretty good chance, both statistically and Biblically, that you, your spouse, fiancé, or your “ex”, may have been involved in adultery, and may still be. If so, there’s still hope those guilty of this sin can be reconciled to YHUH, read on to find out how…
In a world where Biblical terms and concepts are continually and increasingly being stretched beyond their original intended boundaries, added to, and even redefined, for example, how many women a man can marry, whether two people of the same gender can enter into a marriage union, or whether sex makes two people married, it’s all the more imperative that we question and closely re-examine what society says constitutes a marriage relationship, and what actions can violate it, through a Biblical lens. In this day and age especially, not all judgments on sexual sin, specifically, adultery, are as cut and dry as the following scenario:
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. 2 Samuel 11:2-4
So David had sexual relations with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, while Uriah was at battle. She became pregnant while her husband was gone, so in an attempt to hide his sin, David ordered Uriah to be brought home from battle so Uriah could have relations with his wife, so that everyone would think Uriah was the father of the child and David’s sin would not be known. Uriah, being a man of principle, would not go home and have relations with his wife while his comrades were still at war. David then ordered that Uriah be sent to the front lines to be killed by the enemy in battle so that everyone would think Uriah had been with his wife while he was on the break from war, and that the child was Uriah’s. Then…
YHUH sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as YHUH lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” 2 Samuel 12:1-7
This was a very obvious case of adultery, so why did King David need Nathan the Prophet to come and inform David that he was guilty of this sexual sin, his adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s lamb? Didn’t David KNOW he was guilty of adultery? Did he not know the Torah? Did he not understand it? He knew and understood what his guilt was, otherwise, he wouldn’t have had Uriah killed in an attempt to hide his sin. He forgot that YHUH sees and knows all. We’ve all done it, we’ve lied to ourselves and others and pretended our sins would not be found out, and the truth often comes out with a pregnancy. Even King David needed a reminder that he could not hide his sin from YHUH, that what was in the dark would come to light.
In this example, David’s adultery with Bathsheba led to murder, resulting in the shedding of Uriah’s blood. It also resulted in YHUH striking the child who came forth from David’s sinful passions with an illness that would take their child’s life in his first week of life. So not one, but two deaths resulted from David’s sin with Bathsheba.
The Bible teaches that adultery always leads to murder or death, in some shape or form, whether spiritual, physical, or both. How many abortions have come forth because of adultery, in an attempt to hide one’s unfaithfulness? How many murders and suicides have come about because of one’s own transgression in this area, or because they felt betrayed by a spouse who was unfaithful to them? How many babies have not lived a long life because of the sin of a parent, like we read about in 2 Samuel 12, or as we see today when a child is aborted by a mother guilty of sexual sins, including adultery.
What can we do to stop the violence, to stop unnecessary death and heartbreak that comes as a result of this sin? How do we repent of it all? How do we warn those we love so they do not fall into this trap of adultery and bloodshed, bringing guilt and heartache upon themselves?
The first solution is education about the matter – from the Bible. The Law and those who interpret it rightly for us in the Scriptures (Moses, Messiah Yahusha, Paul, and the Prophets) can teach us right from wrong so we can learn where we have erred and what we need to do to make it right and be freed from feelings of guilt and brought back into a close relationship with others and YHUH again.
Second, we must humble ourselves. We must acknowledge that our understanding of what’s fair and right, our feelings, do not trump the Word of YHUH. We must be willing to accept His rulings in our situation, that they are for our benefit, not for our destruction, and apply them to our lives.
Third, confess. We must confess our sin when He opens our eyes to see that we have sinned, or are in sin. Confession is the opposite of blaming other people or making excuses for our sin. Failure to acknowledge the sins of our past is not confessing them. We cannot skip this step and go on to forgiveness. Confession is the first step in the repentance and forgiveness process. If we don’t acknowledge any guilt in a matter, we’re probably going to fall into the same sin again, because we are still trying to deceive ourselves and others about whether we have done anything wrong. When others hear us confess wrong-doing and our desire to turn from it, it restores trust in our relationships. Relationships are often destroyed because someone was afraid to admit they were wrong. That’s usually all people need to hear to heal and forgive – an admission of guilt and a desire and commitment to undo what we’ve done in whatever way we are able, whether that’s paying a long overdue debt, honoring someone we’ve dishonored, telling the truth after we’ve lied, returning a stolen watch – or a stolen wife and kids.
Which leads me to the next step – repentance. We must turn away from the sin that’s been revealed to us. If we realize we are in a forbidden sexual relationship (whether homosexual, or adulterous), a sexual relationship that should never have come to be in the first place – we must end it. In the case of a pre-marital sexual relationship, however, it’s often best for a man to get the father’s consent and follow through with marrying her as soon as possible, to take away everyone’s feeling of shame and embarrassment in the matter.
Lastly, we seek forgiveness from the one(s) we have sinned against, and make sure we don’t betray them or anyone else in this way again. If a man has had relations with a young woman before engagement or marriage, he should make things right by ending the sexual relationship and beginning the proper steps toward marriage to her, if the father is willing to give her to him in marriage, and if they are equally yoked in YHUH. He’s not only sinned against the woman, himself, and YHUH, but also against her family, especially her father. No man would want his daughter stolen out from under him, so we should treat others as we would like to be treated. Such a man might argue that the woman is not marriage material if she had sex before marriage. I would argue that he wasn’t marriage material either when he decided to have marital relations with a woman he was not married to. They’d probably be an equal yoke if they both consented to sex before marriage. He was an equal party in causing her to feel shame, he needs to be an equal partner in removing her shame, restoring her hope for a family, and being a husband to her after he used her as if he had marital rights to her. It’s called being responsible, and taking responsibility for your mistakes, making restitution, making things right where you’ve wronged.
I recently heard the story of General Zachary Taylor who had a subordinate named, Jefferson Davis, who fell in love with the General’s daughter. When General Taylor refused to give them his blessing to marry, the couple defied her father and wed out of state, and the bride didn’t have either of her parents attending her wedding. Within 3 months both the bride and groom would contract Malaria, the bride to never recover. Both the father and groom would lose their beloved daughter and bride, named Sarah Knox Taylor. This is a testimony that a father should not disallow a marriage without Biblical reason, like an unequal yoke, and a man should not steal away a man’s daughter when the Bible gives a father the right to deny the union, lest neither man have her. What YHUH has put together, let no man separate. Let not a suitor steal a daughter from her father, and let not a father keep apart a match made in heaven.
How Do We Obtain Forgiveness?
Many people think they should receive forgiveness after confessing their sin, and that’s all they must do. They just need to insincerely say they are sorry and move on. We’ve all heard people apologize, or confess a sin, and then later walk it back and go on to make excuses or deny a sin was committed. This is their attitude: “We’re all sinners. So what? Like you’ve never sinned? I’m no more wicked than anyone else. Let me do what I want to do. I can please my flesh as much as I want, God still loves me because I love Him and I sometimes go to church and sing about how much I love Jesus and I pray to him sometimes and tell people how much I love him. He died so I can be happy and because He loves me as the sinner I am and doesn’t expect me to change.” When I hear this attitude, the Words of Yahusha come to mind, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:5 and “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…” John 14:21 and “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings”… John 14:24 Also: “Not everyone that saith unto me, “Lord, Lord”, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 and “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46, and But he shall say, “I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” Luke 13:27
Workers of iniquity are people who sin. Iniquity is sin. What is sin? Sin is breaking His commandments, His laws, in the Old Testament. 1 John 3:4. Just because someone calls Him their Master, their Adon, their Lord, doesn’t mean they prove He’s really their Master with their actions. It’s called lip service. A woman can say she loves her husband all she wants, she can flatter him with her words and confess her loyalty for life, but if she turns around and breaks her marriage covenant by seducing or allowing herself to be seduced by another man, while her first husband is still alive, that’s sinning against him, that’s not love, that’s disloyalty. A loving wife is faithful to keep the marriage covenant, whether he keeps it or not, and both Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 and 10 state that the New Covenant was the Old Testament Law, the marriage covenant, being placed on Israel’s heart, in her mind, to keep it. If we REALLY love our Savior, our Messiah, we will do what the Old Testament and New Testament, our marriage covenant, says. We must demonstrate that we believe our husband WILL keep his vows, even when it doesn’t seem like that’s the case, just like we must wait on YHUH to fulfill His promises to us, even if it doesn’t look like He’s going to do it right now.
When Yahusha defended the woman accused of adultery in John 8 by telling her accusers that the one without sin should cast the first stone, He wasn’t telling her she could go on sinning. He told her in verse 11, “Go, and sin no more.” He forbid her from sinning anymore. He had asked her where her accusers went, as they had all left, not one could cast a stone because they all had sin. In fact, their accusation was sinful, because it was not in accordance with the law to punish also the man she committed adultery with. Some speculate that maybe they caught her in the act of the sin (verse 4) because they were the ones she committed the sin with, and they sought to kill her so that they would not be found out, it was their word against hers. We don’t know for certain, but Yahusha said that, because she now had no accusers, He does not condemn her. She left without punishment, not because He doesn’t believe in punishment for sin, but because His Law says in the Old Testament that the ones accused of the act of adultery must be caught in the act before the death sentence can be carried out. There must be at least 2 eye witnesses accusing that are ready to cast the first stone. Her accusers couldn’t do it because they knew they needed to repent themselves. Deuteronomy 17:5-7, Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22, and Numbers 5:13. If she was caught in the act, they should know who the man was who she committed adultery with. He would be guilty of adultery, as well. Yahusha’s Law in the Old Testament says that BOTH must be killed by the accusers, the witnesses. One guilty party can’t be killed unless the other guilty party is also killed. You can’t convict one and let the other go. YHUH doesn’t like partiality. Deuteronomy 1:16-17, James 2:4, 1 Timothy 5:21, Proverbs 28:21.
