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Switch to Forum Live View Divorcing under the Jewish Law in ancient times?
6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 6:53AM #1
Daldianus
Posts: 31,765
[COLOR=Black]Hi, I've got a question regarding Jewish laws and customs again ...

Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Was it possible to simply divorce quietly under Jewish Law or did the process have to be legal and public?

And how would rejecting a pregnant woman expose her LESS to public disgrace than pretending to be the father? Is there any logic, based on Jewish concepts, behind such, apparently irrational, reasoning?
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 6:53AM #2
Daldianus
Posts: 31,765
[COLOR=Black]Hi, I've got a question regarding Jewish laws and customs again ...

Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Was it possible to simply divorce quietly under Jewish Law or did the process have to be legal and public?

And how would rejecting a pregnant woman expose her LESS to public disgrace than pretending to be the father? Is there any logic, based on Jewish concepts, behind such, apparently irrational, reasoning?
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 9:24AM #3
river8101
Posts: 5,490
Hi Dal,

You're one of my very favorite posters.   Elaine Pagels is an excellent writer.   (The spell check here keeps changing Pagels to bagels!)  LOL!

Wasn't it the Christian NT that rationalized that marriage,  so that God would be the father and she would be a pure virgin?   I think she just got pregnant and then she and Joseph got married.    But if they were already betrothed, that was almost just like a marriage.  Would anybody have cared?  Almost  like today,  When gals get pregnant, they don't have to get married, they don't even have to be "engaged".    Nobody cares.

PS  I love your Woody Allen comment.
“Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject.”
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 9:30AM #4
Daldianus
Posts: 31,765

river8101 wrote:

Hi Dal,

You're one of my very favorite posters.   Elaine Pagels is an excellent writer.   (The spell check here keeps changing Pagels to bagels!)  LOL!

No, but I think it was the Christian NT that rationalized that marriage.

PS  I love your Woody Allen comment.



Oh, thank you very much :)

And Woody Allen is awesome, especially in his older movies.

>> Feed your brain with awesome!
“After your death you will be what you were before your birth.” - Arthur Schopenhauer
"Eternity is very long, especially towards the end." - Woody Allen
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 9:47AM #5
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,900
BS"D

Daldianus,

Divorce is a very complex issue handled on a case-by-case basis.  In Judaism this case is pretty clear-cut.  It can ONLY be a shame if the text is implicitly acknowledging that the child is a HUMAN child by a HUMAN father other than Joseph.  This cannot be glossed over in Judaism as it has been in Christian theology since the Apostolic Church Fathers.  There is nothing in Torah or Judaism to deal with a divine birth because it cannot exist in the universe of Torah.  Every human is already an extension of the divine in the physical universe, so if this were a Jewish event it would be a case of cuckolding and that CAN and SHOULD be handled as privately as possible IMHO.  It would necessarily involve adoption as I cannot imagine that Joseph would want his son Jesus to be a bastard (no legal inheritance rights).
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 10:10AM #6
Daldianus
Posts: 31,765

bunsinspace wrote:

BS"D

Daldianus,

Divorce is a very complex issue handled on a case-by-case basis.  In Judaism this case is pretty clear-cut.  It can ONLY be a shame if the text is implicitly acknowledging that the child is a HUMAN child by a HUMAN father other than Joseph.  This cannot be glossed over in Judaism as it has been in Christian theology since the Apostolic Church Fathers.  There is nothing in Torah or Judaism to deal with a divine birth because it cannot exist in the universe of Torah.  Every human is already an extension of the divine in the physical universe, so if this were a Jewish event it would be a case of cuckolding and that CAN and SHOULD be handled as privately as possible IMHO.  It would necessarily involve adoption as I cannot imagine that Joseph would want his son Jesus to be a bastard (no legal inheritance rights).



Thanks but I don't really see my two questions answered here?

[COLOR=Black]1. Was it possible to simply divorce quietly under Jewish Law or did the process have to be legal and public?

2. And how would rejecting a pregnant woman expose her LESS to public disgrace than pretending to be the father? Is there any logic, based on Jewish concepts, behind such, apparently irrational, reasoning?
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 10:49AM #7
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=Daldianus;381454]Thanks but I don't really see my two questions answered here?

[COLOR=Black]1. Was it possible to simply divorce quietly under Jewish Law or did the process have to be legal and public?



Divorce was effected when the get, the bill of divorce, written out on behalf of the husband is delivered to the wife. Gittin require witnesses, but just as marriage was a private contractual arrangement so too was divorce. It need not be broadcast publicly.

