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" a man to put away his wife, if the were not agreeable to her husband."
Jofephus and Philo fhew very fufficiently, that in their time the Jews believed divorce to be lawful on every trivial cause. That the Pharifees had learnt to explain the toleration of Mofes in a like extenfive manner, may be gathered from the question which they put to our SAVIOUR. The above observations may therefore ferve as a key to the fcripture under confideration. The Pharifees (who afked, whether it was lawful for a man to put away his wife for every caufe?) seem to have been deeply tinctured with that pofition of Hillell, and to have adopted that particular caufe of divorce mentioned by him, that of Seeing a woman they liked better, so putting away one whom they liked less, in order to take another whom they liked more. Against this CHRIST may be understood to level his anfwer-Whosoever putteth away his wife, except for the caufe of fornication, and marrieth another, committeth adultery, &c. not as condemning polygamy in itfelf, against which there was no law, but under the particular circumftance
Of Akiba it is faid-Circa ea tempora vixit-" he lived about thofe times." Athan. Vinc.
Dr. Owen on the fcripture, p. 227, makes him armourbearer to the Pfeudo-Meffias Barchochab, in the days of Adrian; when, in the purfuit of a defign to reftore their temple and worship, the Jews fell into a rebellion against the Romans all the world over. This was about the year 135. From thefe different accounts, it feems probable that there was more than one perfon of the name of Akiba, or, as fome call him, Aquiba.
of unlawful divorce to effect it, against which the law of GOD was from the beginning. Such a thing was not contained in Mofes's permiffion, nor mentioned therein, but was contrary to the very inftitution of marriage; and, as our LORD fhews clearly, ver. 4, 5, 6, virtually forbidden by the very words of it. words of it. It was as unlawful for a man to put away or divorce his wife for another woman, as for a woman to put away or divorce her husband for another man: the marriage-bond being equally binding as to the matter of putting away. We may also observe, that though the faints of GOD, of whom we read fo much in the Old Teftament *, practised polygamy, yet they did not put away one wife in order to make room for
* The example of the Heathens and Mahometans . may indeed be of no great force in the argument for po66 lygamy, because it appears that thofe people are guilty of many violations of the law of nature; but the polygamy of the fathers under the old covenant, is a rea"fon which ingenuous men muft confefs to be unan"fwerable." See Puffendorf, lib. vi. c. 1. § 18.
Some have thought, that the examples of Abraham, Jacob, and the other Old-Teftament faints, are too far removed into antiquity, to ferve as proofs for the lawfulnefs of polygamy.-But did ever any one object to the hiftory of Cain, as an example of the criminality of murder, or of GoD's thoughts on that fubject? or does the Apostle, in the epiftle to the Hebrews, fcruple to recapitulate, by name, thofe herocs of antiquity, who did fuch mighty works by the power of faith, as examples to us? In fhort, doth he not affure us, Rom xv. 4. That WHATSOEVER THINGS were written afore-time, were written for our learning? But what can we learn from either the precepts or examples of old time, if we are to fuppofe that GOD has changed his mind upon the fubjects which they hold forth to us?
another. This was as directly forbidden them by the law of GOD, delivered by Mofes, as by CHRIST, on the authority of that law, to these Pharifees.
Here I would obferve, that our tranflators of the Bible seem to have paid too much attention to the Scribes and Pharifees, in the rendering the paffage referred to for the juftification of their doctrines about divorce. The Pharifees fay, Mofes COMMANDED to give a writing of divorcement, and put her away. Thus the rabbies conftrued Deut. xxiv. 1, &c. in the imperative mood; and we, by doing the fame in our tranflation of that paffage, have justified their misinterpretation, and even justify the divorced woman's going to be another man's wife. She may go, and be another man's wife; so we translate, verse 2. No marvel, if this be the cafe, that CHRIST is fuppofed to condemn fomething which was before allowed; whereas the whole paffage is fuppofitory or hypothetical, and only introductory of that pofitive law, ver. 4. The whole fhould be rendered thus, if we would avoid the abfurdity of fuppofing Mofes to command, what GOD pofitively forbad, and to confign a married woman into the arms of an adulterer, in the very face of the feventh commandment, by faying, "She may go and be another man's wife." ver. 2. This would be establishing adultery by a folemn law.
The learned Dr. Whitby, in order to get rid of this consequence, is for fuppofing, that thefe divorces dif
The Hebrew text fhould be renderedWhen, (or if) a man hath taken a wife, or woman, and married her, and it come to paf that fhe find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found fome uncleanness in her, and (IF) he write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and fend her out of his house, and she Shall have departed out of his houfe, and (IF) The go and be another man's wife, and IF the latter husband hate her, (here we explain the
by an IF, why not before?) and write her a bill of divorcement, &c. or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife, her former husband, which fent her away, may not take her again to his wife after that she is DEFILED, for that is abomination before the LORD, and thou fhalt not cause the land to fin, which the LORD thy GoD giveth thee for an inheritance.
Thus the Greek * interpreters express the fense of these four verfes, and the Vulgar Latin,
folved the bond of marriage; but this is directly contrary to what CHRIST afferts, for his whole argument fhews,. that nothing can do this, but adultery in the wife. The Doctor was certainly led into this miitake, by our wrong tranflation of the paffage, in Deut. xxiv. 1-4.
* To the teftimonies here mentioned, for this interpretation of the Hebrew text, we may add that of the learned Buxtorf; who obferves, that in the words of Mofes, Deut. xxiv. 1-4. (fee Jer. iii. 1.) this one prohibition only is contained,-"That a man fhall not receive ¿¿ again to his bed, a wife which he hath once put away" but that the custom itself of putting away wives, is, in that place, neither approved by Mofes, nor plainly condemned, but left as it were indifferent. And the obfervation of our Saviour, that this permiffion was given by Mofes, because of the hardness of their hearts, fufficiently
Latin, yea, and the Chaldee paraphrase may be fo understood. So Tremellius renders the words, and Vatablus explains them, Scripferitque ei libellum repudii & dederit Ei in manu, ejeceritque, &c. If he shall have written her a bill divorce, &c. "This is not an absolute sen"tence, faith Vatablus, "but ought to be joined to the words following, which shew "that IF fuch things happened, that IF a "man divorced his wife, and IF another took "her, the former husband might not take "her again, she having been defiled." Which proves the fame thing contended for by our LORD, in His difcourfe with the Pharifees, that those permiffive divorces, which, fays He, Mofes permitted, ÉTÉтρE↓ev-not, as the Pharifees would have it, everέnato, commanded— made no difference as to the marriage-bond in the fight of GOD, The man who put away his wife, for no other caufe than marrying another, which was the practice of these people, committed a great fin, not only by not cleaving to his wife, as GoD had commanded, but by putting her away for another woman, and thus caufing her to commit adultery with another man. See Matt. v. 32. And in this fenfe, as accesary to his divorced wife's crime,
makes it appear, that the Mofaical indulgence doth not amount to an approbation, but fignifies only a bare toleration, or connivance, exempting from civil punishment. See Puffend. b. vi. c. I. § 23.
So Clark on Matth. xix. 8. intimates, that "Mofes "permitted divorce to prevent a greater civil mischief. "He did fo far allow of it, as to exempt them that did ❝ it from any civil punishment, but ftill it was a tranf"greffion of the moral law, and so a fin against GOD."