Repentance, turning away from the sin, comes before forgiveness. See Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3, Luke 24:47. When we continue to sin as believers in Him, it’s like causing Him to be crucified for our sins over and over again. Hebrews 6:6. It’s trampling upon Him and His blood and making his death void, worth nothing. Hebrews 10:28-30. Confessing and continuing in the sin and “pleading the blood of Jesus” will not remove the sin. Yahusha’s blood washes away our sin by softening our hard hearts, putting his law in our hearts, so that we won’t desire to sin (Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 10:16-17), so that we are compelled to turn from our sin. Sin is not removed or washed away if we are still committing the sin. The sin and its stains are still there in that case. If one continues to murder while confessing belief in Messiah, that person is staining himself with more blood, still sinning, not cleansing himself of the sin by washing himself in Yahusha’s blood. If we sin willfully after knowing the truth of Messiah Yahusha and His Word, there remains no sacrifice for our sins. We only have fear of judgment and fiery heat to look forward to. Hebrews 10:26-27. Under Moses and the Old Testament, when one sinned against the Law, with the testimony of two to three witnesses, they were killed without mercy. The New Testament teaches that the punishment is even worse for New Covenant believers who trample on the blood of Yahusha, who continue to sin, who continue to break the Law of the Old Testament, considering His blood unholy. Hebrews 10:29-30. When we confess our sins and turn from them, taking responsibility for them, then others will be compelled to do the same, and avoid them if them if they haven’t committed them already. Let’s be an example, as Messiah is our example, part of the solution, not the problem.
How can we be sure we understand what adultery is, so that we don’t do it, so that we can confess and repent of it if we discover we’ve done it in the past? The key to understanding adultery is to study what the Bible teaches about marriage and pray for understanding. Don’t go to a divorced pastor or rabbi for advice on marriage covenants, or someone who you feel might tell you want you want to hear, who will tickle your ears to keep you happy and paying tithes to him. Go straight to the source – the Bible, and do what it says. Go to blueletterbible.com or a concordance and look up all the verses containing words about marriage, divorce, adultery, remarriage, betrothal, etc… If we understand what MAKES a marriage, we can understand what BREAKS it, and vice versa. I first learned what adultery was by learning what it WASN’T.
Is Pre-Marital Sex Adultery?
I was once confused about adultery. I thought that having sex before marriage makes one guilty of adultery. I thought sex before marriage was sinning against a future, unknown spouse. Apparently, I thought one could break one’s marriage vows before ever making them. I wasn’t a student of the Bible when I came to that conclusion. I had never read most of the Bible at that point. I was a teenager. Once in my thirties, after having a couple of decades of Bible study and almost a decade of marriage under my belt, I started hearing some people challenging that conclusion I had come to. It provoked me to take a closer look.
Through intense, spirit-led Bible study one night, the revelation came that sex before betrothal/engagement (not marriage) is fornication, it’s unchastity, it’s a sexual sin, but it’s not adultery, and I’ve even more recently realized that sex before marriage doesn’t require a death penalty like adultery does. Every mention of adultery in the Bible, that I have been able to find, has to do with what happens after betrothal/engagement (not marriage). The Bible says that to establish any matter (including what constitutes adultery) we must have at least 2-3 witnesses. See Deuteronomy 17:6, Matthew 18:6, and 2 Corinthians 13:1. I could not find two or three witnesses, or even one, that sex before marriage or engagement is adultery. I then had to lay that belief down, as I did find ample evidence that established that a covenant/agreement/oath of marriage between a male groom and a female bride had to exist for adultery to apply. Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:13-29, Jeremiah 29:23, Hosea 4:13-14, Ezekiel 16:32, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:3
The Difference Between Adultery and Other types of Fornication
Adultery is a specific type of fornication, one involving the breaking of a marriage covenant, or marital unfaithfulness. One cannot be guilty of adultery if they have never entered a marriage covenant, or agreed to, UNLESS they have had sexual relations with someone who was already in a marriage covenant, and even engaged to someone else. All acts of adultery are fornication, but not all acts of fornication are adultery. For example, beastiality is a type of sexual sin (Leviticus 18:23, Exodus 22:19), a type of fornication, but it’s not adultery, although the penalty for this sin is death. Incest, or having sex with a close relative, forbidden in Leviticus 18 and 1 Corinthians 5:1, is a type of fornication with a death penalty, but it’s not adultery. Homosexuality is not adultery, although it is a type of fornication that calls for the death penalty. It seems that all types of fornication, EXCEPT sex between a man and a woman who are not in a marriage covenant with each other or someone else, requires the death penalty. See Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:24-28, 1 Timothy 1:8-10, Genesis 19:1-38. By understanding what adultery ISN’T, we can better understand what it IS. This does not mean it’s okay to have sex before marriage. Read on to find out the consequences of that sin, according to Scripture.
At What Point Does a Woman or Man Become Bound in a Marriage Covenant?
WARNING: It’s PROBABLY not what you think!
I was once confused on this question, too. I don’t believe I am alone. I thought a woman or man could break their engagement for any reason, at any time, no harm, no foul, as long as they did it before they said “I do”, on their traditional, modern, wedding day. Until then, I thought there was no marriage covenant. I’ve since learned that’s not the case. The night I discovered I was wrong about sex before marriage being adultery, it was also revealed to me at what point adultery CAN happen, and at what point the Bible considers a couple to be “married” – husband and wife. I saw Deuteronomy 22:12-29 in a new light, especially verses 23-24. For the first time, when reading this after sincere prayer, I saw that it said that a VIRGIN that is BETROTHED is called her fiancé’s WIFE, and he is called her HUSBAND, even though she’s a VIRGIN, and they are still only ENGAGED! Did you catch that? Even though they have not had sex, and they are only engaged, they are called husband and wife! That means there is some degree of a marriage covenant already when a couple becomes engaged!
Some might argue that the Hebrew words for husband and wife can also be translated as man and woman. Yes, but even if we use those words instead, it calls her HIS WOMAN, and calls him HER MAN, still indicating they are committed and bound to one another. Further evidence that an engaged couple has entered into a marriage covenant is found further on in Deuteronomy 22, which goes on to say that a man who rapes or lies with this engaged virgin – he is guilty of ADULTERY and deserves DEATH, because he has had sexual relations with another man’s WIFE/WOMAN! This is very different from the man who lies with, seduces, or rapes a virgin who is NOT ENGAGED to be married to any man, in Deuteronomy 22:28-29. A man who seduces or lies with a woman who is NOT ENGAGED is NOT GUILTY of ADULTERY, though he is guilty of fornication, and he does not face the death penalty if she’s not engaged to another man. This passage in Deuteronomy 22 lays the foundation to help us understand at what point a marriage covenant begins to take place and at what point one can become an adulterer or adulteress.
The Purpose of Engagement
My husband and I became best friends while attending church and Bible study together. We fell in love in a matter of months, and had a two-week engagement. The only reason we waited that long was because we met and married in England and it was the law there that a couple that planned to marry had to announce their wedding plans publicly two weeks before the wedding in order to first make sure there are no objections to the marriage. We once wondered why people have such long engagements. There was NO way my husband could wait a year or longer once YHUH convinced him he should marry me! It’s a good thing we didn’t have a father standing in the way, voicing disapproval, and it’s a good thing my husband had been saving money that wound up taking care of wedding expenses like my engagement and wedding ring, my wedding dress, the wedding supper, and my debts incurred while in college!
I now see why the two-week waiting period that England required was started. It would have prevented a biblically forbidden marriage, and notified affected parties, like a bride’s father, or a first or second husband, for example, if secrecy and deception was going on. If the man or woman had a history of fornication or adultery, the fiancé could be warned before consummating a forbidden marriage and starting a family with the individual.
Another good reason for an engagement period is so that the groom can get his finances together for a bride price/engagement ring/jewelry/gifts for the bride’s family (to persuade the father or closest male relative to allow him to marry her), as well as other wedding expenses and a home for the bride, if his father doesn’t pay for these things. The bride’s father and family want to know that the groom can afford to provide for her, and that he is willing to work to do so. We see in the Bible that Jacob was empty handed when he got to Laban’s. According to the Book of Jasher, Chapter 29, Esau’s son, Eliphaz, was after Jacob on his way to Laban’s and stole from Jacob what Isaac, his father, had given him for a bride price. Because he now had nothing to offer her or her family for her, he now had to work for seven years for each wife, and another six years for a flock to support them, whereas in Isaac’s case, Abraham had sent Eliezer with ten camels loaded down with gifts to pay for Rebecca to be brought back to Isaac’s tent right away. Isaac’s wife was paid for with “cash” up front, while Jacob went into debt and servant-hood to his father-in-law for his two brides and his flock. Genesis says what convinced them to go with him was not their marriage covenant with him, nor their love for him, or even the fact that he was the father of all of their children, but the fact that they, Jacob, and their children, now had all that their father had now spent, because Jacob earned it and YHUH had blessed him. There was now no financial reason for them to stay with their father, Laban.
What if a woman’s suitor cannot afford her price? The Bible is clear it is better for them to go ahead and marry (as long as they are equally yoked, it is a marriage permitted by the Law in YHUH, and the father is willing) than for either of them to burn with lust and sin just because he doesn’t have his finances together yet. 1 Corinthians 7:36-37. Not every man has the faith, patience, self-control, and love for his wife that Jacob had, to be willing and able to wait 7 years for her. Yah forbid she become a harlot in her impatience for a husband. However, it also says that the father does have the right to refuse to allow her to marry him. Please, fathers, if you refuse to let your son or daughter marry, or you make them wait, let it be for the right reasons. Don’t tempt your sons and daughters to sin by putting burdens on them that YHUH doesn’t, before allowing them to marry. Nowhere does the Bible say that a child must first finish college or have a good career established before marrying. These are not the things we should focus on to determine if they are equally yoked, or if it would be a marriage in YHUH. Abraham certainly didn’t finish college. Can you imagine Laban telling Eliezer that he could not allow Rebecca to marry Isaac until after Rebecca finished college?! A young lady was never expected to provide for herself financially until she married. She wasn’t kicked out of the house without a man to protect her from sexual predators and harassers in the schools and work places. We certainly have gotten our priorities backwards!
Rape vs. Seduction
News flash – a rapist is not any worse than a seducer, biblically speaking, when comparing the consequences for the crimes. A rapist faces no harsher punishment than a seducer, a rapist just doesn’t have a willing and deceived partner in the same crime, the crime being fornication, which is any sexual relations outside of a Biblical marriage covenant. I was horrified when I first realized that, not only does the Bible not call for a rapists life, but he’s not treated any worse than a seducer, or boyfriend. Now I realize how just the Bible is in this, and also how twisted my thinking once was, how twisted society is today, to think that the seducer, who has a willing partner in crime, is any better than a rapist. Either way, the man has committed a sexual sin, he’s stolen her virginity, whether he had a willing and deceived partner in the crime or not. How many men have been guilty of seducing/enticing/deceiving a virgin or taking a woman’s virginity without ever marrying her, leading her on to think that he loves her and that marriage MIGHT POSSIBLY be on the horizon IF she does what pleases him? Exodus 22:16 According to Scripture, these seducers are no better than the rapist. They still take/steal what does not belong to them, whether it’s by force or deception.
