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Particulars of Christianity:
312 The Church Ethic


Separation and Divorce in the Law of Moses

The Importance of Family Part 1: Marriage
The Importance of Family Part 2: The Family
Divorce and Remarriage: Introduction and Basics
Separation and Divorce in the Law of Moses
Marital Separation in the Gospels
Marital Separation after the Gospels and Conclusions
Marital Separation: Objections 1-3
Marital Separation: Objections 4-6 and the Early Church
Remarriage Addendum: Exception Clause Comparison
New Testament Protocols Regarding Men and Women (Part 1)
New Testament Protocols Regarding Men and Women (Part 2)
Comparative Peer Dynamics Chart



The English words "divorce" or "divorcement" are translated from the same Hebrew word in the Old Testament. Together they appear only a total of 4 times: twice in Deuteronomy 24, once in Isaiah 50, and once Jeremiah 3. Of these three passages, it is Moses that Jesus and the Pharisees were quoting, which tells us that it is the book of Deuteronomy that provides the basis of their discussion. And this is the natural place to start as well since Deuteronomy was written before Isaiah or Jeremiah and, being the earliest mention of divorce, will provide the groundwork for its meaning and usage afterward by God's people in the Old Testament.

Moreover, as we will quickly see below, the context of Deuteronomy 24 is identical to the quotes cited by Jesus and the Pharisees in Matthew 5, Matthew 19, and Mark 10.

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill (05612) of divorcement (03748), and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. 3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill (05612) of divorcement (03748), and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4 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.

The issue of the original husband taking back his wife after she marries another will need to be dealt with later on. But for now, we will retain our focus on the issue at hand: the biblical definitions of "divorce" and "separation."

As stated above, in this passage we find 2 out of the 4 occurrences of the word "divorce" (or "divorcement") in the Old Testament. We find it here in verses 1 and 3. In all 4 occurrences, it is the Hebrew word "kariythuwth" (Strong's No. 03748), which means, "divorce, dismissal, divorcement." But for us this is a bit like defining a word using that same word. For more insight into the basic meaning of this Hebrew term, we take note that it is derived from the Hebrew word "karath" (Strong's No. 03772), which simply means, "to cut, cut off, cut off a body part." So, in short, the word for "divorce" has to do with the cutting away or separating.

Of course, such a basic definition as "cutting away" one's spouse doesn't imply a distinct state from separation. Rather, the opposite is true. Divorce and separation in the Old Testament were the same thing - the putting away of one's spouse. On this point, the fact that "karath" (and by extension "kariythuwth") involves the idea of cutting off a body part is quite appropriate and consistent given that Genesis 2, Matthew 19, and Mark 10 all assert that the husband and wife become one flesh. This will become more significant later on as we discuss Matthew 5 in context concerning what happens in the case were a spouse commits fornication (which by definition includes adultery).

But, there is one last point that should be covered from Deuteronomy 24, Isaiah 50, and Jeremiah 3.

Deuteronomy 24:1 ...then let him write her a bill (05612) of divorcement (03748), and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house...

Deuteronomy 24:3 ...write her a bill (05612) of divorcement (03748), and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house...

Isaiah 50:1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill (05612) of your mother's divorcement (03748), whom I have put away?...

Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill (05612) of divorce (03748)...

In all 4 instances, the word "kariythuwth" is coupled with the Hebrew word "cepher" (Strong's No. 05612), which simply means, "document, writing, book." It is the coupling of terms in the Old Testament that provides the reason why the Greek word "apostasion" is translated into the phrase "bill of divorce" in Matthew 5, Matthew 19, and Mark 10 when in the Greek there is only one word, apostasion.

At this point it is necessary to recap so that we retain our focus. The point of our recent analysis has been to show that in the Old Testament and New Testament, we find only 2 states for a marriage to be in. There is the state of a married couple living together as man and wife. And there is the state of one spouse having put away or separated from the other. Divorce is not a different or additional stage from separation. Divorce and separation are the same thing Biblically: the state of putting away a spouse. And divorcement is simply the term for the written document that the Law of Moses required to be given when that putting away occurred.

