Matthew 5:32

32 1But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and 2whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 5:32 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 5:32

But I say unto you; that whosoever shall put away his wife,
&c.] Christ does not infringe, or revoke the original grant, or permission of divorce; only frees it from the false interpretations, and ill use, the Pharisees made of it; and restores the ancient sense of it, in which only it was to be understood: for a divorce was allowable in no case,

saving for the cause of fornication;
which must not be taken strictly for what is called fornication, but as including adultery, incest, or any unlawful copulation; and is opposed to the sense and practices of the Pharisees, who were on the side of Hillell: who admitted of divorce, upon the most foolish and frivolous pretences whatever; when Shammai and his followers insisted on it, that a man ought only to put away his wife for uncleanness; in which they agreed with Christ. For so it is written F9,

``The house of Shammai say, a man may not put away his wife, unless he finds some uncleanness in her, according to ( Deuteronomy 24:1 ) The house of Hillell say, if she should spoil his food, (that is, as Jarchi and Bartenora explain it, burns it either at the fire, or with salt, i.e. over roasts or over salts it,) who appeal also to ( Deuteronomy 24:1 ) . R. Akiba says, if he finds another more beautiful than her, as it is said, ( Deuteronomy 24:1 ) "and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes."''

The commentators F11 on this passage say that the determination of the matter is, according to the school of Millell; so that, according to them, a woman might be put away for a very trivial thing: some difference is made by some of the Jewish doctors, between a first and second wife; the first wife, they say F12, might not be put away, but for adultery; but the second might be put away, if her husband hated her; or she was of ill behaviour, and impudent, and not modest, as the daughters of Israel. Now our Lord says, without any exception, that a man ought not to put away his wife, whether first or second, for any other reason than uncleanness; and that whoever does, upon any other account,

causeth her to commit adultery;
that is, as much as in him lies: should she commit it, he is the cause of it, by exposing her, through a rejection of her, to the sinful embraces of others; and, indeed, should she marry another man, whilst he is alive, which her divorce allows her to do, she must be guilty of adultery; since she is his proper wife, the bond of marriage not being dissolved by such a divorce: and

whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery;
because the divorced woman he marries, and takes to his bed; is legally the wife of another man; and it may be added, from ( Matthew 19:9 ) that her husband, who has put her away, upon any other account than fornication, should he marry another woman, would be guilty of the same crime.


F9 Misn. Gittin, c. 9. sect. 10. Vid. T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 49. 4. & Sota, fol. 16. 2. & Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 195. 2.
F11 Maimon. & Bartenora in Gittin, c. 9. sect. 10.
F12 T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 90. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Gerushin, c. 10. sect. 21, 22.

Matthew 5:32 In-Context

30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
31 "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.'
32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.'
34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

Cross References 2

  • 1. Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11, 12; Luke 16:18; [1 Corinthians 7:10, 11]
  • 2. Romans 7:3
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