There IS a price to pay for the sin of raping or seducing a virgin of Israel, however – to the bride, the father, and YHUH. Animal sacrifices were always required for sin, as part of the process to make atonement and come back into right relationship with YHUH and man, for forgiveness of sin. There are additional things the man must do to reconcile his sin and demonstrate to others that he is repentant. He does not deserve death, as he did not commit adultery, so he is to pay the bride price of a virgin (50 shekels of silver/7 years of labor?) to the father of the woman, and IF the father is willing to give her in marriage to him (Exodus 22:16-17), the man is required to marry her, provide food, clothing, and marital relations, and he can never divorce her since he took her virginity before betrothing her to himself. This requirement for the man to marry her is to protect the woman, not punish her. Marriage to him can take her shame away and her feelings of being damaged goods, her concern about being undesirable, her guilt about not remaining a virgin for her husband. If he seduced her, and she gave him her virginity, she probably loved him anyway. If he pays her price and marries her after seducing her, she now feels valued because her husband was willing to pay the price of a virgin for her. He didn’t use her and then discard her like she had no worth. A man who pays a dowry joyfully is a man who recognizes the treasure his new wife is, and more likely to be a man who really loves her, to be willing to pay that amount for her. He will treat her better than someone who pays nothing and sees no value in his wife. If the man goes through this process, if he does not refuse to pay the bride price and marry her, if he confesses his sin and owns up to it, offers his sacrifice for his sin and seeks forgiveness and reconciliation, it shows that he is repentant, and may be a good husband to her, after all.
A good father, even back then, would never give her in marriage to an unrepentant man the father suspects would be a bad husband, especially if his daughter did not want to marry him. It was always in the father’s best interest to consider the daughter’s desires for a husband, because it was even more shameful to have a daughter who was not a loving wife or was unfaithful in her marriage than to have a daughter that was unmarried. A good father would want his daughter to be happy and consenting in her marriage, knowing it would last until one of them died, and that children would likely come from that union.
Does Sex Make a Couple Married in light of 1 Corinthians 6:16?
Interpreting 1 Corinthians 6:16 to say that sex makes people married would set Paul up to be contradicting Deuteronomy 22 and 24, as well as Numbers 30, which say otherwise, because Deuteronomy and Numbers 30 teach the father must either give consent or hold his peace, for marriage to take place. In a perfect world, sex would only occur between a married couple, one being male, the other female. It would be a beautiful picture of a man and woman, a husband and wife, literally becoming united into one flesh. That’s how it’s supposed to be for believers, as 1 Corinthians 6:16 is explaining, a mature, true believer in Messiah and the Law would never argue it’s okay for a man to have marital relations with a woman he is not married to, so it’s a good example, a good analogy, even for those who like to twist and ignore the Scriptures and look for a justification for theirs and others’ promiscuous sins, to explain how we shouldn’t have fellowship with, or be yoked with, unbelievers. Let’s look closer at this scripture they claim is saying that sex equals marriage:
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 1 Corinthians 6:16
Let’s first define a harlot, biblically. In every instance I’ve found in the Bible, a harlot is a married OR ENGAGED woman who commits adultery, and breaks her marriage covenant. The Hebrew word for harlot is zanah. It’s the same Hebrew word for adulteress. While I used to think a harlot was any woman who is promiscuous or unchaste, or a prostitute, I have more recently noticed that only an engaged or married woman is ever called a harlot in the Bible. There are no scriptural witnesses that establish a harlot can be a woman that is not in some sort of marriage covenant. There is not one example in the Bible of an unmarried, or unbetrothed woman ever being called a harlot, that I’ve found. A woman who plays the harlot in her father’s house is a woman that commits adultery while betrothed/engaged, and still living in her father’s house, and waiting for the rest of the marriage process to be completed.
Read the context of Deuteronomy 22. Also, in Genesis 38:24, Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, is accused of playing the harlot, that she’s with child by harlotry. They are actually accusing her of adultery, because Genesis 38:11 and 38:26 agree that Judah promised her that she would be given in marriage to his son, Shelah, when he was grown. She was engaged, betrothed, promised to Shelah. She was in a marriage covenant, that’s why she keeps being referred to as Judah’s daughter-in-law. When her previous two husbands died, her marriage covenant with them also died, so it was her betrothal to Shelah, the third son, that made her Judah’s daughter-in-law. When she presented Judah with the identity of the one she sinned with, he realized he could not kill her for her sin of adultery/harlotry, because he, himself, was not without sin, as he was the one who fathered the children in her womb. He said she was more righteous than he was, because he did not keep his promise to give her to his son, which resulted in their shared, sexual sin of adultery/harlotry, even having sexual relations with his own son’s wife. Judah expected Tamar to be faithful to Shelah, and live as a widow until Shelah was old enough to take her to wife, but as soon as Judah finished mourning his dead wife, he sought out a prostitute. That’s quite the double standard which was made clear to him when he sought the death penalty for her sin and realized he was guilty with her of the same sin. He who is without sin, cast the first stone, light the first match. A man can’t judge a woman for adultery if he is the one she committed harlotry/adultery with.
Really, the context of 1 Corinthians 6:16, the man who joins himself to a harlot becoming one with her, is Paul speaking of the sexual sin of the man in their congregation who was sleeping with his father’s wife, which Paul addressed in the previous chapter. He told them in Chapter 5 to put that sinner out of the congregation, that a little leaven leavens the whole lump, that they should not have fellowship or even eat with such a person that calls himself a brother and a believer. Paul’s reference to a man being one with the harlot is referring to this man who had a sexual union with his father’s wife. He’s not saying he’s now married to his father’s wife, or that she’s now married to both the father and his son. She can’t have two husbands at once. He’s saying that the man sleeping with his father’s wife is one with her in sin. Stop sinning and stay away from those who tempt you to sin. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Bad company corrupts good character. You become who you hang around with. What fellowship does light have with darkness? Do not try to fellowship with darkness lest that darkness extinguish the little light you have. Do not be unequally yoked. Do not commit adultery. Turn away from sin, don’t cling to it in a forbidden “marriage” or a forbidden sexual relationship and then twist Paul’s words in an attempt to justify your sins! Genesis 38:26 says that Judah never knew (had sexual relations) with Tamar again. When you realize you have committed adultery, or any sexual sin, the way you repent is by ending the sexual relationship, you don’t claim sex made you married so you can continue in the sin. Paul uses the example of sex in 1 Corinthians 6 to explain why we should not continue to sin and use our new freedom from sin as an excuse to sin, or break the law, sexually, or otherwise. If a man is calling himself a follower of Messiah, and is joining himself with an adulteress, it’s obvious to true believers that he’s more committed and joined to that sinful sexual relationship than he is to Messiah. If he was really a follower of Messiah, he’d quit the sinful sexual relationship that Messiah condemns and follow Messiah instead. A union with beginnings in adultery is not a marriage in YHUH, it’s forbidden. It’s unlawful and must be ended.
A marriage covenant requires and involves vows between a man and a woman. Adultery is a violation of marriage vows, a sexual act that occurs between a man and a woman, which results in a defiled woman who can no longer have sexual relations with her own husband because she was defiled by another man while in a marriage covenant. (Numbers 5:13-14). Even if a married or betrothed woman is raped, she is no longer permissible for her husband or future husband, she and the marriage bed are now defiled. (Numbers 5, Deuteronomy 24:4, 1 Chronicles 5:1, Ezekiel 18:6, 11, and 15, Hebrews 13:4, and Genesis 49:4.) 2 Samuel 16:21-22 and Samuel 20:3 say that David never slept with his wives again after his son Absalom defiled them. David provided for them as a good husband should, but the women lived separated from him as widows from then on. However, if a woman has sexual relations or is raped before becoming betrothed/married, there are no laws in Torah that forbid her from marrying. Like the widow, she’s not a virgin, and is not bound in a marriage covenant with another man, so she’s free to marry, as long as it’s a marriage in YHUH and her father or the closest male relative whose home she lives in allows it. Yet, the husband must be made aware she is not a virgin, that must be disclosed, lest he discover it on their wedding night and accuse her of adultery. He should not be deceived or led to believe he’s marrying a virgin. For her protection, there should be witnesses that he was aware she was not a virgin before betrothal.
If sex makes people married, rather than a verbal agreement, vow, or promise, as some suggest, that would be the opposite of what Deuteronomy 22 is teaching. If sex makes people married, that would mean the rapist is now the betrothed virgin’s husband, not her fiancé, because the engaged man has never had sex with his virgin, but the rapist, or seducer, has. In that case, the rapist is not guilty of adultery, does not deserve death, because having sex with her made her his wife. Obviously, sex does not make people married, because Deuteronomy 22 says the fiancé is her husband, the one who has NOT had sexual relations with his virgin. Exodus 22 tells us the father can refuse to give his daughter in marriage to the rapist or seducer. If the father can refuse, that contradicts the claim that sex made the rapist/seducer her husband. If sex made them married, there would be no need for the father to give permission. They would have already been married, without her or her father agreeing to it! Rape makes people married? Not according to the Bible! There must be agreement to marriage, an exchange of vows to be faithful and become husband and wife, and even if she agrees, the father can make void her vows, but ONLY if he VERBALLY expresses his disapproval the day he hears of the marriage or plans of the marriage. He can’t invalidate the marriage 3 years later when his daughter regrets her vows, after he agreed to allow the marriage, or after he held his peace when he first heard about their marriage. Numbers 30 gives the timeframe he, AND HER NEW HUSBAND, have to make void her vows, it must be the same day either man hears of her vows.
Matthew 1 and Luke 1 and 2 are more witnesses that sex does not make people married. Matthew 1:18-25 tells us that Mary and Joseph were engaged, (they had not yet completed the marriage process, they were only betrothed) but Joseph, once he knew she was pregnant, thought about divorcing her or putting her away secretly, in alignment with Exodus 24, and in alignment with Yahusha Messiah’s interpretation of Exodus 24, that a man cannot divorce a woman unless she commits adultery/harlotry, aka, finds something “indecent” or “unclean” about her (Deuteronomy 24:1).