It is also necessary for us to talk briefly about this fact. Notice again from Deuteronomy 24 that the written document had to be given to the wife, even put in her hand, at the moment that the separation occurred. In fact, Deuteronomy 24 makes sure to say this fact twice.

Deuteronomy 24:1 ...then let him write her a bill (05612) of divorcement (03748), and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

Deuteronomy 24:3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill (05612) of divorcement (03748), and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house.

This tells us that the bill of divorcement did not come at the end of a period of separation at it does today in which separation is an intervening period prior to divorce, but rather the bill of divorcement was required to be given to the wife at the moment separation was initiated. It was for her benefit and Moses required it for her sake.

Without the written document stating that the woman had been put away from her husband, it would have been illegal for any other man to take her in. To do so would have been adultery, which carried the penalty of death. Thus, in the Old Testament, without written documentation of being "put away" a woman would have nowhere to go and would not be able to find a home for herself by becoming the wife of another man. Under the Law of Moses when putting away a spouse was permitted for various reasons, the written document gave her freedom to find another home. And so, for the sake of the spouse who was being put out, Moses required that they be at least given a written document so that they would not be without means or home or provision. That is why the written document had to be provided at the time when the woman was put out of the house.

And the timing when the written document was given is also significant. Because rather than separation occurring first followed sometime later by formal divorce, in the Old Testament (from which the New Testament borrows its terms) the separation followed the giving of the required document. It did not come beforehand but instead the document was required to initiate the separation.

And lastly, it is also of central importance to notice that Deuteronomy 24 plainly states that this written document must be given when the wife was put out of the house. Momentarily we will take a closer look at the usage of this phrase "put away," but for now, what is important is not only the timing, but the essential definition.

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill (05612) of divorcement (03748), and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. 3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill (05612) of divorcement (03748), and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife...

As we can see plainly from the context of Deuteronomy 24:1, putting away is defined by the act of putting the spouse out of the house so that the two no longer live together as man and wife. This is separation in its most basic form. And not only was the written document to be given the moment that the two stopped living together as man and wife, but it is the ceasing to live together as man and wife which becomes the subject of God's criticism during later portions of the Old Testament and most prominently in the teaching of Jesus Christ (as we will show momentarily.)

So far, what we can plainly see is that starting in the Old Testament and forming the basis of the underlying model commented on by Jesus and the Pharisees, divorce and separation were not two different stages as they are in our modern society. In the model they discussed and taught from, divorce was simply the written documentation that had to be given at the moment that one spouse chose to put the other spouse out of the house so that the two no longer lived together as man and wife. Separation and divorce were one and the same thing with the divorcement papers coming first to initiate the state in which the two no longer lived as man and wife under the same roof. This is the model and understanding by which we must ourselves understand Jesus' teaching concerning divorce using these definitions that he would have known rather than superimposing modern ideas that were foreign to the first century Jews that Jesus discussed this subject with and taught.

A few more words on that point would be beneficial.

When we go to understand what Jesus' teaching on separation was, we must not interpret his words in light of our contemporary models of divorce and separation. Jesus and the Jews of his day were not operating by or familiar with divorce protocols that would evolve nearly 18 centuries later a continent away. They were operating on the model that they as Jews inherited from the Law of Moses, which we have described above. As such, we must understand that their discussions of marital separation, including Jesus' own teachings, began with this Old Testament model as the underlying basis. And so our understanding of Jesus' teaching on marital separation must use and interpret the terms according to the model that formed the basis of Jesus' own commentary to his fellow Jews on this subject.

As we have said before, Deuteronomy 24 is the starting point of the Mosaic teaching on divorce. At this point, since it is clear from Deuteronomy that it is the putting of a spouse out of the house that God is concerned with and that divorcement was simply the written declaration required by Moses for initiating that state of living separately, it is necessary for us to trace the usage of that term (putting away) through the rest of the Old Testament into the Gospels.

But before we start, we should state our findings up to this point in simple terms.

A.) Starting in the Old Testament, divorce is not a different state than separation.
B.) Separation was the state in which two spouses ceased to live together as husband and wife by the putting of one spouse out of the house.
C.) Divorce was simply the written declaration that Moses required be given to any wife (spouse) at the point in time when they were put away.

