What is The “Uncleanness” Spoken of in Deuteronomy 24:1?
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
A close look at the writing of divorcement which follows will help answer the question (from God’s perspective) posed by these blind leaders of the blind:
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house.
What is the meaning of the uncleanness that the scriptures speak of in this verse?
Unfortunately the mind of unregenerate mankind has expanded the concept of this word to mean anything that benefits his/her self-centered purpose. But God in His word has given the true believer His meaning of “uncleanness.” It just so happens that in the 22nd chapter of this same book (Deuteronomy) God has given the definition of this “uncleanness” (verse 14 specifically):
If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
The final event of the wedding ceremony that made the marriage official was the sexual union of the man and the woman. Thus what God had joined together (the two becoming one flesh) by His word during the marriage ceremony the man would complete by going in unto his wife through the process of sexual union. If he found her not to be a virgin prior to penetration he could “put her away” (hate her). This was the “uncleanness” that the law of divorcement speaks to. There must be proof that she was not a virgin (verse 15).
And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
The definition of the word maid is as follows:
1331> bethuwliym, beth-oo-leem’; masc. plur. of the same as 1330; (collect. and abstr.) virginity; by impl. and concr. the tokens of it:-X maid, virginity.
—————— Dictionary Trace ——————
1330> bethuwlah, beth-oo-law’; fem. pass. part. of an unused root mean. to separate; a virgin (from her privacy); sometimes (by continuation) a bride; also (fig.) a city or state:-maid, virgin.
Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth [
[the tokens of] the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
There was evidently, as inferred in this verse, a method of proof that was used to prove the virginity of a perspective bride (espoused bride). It could have been some sort of examination made by a physician prior to the wedding night, so that if a question arose on the brides virginity prior to her husband coming into her it could be cleared up by the record of this examination.
And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech [against her], saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these [are the tokens of] my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
And they shall amerce him in an hundred [shekels] of silver, and give [them] unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
But if this thing be true, [and the tokens of] virginity be not found for the damsel:
Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
This is a very important law for it ultimately speaks to the virginity of the bride of Christ that He will take unto Himself after the judgement of the last day.
This bride that he takes unto himself will have been made a virgin by His righteousness that cleanses His elect of all their adulteress sins.
All believers have been espoused (engaged) to Christ, but on judgement day he will examine all who make a profession of faith and if that faith proves to be false, they will stand before Him naked in the fullness of their sins. There will be found no token of virginity (His righteousness). They will be cast into outer darkness.
God has, in Matthew’s gospel, given the child of God a historical view of how this law was to be understood and properly adhered to. Notice how Joseph responded to the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy based on this law of divorcement:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant and he knew that it was not his child. Although Joseph had the right, according to the law of divorcement referenced in Deuteronomy 24 and 22, to put Mary away publicly, he chose not to do so. As the next verse states he did not know that this was the work of God and not the results of some man who had been with Mary.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
To seek for a divorce for any reason other than that which Deuteronomy 22:13-12 speaks to is strictly prohibited by the word of God. Thus to seek for a divorce for adultery after the man has come in unto this wife is sin, whether he divorces her or she divorces him.
The permanence of this relationship is completed after intercourse, the two are now one and forgiveness must be the course of action for all that love God by being obedient to His command, “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder”.
By R. Dean