Joseph probably thought Mary had become defiled by another man in adultery, or maybe she was raped. Might I point out what I missed so many times when I read and heard this story before? Joseph would not need to divorce or put away a woman he was not already in some type of marriage covenant with! If engagement wasn’t part of the marriage covenant, then there would be no need for Joseph to consider divorce. If sex makes people married, rather than vows, then why would Joseph need to consider DIVORCING his betrothed VIRGIN? The angel assured him it was okay to take her to wife (go onto the next layer/step towards confirming the marriage), and he did, but it goes on to say that happened AFTER MARRYING HER/going further into the marriage process, after the wedding ceremony and the wedding feast, he still did not have marital relations with her until after the baby was born! If sex makes people married, then they wouldn’t have been married until after they had sex, and there would have been no need for Joseph to consider divorce, or putting her away. It does appear that there are layers of a marriage covenant. Hence, why Joseph was told it was okay to take her to wife after he was already considering divorce, or putting her away quietly.
Does the Spilling of Blood Begin the Covenant? Is it Required for a Marriage to be Legit?
No. In the case of a virgin’s wedding, there will likely be blood spilled the first time they have marital relations, but if the bride is not a virgin because she was molested as a child, she was raped or seduced outside of a marriage covenant, or if the bride is a widow, there probably won’t be any blood. There are those that suggest that the marriage of a widow or a woman who is not a virgin is not lawful. They say that no blood equals no marriage. On the contrary, Scripture establishes that these women can marry. Ruth, Bathsheba, and Abigail are all examples of such women who married lawfully after their husbands died, who would not have been virgins or shed blood upon consummating marriages with their second husbands. Of course, we know Ruth became an ancestor to both King David and Messiah Yahusha. That was obviously a legit marriage she had with Boaz. Leviticus 21 states that the high priest was required to only marry a virgin. He could not marry a widow, but the other priests could marry a widow, as they were not required to marry virgins only, as the High Priest was. In Ezekiel 44:22, the Zadokite priests are stated to only be able to marry widows of Priests, whether they were widows of men of the tribes of Benjamin or Levi, in either case, these widows would not shed blood on their wedding night as a virgin would. Whether or not a woman is a virgin does not determine whether she can ever marry, it has more to do with her vows, whether it’s an equal yoke in YHUH according to Torah, and the permission/blessing/agreement of the father, male relative, or slave owner.
Marriage Vows According to Numbers 30
Numbers 30 gives us instructions about vows. Vows would include wedding vows, but other types of vows, as well, such as Nazarite vows, which women were allowed to make. It explains that the only person who has authority to make void a woman’s vows is the man whose house she lives in, usually either her father or the new husband. I suppose that may be one reason a wife or daughter living in her father’s house could not establish her own vows might be because she probably would not own her own cattle that would need to be offered in the case that she needs to sacrifice an animal in the event she breaks a vow and sins. She can’t offer her husband’s or father’s animal for a vow if he doesn’t agree to that. Regardless of the reason, YHUH said she cannot establish her own vows while in her father’s house or while married and living with her husband. That’s the way it is, and it’s for her own good, to release her of that responsibility.
In some cases, the woman may not have any such man whose home she finds protection and provision in, she may find herself in slavery, in this case, the slave owner may marry her or give her in marriage to his son, or another servant, as explained in Exodus 21. She may live in a close male relative’s care, like Esther with her cousin, Mordecai. This way, she can have a family who treats her according to Torah law/love, and be safe from rapists, murderers, thieves, etc… Nowhere does the Torah state that a political government, or even a priest, judge, or member of the Sanhedrin has authority to determine whether a woman’s marriage vows stand or not, who she can or cannot be given in marriage to, or who can or cannot make those marital vows of no effect. Numbers 30 not only tells us who has authority to confirm or make void her vows, but also, in what timeframe the father and husband have authority to confirm or deny her vows. Both the new husband and the father (or slave owner or other male relative) can only confirm or deny them the same day they hear of it. Ever wonder why there is a tradition on the wedding day for the priest to ask if there is anyone who objects to the marriage, that they must “Speak now or forever hold your peace”? It’s because the father can object if he’s only hearing of her vows to marry the groom for the first time that day. If he approves, he holds his peace. If he voices his disapproval, he can make the marriage invalid. There is also a tradition in weddings for the father to walk the bride down the aisle and give her hand to the groom, symbolizing that he has consented to the marriage.
What if She’s Not Living in Her Father’s House When She Makes Her Vow?
There are widows and divorced women that may make a vow (not necessarily a marriage vow, but could be) while not under a father’s or a husband’s authority and provision, not living in a father’s or husband’s house. These women are responsible for their own words and deeds, just as men are. See Numbers 30:9. We also see this with Ruth and Abigail, they were both widowed and it appears they accepted marriage and made vows to a new husband without first returning to the homes of their fathers and getting their father’s approval.
I was raised without a biological father in the home. I had several step-fathers that came and went. I had no father to give his blessing or deny it when I accepted my husband’s marriage proposal. To women in the position I was in, I say, Our Heavenly Father gives us single, fatherless women guidance on who He wants for us, and who He forbids us to marry. He says we shall not be unequally yoked, or yoked with an unbeliever.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14
A believing Christian should never marry an atheist, or a person of another faith who does not believe in Christ. Don’t even enter such unions. However, if you became a Christian after marriage, and your husband hasn’t put his faith in Christ yet, 1 Corinthians 7 gives us the following instructions:
To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If a brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him go. The believing brother or sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:10-15
Wives – if he leaves, or if there is no peace, remain single at least until he dies. Do not break your marriage covenant with him and jump into another with another man. It won’t be a covenant blessed by YHUH. That’s not faithfulness. It will defile you, and if you ever reconcile with your first husband, even if your second husband dies, you can never be physically intimate with the first again, even if you have children together. You can be a help meet, but intimacy is forbidden, lest he be defiled as you were, due to adultery. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) Your children will also struggle to forgive your sin, the same way you struggled to forgive your first husband’s imperfections. Christ forgives us when we forgive others. Forgive your spouse and remain faithful. You’ll be glad you did.
It’s hard to find a verse that addresses the situation that modern women working outside the home find themselves in today. Parents are complicating and making the subject confusing for us all when they encourage their daughters to leave the nest before marriage, and sometimes, even kick the daughter out if she tries to stay longer than the parents want her to. It doesn’t appear that it was ever intended for a woman to voluntarily live in or find herself in such a situation. It was considered rebellion if a young woman or man left home before marriage. Once they were married, then they would leave father and mother and cling to the spouse. (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7, and Ephesians 5:31.)
Remember the story of the prodigal son? The son in REBELLION, left the father’s house and went out and got jobs and served the gentiles after he spent all of his inheritance living the wrong way, the inheritance his father worked so hard to be able to give him, and that son returned to the father’s home once he was repentant, and the father was glad to welcome him home. The loyal, faithful, obedient son remained in the father’s house, he didn’t sit in the basement and play video games or attend college parties on campus. He helped the father with the father’s financial affairs, which multiplied and increased his own future inheritance. He did the father’s will rather than his own, and counted that more important and better than living the way his brother did, when the prodigal son realized he was better off in his father’s house, even if he was just his father’s hired servant.
Young single women didn’t just go out and get a job or go off to college. If a woman did, she would have likely been considered a woman looking for trouble. If she found herself divorced or fatherless, she could seek out a male relative for refuge or sell herself into slavery where she might be taken or given in marriage. Either way, she would now have a man to take responsibility for the vows she might make while under his roof, so that she, herself, would not be responsible for the vows she made before she was mature and ready to be, before she understood the consequences of not keeping her vows.
What if a man and young woman who does live in her father’s house tell her father they are getting married without asking for his permission? This happens a lot these days. It stands if the father holds his peace, but they aren’t free to marry if the father voices his objection when he hears of their plans. If he disallows it, or voices his disapproval, it would not be a marriage in YHUH, and she would not be required or allowed to keep her agreement of the engagement, she would not need to fulfill her agreement to seal and confirm and keep the marriage covenant with that man, as her father would not allow it.
What if they run off and elope anyway, against the father’s objections? They are in sin. It’s basically like the man seduced the young woman and stole her from her father, without paying the bride price to the father. She could at any point leave the man and return to the father’s house, and she would not be responsible, because her father disallowed her vows to the man the day he heard of them, while she was still in her father’s house. She would then be free to marry a man her father consented to give her in marriage to. That said, a father can never consent to a marriage and then change his mind and give her in marriage to someone else. Let your yes, be yes, and your no, be no. Men are required to keep their word, they cannot change their minds, according to Numbers 30, Matthew 5:37 (let it be noted this verse follows Yahusha’s teachings against divorce and remarriage because it does pertain to marriage vows, and keeping them) and James 5:12, because a man changing his mind is considered a liar, see Numbers 23:19-20.
What if her father does not know they are getting married until the wedding day, or after? If he holds his peace and does not reject her vows on the day he hears of it, no matter how long it is after the vows are made, he confirms the vows. Even if it’s years later when he hears of it, though, he can still make her marriage vows void if he voices disapproval the day he hears of her verbal commitment to a man.
Fiancé or Husband? Fianceé or Wife?
So we learn from Deuteronomy 22:24 that an engaged woman is called her fiancé’s wife, and he is called her husband, which suggests a marriage bond/covenant is already established, even though they are still engaged, and have not had marital/sexual relations. It’s further confirmed that there is a marriage covenant existent here, by the penalty deserving death for the rapist of a betrothed virgin, that of adultery, sex with another man’s wife, contrasted by the man who rapes or seduces the virgin who is not engaged to be married, and is not given the death penalty, rather is required to pay the father the bride price of a virgin and marry her, if the father is willing to give her in marriage to him. There appears to be layers in a marriage covenant, steps one takes to confirm and seal the covenant that began with the marriage proposal and its acceptance, often called engagement or betrothal.
