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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 24:1

 

 

"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,

Adam Clarke Commentary

Some uncleanness - Any cause of dislike, for this great latitude of meaning the fact itself authorizes us to adopt, for it is certain that a Jew might put away his wife for any cause that seemed good to himself; and so hard were their hearts, that Moses suffered this; and we find they continued this practice even to the time of our Lord, who strongly reprehended them on the account, and showed that such license was wholly inconsistent with the original design of marriage; see Matthew 5:31; (note), etc.; Matthew 19:3; (note), etc., and the notes there.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

When a man hath taken a wife and married her,.... That is, when a man has made choice of a woman for his wife, and has obtained her consent, and the consent of her parents; and has not only betrothed her, but taken her home, and consummated the marriage:

and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes; is not agreeable to him, he takes no delight in her person, nor pleasure in her company and conversation; but, on the contrary, his affections are alienated from her, and he cannot bear the sight of her:

because he hath found some uncleanness in her; something that he disliked, and was disagreeable to him, and which made their continuance together in the marriage state very uncomfortable; which led him on to be very ill-natured, severe, and cruel to her; so that her life was exposed to danger, or at least become very uneasy; in which case a divorce was permitted, both for the badness of the man's heart, and in favour of the woman, that she might be freed from such rigorous usage. This word "uncleanness" does not signify adultery, or any of the uncleannesses forbidden in Leviticus 18:6; because that was punishable with death, when it could be proved; and where there was only a suspicion of it, the husband might make use of the bitter water: though the house of Shammai seem to take it in this sense; for they say a man might not divorce his wife unless he found her in some unclean thing, something dishonest and wicked, and which they ground upon these words; but the house of Hillell say, if she burnt his food, or spoiled it by over salting, or over roasting it; and Akiba says, even if he found another woman more beautiful than her or more agreeable to him. But neither his sense, nor that of the house of Shammai, are approved of by the Jews in general, but that of the house of HillellF13Misn. Gittin, c. 9. sect. 10. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. ; and they suppose a man might divorce his wife for any ill qualities of mind in her, or for any ill or impudent behaviour of hers; as if her husband saw her go abroad with her head uncovered, and spinning in the streets, and so showing her naked arms to men; or having her garments slit on both sides; or washing in a bath with men, or where men use to wash, and talking with every man, and joking with young men; or her voice is sonorous and noisy; or any disease of body, as the leprosy, and the like; or any blemishes, as warts, are upon her; or any disagreeable smell that might arise from any parts of the body, from sweat, or a stinking breathF14T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 90. 1. 2. Misn. Cetubot, c. 7. sect. 6, 7. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. :

then let him write her a bill of divorcement; Jarchi says, this is a command upon him to divorce her, because she finds not favour in his eyes; and so the JewsF15 generally understand it, and so they did in the time of Christ, Matthew 19:7; whereas it was no more than a permission, for reasons before given. A man might not dismiss his wife by word of mouth, which might be done hastily, in a passion, of which he might soon repent; but by writing, which was to be drawn up in form; and, as the Targum of Jonathan, before the sanhedrim, in a court of judicature, which required time, during which he might think more of it, and either recede from his purpose before the case was finished, or do it upon mature deliberation; and a firm resolution. The Jews sayF16Misn. Gittin, c. 2. sect. 2, 3, 4, 5. many things of the witnesses before whom it was to be written and sealed, and at what time, and upon what, and with what it was to be written, and who were proper persons to write it or not, in a treatise of theirs, called Gittin, or divorces. In the Hebrew text this bill is called "a bill of cutting off"F17ספר כריתת "libellum excidii", Montanus, Fagius; "succisionis", Munster; "abscissionis", Tigurine version. ; because the marriage was rescinded, and man and wife were cut off and separated from one another for ever; of the form of such a bill; see Gill on Matthew 5:31,

and give it in her hand; which was to be done before witnesses, and which is one of the ten things requisite to a divorceF18See Ainsworth in loc. ; though it made no difference whether it was delivered by himself, or by a messenger; or whether to her, or to her deputy, appointed by her before witnesses; or whether it was put into her hand, or in her bosom, so be it that she was but possessed of it; with which agrees the Jewish canon,"if he casts a bill to his wife, and she is within the house, or within the court, she is divorced; if he casts it into her bosom, or into her work basket, she is divorcedF19Misn. Gittin, c. 8. sect. 1. :"

and send her out of his house; which was a visible token and public declaration of her divorce; besides, were she to be continued in his house afterwards, it would give suspicion of cohabitation, which after a divorce was not lawful.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-24.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: a then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house.

