Jeremiah 3:8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.

Mark 10:2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ a 7‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Did God issue the certificate of divorce?

Did God divorce the Northern Kingdom of Israel?

Why did Jeremiah use the certificate-of-divorce symbolism if the symbol was not 100% from God?


2 Answers 2


There are two matters here that need to be kept in tension: family law vs covenant contract.

Family Law and Divorce

Divorce was discourage (Mal 2:16) but permitted in ancient Israel as per Deut 24:1-5. Jesus, in commenting upon this law (Matt 19:1-12) was quite clear that it was only because of "the hardness of your hearts but it was not this way from the beginning" (V8).

Covenant Contract

When God chose Israel to be His special possession and created the Israelite Covenant in Ex 19-23, its purpose was quite specific. Ex 19:3-6

“This is what you are to tell the house of Jacob and explain to the sons of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you will be My treasured possession out of all the nations—for the whole earth is Mine. And unto Me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to speak to the Israelites.”

The covenant that God established with ancient Israel was often compared to a marriage in places such as Jer 2:2, 3:8, 14, 31:31, 32, Eze 16:8, 13, 14, the whole book of Hosea, and even in the NT we find the metaphor used again in Rev 19:7.

Now notice that the covenant that God made with Israel was conditional as per Ex 19:5 -

Now if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you will be My treasured possession …

It an unhappy fact of history that the after the division of Israel into the northern Samarian kingdom vs the southern Judean/Jerusalem kingdom, that the northern became increasingly unfaithful. The purpose of the covenant was singular - to display to the world the manifold grace of the true God of heaven. They failed to do this and so Jeremiah used this historic example as a lesson of what might happen to Judah unless she turned back to serving God.

Historically, Jeremiah 3:8 likens God's rejection of the northern kingdom to a divorce (because of their unfaithfulness) which occurred about 722 BC when Assyria captured Samaria, deported the people and imported other people. The northern kingdom quickly disappeared from history.

Thus, I see no conflict between Jer 3:8 and Mark 10.


Matthew has an important piece of information that Mark misses.

Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, EXCEPT it be for FORNICATION, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Hosea 1:2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD."

God did divorce the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Hosea 1:6-9 Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, "Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. "But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen." When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God."

But as always He turns our failures into success.

The Torah says that husband can not remarry his divorced wife.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

That is why the bridegroom had to die. After He had resurrected that law does not apply any more and now He can take her back. Just like Peter told us quoting Hosea 1:6-9.

1 Peter 2:10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

Which agrees with what Hosea prophesied himself just after God divorced Israel.

Hosea 1:10-11 Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, "You are not My people," It will be said to them, "You are the sons of the living God." And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, And they will appoint for themselves one leader, And they will go up from the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel.

Now we are only waiting for the sons of Israel (sons of nations that is Christians) and Jews to be gathered together under one leader, Jesus our bridegroom.

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