Betrothal and Additional Layers of Marriage
The first layer of a marriage covenant is laid with an engagement, betrothal, promise, or agreement to enter that covenant. A husband proposes that a marriage covenant be made, the bride and her father accept such a proposal, and so the marriage process has begun. That bride is now set-apart for that husband. Once this phase happens, there is already a marriage covenant, it’s just not completed yet. That said, it’s already considered adultery/unfaithfulness, if, from this point on, the betrothed woman lies with another man while engaged. While they are yet engaged, the Bible says he is already called her husband, and she is called his wife. This is established in Deuteronomy 22:24. This means that many bachelor and bachelorette parties and the customs that go along with such parties have started those marriages off in adultery. This tradition, also called a stag party in some countries, or bucks party, is believed by some to have come from an ancient Celtic pagan custom in worship to a god with antlers, or the “Horned God”. Satanic, right? However, in the Testimony of Judah, found in The Testimony of the Twelve Patriarchs, in Chapter 2, verses 22 and 23, speaking of Judah’s encounter with his daughter-in-law, Tamar, it says it was a law of the Amorites that she who was about to marry should dress in bridal array and sit in fornication by the gates for seven days. This is much like the modern bachelorette party in the US where the bride dons her wedding veil and is led out on the town and encouraged to do things that are unmentionable with strange men in the city, usually the weekend before the wedding ceremony.
The second layer of marriage (which comes on a later date), the wedding ceremony, comes with another public verbal confirmation of the agreement to the terms of the covenant, and establishing that they are going to follow through on keeping the covenant they already agreed to enter when they became betrothed on a previous date. A public declaration of marital vows is witnessed by at least 2 others at the wedding ceremony. Nothing can be established without at least 2 witnesses, including a marriage. Today, society usually erroneously considers this to be the wedding day, and the day they become husband and wife, instead of just a ceremony reestablishing, celebrating, and declaring again the marriage that came into existence at the betrothal on an earlier date.
Later (often the same day) comes more, additional layers of the marriage covenant, including the marriage covenant meal celebration, or reception, followed by the sealing in the blood, or consummation with sexual marital relations further confirming their public declaration of marriage and faithfulness.
Exodus 19:1-8 is a valuable lesson teaching us at what point Israel entered covenant with YHUH – when YHUH proposed the terms of the covenant once they reached Mount Sinai, and Israel first agreed to do all her Heavenly Husband (or fiancé) would command her. See Verse 8 especially, for this evidence. At this point, they were betrothed, and the marriage week with the covenant meal and the sealing of the covenant with the blood all happened in the rest of that week of seven days. Exodus 24, especially verses 3, 7-8, 11, and 16. The Genesis 29:27-28 mention of “her week” seems to support the idea of a marriage week, which many today call a “honeymoon”.
What About the Death Penalty for the One Who Plays the Harlot in Her Father’s House, and the Death Penalty for Adultery? How Does a Father Cause His Daughter to be a Harlot/Whore/Adulteress as mentioned in Leviticus 19:29? How can a woman be an adulteress if she “may” remarry or become another man’s “wife”, as mentioned in Deuteronomy 24:
To answer the first question, about the death penalty for adultery and/or playing the harlot in her father’s house, it all depends on what happens after betrothal. Even then, there are conditions that must be met before the death penalty can be enforced for adultery. Yes, even in cases of adultery there are situations that do not call for the death penalty, for example, Numbers 5. The wife is cursed after she drinks the bitter waters if it be found that she was defiled by another man while married to her husband, or while she was engaged and living in her father’s house, as her husband suspected. In this case, she can’t have children once the curse comes upon her, but there’s no death penalty, because the man she committed the sin with is not present to also receive the death penalty with her and they were not caught in the act by two witnesses ready to cast the first stones. Instead of the death penalty, she faces the consequences of trying to hide the fact that she was defiled by another man while married to her husband, a horrible curse comes upon her and she lives in shame, as she should if it’s revealed she tried to conceal her sin from her husband and the priests.
If a husband finds out his fiancée was unfaithful some point after they were betrothed, IF at least two eye witnesses come forth, that SAME day he hears of her unfaithfulness, he can hand her over for judgment, to be killed, IF they also have the other guilty party because they were caught in the act. (Numbers 30, Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22.) Knowing there was a death penalty for the sin, it would be rare that someone would commit it, and even more rare that someone would be caught in the act, and even more rare that there would be at least two eye witnesses willing to come forward and cast the first stones at both the guilty parties. I imagine adultery occurred much less often than it does is in these days, given the heavy consequence and shame involved.
If a man lies with his wife for the first time on their wedding night, and he finds that she is not a maid, not a virgin, because there was no blood, and he accuses her, and her parents have no evidence of her virginity, no proof of blood, then she shall be stoned, as he’s been deceived by her, causing him to be defiled, as well. Her lack of spilled blood and evidence of her unchastity are the witnesses against her. Deuteronomy 22:13-21. If it turns out she’s a virgin, that he lied about her lack of virginity, and the parents have proof of the blood of the virgin, he will be severely chastised for speaking lies against her, he will be required to pay 100 shekels of silver (twice as much as the bride price of a virgin), and it will be established that she is his wife and that he can never divorce her, because her chastity has been proven and he has proven to be a slanderer. In the future, nobody will ever believe that she has committed adultery and that he has grounds for divorce, because she has already been found to be more righteous in word and deed than he is. He’s lying about her so that he can divorce her. According to the Bible, a man can’t marry a virgin and use her and discard her the next day and take another virgin. He can’t wait a decade until he gets tired of his wife and wants to exchange her for a younger one. He can’t just get rid of her by falsely accusing his wife of not being a virgin when they married a year prior. To be a valid accusation of unchastity, not being a virgin upon their wedding night, he must make the accusation the same day he discovers the matter, according to Numbers 30, the day he hears her vows and becomes aware of her unfaithfulness when there was no blood on their wedding night.
If a man finds out his fiancée is not a virgin because she turns out to be pregnant while they are yet engaged, that NORMALLY would be a pretty good indicator she was either raped or guilty of adultery. Either way, she’s defiled and can’t have marital relations with the husband who hasn’t “known” her yet. With the case we read about in Matthew 1 and Luke 1 and 2 with Messiah’s parents, Joseph and Mary, Joseph learned from the angel Gabriel that it was okay to go on to confirm the marriage vows with Mary and take her to wife, because her child was not a result of being with a man, she was not unfaithful and she was not defiled by a man. But that’s not normally the case that the woman’s child is not from a man. In Joseph and Mary’s case, Joseph thought to put her away secretly rather than making a public example of her. The Bible says this was because he was a just man in Matthew 1:19. This verse establishes that this judgement of Joseph would have been a just one according to Torah, and that death for a woman suspected of adultery is not always prescribed if all of the conditions for the death penalty are not met.
Sometimes it’s the father, not the daughter, who causes his daughter to play the harlot. How can that be? We mentioned earlier that a man, a father, specifically, cannot change his mind after agreeing to give his daughter in marriage, just like a man can’t change his mind after he agrees to marry his bride. His word is binding, according to Numbers 30, and there are examples in the Bible of men, fathers, in the Bible, who promised their daughters to certain men and then turned around and gave them to another man. David and Sampson were both deceived by their father-in-law in this way. Both of these men caused their daughters to become adulteresses. So just because the Torah forbids a man breaking his agreement in both the Old and New Testaments, doesn’t mean it never happens.
Likewise, just because a woman is forbidden to marry another man after divorce, while her first husband is still alive, doesn’t mean it never happens. The Torah does address what should and should not happen in both cases. See Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:3. All of these verses testify that if she is divorced from one man and marries another, she becomes an adulteress, and her new “husband” who “married” her, is an adulterer. It says that she is defiled after having relations with the second husband. A widow, unlike the divorced woman, is not defiled by either a first or a second husband. Then what causes a divorced woman to become defiled by the second husband, so that she can’t lie with the first husband again? Her unfaithfulness to her marriage covenant. The fact that a divorced woman’s first husband is still alive is the only difference between her and the widow. Being defiled is never a good thing in the Bible. She broke her vow to be faithful until death departed them (even if he broke the covenant with her first and divorced her without good cause), and now she is not only unacceptable or unclean for her husband, and no longer set apart for him, she is no longer set apart for YHUH. The physical teaches the spiritual. The divorced woman willfully rebelled against her vow to be faithful to her husband for life when she chose to not remain faithful to the first husband. Yes, that means she also committed adultery, even if she was not the one who pursued the divorce, or committed adultery FIRST. Just because he committed adultery does not mean YHUH has given her permission to do so as well. Her saying “I do”, to another man, is an act of adultery against the first husband. The moment she gave up on reconciling with the first husband and flirted with the idea of accepting a proposal from another man was the moment she hardened her heart against her first husband, her vows, her marriage covenant, and YHUH. Yahusha (represented by her earthly husband) must now die for her so that she may now come back into right relationship with YHUH, to be able to return to Him. This is how the physical teaches the spiritual. This is why Israel (Yashar’al) needs faith in Yahusha and His death, burial, and resurrection, for salvation and a relationship with YHUH, because Israel has been guilty of adultery and has become defiled in her sin of going after other gods, mere idols, like golden calves. Just because Yahusha died for her, that doesn’t make the bride’s wrongs right. His death and resurrection gives her the opportunity and desire to repent and make her wrongs right, to be brought back into relationship with her first husband.
Now to address the question regarding how a father can cause his daughter to become an adulteress, and the examples of fathers mentioned in the Bible who did so. King Saul, in 1 Samuel 18, promised BOTH of his daughters to David, first the older one, Merab, who Saul turned around and gave to Adriel to wife instead. Then Saul discovered that his younger daughter, Michal, loved David. It says this PLEASED Saul, in verse 21, because he wanted to give Michal to David in marriage, to become a SNARE to him. It was a trap from the beginning (verse 17)! I wonder if he planned it to be a snare by it being a violation of Leviticus 18, which says a man shall not take his wife’s sister while his wife is still alive, to vex her. (In Jacob’s defense, he unintentionally married Leah, Rachel’s sister, while he was already betrothed to Rachel.) David paid the bride price for King David’s daughter, Michal, with 200 Philistine foreskins (verse 25-27), even though Saul only requested 100 foreskins for her bride price, and King Saul gave her to David to wife, as promised. Then King Saul did the unthinkable – again. Due to his jealousy of David, after giving Michal to David, after she was already living in David’s house as his wife (1 Samuel 19:11), Saul turned around and gave Michal, David’s wife (who loved David), to another man, to be his wife instead! This is called causing your daughter to play the harlot, to become an adulteress, to go a-whoring, to be defiled! The father, Saul, proposed the terms for marriage, David met the terms, the father accepted the payment and gave her to him, and later the father broke his own word/promise/oath/agreement/vow, which Numbers 30 says a man cannot do. She was David’s WIFE, she could not be given to another, but she was! Does Saul’s decision stand? Are her vows to the second husband binding? No! It was not a marriage in YHUH! YHUH forbid a woman to be given in an adulterous marriage, it’s a forbidden sexual union, as her father already agreed she was to be married to David! There was already a marriage covenant, so Saul caused both Michal and her older sister, Merab, to become adulteresses! After Saul died, David got his wife, Michal, back, BEFORE the second “husband” died:
And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul’s son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish. And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned. 2 Samuel 3:14-16
It appears Michal was with Phaltiel for quite a while. David was fleeing from Saul for some time before Saul finally died and David got Michal back. Her second “husband” didn’t die, he was weeping behind her as she was returned to David until he was told to return home. There is nothing recorded in the Bible that says she ever had sexual relations with David after she was returned to him. It does say she despised David in her heart at some point after her return, at the time the ark of the covenant was returned in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15:29, when she saw David dancing. Was her anger and hatred at that moment really just because of his dancing, or is it more likely there was more to it, that this just provoked her, that maybe she had resentment against David for her father’s death, for killing off her family and her father’s loyal subjects, and taking her back from her other husband? How would she ever have children now that David could not have relations with her due to her defilement from marrying another man? Her only hope for removing her shame of having no children would be for David to die. Maybe that was what she was secretly hoping and he sensed that in her reaction to his dancing and joy about the return of the ark. Maybe that’s why YHUH caused him to curse her so that she would die without children of her own. 2 Samuel 6:23. We don’t know for certain, but there definitely seems to be more to the story than he just cursed her to die childless for being upset with his dancing.
