Does the "abomination" of remarriage in Deut.24.4 show that marriage is indissoluble?

Someone emailed:
The passage at Deuteronomy 24.4 still troubles me.

"Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."

I read John Piper's position paper on divorce and remarriage (he believes in indissolvable union) and he says uses this verse as a proof text that marriage is indissolvable because it says she's defiled for being married to another man. Have you heard this comment before, and how would you respond to it?

Reply: Dt.24.1-4 is still a mystery to all scholars. It appears to say that it is OK to divorce and to remarry, but not to then divorce again and remarry one's original husband. Why should it be OK to marry a third husband but an abomination to remarry one's original husband?

The best published solution is probably that of Westbrook, as I mention in my academic book. However, I don't think Westbrook took sufficient note of the number of times "hate" is used for perfectly proper divorces, from Neo-Babylonian divorces to those at Elephantine (where they used this exact Biblical vocabulary).

The solution which makes the most sense is that the man is acting as a pimp by 'marrying' his wife to a another man for the night. In the morning the other man 'divorces' her and they carry on with their marriage till the next client comes along.

This is how prostitution works in some Muslim societies, where the client simply has to say "I divorce you" three times in the morning and his 'marriage' is over. This would explain why this 'remarriage' to the same man would be so abominable.

What Dt.24.1 does NOT say is that divorce followed by remarriage is wrong. THe only thing it specifically condemns is the woman who leaves her second husband and goes back to her first - which is the opposite to what it would say if a marriage union was indissoluble.

For Westbrook's theory see Payment and penalties in marriage covenants in Divorce & Remarriage in the Bible

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"What Dt.24.1 does NOT say is that divorce followed by remarriage is wrong."

I agree. What Dt.24.1 also does NOT say is divorce followed by remarriage is correct.

The scripture only addresses that reconciliation of divorced parties after a remarriage is wrong.

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