Mar 16

Jewish BetrothalThe Divorce and Remarriage Jewish Betrothal theory is that the “except it be for fornication” (Mat 19:9) exception given by Jesus was only concern the end of Jewish betrothals or engagements and not concerning ending a marriage with divorce and remarrying.

The follow are some objections to the Jewish Betrothal theory.

1. Can Todays Formal Engagement Be Broken — This position creates a pre-marriage relationship which is adultery to break and marry anyone else. If this is the case with Jewish Betrothal then this may also mean today when a formal engagement is made, broke, and one of the two parties marries someone else they are in adultery.

2. Two Account Of The Same Discussion Can’t Mean Two Different Things — It appears that the Mathew 19 and Mark 10 are two accounts of the same occurrence. With the Jewish Betrothal theory we now have Matt 19:9 teaching on an engagement issue and Mark 10:11 dealing with a marriage issue. It can’t be both, it must be one or the other.

Clearly Mark 10 is dealing with marriage. If Mark 10 and Matthew 19 are the same accounts then Matthew 19 must also be dealing with the very same issue that Mark 10 was dealing with. You can’t take two accounts that are the same and make one mean one thing and the other mean something different.

3. Porneia Translated Immorality Not Fornication — As the KJV has become less used and less relevant the Jewish Betrothal theory has taken on a second object to overcome. Most new translations translate Porneia in Mat 19:9 as immorality (NIV, NASB, NKJV) or unchastity (AMP). Out of 22 modern English translations that Bible Gateway offers only 4 (KJV, ASV, NJ21, DT) translate porneia as fornication.

4. Out Of Context — The context of Matthew 19:9 is found in Mathew 9:3-12. The context of the first question Jesus is asked (vs3) was about marriage not about Jewish Betrothal. The reasoning Jesus uses in his answer (vs4-6) is concerning marriage not Jewish Betrothal. The second question (vs7) that Jesus was asked deals with Deut 24:1-2 which has nothing to do with betrothal. To apply his answer (v8-9) to Jewish Betrothal is to take verse 9 completely out of context.

5. Betrothal Was Also A Gentile Practice — Betrothal was also a practice among the Romans. If it is adultery to remarry after break a betrothal agreement for any other reason than fornication, why would this be left out in Mark’s account to the Gentiles.

The King James Only position is very hard to maintain and the position to translate porneia in Mat 19:9 as fornication is equally difficult to maintain. This has made the Jewish Betrothal theory much more difficult to maintain as the KJV translation is used less.

6. Creates Insurmountable Objections — While the Jewish Betrothal theory is one way to try to bring Mat 19:9 into agreement with Mark 10:2-12 , Luke 16:18, Rom 7:1-3, and 1Cor 7:11,29; it also creates additional difficulties of its own as does McFall’s and Kulikovsky’s positions. I would hold that the difficulties created by either McFall’s or Kulikovsky’s position are easier to overcome than the objections that the Jewish Betrothal theory presents.

Further I would hold that the Jewish Betrothal theory creates insurmountable objections to the degree that it will cause people to reject what the new covenant scriptures on divorce and remarriage in Mark 10:2-12 , Luke 16:18, Rom 7:1-3, and 1Cor 7:11,29. They will instead add the exception clause from Mat 19:9 to all the other scriptures. Both McFall’s and Kulikovsky’s positions bring all new covenant scriptures into agreement and the objections to their positions are fewer and easier to explain.

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9 Responses to “Divorce And Remarriage And Jewish Betrothal”

  1. 1. Jude4 Says:


    I believe Josiahs Scott has overcome all the challenges above in his unfinished book which is here
    No sense in me retyping everything.

  2. 2. Paul Says:

    To me, each view I have studied has strong points and weaknesses. Only one view can be 100% correct. I do not know which view is correct.

    The incestuous/unlawful marriage view(Lev 18) makes more sense to me than the betrothal view, personally, but I know it has weaknesses. I want to study both more.