Why did David not also demand that Merab, Michal’s older sister, be returned to him, since she was also offered to David before being given to someone else in marriage? The Bible never mentions her again after she’s given to Adriel. It appears Merab was already dead by the time David got Michal back. 2 Samuel 21:8 says Michal, who had no children, brought up five sons for her sister Merab’s husband, Adriel. Those 5 sons were probably her nephews that had no mother after her sister, Merab, died. David handed those same five sons that Michal helped raise after her sister’s death to the Gibeonites to be hanged. It’s not difficult to understand why Michal might be bitter against David for her family being killed off so that David could rule his kingdom without hindrance from Saul’s family, but it’s also important to remember that she should have been thankful for her own life being spared, that her father’s family had become very wicked as he was, that she was given another chance and got to be the wife of King David, the King of Israel. He provided for her and loved her as a husband, even though she did nothing to deserve it. Michal is a picture of Israel here, and David represents Messiah Yahusha. He loves her despite her defilement, and makes her to be a wife of the King, and she pretty much spits in His face. This is how Israel has treated her King. The physical teaches the spiritual. We must repent of treating Yahusha, our King, in this way, lest we die cursed like Michal.
YHUH did not rebuke David for taking Michal back from Phaltiel, despite Phaltiel’s tears. David did not sin in this situation, but Phaltiel had defiled David’s marriage bed, he was sleeping with another man’s wife. So many women I have talked to about this, they just can’t imagine YHUH would be okay with a woman leaving or being taken from her second or third husband to return to the first, especially if that woman can’t have marital relations with the first husband again. They can’t imagine YHUH expecting her to live a life of celibacy until she or her first husband dies. It’s a high calling, for certain, but we do see it is required in many instances throughout the Bible. YHUH does not give us more than we can bear. We must trust Him and lean on Him to help us carry such burdens He may place on us to carry, for our good, and our growth. For women who realize they have not been faithful to their first husbands, it’s become their new calling to learn to be faithful to their first husbands who are still alive by repenting and abstaining from intimacy with all other men, even second or third “husbands”. Instead of seeking work and leaving their children in school or daycare, they should seek refuge with a male relative who understands how important it is for a mother to be home with her children. She can become an entrepreneur and find creative ways to help contribute financially to the household from home, if necessary. Now that we have the internet, especially, there is no excuse for a woman to not be able to support herself and children and still be able to keep YHUH’s Sabbaths and commandments.
Several divorced and remarried women have expressed to me that they can’t imagine YHUH would want to break newly formed “blended” families apart. These women are not thinking about the fact that they had already started a family when they married their first husband, and most of them had children with their first husband before they divorced and remarried. Why are they so set against saving and restoring the first family? Why do they cling to the second or third husband instead of the first? Deception, unfaithfulness, hypocrisy, and/or outright rebellion. These women continue to reject and forsake the first husband and family they started with him, in order to embrace and cling to a new one. No matter if the first husband repents or not, no matter if the second or third husband is repentant or not, they refuse to end the sexual relationship with the second or third husband so that they may return to their first husband. Divorced women usually claim their first husband is unforgiveable, that YHUH would never want them to be with them because the husband did not provide for them (only an excuse for slave wives in Exodus 21, by the way), committed adultery, or physically or sexually abused them or their children, or they blame the first husband for addictions to pornography, drugs, or alcohol, etc… Many times these women will cling to a second or third husband who has or develops the same or similar problems they left the first one for. It seems YHUH has the last laugh, that they are doomed to learn to live with what they ran away from in the first place.
So why did Moses allow divorce in the case of adultery if Yahusha is so adamantly against it and YHUH hates it so much? What does Yahusha mean by, “the hardness of your hearts”, in Matthew 19:8?
I think Yahusha’s reply to the Pharisees’ question about why Moses allowed divorce referred back to the wilderness, when the Israelites sinned with the golden calf and Moses broke the tablets displaying how hard their hearts were against their marriage covenant with YHUH. Because of their hard hearts, at this time, YHUH set up the Levitical priesthood, instead of YHUH’s original proposal for all of Israel becoming a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. According to the laws of the Levitical priesthood, if the groom is a priest, he can only marry a virgin or a widow, not a defiled, divorced woman. See Leviticus 21:7 and Ezekiel 44:22. So what if a priest finds out after he lies with his new wife, or when she shows up pregnant while they are yet engaged, that she is not a virgin? Being a priest and holy man set-apart for YHUH’s service, he cannot be defiled by her by having sexual relations with a divorced woman. What, then, should a priest do when he discovers the woman he’s betrothed to is defiled by another man? Probably what Joseph considered doing when he realized Mary was pregnant – divorce her. Divorce had to be added into the law because Israel, represented by the woman, would be unfaithful, she would become defiled, resulting in her not being clean, holy, or set-apart for YHUH, who is represented by the husband, or the Levitical priest, who had to marry a virgin, because the priest is holy and must remain that way for YHUH.
If it wasn’t for the hardness of Israel’s hearts in the wilderness, if Israel really had a heart to obey YHUH as she vowed to when they first got to Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:1-8, the Levitical priesthood would not have been necessary, and there would be no such thing as adultery or fornication in Israel. Thus, there would be no need to make a provision in the law that would allow a man to put away his wife for adultery, defilement, or finding something “unclean” or “shameful” about her.
Yahusha was pointing out to the Pharisees, that it’s not just the women of Israel that have hard hearts toward their husbands at times, that leads them to commit adultery, but this is also the condition of their own hearts – all of Israel, men and women – towards marriage covenants, and first of all, their marriage covenant towards YHUH. The men of Israel tend to blame their wives for adultery and other sins, like Adam blamed Eve, but the men also have a tendency to treat marriage covenants lightly, and the fact that they seek excuse to divorce is proof of that. A faithful husband does not ask how and under what circumstances he may end his marriage, but how and under what circumstances can he save his marriage. A hardened heart seeks divorce. A hardened heart marries another in the other spouse’s place.
A Change in Attitude About Marriage
It seems unthinkable to many of us today that a father would willingly give his precious lamb in marriage to a man with such lust towards his daughter, her rapist or seducer, but back then the alternative would have been much worse in the eyes of the young woman. Personally, I see that when people allow their daughters to date, or cohabitate with a “boyfriend”, or send them off to college or encourage or force them to go out and get a job and support themselves, the end result is USUALLY that the daughter fornicates before marriage and engagement. It’s sad how most people today treat their sons and daughters, including professing Jews and Christians, they are essentially causing/allowing their sons and daughters to behave as male and female prostitutes, and sometimes, as harlots, once they become engaged. Young people are much less likely to engage in sex before marriage if they are not thrust out of the house at the age of 18, or before marriage. Most parents today discourage marriage at a “young” age, they say they still have growing up to do. Yet, they send their youth out into the world with no money, no financial or moral guidance, no accountability, and raging hormones! That’s called setting them up for failure and a recipe for disaster! If they are too immature to marry, they are too immature to live on their own. Yes, a FEW kids may manage to keep their legs crossed or keep their chastity belts on until they marry, a very small minority may stay on the straight path, IF they manage to find it before leaving the nest, but the vast majority don’t.
Parents SHOULD NOT be discouraging their children from marrying. If they are legally old enough, and parents allow them to drink, drive, get a job, live in another state, own a gun, travel the world, rent an apartment, buy a house, pay their bills, join the military, get an abortion, or “play house” with a boyfriend or girlfriend, then why are they not old or mature enough to marry and have children? More often than not, it’s marriage and childbearing that stimulate people the most to begin to explore the issue of faith and salvation! It’s the temptations and tests and trials of this experience in trying to stay married, be a good parent, and maintain good family relationships that cause people to wrestle with YHUH the most, in their efforts to try to understand how they should understand boundaries and their relationships with their spouse, children, in-laws, etc…
Parents think they should encourage their children to wait until they are mature and responsible to marry and have children, but it’s marriage and children that most often causes people to grow up and be responsible! In a family, whether living with their parents and siblings or with a spouse and children, people have accountability with other people who believe as they do, who can give them support, encouragement, and guidance. Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 says that two are better than one, and it lists a few reasons as to why this is so, why it says it is better for a person to live with either a brother or a child than to live alone. Any money a single person makes will USUALLY get spent on vain things, it will be wasted. Remember how the prodigal son squandered his inheritance on wild living? He or she will spend it trying to fill the void of loneliness they feel inside. They are more prone to addictions, depression, sin, and everything else that goes along with that. Widowed and divorced people, especially those who live alone, are much more likely to commit suicide than married people or people living with family. It makes since, as they’ve lost their other half, they don’t feel whole, divorced people feel guilt, shame, and failure, and they may not find the faith to find their completion in YHUH. I believe the reason the never-married crowd does not commit suicide as often, even though they do often fall into depression due to their loneliness after leaving home as a teen or young adult, is because they hold onto hope that they may someday experience marriage. Young people need their parents and their family for companionship and everything that goes along with that until they find their equal yoke to continue their journey of faith and life with. Peers, roommates, classmates, and co-workers that are equally as lost, immature, and lustful are the last people you should want your child spending MOST of their time with when they are not busy! Bad company corrupts good character. Parents should not send their sheep out alone amongst the wolves. YHUH sends them out two by two, not alone. Mark 6:7 and Luke 10:1. Parents these days have adopted wrong attitudes from our modern culture and media about when their sons and daughters should marry, and when their children should go out from their parents’ roof.