(a) By this God does not approve light divorcement, but permits it to avoid further inconvenience; (Matthew 19:7).

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/deuteronomy-24.html. 1599-1645.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

The Chapter before us is a continuation of certain laws, appointed to be observed in certain cases. Here are directions concerning divorces; of the permission, for the newly married to refrain from war; concerning pledges; men-stealers; leprosy; hire of wages; of justice, and of charity.


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

Some uncleanness — Some hateful thing, some distemper of body or quality of mind not observed before marriage: or some light carriage, as this phrase commonly signifies, but not amounting to adultery.

Let him write — This is not a command as some of the Jews understood it, nor an allowance and approbation, but merely a permission of that practice for prevention of greater mischiefs, and this only until the time of reformation, till the coming of the Messiah when things were to return to their first institution and purest condition.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-24.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Although what relates to divorce was granted in indulgence to the Jews, yet Christ pronounces that it was never in accordance with the Law, because it is directly repugnant to the first institution of God, from whence a perpetual and inviolable rule is to be sought. It is proverbially said that the laws of nature are indissoluble; and God has declared once for all, that the bond of union between husband and wife is closer than that of parent and child; wherefore, if a son cannot shake off the paternal yoke, no cause can permit the dissolution of the connection which a man has with his wife. Hence it appears how great was the perverseness of that nation, which could not be restrained from dissolving a most sacred and inviolable tie. Meanwhile the Jews improperly concluded from their impunity that that was lawful, which God did not punish because of the hardness of their hearts; whereas they ought rather to have considered, agreeably to the answer of Christ, that man is not at liberty to separate those whom God hath joined together. (Matthew 19:6.) Still, God chose to make a provision for women who were cruelly oppressed, and for whom it was better that they should at once be set free, than that they should groan beneath a cruel tyranny during their whole lives. Thus, in Malachi, divorce is preferred to polygamy, since it would be a more tolerable condition to be divorced than to bear with a harlot and a rival. (Malachi 2:14.) And undoubtedly the bill or scroll of divorce, whilst it cleared the woman from all disgrace, cast some reproach on the husband; for he who confesses that he puts away his wife, because she does not please him, brings himself under the accusation both of moroseness and inconstancy. For what gross levity and disgraceful inconstancy it shows, that a husband should be so offended with some imperfection or disease in his wife, as to east away from him half of himself! We see, then, that husbands were indirectly condemned by the writing of divorce, since they thus committed an injury against their wives who were chaste, and in other respects what they should be. On these grounds, God in Isaiah, in order that He might take away from the Jews all subject of complaint, bids them produce the bill of divorce, if He had given any to their mother, (Isaiah 1:1;) as much as to say, that His cause for rejecting them was just, because they had treacherously revolted to ungodliness.

Some interpreters do not read these three verses continuously, but suppose the sense to be complete at the end of the first, wherein the husband testifies that he divorces his wife for no offense, but because her beauty does not satisfy his lust. If, however, we give more close attention, we shall see that it is only one provision of the Law, viz., that when a man has divorced his wife, it is not lawful for him to marry her again if she have married another. The reason of the law is, that, by prostituting his wife, he would be, as far as in him lay, acting like a procurer. In this view, it is said that she was defiled, because he had contaminated her body, for the liberty which he gave her could not abolish the first institution of God, but rather, as Christ teaches, gave cause for adultery. (Matthew 5:31, and 19:9.) Thus, the Israelites were reminded that, although they divorced their wives with impunity, still this license was by no means excused before God.


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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-24.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house.