    The alternative reading from old manuscripts for 19:9 in the footnotes of the RSV, NRSV, and ESV is a strong argument, too, IMO, but I think there are weaknesses there, too.

    Some thoughts.

  3. 3. john moussa Says:

    Jewish betrothal was considered marriage. In a nut shell Jesus was about the abuse of woman and their protection. Marriage was that significant to God that when He divorced Israel in Jeremiah, He never married again until the death of the old covenant, by the death of Jesus on the cross. He then betrothed the church as His new bride.
    If God was saying that its ok to remarry because of immorality, while the ex is still alive, He forgot to tell Paul in 1 Cor 7 and Rom 7. Paul had an opposite view. Once married always married until death. Other than that you are, even in adultery!! to work it out or separate. How important is marriage to God. Don’t read into something which is not there. Its easy to sin and remarry than to work it out with your partner. I will challenge anyone on this teaching. The truth is and will stand forever. Once married always until its Gold chain is broken at death.

  4. 4. bob Says:

    Hi John,

    >>>Jewish betrothal was considered marriage.

    Apparently not as if we would believe those that hold Matthew 19:9 is concerning Jewish betrothal it could be cancelled in the case of fornication. As you would hold this is not true of marriage I am surprised to hear you say it was considered marriage.

    >>>Marriage was that significant to God that when He divorced Israel in Jeremiah, He never married again until the death of the old covenant, by the death of Jesus on the cross. He then betrothed the church as His new bride.

    I don’t think this applies the way you are presenting it. God divorced Israel (Jer 3:8) not the old covenant, Israel didn’t die and in fact is still living, yet God has betrothed the church and has cast both Israel and the law out (Gal 6:30).

    How ever Paul does talk about marriage to Christ and being dead to the law in reference those brethren that were under the law in Romans chapter 7.

    >>>If God was saying that its ok to remarry because of immorality, while the ex is still alive, He forgot to tell Paul in 1 Cor 7 and Rom 7.

    I don’t hold the view that it is ok to remarry because of immorality nor does rejecting that Mat 19:9 refers to the Jewish betrothal theory any indication that one would hold it is ok to remarry because of immorality.

    >>>Once married always married until death. Other than that you are, even in adultery!!

    That is the position I would hold.

    >>>Don’t read into something which is not there.

    I don’t think that is what I am doing, in fact that is what I am saying is those that hold Mat 19:9 is referring the Jewish betrothal theory are reading into the scriptures something which is not there.


  5. 5. Iron Chariot Says:

    Is it me or was Mary a betrothed woman when god impregnated her?

  6. 6. bob Says:

    Hi Iron,

    It was Mary.


  7. 7. joan Says:

    can anybody tell me clear if once u get marry and the relationship doesn’t work out good…is there’s can be(possible)reason to get marry again??after divorce or separation?

  8. 8. bob Says:

    Hi Joan,

    Some would say to you:

    whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. — Mat 5:32

    Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. — Luke 16:18

    And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. — Mk 10:11-12

    For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. — Rom 7:2-3

    But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. — 1Cor 7:11, 39

    But others would tell you:

    But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. — 1Cor 7:15

    And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. — Mat 19:9


  9. 9. William Says:

    I find this topic interesting. While it is clear to me that the bible states that no believer is to divorce and re-marry, how can this standard be also placed on the non-believer? The above verses appear to be written to believers. If someone gets a divorce, re-marries, and several years and children later becomes a believer, is it reasonable to expect, in a real world situation, the God would hold a sin of the past against a new believer? Would breaking up a happy family be in the will of God? To me, the after-the-fact marital situations, which can be very involved and complicated, are more confusing than the during-the-fact situations. My opinion would be similar to DS Warner, that each case would need to be dealt with on a case-to-case basis, and leave the judging to God in this subject. If someone feels good about their decision, they have to answer to God for it, and they will in the end.

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