Does God Endorse Divorce (Deut. 24:1)?

By Timothy Sparks


Some get confused when their translation has “then let him write” (KJV) or “that he shall write” (ASV), rather than the correct “and writes” or “and he writes” (וְכָ֨תַב [wə·ḵā·ṯaḇ], Deut. 24:1). The same Hebrew word also should be translated consistently “and writes” (Deut. 24:3).

So far, I have not found any version that renders וְכָ֨תַב [wə·ḵā·ṯaḇ] (Deut. 24:1, 3) consistently as “then let him write” or “that he shall write.” The majority of versions I have checked translate the word correctly as “and writes” or “and he writes.” There is no command or favorable permission to divorce within the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy. The text is descriptive. It is not prescriptive.

Those looking for God’s endorsement of divorce will have to look elsewhere in the Hebrew text since it does not exist in Deut. 24:1. Those who try to force an endorsement of divorce into Deut. 24:1 must try to reconcile a supposed endorsement of divorce with God’s hatred of it (Mal. 2:16).

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