Ver. 1. Because he hath found some uncleanness.] He is displeased with some defect which he hath found either in her body or behaviour: as our Henry VIII pretended at least to do in his Anne of Cleve, sister to William, duke of Cleve, whose other sister Frederick, duke of Saxony, Luther’s patron and protector, had espoused. This lady being sent into England, against Frederick’s liking, and married to King Henry, seemed nothing pleasing in his eye, and was therefore ( sed quo iure?) soon after divorced. This Stephen Gardiner thought a fit subject for him to work upon against the Lord Cromwell, who had made the match, and now opposed the divorce, and was therefore put to death, which he suffered right Christianly and cheerfully. (a)

Let him write her a bill of divorcement.] Heb., He shall write her a bill of divorcement. God permitteth, he commandeth not the Jews thus to do, as they mistook the matter, [Matthew 19:7] and were better informed by our Saviour. [Matthew 19:8] {See Trapp on "Matthew 19:8"}


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 1. When a man hath taken a wife The Hebrew nation having been accustomed to the liberty of putting away their wives from motives of dislike and aversion, and Moses being sensible that their hardness of heart, and severity of temper, would, upon an absolute restraint from such liberty, produce greater inconveniences and distractions in families; he now enacted, that when any husband laboured under an absolute dislike to his wife, either upon account of any bodily disease, or of her disagreeable temper, he should have the privilege of parting with her; yet not in a violent, hasty, and passionate method, but deliberately, by giving her, signed with his own hand, a discharge from all further relation to him; whence she obtained a full right to marry any other person. That by the phrase found some uncleanness in her, cannot be meant adultery, or any other enormous crime, as idolatry, apostacy, and the like, is evident, because those crimes were punished with death. The word uncleanness, therefore, which is used with great latitude in these books, must signify any thing creating dislike or aversion; something, either in her body or mind, which created in the husband a fixed disgust: but as he himself was sole judge what this uncleanness or turpitude was, whatever displeased him about her he might call by that name. Mr. Locke observes, in agreement to the Margin of our Bibles, that the phrase literally signifies the nakedness of any thing; and nakedness, says he, is usually referred in Scripture to the mind, as well as body. Houbigant is of opinion, that this uncleanness refers solely to some secret bodily defect, of which the husband alone could be conscious; and that such defect only could justify divorce. This, no doubt, gave husbands a great power over their wives, and must have been attended with very great inconveniencies to society. See ch. Deuteronomy 22:19; Deuteronomy 22:29 and Matthew 19:3-9. The law enjoins, that a bill of divorcement (or of cutting off, so called, as it cut off a woman from her husband) was to be written and given to the woman. A form of this divorce may be seen in Selden and Buxtorf. As we have mention of divorces in several places, (Leviticus 21:14; Leviticus 22:13. Numbers 30:9.) many judicious interpreters have been of opinion, that it was usual to put away wives before the law of Moses; that he only indulged them in an established custom, which he knew their intractable tempers would not bear to have quite abolished; and therefore he contented himself with bringing it under proper regulations and restrictions. For more on this subject, we refer to St. Matthew as above, as well as to Selden's Treatise de Uxor. Heb. lib. 3: cap. 18. J. Buxtorf de Sponsalib. & Divort. Grotius de Jure B. & P. lib. 2: cap. 5 sect. 9 and a very learned dissertation of the famous Mr. Mosheim, de Divortio.


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 24

Of the woman that was dismissed by her husband with a bill of divorcement, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. The liberty of the new-married man, Deuteronomy 24:5. Pawns and pledges, Deuteronomy 24:6. Man-stealers, Deuteronomy 24:7. Leprosy, Deuteronomy 24:8. And again of pawns or pledges, Deuteronomy 24:10-13. Of day wages, Deuteronomy 24:14,15. Prone to be punished for another’s offence, Deuteronomy 24:16. Of justice and love towards widows, fatherless, and strangers, Deuteronomy 24:17-22.

That she find no favour in his eyes, i.e. he dislike and loathe her. It is a figure called meiosis, whereby more is understood than is expressed, as Proverbs 10:2 17:21 24:23.