There is definitely a cooling in attitude towards marriage these days in men and women, parents and children alike. Marriage isn’t smiled upon as much as it once was. See what Tamar thought about being rejected by her brother after he raped her in 2 Samuel 13. She preferred he marry her, that not marrying her after having his way with her would be an even greater wrong than raping her! She cried and went into mourning when he refused her! My, how attitudes about marriage have changed! No wonder adultery and fornication abound! A woman once wanted to be married and have children and avoided sexual sin, now a woman wants to engage in sexual sin while using birth control, having abortions, and avoiding marriage! That’s not only a drastic change in the view of marriage, but a drastic change in the value of life, a drastic change from what people once considered a blessing or a curse! Children were once a blessing, now they are considered a curse. Marriage was a blessing, now it’s curse, or at least discouraged until after college and a career is established, which means that by the time women find a husband and marry, they and/or their husbands are now having issues with infertility and miscarriages. Even when women do have children, the couple often puts a limit on how many they will have. Why would YHUH want to bless couples with children in their 30’s and 40’s when they used birth control to put off children and starting a family in their teens and into their 20’s and beyond? The current divorce and birth rates are proof that children and families are obviously not a priority to Christians or the Jewish people these days, at least not in the western world where the family and marriage has been deteriorating the fastest. It seems that making a buck, having a successful career, having fun, traveling the world, and having nice things are all far more important to people in our culture today. It’s only when young married couples start their quest for children, late 20’s, 30’s, and beyond, that they begin to regret putting off marriage and a family so long, when they are unable to conceive or carry a child full term. Why are so many parents and young people not making the connection? It seems so obvious to me now, but for several years it wasn’t. We’ve been deceived, for sure.
It’s very telling how many of the world’s problems of today, including the dramatic rise in divorce rates, STD’s, abortions, delayed age at marriage, sterilization, infertility, miscarriages, etc…, seem to coincide with the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism. Infertility always existed, don’t get me wrong, and it’s not always caused by sin or age, as we see with Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. However, we have to admit that women aren’t helping their cause these days when we put off children even into our late 30’s or 40’s when menopause starts knocking at the door for many of us women. Women aren’t the only ones to blame, of course, more shame on the men, for causing and allowing their wives and daughters to lose their morals and confuse their priorities! Don’t tongue lash your wandering wife or daughter when you allowed the deception to come into your home through the local public or private school, the media, and who you and your family spend your free time with!
Can a Man Divorce His Wife for Any Reason?
NO! He can’t even divorce his wife for any and every case of adultery, either. There are strict requirements about under what circumstances he can divorce her under the accusation or suspicion of adultery. It seems to me that Deuteronomy 22 and 24 are the chapters in the Torah that dictate when, and under what circumstances, a husband can divorce his wife for adultery. Numbers 30 (which explains under what circumstances, and when, the husband can disallow her vows) should be used with Deuteronomy 22 and 24 to help determine when divorce would be permitted. I understand it to say he can only make void her wedding vows to him and give her a writ of divorce the same day he hears of or discovers her sin or uncleanness (Numbers 30), whether that be on their wedding day or night or after they had been married many years. He can’t decide to divorce her for adultery 3 years after he found out about her sin, just because he’s starting to have trouble getting along with her or he found someone he likes better. The decision to cut ties must be immediate after her sin is discovered, the adultery must be the real and only reason for the split. He can always figure out how to work out forgiveness and reconciliation later. If she can’t be faithful to wait for him until he’s able to forgive her and take her back, if she marries or has sex with another man and defiles herself in the meantime, that’s evidence she hasn’t repented of her sin, she’s still playing the harlot, so he should not take her back anyway.
I can only think of two cases in the Bible of a man of Israel legally divorcing or putting away his wife beyond engagement, and neither of those involved adultery or a free woman or virgin of Israel. The only cases I can think of is Abraham putting away Hagar (Genesis 21 – justified in Exodus 21) and when the Jews returned from Babylon and read the Law and realized that they had taken foreign wives the Torah forbids, wives that had led them into idolatry, and when they realized this, the men put them away (Ezra 10 and Nehemiah 13). Since they were foreign wives, they may have been slave wives, or concubines, who the Isrealites were permitted to put away and give them their freedom in Exodus 21. I believe the reason the slave wives in Exodus 21 were allowed to be treated differently than the virgin daughters of Israel in this way is because foreign slave wives did not have free choice, those women did not make vows as free women that bound them for life. He married her hoping she would always walk in the Torah and be pleased to be married to him, her husband obtained her after winning a battle against her people and killing her family and became bitter against him about it. They may have thought they would be equally yoked when they married, she may have shown signs of a willingness to keep Torah, like those mentioned in Acts 15:19-21. If these foreign wives or concubines started to backslide and commit idolatry, as they learned from their own people, and/or became unhappy in their situation, they would act unpleasing towards their husbands, and the husband may be inclined to allow her freedom to keep the peace. Also, foreign women were not in covenant with YHUH or His people from birth, like the virgins of Israel. Of course, we know in Hagar’s case, she did fall under the ruling in Exodus 21 of an Egyptian slave wife, she and Ishmael seemed no longer pleased to dwell peaceably with Sarah and Isaac, and Hagar was freed, and we have no indication in Torah that she ever remarried.
Can a Husband and Wife Reconcile After Adultery? What if they divorced and married or had sexual relations with someone else?
It’s common for marriages to be reconciled, for a husband or wife to see their own sin and/or forgive their spouse and get back together. Reconciliation is good, but what if one or both of them has sex with someone else while they were apart? What about Deuteronomy 24:1-4? Sadly, they cannot have sexual marital relations again if she has been defiled by another man, as the husband would become defiled if he went into her after she was with another man against her covenant. Deuteronomy 24 is not saying, however, that she can never return to her first husband to be his helper or seek refuge in his home, that he cannot provide for her, just that marital relations is out of the question.
YHUH loves forgiveness and reconciliation, it is good for a marriage and a family. If a woman is repentant and her husband is still willing to be faithful to her and keep his marital covenant with her despite her prior unfaithfulness, he does right to do that and continue to treat her with love and provide for her. HOWEVER, the Bible says that once the woman has defiled herself sexually with another man after entering covenant with her husband, her husband can NEVER have marital sexual relations with her again. She can remain in his house, under his protection and provision, but he can no longer have physical intimacy with her. Biblically speaking, he must either take an additional wife or refrain from sexual intimacy until one of them dies, but it is still Biblical and good if there is repentance and forgiveness, and he chooses to keep his covenant and protect and provide for her and love her despite the fact that she was unfaithful and he cannot have marital relations with her anymore. This is the selfless thing to do. This is how Messiah loves the church. He just wants His bride to return to him and be holy as He is holy. Even if he takes another wife, it is still good for him to also love and be a husbandly provider to the first wife who’s been defiled, minus the marital relations, of course.
Dear husband – will you be merciful and receive the wife of your youth if she returns to you? Dear wife – will you teshuvah, repent, and return to your first husband? If he won’t accept you, will you live set-apart for him as a single woman until the two of you are reconciled, or wait upon YHUH until he dies so you may marry another? A loving, faithful wife should never hope her husband dies so that she can marry another. She should pray for his repentance, or that he will forgive her for whatever offended him, so they can be reconciled, and if he dies because YHUH determined that was best, then she is free to remarry. Until then, she should remain faithful to her vows. Marital fidelity is one of life’s tests. Will you pass the test? Will you remain faithful in sickness in health? Good times and in bad, for richer or poorer? Until death do you part, as you first vowed? Here are examples from YHUH of how a true and faithful husband speaks to a wayward bride who’s become defiled by infedelity:
I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free. Isaiah 44:22
They say, “If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith YHUH.” Jeremiah 3:1
YHUH said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her harlotry, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith YHUH. And YHUH said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith YHUH; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith YHUH, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against YHUH thy Aluhym, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith YHUH. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion. Jeremiah 3:6-14
Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith YHUH. Jeremiah 3:20
Can a Woman Divorce her Husband for Adultery?
Nowhere in the Bible does it say a woman can lawfully divorce her husband for adultery, or any other reason, and remarry someone else, without committing adultery herself:
“And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:12
How much clearer can it be? If she turns around and marries/sleeps with another man, even if HE’S the one who divorced HER, and WITHOUT Biblical cause, she’s guilty of the same sin she’s accusing him of – unfaithfulness. She’s a hypocrite, she’s an adulteress. Let the one without sin cast the first stone. If she can’t cast that stone, she should go back to him. A faithful woman will remain faithful to her marriage vows, even if the husband tramples on the vows they both made.
A man can have more than one wife, according to the Torah, so it was never considered adultery if he had sex with more than one woman, as long as those women were not married to another living man. Abraham did not commit adultery with Hagar. He simply took a second wife, given to him by his first wife, which is permitted, and in some cases, commanded, in the Torah. YHUH gave David Saul’s surviving wives after Saul died, as mentioned in 2 Samuel 12:8. If it was a sin for a man to have more than one wife, YHUH wouldn’t have given Saul’s wives to David.
Since YHUH doesn’t condone the divorces going on today, all these people are in adultery anyway when they move on and marry someone else, so what’s their beef with polygyny? Think about it. Supposedly they are concerned some or all of his wives or children will be neglected, or he won’t be able to financially able to provide for them all. When a man divorces his first wife and marries a second, in an effort to live according to the laws of monogamy, isn’t that neglecting and refusing to protect and provide for his first wife and the children from that marriage? Sure. Usually the secular courts have to force divorced men to pay alimony or child support and the men are cursing under their breath about it and most do not have a good relationship, if any, with their children, after divorce. They often completely abandon them and go on to their own selfish pursuit of happiness. Really, according to the Bible, the divorced and remarried guy now has two wives, and he’s broken his vows (committed adultery) because he’s not kept his vows to be a husband to the first wife. When done in the right spirit, polygyny can be a good solution to many problems that may arise in a marriage. It can save families and keep them together when done right, according to Torah love.
