In the OT an adulterer would have been stoned anyway, thereby ending the marriage

Someone emailed:
From what I have gathered, Jesus is allowing divorce for sexual faithfulness, material support (food & clothing) and emotional support (love) as per OT law which he came to "fulfill not abolish" (beginning of sermon on the Mount) but He is pointing out the OT exception for adultery, in which case a person would have been stoned according to old testament law anyway (ending the marriage), or in more lenient times they would have been an adulterer anyway so the divorce certificate would not have made any difference.

If this understanding is correct, then Jesus is allowing the husband to remarry without a formal divorce certificate similar to when Paul says a spouse can re-marry if their unbelieving spouse abandons them


Reply: You are right that the OT prescribes the death penalty for adultery, but Dt.24.1 also says that you should give a divorce certificate to a wife who has committed a "matter of indecency" (lit "a thing of nakedness"). This potential contradiction can be solved by saying that the death penalty is only applied if there is enough evidence, or if she is taken 'in the act', but probably it is due to different punishments being applied at different times in the history of the OT.

Some Jews in the 1st C appear to have decided that adultery should still be punished by death if there is enough evidence, as in Jn.8 - though it was death by mob violence, not by official execution, because the Romans did not allow the Jews to apply a death penalty. But most Pharisees were against the death penalty and preferred other punishments, so they were happy to apply Dt.24.1 and give a divorce certificate to an adulteress.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that an adulteress doesn't need a divorce certificate - for any 1st C Jew, the Law of Moses was absolutely clear that she did require one.

See more on the non-application of the death penalty in Divorce & Remarriage in the Bible

www.DivorceRemarriage.com

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