Uncleanness; Heb. nakedness, or shamefulness, or filthiness of a thing, i.e. some filthy or hateful thing, some loathsome distemper of body or quality of mind, not observed before marriage; or some light and unchaste carriage, as this or the like phrase commonly signifies, but not amounting to adultery, which was not punished with divorce, but with death.

Send her out of his house; which is not a command to divorce them, as some of the Jews understood it, nor an allowance and approbation, as plainly appears, not only from the New Testament, Matthew 5:31,32 19:8,9, but also from the Old Testament, Genesis 2:24 Malachi 2:16; but merely a permission or toleration of that practice for prevention of greater mischiefs and cruelties of that hard-hearted people towards their wives, and this only for a season, even until the time of reformation, as it is called Hebrews 9:10, i.e. till the coming of the Messias, when things were to return to their first institution and purest condition. The husband is not here commanded to put her away, but if he do put her away, he is commanded

to write and give her a bill of divorcement, before he send her out of his house. And though it be true, as our Saviour observes, that Moses did suffer these divorces, to wit, without punishing them, which also is here implied, yet it must be acknowledged, that if we consult the Hebrew words, those three first verses may seem to be only a supposition, and the words rendered, then let him write her, in the Hebrew run thus, and hath written her, and so it follows, Deuteronomy 24:2. And she be departed out of his house, and be gone and become another man’s wife; then follows Deuteronomy 24:3, which even according to our translation carries on the supposition, And if the latter husband hate her, & c. Then follows the position or prohibition, Deuteronomy 24:4.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1685.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 24:1. Some uncleanness — Some hateful thing, some distemper of body, or quality of mind, not observed before marriage: or some light carriage, as this phrase commonly signifies, but not amounting to adultery. Let him write — This is not a command, as some of the Jews understood it, nor an allowance and approbation, but merely a permission of that practice for prevention of greater mischiefs, and this only until the time of reformation, till the coming of the Messiah, when things were to return to their first institution and purest condition.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Uncleanness. Tertullian (contra Marc. iv.) reads, "if she be found guilty of any impurity," negotium impudicum. Septuagint, "unseemly action;" and many learned commentators suppose that Moses only allows a divorce in cases of adultery, or in those which render the woman dangerous to a family, as if she had the leprosy, or some other infectious disorder, or was likely to corrupt the morals of her children, or if she were barren. The Pharisees were divided among themselves in determining the sense of this law, (Calmet) and they endeavoured to inveigle our Saviour, by proposing the question to him, If it were lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause, quacumque ex causa, or for any reason whatsoever, Matthew xix. 3. (Haydock) --- Our Lord does not take notice of the limitation here added by Moses; (Matthew v. 31) nor do the Pharisees, when he asks them, What did Moses command you? (Mark x. 3.) Whence it seems, that the liberty which was taken was very great, and that the limitation was not regarded. Our Saviour, nonetheless, alludes to it, when he admits that Moses permitted a divorce, in case of adultery. But he recalls them to the institution of marriage, and will no longer allow people to marry again, even in this case, as Moses had been forced to permit the Jews, on account of the hardness of their heart. (Calmet) --- Before this permission, the Jews were therefore, it seems, much addicted to this practice. --- Bill. The law does not command divorces; but in case the parties come to such a determination, it requires a bill to be given to the woman. The Jews require the greatest formality in drawing it up, and witnessing it, and they say the divorce must take place upon a fountain or river. (Schikard. Jur. iii. 9.) --- Munster gives this form of a bill: "The 4th day of the month of Sivan, of the year 5293 from the creation of the world, in this place and in this city of N, T.[I,?] N, son of N, had a mind to divorce, and has divorced N, daughter of N, who hitherto has been my wife; and I grant her leave to go whither she has a mind, and to marry whomsoever she pleases, so that no one shall hinder her. In witness whereof, I have given her this bill of divorce, according to the ordinances of Moses and of Israel." The Jews still assert their right to put away their wives. (Buxtorf, Syn. xxix.) (Calmet) --- But it is sinful for them, or for any other, to marry the woman divorced till the first husband be dead. If they do they are guilty of adultery, as our Saviour and St. Paul repeatedly inculcate. (St. Augustine, de Adult. Conj. i. 11.) (Worthington)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

man. Hebrew "ish. App-14. Compare Matthew 5:31; Matthew 19:7, Matthew 19:8.

