A Second Specific Prohibition Against Remarriage

How many “second chances” did God give divorced women? Should we conclude that God gave divorced women just one more chance under the Law of Moses, permitting just one remarriage? That would be a wrong conclusion. We read later in the Law of Moses,

When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance (Deut. 24:1-4).

Note that, in these verses, the sole prohibition was against the twice-divorced woman (or once-divorced once-widowed woman) remarrying her first husband. Nothing is said about her incurring guilt for remarrying the second time. And once she was divorced the second time (or widowed from her second husband), she was only prohibited from going back to her first husband. The clear implication is that she would be free to remarry any other man (who is willing to take the chance on her). If it were a sin for her to remarry anyone else, then there would have been no need for God to give this kind of specific instructions. All he would have had to say was, “Divorced people are forbidden to remarry.”

Moreover, if God permitted this woman to marry a second time, then the man who married her after her first divorce could not have been incurring guilt either. And if she was permitted to be married a third time, then any man who married her after she was twice divorced would not be sinning (unless he had been her first husband). So the God who hated divorce loved divorced people, and He mercifully offered them another chance.