In these terms, we can see that the central concept was the very generic, simple idea of one spouse choosing to separate himself/herself from the other so that the two no longer lived as husband and wife in the same house.

Now we will move on to our survey of the discussion of putting away in the Old Testament.

In Deuteronomy 24, the word for "sent out" is "shalach" (Strong's No. 07971), which simply means "to send, send away, let go." While "shalach" is used more broadly and with regard to other matters besides marriage, it is also the primary word used concerning separation throughout the Old Testament. The way in which "shalach" is used generically is also telling. If you just do a survey on "shalach" by its Strong's number, you quickly find that it occurs 790 times in the Old Testament. Of course, there aren't 790 instances discussing marital separation. In these other instances we find "shalach" used to describe God sending fallen man forth from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:23 to Noah sending forth the dove out of the ark in Genesis 8:10-12. Similarly, we find "shalach" used in Genesis 12:20 when Pharaoh sent Abraham away for lying to him about his wife Sara and in Genesis 21:2 when Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away.

These types of examples along with the broader usage of "shalach" in matters not related to marriage further reveal "shalach's" meaning in the marital sense as simply the "putting away" or "sending forth" of a spouse to no longer live in the home. Essentially, this word, which generally means to "send or send forth," is simply being applied to a spouse.

What is also interesting is that one of the subordinate definitions for "shalach" is "to let loose," which related directly to Jesus' statements in Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9. In those passages, Jesus uses the word "joined," which is the Greek word "suzeugnumi" (Strong's No. 4801) meaning, "to fasten to one yoke, yoke together." In this light, it is easy to see how Jesus' statements in Matthew and Mark are a commentary about not "loosing" what God has "fastened together."

Because "shalach" is the Hebrew word for "sent out" that appears in Deuteronomy's central teaching about separation, our survey will largely focus on following the Old Testament use of "shalach" on this topic.

As we embark upon our survey of the Hebrew word "shalach," it should be noted that the earliest use of this word regarding the topic of marriage is not Deuteronomy 24. Instead, we find that it actually occurs twice in Deuteronomy 22. However, the content of its usage in those passages does not provide instructions for separation.

Deuteronomy 22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, 14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: 15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: 16 And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her...19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away (07971) all his days.

Deuteronomy 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away (07971) all his days.

Additionally, we also find similar phrasing in Leviticus 21, which mentions the idea of a wife being "put away." However, the Hebrew word for "put away" is not "shalach" but "garish" (Strong's No. 01644), which is similar in definition to "shalach" and simply means, "to drive out, expel, cast out, drive away, divorce, put away." "Garish" is only used 2 times with regard to divorcing a spouse. Both of those times are in Leviticus 21.

Leviticus 21:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people...7 They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away (01644) from her husband: for he is holy unto his God...14 A widow, or a divorced woman (01644), or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.

What is interesting about Leviticus is that it is the first hint that God's true standard of holiness was one in which remarriage to a new spouse was not accepted. Notice that because the priest was to be especially holy even from among the rest of the Israelites he was not allowed to marry a woman who had been put away from her first husband. And so in this passage we see the initial hints of what Jesus later said concerning Moses' allowance of divorce - that it was not God's true standard of holiness but was allowed to accommodate the hearts of many of God's people.

But as we can see, Leviticus 21 only forbids priests from marrying women who had already been the wife of another man. Deuteronomy 22 only discusses two particular instances where it is forbidden to put a wife away (one in which the husband unfairly accuses his wife of not being a virgin and another in which a man has intercourse with a young woman who is neither married nor betrothed to someone). Neither chapter provides protocols or instructions for what must happen when a spouse is put away. Therefore, Deuteronomy 24 is, in fact, the first and most central instructions about the protocols for separation in the Old Testament.

Nevertheless, the 2 occurrences of "garish" in Leviticus 21 as well as the 4 occurrences of "shalach" in Deuteronomy 22 and Deuteronomy 24 do demonstrate that the focus of scriptures instructions was the "putting away" or separation of the spouses so that they no longer lived together as husband and wife. The formal written documentation known as the bill of divorce was not the focus at all. And as our survey moves forward, we will continue to see that the separation itself, and not the divorce papers, remained the focus of scriptural instructions and commentary on the subject.

