Deuteronomy 21:14 NASB

It shall be, if you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not mistreat her, because you have humbled her.

Why does God allow a man to let his wife go if he isn’t pleased with her? I know these wives were taken among captives but why does that make any difference once they’re bound as husband/wife? (I am asking in the context of other laws God gave regarding marriage in the Old Testament, not in the context of the New Testament).

  • They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matt 19:7–9, ESV)
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 15, 2022 at 23:31
  • The Jewish traditional explanation was that If the men couldn't divorce their wives they would kill them as a way to obtain the same possibility of another marriage.
    – user40388
    Jun 17, 2022 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


This passage relates to a woman taken in captivity:

The humiliation extended to the captivity, the taking to wife (especially 22:24). One act of violence should not be followed by another and harsher. [The law was obviously fitted to restrain the violence of lawless passion. The month’s delay would test the sincerity and purity of the love or desire. If at its expiration he still delighted in her to take her for a wife, then she was to become his wife; if not, then she was to go out free. He could not treat her as a slave; neither sell her nor treat her with constraint. It was a merciful provision for those who were regarded as the spoils of war.—A. G.] -- Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., & Schröeder, W. J. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Deuteronomy (p. 161). Logos Bible Software.


They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?  He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so

Matthew 19:7-8

(I'm just upgrading @Perry Webb's comment to an answer ;-) )

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