And unto the married I command
To the unmarried and widows he spoke by permission, or only gave advice and counsel to remain unmarried, provided they could contain; but if not, it was advisable to marry; but to persons already in a married state, what he has to say to them is by commandment, enjoining what they are under obligation to observe, not being at liberty to do as they will:
yet not I, but the Lord;
not as if he took upon him the dominion over them, to make laws for them, and, in an imperious authoritative way, oblige them to obedience to them; no; what he was about to deliver, was not a law of his own enacting and obtruding, but what their Lord, their Creator, head, husband, and Redeemer, had ordered and enjoined; and this grave solemn way of speaking he makes use of, to excite their attention, command awe and reverence, make the greater impression upon their minds, and show the obligation they were under to regard what was said:
let not the wife depart from her husband;
for the same law that obliges a man to cleave to his wife, obliges the wife to cleave to her husband, ( Genesis 2:24 ) and those words of Christ, "what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder", ( Matthew 19:6 ) regard the one as well as the other; and the rules he has given, forbidding divorces only in case of adultery, ( Matthew 5:32 ) ( 19:9 ) are as binding upon the wife as upon the husband. The wife therefore should not depart from her husband upon every slight occasion; not on account of any quarrel, or disagreement that may arise between them; or for every instance of moroseness and inhumanity; or because of diseases and infirmities; nor even on the score of difference in religion which, by what follows, seems to be greatly the case in view. The apostle observes this, in opposition to some rules and customs which obtained among Jews and Gentiles, divorcing and separating from one another upon various accounts; not only husbands put away their wives, but wives also left their husbands: for women to put away, or leave their husbands, were not in former times allowed of among the Jews, but from other nations crept in among them; indeed if a man married one under age, and she did not like him for her husband, she might refuse him, and go away without a bill of divorce; the manner of refusal was, by saying before two witnesses, I do not like such an one for my husband, or I do not like the espousals, with which my mother or my brother espoused me, or in such like words; and sometimes a written form of refusal was given F13; but otherwise where marriage was consummated, such a departure of the wife was not allowed. Salome, the sister of Herod, is thought to be the first that introduced it, who sent a bill of divorce to Costobarus F14 her husband; and in this she was followed by Herodias, the daughter of Aristobulus, who left her husband, and married Herod Antipas F15; and it seems certain, that this practice prevailed in Christ's time, since not only such a case is supposed, ( Mark 10:12 ) but a very flagrant instance is given in the woman of Samaria, ( John 4:18 ) who had had five husbands, not in a lawful regular manner, one after another upon their respective deaths, but she had married them, and put them away one after another: and as for the Gentiles, the account the Jews F16 give of them is, that though they had
``no divorces in form, they put away one another; R. Jochanan says, (wtvrgm wtva) , "a man's wife might put him away", and give him the dowry:''though, according to other accounts, they had divorces in form, which, when a man put away a woman, were called (grammata apopomphv) , "letters of dismission"; and when a woman left her husband, (apoleiqewv grammata) , "letters of dereliction", such as Hipparchia the wife of Alcibiades gave to him F17; and Justin Martyr F18 gives us an instance of a Christian woman, who gave her husband what the Roman senate called a divorce.
F13 Maimon. Hilch. Gerushim, c. 11. 1. 8. 11. & Ishot, c. 4. sect. 3.
F14 Joseph. Antiqu. l. 15. c. 7. sect. 10.
F15 lb. l. 18. c. 6. sect. 1.
F16 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 18. fol. 15. 3.
F17 Plutarch. in Alcibiade.
F18 Apolog. 1. p. 41, 42.