The next occurrence of "shalach" and "wife" in the Old Testament can be found in Jeremiah 3.

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away (07971) 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 the LORD.

As the text quickly indicates, this passage is simply using the protocols set out in Deuteronomy 24 as an illustration for Israel's covenant relationship with God. Similar to Leviticus 21, here in Jeremiah we see another hint of God's true standard and ultimate will for marriage. Deuteronomy 24 allowed men to marry wives who'd been separated from their first husbands. But God's standard for the priests in Leviticus 21 revealed that God's true standard of holiness was that there should be no remarriage to new wives. Likewise, because separation and remarriage were allowed by the covenant of Moses, Deuteronomy 24 forbid the wife to return to her original husband after she's been married to another man. But in Jeremiah, through his acceptance of Israel back after she departed from him, God reveals that his true standard was not only prohibitive of new marriages but was inclusive of reconciliation of the original spouses.

Earlier we mentioned Jeremiah 3:8 because of its use of the phrase "bill of divorce." Since we are currently on this chapter of Jeremiah, our next point is to examine verse 8 again, this time for its usage of "shalach."

Jeremiah 3:6 The LORD 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.

Additionally, we should take note from Jeremiah 3:8 that God himself only put Israel away for spiritual adultery. He was to be their only God and for turning to other gods, God did send Israel away for a time. But as Jeremiah 3:1 above shows, God's desire was reconciliation, to bring Israel back to himself rather than leaving Israel permanently put away. So, here again we have a revelation of God's true standard as opposed to what was allowed in the Law of Moses.

As the Pharisees would later articulate in Matthew 19 and Mark 10, Deuteronomy 24 allowed a man to divorce his wife for a variety of reasons, but God's treatment of Israel in Jeremiah 3:8 demonstrates that the true standard of God was that adultery was the only true just cause for separation, and even then, God desired reconciliation.

Now, we arrive at Malachi 2, the final Old Testament verse where "shalach" is applied to marital separation.

Malachi 2:13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. 14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away (07971): for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. 17 Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

There are a lot of important things in this passage, so we are going to take our time examining it.

First, notice God's statement in verse 15 that he has made the husband and wife one. The Hebrew word for "one" here is "echad" (Strong's No. 0259), just as we discussed earlier and which is first applied to marriage in Genesis 2:21-24.

Second, the Hebrew word for "hate" is "sane" (Strong's No. 08130), which simply means, "to hate, be hateful." This is not really a novel or insightful discovery here. We include it only to make sure it is not overlooked or treated lightly. God says that he hates the separation of the married couple. Like Leviticus 21:1, 7 and Jeremiah 3:1, 8, this is yet another indication of what Jesus himself would later say - that Moses permitted separation, but God's true standard was that separation was not allowed except when the spouse was put away for committing adultery.

Third, it is not surprising perhaps that this passage is somewhat famous with regard to this topic. What is surprising is that in many modern Bible versions "shalach" is typically translated as "divorce" when in reality it is the same old thematic usage of "putting away." In other words, the focus remains the mere separation of the spouse rather than the formality of paperwork. As this verse states plainly, it is the separation itself that God hates.

However, by translating "shalach" in this context to "divorce" instead of separation, this verse is often interpreted in accordance with modern divorce procedures, which is incorrect. In our modern society, separation is understood to be an intermediate stage before actual divorce. When reading this verse from that particular frame of reference, it is thought that it is only the finalization of divorce that God detests, while the intermediate stage of separation is not a problem. But this is a blatantly false portrayal of the text because in text, it is the separation of the married couple that God hates. It is the act wherein one spouse is put out of the house so that the two no longer have to live as man and wife under one roof that God hates.

The use of "shalach" makes this clear. If it were merely the bill of divorce that God hated, God would have used the words "cepher" (Strong's No. 05612) and "kariythuwth" (Strong's No. 03748), which are used collectively to refer to the "bill of divorce" throughout the Old Testament. But neither "cepher" or "kariythuwth" appear at all in this passage. So, we know that it is the separation or "shalach" that God detests.