Let’s discuss some of the other reasons polygyny is a healthier answer than divorce and remarriage. How much adultery happens these days because of infertility in a man’s wife, due to a desire to have a family with a woman who CAN have children? What if Abraham divorced Sarah because she could not conceive the seed promised to him by YHUH? What if Sarah then went and married someone else before YHUH revealed it to Abraham that Sarah was the one to have the promised seed? Gee, that would have ROYALLY messed things up! This is one of many reasons why polygyny is a more virtuous option for families than divorce and remarriage, why YHUH allows a man to have more than one wife but hates divorce. Since YHUH doesn’t condone the divorces going on today, all these people are in adultery anyway when they move on and marry someone else, so what’s their beef with polygyny? The addition of Hagar into the family was always in YHUH’s plan, she just wasn’t the one chosen to bring forth the promised seed. He always planned to use her and Sarah in the analogy of the free woman and the slave woman. He blessed Hagar and Ishmael and they were also involved in a covenant YHUH had with Abraham. YHUH promised He would bless His seed from Ishmael as well, and YHUH multiplied Ishmael with 12 sons.
Let’s explore other explanations why YHUH’s Torah allowance for polygyny might be there. I believe it’s there because His ways are higher than our ways. According to the Bible, whoever divorces his wife , and takes another, he commits adultery against her, and causes his first wife to commit adultery. Mark 10:11, Matthew 19:9, and Matthew 5:32. If a man has sex with someone he isn’t married to, an unbetrothed virgin, he is expected to marry her, if her father is willing. What if he is already married? Should he take her virginity and then turn his back on her and hope she has a nice life and remarries? What if she was to become pregnant in this situation? Should he abandon her while she raises her child without a father? Would it not be better for him to repent and take her into his family and care for them both as a husband and father should, while still being a husband to his first wife and her children? You might say he should provide for the woman and her child, but marriage and a sexual relationship should not happen. What if no other men are interested in this particular woman and her child? Should she face a life without experiencing marriage or more children because her culture frowns on the baby’s father taking a second wife? Remember, King David married Bathsheba, even though he already had several wives when he married her, including Abigail and Ahinoam. He went on to make his wrong with Bathsheba and Uriah right. He confessed and repented. He suffered the consequences because YHUH brought a plague on the people of Israel and he lost his child with Bathsheba. Yet, YHUH would forgive him and YHUH blessed him and Bathsheba with another son, a promised seed – Solomon. YHUH loved Solomon. 2 Samuel 12:24 What if David didn’t marry Bathsheba after killing her husband and leaving her pregnant? Wasn’t it right for him to marry her after he had her husband killed? Apparently YHUH approved. He honored the marriage. He didn’t command David to put her away.
We also see in the Old Testament, that a man was expected to marry his brother’s wife so that he could have and raise up a son for his brother. This was to happen whether or not the surviving brother was already married. Torah does not say that a married man is exempted from this commandment. He could be inheriting a second wife. It was his duty, or else it was a shame to him and his family if he refused her. There were/are situations when a man was/is commanded to take more than one wife, or when it’s better than the alternatives, like being childless or divorced because a spouse is not content to remain childless. I do know men who divorced because they were married to a woman who could not have children, and they badly wanted children to pass on their name and inheritance, and experience being a parent and the joys of having children. Some women would prefer to be married to a man with more than one wife than never getting to help raise up children, or facing divorce. Some women are loving towards their husband, and are selfless, like Sarah, and just want their husband to have children and multiply, even if she doesn’t get to be the one who gives them to him. Many people divorce simply because women are confused about what adultery is, their pride is injured and they feel jealous and betrayed when they shouldn’t. Many men are perfectly capable of loving and providing for more than one wife.
So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. Mark 10:11
Notice the verse above explains that a man only commits adultery against his wife if he divorces her and then takes another wife to replace the first. A woman SHOULD feel hurt, jealous, and betrayed, if she’s literally been replaced by another wife, but that doesn’t give her permission to divorce him and marry another man, just like he can’t just divorce her and marry another woman. Notice it does not say he commits adultery against her if he takes a second wife in addition to her. Remember our patriarchs like Abraham and Jacob were not adulterers, even if they had more than one wife. Unless a husband divorces his wife and marries another instead, because he wants to replace her so he can have a different wife and doesn’t want to provide for two wives, he doesn’t commit adultery. He could take a second wife, or more, but he was to provide for them both, and he had to keep his covenant with the first wife to be a good husband to her, the wife of his youth, and if he had his firstborn with her, he could not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of another wife he loved more. The New Testament did not change the Torah laws about marriage. People have twisted Paul’s words to their own destruction when they make such claims that he said that a man can now only have one wife. Paul would be breaking the law if he taught such a thing, and Paul taught we should keep the law, not sin against it.
If YHUH’s will is for people to never divorce, because He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), what does the Bible tell us we should do if we have trouble living peaceably with a spouse, when YHUH calls us to peace?
Let’s start in 1 Corinthians 7 to answer this question:
And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:10
Did you catch that? Paul said it was a COMMAND from YHUH that the wife not leave her husband. If she sins, and ignores this command that a wife is not to depart…
But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:11
…then let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. This is like what we today call “separation”. Couples can be separated, without filing for divorce, while trying to work out their differences. Notice divorce is not an option given to her in the above verse. It goes on to say that the husbands are not to be allowed to put away the wife. BUT IF HE DOES, and disregards this command and his marriage covenant, does Paul say she is now free to also disregard these commands and her marriage covenant and marry another man? NOOO! Two wrongs do not make a right! Paul stated in verse 11 that she is to remain unmarried or be reconciled to him. He gives her no option to divorce him or marry someone else.
What if one has a sinful spouse who is an unbeliever, preventing peace?
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 1 Corinthians 7:12
Paul admits there is no explicit command from YHUH here, but we have to admit, there is no instruction that directly addresses this situation in the Torah of Moses, because in the Old Testament, they were born into a family who raised their children to believe in YHUH, and they did not marry their children into an unequal yoke. Those in the New Testament churches in exile in Greece and Rome and elsewhere, were coming into the faith through conversion, or coming back into the faith through repentance, so they were more likely to find themselves married to an unbeliever when they came to believe in Yahusha. Paul was speaking advice to this situation that was unique to people outside of Jerusalem and living in Paul’s era. It was wise advice, and it was in line with YHUH’s Word that stresses how much YHUH hates divorce, that it leads to violence, treachery, and adultery. He rules that the man should live with the unbelieving wife as long as she is willing to live with him, and not put her away, as long as they dwell in peace.
This judgment of Paul is in agreement with Torah, because Abraham also tried to live in peace with Hagar as long as he could, until YHUH intervened and told him that Sarah was right to insist that Abraham put her away, because Hagar and Ishmael were again having trouble dwelling with them in peace, and they were starting to sin against Abraham and Sarah like Lot and his servants began to quarrel with Abraham and his servants. Twice Hagar and Ishmael left, but the first time Hagar humbled herself and was corrected by YHUH and her and Sarah were reconciled. The Book of Jasher says the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Sarah saw Ishmael “playing around” and pointing a bow and arrow at Isaac when Abraham was celebrating Isaac being weaned. Genesis 21 says Sarah caught Hagar mocking. The testimony of these two witnesses explains why Hagar and Ishmael were both sent away, they were both having trouble dwelling with Sarah and Isaac in peace. There were signs jealousy and violence were brewing. Sarah had good reason to fear Ishmael or Hagar might try to kill Isaac to keep him from getting the inheritance and blessing YHUH promised him as the Chosen Seed of YHUH. There is this concept and example in the Torah of our forefathers trying to dwell in peace with others as long as they are willing and able to dwell peaceably. Let’s go on and read more about Paul’s rulings about this:
And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but Aluhym hath called us to peace. 1 Corinthians 7:13-15
If a woman has an unbelieving husband, she is not to leave him as long as he is willing to live with her. BUT, if the unbelieving spouse leaves, let him or her go, the believing spouse is not under bondage in such cases, Aluhym calls us to peace. Does this mean the woman is free to divorce and remarry? Does it say, “let them depart”, means it’s okay to divorce and marry someone else? It doesn’t say she or the husband are free to do this. It is only giving them permission to live separately under different rooves if they have trouble getting along under the same roof. If Paul were to be saying divorce and remarriage were okay, in this case, that would go against everything he said earlier in the chapter, and what he said in Romans 7:3, and it would go against Yahusha’s words about the subject, and what Moses taught. The Torah and New Testament suggest otherwise. If he meant to say she is free to marry someone else, he would not have said what he said in verse 11, that she should remain unmarried or be reconciled to him. Rather, verses 13-15 seem to be saying they are free from the bondage of living with someone who does not want to live with them, until either reconciliation or death. Abraham allowed, encouraged, and told Lot, and Hagar, to go in order to keep the peace, he didn’t force them to stay when they showed with their actions and words that they weren’t content to remain with him and his family without sinning against them. If we keep reading Paul’s letter to the Corinthians to the end of the same chapter, we see that Paul does not intend to say the woman is free to marry someone else. Paul says:
The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in YHUH. 1 Corinthians 7:39
She is only free to marry someone in YHUH, if, and only if, the first husband is dead. This is echoed by Paul in Romans 7:
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Romans 7:1-3
Both of these passages explain the Torah, marriage, divorce, and adultery. This idea of the woman being bound for life comes from Numbers 30, that if her husband or father hold their peace, her vows are binding for life. The bride vows “’til death do us part” when she marries. According to Numbers 30, she just bound herself for life with her own words. Her new husband’s and her father’s agreement (on the day they first heard of her vows) to this establish that she is bound for life.
Many “Messianics” who claim they believe in keeping the Torah, like to conveniently forget the New Testament does not mention changing or doing away with these laws and instructions about marriage found in the Old Testament that are not acceptable in the foreign culture Israel finds herself in today. They take New Testament scriptures about requirements to be elders and twist, misinterpret, and mistranslate them to their own destruction, because that’s what they were taught to do. As more and more rabbis and pastors are becoming more and more liberal in their interpretations of the Torah and the New Testament, it’s becoming more and more important that we question those interpretations, and follow the ancient paths…
Thus saith YHUH, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein…Jeremiah 6:16
Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up…Jeremiah 18:15
O YHUH, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Jeremiah 16:19
May Yashar’al again receive wisdom, knowledge, and understanding about marriage covenants, and may she return to her first love, even to YHUH, and learn to judge with justice, mercy, and righteousness… Amen