write. See note on Exodus 17:14 and App-47. Compare Matthew 5:31.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/deuteronomy-24.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

It come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes. It appears that the practice of divorces was at this early period very prevalent among the Israelites, who had in all probability become familiar with it in Egypt (Lane), where too great facilities, and that on the most frivolous pretexts, have always existed to the dissolution of the nuptial tie. Parties agree to live together as man and wife for a stipulated period-for a month, for a year, or two years-and then separate in the most friendly manner. The usage being too deep-rooted to be soon or easily abolished, was tolerated by Moses. Because he hath found some uncleanness in her , [ `erwat (Hebrew #6172) daabaar (Hebrew #1697)] - any blemish (cf. Deuteronomy 23:15), something foul or corrupt; but whether a latent deformity and loathsome distemper of body, or a moral delinquency, was much debated among the later Jews, though, from want of data in the early books of the sacred history, it is impossible to determine the precise nature of the "uncleanness" referred to.

The law at first ordained that a woman convicted either of ante-nuptial fornication (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) or of adultery after marriage should be condemned to death. In a state of society which, like that of the emancipated Hebrews at the exodus, was marked by so much [ skleerokardia (Greek #4641)] hardness of heart - i:e., general depravity (Matthew 19:3-8; Romans 2:5) - Moses, who saw that such executions would, through the extreme laxity of morals among the Israelites, be painfully frequent, modified the original stringency of the marriage law, permitting a wife in some cases to clear herself, by a solemn oath, of a criminal imputation (Numbers 5:11-31), and in others allowing a husband to put her away privately without bringing her to trial. This latter alternative was afforded by the law of divorce enunciated in this passage; and that it had become the common rule of procedure in such cases, appears from the recorded intention of Joseph to take advantage of it on suspecting his betrothed wife Mary (Matthew 1:19).

The rival schools of Hillel and Schammai, about the time of our Saviour, took different views of this statute. The former, overlooking the second clause in the first half of the verse, and laying stress chiefly upon the preceding one - "that she find no favour in his eyes " - taught that Israelites possessed a legal right to divorce their wives at pleasure, and that the validity of the nuptial bond might be dissolved at any time, and on account of any cause, however trivial [ascheemon pragma], something uncomely, some defect of person or infirmity of disposition], such as the appearance of an unsightly pimple on her face, her going abroad without a veil, the untidy or tasteless style of her dress, the overcooking of her husband's dinner, or mere dissatisfaction with her manners (Josephus, 'Life;' also 'Antiquities,' b. 18:, 5; 20:, 7; Lightfoot, 'Horae Hebraicae,' on Matthew 5:27-32; Matthew 19:3-8).

The latter school held that the only ground of divorce warranted by this law of Moses was something criminal-a breach of conjugal fidelity. Among modern commentators, Lightfoot and Michaelis support the interpretation of the Shammai school-the first, however, considering that the Mosaic permission of divorce was granted only in case of adultery ('Horae Hebaicae,' on Matthew 5:32), while the second supposes it was intended to refer to cases of less magnitude-such as that detailed in Deuteronomy 22:13-21 ('Commentary,' b. 3:, art.

93). No nearer approach than the preceding conjectures can be made to ascertain the precise class of cases for which this legislation was provided.

Then let him write her a bill of divorcement , [ w


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-24.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
hath taken
21:15; 22:13; Exodus 21:10
uncleanness
Heb. matter of nakedness. then let him.
3; Jeremiah 3:8; Matthew 5:31,32; 19:7-9; Mark 10:4-12
divorcement
Heb. cutting off.
Isaiah 50:1
send her
22:19,29; Malachi 2:16; Matthew 1:19; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:11,12

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-24.html.

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