Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Laws of Divorce in the Written Torah

This is a very interesting subject. The problem is there is not much in the Written Torah about divorce procedure. But let's take a look:
YLT Gen 2:24 therefore doth a man leave his father and his mother, and hath cleaved unto his wife, and they have become one flesh.
As you can see, Torah defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. As far as I understand, Torah assumes that divorce is rare and done only in extreme situations. 

Usually, divorce is an issue due to the finances. Let's take a look at what husband is obligated to give to a wife when he divorces her...
YLT Gen 21:9 and Sarah seeth the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she hath borne to Abraham, mocking, 
YLT Gen 21:10 and she saith to Abraham,  'Cast out this handmaid and her son; for the son of this handmaid hath no possession with my son--with Isaac.' 
YLT Gen 21:11 And the thing is very wrong in the eyes of Abraham, for his son's sake;
YLT Gen 21:12 and God saith unto Abraham,  'Let it not be wrong in thine eyes because of the youth, and because of thy handmaid: all that Sarah saith unto thee--hearken to her voice, for in Isaac is a seed called to thee.
YLT Gen 21:13 As to the son of the handmaid also, for a nation I set him, because he is thy seed.' 
YLT Gen 21:14 . And Abraham riseth early in the morning, and taketh bread, and a bottle of water, and giveth unto Hagar (placing it on her shoulder), also the lad, and sendeth her out; and she goeth on, and goeth astray in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba;
As you can see, the first "divorce" mentioned in the Torah was rather strict. Abraham just pretty much kicked his concubine out of the house, leaving her only bread and a bottle of water. As you can see, no financial compensation was given to her. This is another example of Patriarchs violating the Torah before it was officially given.
YLT Gen 25:5 And Abraham giveth all that he hath to Isaac; 
YLT Gen 25:6 and to the sons of the concubines whom Abraham hath, Abraham hath given gifts, and sendeth them away from Isaac his son (in his being yet alive) eastward, unto the east country.
As you can see here, the same thing happened to other wives of Abraham. They received only minimal compensation. A gift in this case. Abraham was not paying them any alimony/child support e.t.c.

Let's look further...
YLT Deut 24:1 'When a man doth take a wife, and hath married her, and it hath been, if she doth not find grace in his eyes (for he hath found in her nakedness of anything), and he hath written for her a writing of divorce, and given it into her hand, and sent her out of his house, 
YLT Deut 24:2 and she hath gone out of his house, and hath gone and been another man's, 
YLT Deut 24:3 and the latter man hath hated her, and written for her a writing of divorce, and given it into her hand, and sent her out of his house, or when the latter man dieth, who hath taken her to himself for a wife:
YLT Deut 24:4  'Her former husband who sent her away is not able to turn back to take her to be to him for a wife, after that she hath become defiled; for an abomination it is before Jehovah, and thou dost not cause the land to sin which Jehovah thy God is giving to thee--an inheritance.
Here you see that no manner of compensation is mentioned. However, it may be due to the fact that something bad happened.

Another interesting verse are the Daughters of Zelophehad...
YLT Num 36:5 And Moses commandeth the sons of Israel, by the command of Jehovah, saying,  'Rightly are the tribe of the sons of Joseph speaking; 
YLT Num 36:6 this is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, To those good in their eyes let them be for wives; only, to a family of the tribe of their fathers let them be for wives; 
YLT Num 36:7 and the inheritance of the sons of Israel doth not turn round from tribe unto tribe; for each to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers, do the sons of Israel cleave. 
YLT Num 36:8 'And every daughter possessing an inheritance, of the tribes of the sons of Israel, is to one of the family of the tribe of her father for a wife, so that the sons of Israel possess each the inheritance of his fathers, 
YLT Num 36:9 and the inheritance doth not turn round from one tribe to another tribe; for each to his inheritance do they cleave, the tribes of the sons of Israel.' 
YLT Num 36:10 As Jehovah hath commanded Moses, so have the daughters of Zelophehad done, 
YLT Num 36:11 and Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, daughters of Zelophehad, are to the sons of their fathers'  brethren for wives; 
YLT Num 36:12 to men of the families of the sons of Manasseh, son of Joseph, they have been for wives, and their inheritance is with the tribe of the family of their father. 
YLT Num 36:13 These are the commands and the judgments which Jehovah hath commanded, by the hand of Moses, concerning the sons of Israel, in the plains of Moab, by Jordan, near Jericho.
As you can see, women are allowed to inherit and possess property, which means that in marriage, finances should be separate to prevent inheritance of one (tribe) going to another (tribe). This also means that a husband does not legally owe his wife anything, except for the Scroll of Divorce - the written statement of a fact.

There is an issue with children, but Torah covers it. Let's take a look:
YLT Num 36:5 . And Moses commandeth the sons of Israel, by the command of Jehovah, saying,  'Rightly are the tribe of the sons of Joseph speaking; 
YLT Num 36:6 this is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, To those good in their eyes let them be for wives; only, to a family of the tribe of their fathers let them be for wives; 
YLT Num 36:7 and the inheritance of the sons of Israel doth not turn round from tribe unto tribe; for each to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers, do the sons of Israel cleave. 
YLT Num 36:8  'And every daughter possessing an inheritance, of the tribes of the sons of Israel, is to one of the family of the tribe of her father for a wife, so that the sons of Israel possess each the inheritance of his fathers, 
YLT Num 36:9 and the inheritance doth not turn round from one tribe to another tribe; for each to his inheritance do they cleave, the tribes of the sons of Israel.' 
YLT Num 36:10 As Jehovah hath commanded Moses, so have the daughters of Zelophehad done, 
YLT Num 36:11 and Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, daughters of Zelophehad, are to the sons of their fathers'  brethren for wives; 
YLT Num 36:12 to men of the families of the sons of Manasseh, son of Joseph, they have been for wives, and their inheritance is with the tribe of the family of their father. 
YLT Num 36:13 These are the commands and the judgments which Jehovah hath commanded, by the hand of Moses, concerning the sons of Israel, in the plains of Moab, by Jordan, near Jericho.
As you can see here, if a wife had children from her previous marriage, she would be responsible to provide them with more inheritance than the children she might have with her current husband. This also confirms that finances must be separate, so this particular commandment can be kept.

In case of joint finances, they should be divided evenly or according to the contribution of each partner. This is why we are commanded to setup Judges (Deut 17:8-13) so they could judge civil cases like this. So while a husband is not obligated to give woman anything (it is not commanded or implied) there is an option for a woman to request financial compensation through the Judges. It even says that in the Torah (Exodus 21:22).

There is one more thing...
YLT Ex 21:7 'And when a man selleth his daughter for a handmaid, she doth not go out according to the going out of the men-servants; 
YLT Ex 21:8 if evil in the eyes of her lord, so that he hath not betrothed her, then he hath let her be ransomed; to a strange people he hath not power to sell her, in his dealing treacherously with her. 
YLT Ex 21:9 'And if to his son he betroth her, according to the right of daughters he doth to her. 
YLT Ex 21:10 'If another woman he take for him, her food, her covering, and her habitation, he doth not withdraw; 
YLT Ex 21:11 and if these three he do not to her, then she hath gone out for nought, without money.
The key verses here are Ex 21:10-11. As can be inferred from these verses, woman is entitled to compensation in a case if she is a slave. However, this clearly does not apply to free women. From this, we can come to a conclusion that in normal cases a husband would not owe anything to his wife.

These are my current thoughts. I will have to think about it more as I've never actually had to deal with this (thank God), so my experience is limited. I welcome you to share such life experiences here so we can see what would we do according to the Torah.

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