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Divorcing Of Foreign Wives

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(1)   The OT Law did permit divorce—with God’s permission not His blessing (Deut. 24:1-4; Lev. 21:14; 22:13; Num. 30:9).

(2)   There is no condemnation of Ezra for his actions (his actions followed a night of fasting and prayer, 10:6).

(3)   Malachi suggests that some, if not many, of these men had divorced their Jewish wives in order to take foreign wives.

(4)   There is no hint of remarriage.  This separation from their foreign wives would be similar to a newly converted tribal chieftain renouncing his marital relations with his multiple wives.

(5)   The issue is not one of race as much as one of religion.  The Law prohibited Jewish intermarriage for religious reasons (Deut. 7:3-4).  The severity of the problem had to be dealt with seriously.  (Over 100 men are listed as involved in Ezra 10).

(6)   In Deut. 21:10-14, the Jews were permitted to marry foreign women taken captive in battle.  This no doubt presupposes the willingness of the foreign woman to become a Jewish proselyte and worship the God of Israel.  Rahab obviously is such an example—she married a Hebrew man, Salmon (Matt. 1:5).

(7)   This latter fact may explain the careful, individual attention given to the marriages (three months of investigation).  Local city elders could assess the marriage and, knowing the people involved, determine whether the wife was a Jewish proselyte.  Possibly, all those marriages where the wife was not a destructive religious influence were allowed to stand.

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