2. And how would rejecting a pregnant woman expose her LESS to public disgrace than pretending to be the father? Is there any logic, based on Jewish concepts, behind such, apparently irrational, reasoning?[/COLOR][/QUOTE]

I suppose the idea is that being divorced quietly would be better than publicly proclaiming her to be an adultress. He wouldn't have had to worry about execution (even if capital punishment were possible in Roman-occupied Judea) but she would essentially be like a 1st century Hester Prynne.

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 10:54AM #8
Daldianus
Posts: 31,765

nieciedo wrote:

Divorce was effected when the get, the bill of divorce, written out on behalf of the husband is delivered to the wife. Gittin require witnesses, but just as marriage was a private contractual arrangement so too was divorce. It need not be broadcast publicly.



Ok, so quietly divorcing would have meant writing out the bill of divorce with some witnesses present?

[QUOTE] I suppose the idea is that being divorced quietly would be better than publicly proclaiming her to be an adulteress. He wouldn't have had to worry about execution (even if capital punishment were possible in Roman-occupied Judea) but she would essentially be like a 1st century Hester Prynne.[/QUOTE]

I don't know who Hester Prynne is. But if Jospeh was so concerned about Mary then why wouldn't he simply have pretended that he was the father? Wasn't that something that Jewish men could, or would, do?

(the whole account in this case is fictional of course but I'm just interested in the logic and the procedures)

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 11:09AM #9
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=Daldianus;381584]
I don't know who Hester Prynne is.



You mean you didn't have to suffer through The Scarlet Letter in high school like I did?

But if Jospeh was so concerned about Mary then why wouldn't he simply have pretended that he was the father? Wasn't that something that Jewish men could, or would, do?



This doesn't necessary have to be related to Jewish logic, custom, or procedures. It can be answered just be human nature.

So, a guy in patriarchal culture thinks he's betrothed to a pure and chaste virgin. Then he finds out that she's pregnant. Now, he knows he didn't do it and the notion of divine parthenogenesis is absurd if not idolatrous. The most logical explanation is that she had sex with someone else -- that she committed adultery.

Children are expensive and high maintenence and there is something in the male instinctive pattern that reacts against the notion of providing for children that do not carry one's own genes. Why should Joseph have to work and pay to feed, clothe, and support a brat that's not even his, the fruit of his wife's inability to control herself? The kid would be a constant reminder of his status as a cuckold which, even if not known to anyone but himself, would still be a major blow to a guy's pride -- especially in such a male-dominated culture.

Abortion isn't an option because Mary's life wasn't in danger from the pregnancy. He could expose her as an adultress, but he apparently thought that that would be too cruel. So, he'll give her an out by divorcing her quietly. He won't have to live with the shame of being cuckolded and have to raise someone else's spawn and she'll go back to her father's house and everyone can go on with their lives.

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 11:23AM #10
Daldianus
Posts: 31,765

nieciedo wrote:

You mean you didn't have to suffer through The Scarlet Letter in high school like I did?



I'm not from the US, we've had other school books it seems, hehe.

[QUOTE]So, a guy in patriarchal culture thinks he's betrothed to a pure and chaste virgin. Then he finds out that she's pregnant. Now, he knows he didn't do it and the notion of divine parthenogenesis is absurd if not idolatrous. The most logical explanation is that she had sex with someone else -- that she committed adultery.[/QUOTE]

Agreed.

[QUOTE] Children are expensive and high maintenance and there is something in the male instinctive pattern that reacts against the notion of providing for children that do not carry one's own genes. Why should Joseph have to work and pay to feed, clothe, and support a brat that's not even his, the fruit of his wife's inability to control herself? The kid would be a constant reminder of his status as a cuckold which, even if not known to anyone but himself, would still be a major blow to a guy's pride -- especially in such a male-dominated culture.[/QUOTE]

True, on the other hand the kid could work for him?

[QUOTE]Abortion isn't an option because Mary's life wasn't in danger from the pregnancy. He could expose her as an adulteress, but he apparently thought that that would be too cruel. So, he'll give her an out by divorcing her quietly. He won't have to live with the shame of being cuckolded and have to raise someone else's spawn and she'll go back to her father's house and everyone can go on with their lives.[/QUOTE]

If he thought that she was an adulteress then why would he have found it cruel to tell it like it is?

Would a pregnant girl without the father of the child in her womb be simply taken back by her family? Wouldn't that be a disgrace for the family, etc?

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“After your death you will be what you were before your birth.” - Arthur Schopenhauer
"Eternity is very long, especially towards the end." - Woody Allen
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