Genesis 2:24 says that a man should leave his parents after marriage:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Jesus (in Matthew) and Paul (in Eph) repeat this idea:

Mat 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Mat 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

What does it mean to leave one's father and mother? Is this borne out in the lives of the patriarchs, who seem to sometimes live with their extended families? For example, after Isaac marries we get this:

Gen 24:67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. ... Gen 25:5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

So Abraham's son Isaac when married to Rebecca was with his father even after the marriage and had an extended family. A generation later, Jacob lived with his father-in-law after marrying Leah and Rachel (though maybe in-laws don't count).

So does Genesis support extended families living together, or nuclear families?

  • 2
    Hi Monica - Thanks for the edit adding another example while focussing on Genesis texts.
    – Tauri
    Jun 26, 2013 at 4:43
  • The marriage of his son may have been the reason for Abraham to marry again, so that Isaac could leave him. With Jacob in regard to his father-in-law it seems that one kept him (against Gen 2:24) like a slave until they can leave.
    – hannes
    Jun 26, 2013 at 5:28
  • 1
    hannes- your reasoning may be logical, but we find no concrete evidence of any text for your argument.
    – Tauri
    Jun 27, 2013 at 6:17
  • Note that your sources say that a man should leave his parents, while in your example of Jacob the man did leave his parents; it's only Rachel and Leah (women) who didn't leave their parents.
    – Alex
    Aug 16, 2018 at 0:58

2 Answers 2


God-ordained Metaphysical Union

These texts indicate a metaphysical union of man and woman as husband and wife. The mystery of becoming "one" is understood to reflect the nature of a complementary joining of the sexes into a new familial unit, as God intended it be, ordinarily attended by the blessing of progeny. [Note: I have not found the key words in these texts to lend greater insight than the translations.]

The "leaving" is coterminous with the recognition of the nuclear family (begun by husband-wife). The family is the basic unit of human organization in the created order. Thus, matters of household authority, economy, and relations are shouldered by each successive generation. The recognition of such independence of the family is a natural right, susceptible to the situational banes and blessings of sin and grace.

Settling a Family Unit

Proximity or multifamily living situations do not negate the family unit, though they may infringe upon their functions. The settlement of Israel by tribes in the land of Canaan provides a geographic picture of familial proximity, but the facts of inheritance, separate tents, separate cities, etc. all evidence the fact of the spread of families.

While, the command to honor one's father and mother remains throughout one's life as a principle guideline, when a man and wife begin a family, scripture teaches [both the Hebrew and New Testament scriptures] that the two are now distinctly separated from their mothers and fathers. There are new roles of authority, economy, and the raising of a new family to be taken up by the new pair.

Walking in Honor and as a New Household

Between letting children be married leave home, and honoring ones parents, we have the basic principles upon which the circumstances of our successive generations are worked out whether in obedience or disgrace. In general, successive generations may "walk" in the fear of the LORD and receive blessings on their generations; or, they may walk in a variety of other idolatrous and adulterous ways to the condemnation of their generations.

This is all very general, but we are talking about the basic letting of a husband and wife to govern their household; or the hindering of that basic succession. As to whether it is sinful for a newly married couple to live on property with parents, that is a question of the roles and economy taken up - are they free from the meddling of their affairs? And the parents also? Each must be careful of their responsibilities in the agreement and to not overwrite the established order, which God has made.

Further clarity on Isaac's position in regards to the ethics of his situation in his mother tent is needed from historical information. That information would be illustrative of the application of these principles (of honor and leaving). [Perhaps I can bring that info back later, unless someone else supplies it.]

  • Qoheleth-Tech - Thanks for nice explanation.
    – Tauri
    Jul 21, 2013 at 13:50
  • Qoheleth, I feel that your response is more on application, can you pls also point me some biblical text as a reference so that I can delve more deeply on the subject.
    – Tauri
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:53

Good morning you will quite agree with me that the bible is complete. When the bible say a man should leave is parent it means that both of them should be independent without interference of their parents so that both party can enjoy theirself to the fullest and know theirself better

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    Aug 30, 2019 at 14:41

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