Matthew Poole Commentary - Matthew 5:32 - 5:32

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Matthew Poole Commentary - Matthew 5:32 - 5:32


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Ver. 31,32. The law to which our Saviour refers here, or rather the indulgence and toleration, (for none was obliged to put away their wives in case of uncleanness), is that Deu_24:1, where we have it in these words: When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her; then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it her in her hand, and send her out of his house. The Pharisees had extended this toleration which God gave husbands amongst the Jews to other cases, besides that of uncleanness or adultery; so as they put away their wives upon every slight occasion, interpreting those words, that she find no favour in his eyes, separately from the following words, because he hath found some uncleanness in her, and gave a liberty for men upon any dislike of their wives to put them away, provided that they first gave them a bill of divorcement; and that in these cases it was lawful for the parties, thus separated from each other, to marry to whom either of them pleased; and this is expressed in terms in their form of those writings of divorcement, in Josephus and other writers. This indeed is a case properly relating to the judicial law; but all the judicial laws are either appendices to the moral or to the ceremonial law. This particular indulgence was an appendix to the moral law, by the seventh commandment, to which our Saviour is now speaking, and giving the true sense of it. He here opposeth the Pharisees in two points.



1. Asserting that all divorces are unlawful except in case of adultery.



2. Asserting that whosoever married her that was put away committed adultery.



It hath been a great question, not so much amongst divines as amongst lawyers, whether it be not lawful in any case to put away a wife, unless for adultery? The canonists have found out many cases in which they affirm it lawful. And the Council of Trent (from whom we may learn the sense of the popish divines) anathematize those who deny the church a power of determining other causes of divorce. But their blasphemous curse falleth upon him, who is above them, God over all blessed for ever, who in this text hath determined that point. Nor indeed did Moses give a toleration in any other cases. There may indeed be a parting between man and wife upon other accounts, either wholly or in part: in case one of them will part from the other, which the apostle determines, 1Co_7:11,15; in which case the person departing is only guilty if he or she marry again. In case of an error, through ignorance or inadvertency, upon the marriage, that it appeareth that the persons married were such as by the law of nature and of God ought not to have married, &c. But if we take divorce for the voluntary act of the husband putting away of his wife, it is unlawful in any case but that of adultery, which dissolves the marriage knot and covenant. A second question is also here determined by our Saviour, viz. that it is unlawful for her, that is justly put away, to marry to any other, or for any other to marry her wittingly.