(Side Note: Even if "bill of divorce" did appear in this passage, it would still be incorrect to interpret this passage in light of modern procedures instead of the Old Testament procedures that were in place when this was written. Since in the Old Testament a "bill of divorce" had to be issued when the separation was initiated, this passage would still forbid separation because the order of separation and bill of divorce are reversed in the Old Testament compared to our modern practices. So, in the Old Testament, to hate the bill of divorce which initiated the separation would also be to forbid the separation that followed.)

Fourth, we should take a good long look at verse 17. In verse 17, without any change in subject, God closes up his commentary against marital separation by saying that his people have wearied him with their words. Specifically, God says that he is wearied when his people declare that those who do evil are good in God's sight and that God delights in those who do evil. God is not content simply to condemn marital separation in this chapter. Instead, God wants to make absolutely clear that not only does he hate marital separation, but that he is against those who say that God delights in or regards as good those who practice the things he hates. In this context, God is against those who declare a person who separates from a spouse to be good in God's eyes or that God delights in such a person.

Furthermore, by contrast we can see that God clearly does not delight in those who separate from their spouse. Nor are they any longer good in his sight. He does not approve of or delight in their second marriages. Nor does he consider their second marriages a good thing.

This is the last reference to separating from a spouse that is mentioned in the Old Testament. It leads up perfectly to Jesus' teaching in the Gospels, which is where we turn next as we move ahead to our survey of "putting away" spouses in the New Testament.

As we move to the New Testament, we will briefly recap how separation worked in the Old Testament so that we can accurately understand what changes Jesus makes in his teaching on the subject. All of these things are set up from Deuteronomy 24 and there is no alteration given anywhere in the Old Testament to these protocols - a fact which is evidenced by the Pharisees continuation of Deuteronomy 24 in the first century as recorded in Matthew 19 and Mark 10.

These Old Testament comments concerning marital separation can be placed into 2 categories: prescriptive and predictive. The prescriptive comments governed marital separation while the Law of Moses was in effect. The predictive comments provide hints of God's true, higher standard for marital separation, which actually superceded the prescriptions under the Law of Moses.


Prescriptive

1.) Separation and divorce were not different stages with separation being an intermediate stage between living together and being divorced.

Deuteronomy 24:1 ...then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

2.) There were only two states of a marriage: a.) Living together in one house as husband and wife. b.) Putting the other spouse out of the house so that you no longer had to live as husband and wife.

Deuteronomy 24:1 ...then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

3.) Divorce is only mentioned in the phrase "bill of divorcement," which was merely the written document that initiated the separation. Thus the focus was always on the separation, and not on the documentation.

Deuteronomy 24:1 ...then let him write her a bill of divorcement...

4.) The bill of divorce initiated and therefore came before the separation instead of afterward (unlike modern separation and divorce proceedings in which separation is usually a period of time that comes before a formal divorce.)

Deuteronomy 24:1 ...then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house...

5.) A man could divorce his wife for virtually any cause, even as simple as her no longer finding favor or having charm in his eyes.

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her...

6) It was not allowed for a man to take his wife back after she had married another man.

Deuteronomy 24:2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. 3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4 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.


Predictive

1) In Leviticus 21, the prohibition of the priests from marrying women who had been put away for the sake of holiness indicates that God's true standard is that remarriage is unholy and not acceptable.

Leviticus 21:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them...7 They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God...14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.

2) In Jeremiah 3, God's allegorical statements concerning Israel wherein God says that he will reconcile with Israel after giving her a bill of divorce and sending her away in spite of Deuteronomy's prohibition of such things, indicates that God's true standard is not only that there should be no remarriage to new spouses but that original spouses should instead be reconciled.

Jeremiah 3:1 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 the LORD...8 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.

3) In Jeremiah 3, God's allegorical statements about rejecting Israel for spiritual adultery hints that his true standard is that separation from a spouse is only allowed if that spouse commits adultery and even then God desires that the separation only last until reconciliation is possible.

Jeremiah 3:8 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.

With the understanding that this is how separation worked in the Old Testament, let's move ahead to see what Jesus instructs about these protocols for marital separation.