The Law of Moses

It is not until we come to the third book of the Bible that we find divorce and remarriage specifically mentioned. Contained within the Law of Moses was a prohibition against priests marrying divorced women:

They shall not take a woman who is profaned by harlotry, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God (Lev. 21:7).

Nowhere within the Law of Moses is there such a prohibition addressed to the general population of Israelite men. Moreover, the just-quoted verse implies (1) that there were divorced Israelite women and (2) that there would be nothing wrong with non-priestly Israelite men marrying women who had been previously married. The above-quoted law applies only to priests and divorced women who might marry priests. There was nothing wrong under the Law of Moses with any divorced woman remarrying, just as long as she didn’t marry a priest. And there was nothing wrong with any man, other than a priest, marrying a divorced woman.

The high priest (perhaps as a supreme type of Christ) was required to live by even higher standards than regular priests. He was not even permitted to marry a widow . We read just a few verses later in Leviticus:

A widow, or a divorced woman, or one who is profaned by harlotry, these he may not take; but rather he is to marry a virgin of his own people (Lev. 21:14).

Does this verse prove that it was sinful for any and all Israelite widows to ever remarry or that it was sinful for any and all Israelite men to marry widows? No, certainly not. In fact this verse strongly implies that it would not be sinful for any widow to marry any man as long as he wasn’t the high priest. And it strongly implies that any man besides a high priest was permitted to marry a widow. Other scriptures affirm the complete legitimacy of widows remarrying (see Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Tim.5:14).

This verse also implies, along with the previous verse we considered (Lev. 21:7), that that there would be nothing wrong for any Israelite man (other than a priest or high priest) to marry a divorced woman or even a woman who was not a virgin, “profaned by harlotry.” It likewise implies that, under the Law of Moses, there was nothing wrong for a divorced woman to remarry or for a woman “profaned by harlotry” to marry, just as long as she didn’t marry a priest. God graciously gave both fornicators and divorcees another chance, even though He was very opposed to both fornication and divorce.