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Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary e. Miscellaneous Laws (21:1–25:19)

1. The first condition was that following his marriage the man found some indecency (lit. ‘nakedness of a thing’) in his wife. The meaning of this noun is not clear, but we may conjecture that some immodest exposure or unwomanly conduct is meant. It cannot mean adultery, for this carried the death penalty. The procedure for divorce is outlined. The husband wrote a bill of divorce (lit. ‘a document of cutting off’), placed it in the woman’s hand and sent her away.

The story of Hosea (1–3) is the story of a man who refused to divorce his wife, despite her unfaithfulness. He was thus in a position to take her back when he had found her. So God was faithful to Israel despite her unfaithfulness and did not put her away irrevocably (cf. Jer. 3:1–8).

Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary e. Miscellaneous Laws (21:1–25:19)

merely with re-marriage after divorce. If a man divorces his wife, and she marries another who either dies or in turn divorces her, her former husband is forbidden to re-marry her. The legal definition of the case is set out in the form of several conditions so that the protasis of the conditional sentence takes up three verses (cf. Exod. 21:1–6 where a similar lengthy protasis occurs). The law is thus a casuistic one.

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