Illegitimate Divorce Equals Adultery
She was living in the city that controlled the world, but when her husband’s half-brother on the father’s side came to visit, neither could control their lust. They plotted to divorce their spouses, so they could marry one another. Jewish Law did not allow a woman to divorce her husband, but Herodias, the royal Hasmonean princess was living in Rome, and Roman law had no scruples about getting out of one marriage to move on to another. She divorced Herod Philip and was free to marry Herod Antipas, his half-brother.
Back in Palestine, Antipas threw caution to the wind and divorced Phasaelis, the daughter of Aretas IV of Nabataea. Early in his reign he had married the princess to guarantee peace on his vulnerable eastern side, but now around AD29 he allowed her to escape back to her father in Petra. From his point of view, he was now free to marry Herodias, but John the Baptist had a different inspired point of view. He called the entire affair adultery from its beginning. His growing popularity threatened Herod, so he arrested the Baptist.
Mark already told us how that arrest ended. John lost his head for having the courage to call adultery adultery, even when done by a king and queen. But what was Jesus’ take on Antipas’ and Herodias’ marriage. Privately, alone with his disciples we get the answer.
“And when Jesus and his disciples were again in the house they asked him about how he had answered the Pharisees’ question about divorce. Jesus responded and said to them, ‘If a man divorces his wife and marries another, he commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is committing adultery.’” Mark 10:10-12
Again Jesus doesn’t simply give a moral command. He focuses our attention on how a divorce like Herod Antipas’ and Herodias’ breaks the 7thcommandment. It’s not only a sin against God, but also against the spouses left behind whether on the man’s side or the woman’s side. According to Jesus, Antipas and Herodias had sinned grievously against their former spouses, and they were living in a state of adultery.
In Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 Jesus will give an exception to his strong prohibition of divorce, but before we move to the exception clauses, we need to hear Jesus’ strong statements against a divorce like Antipas’ and Herodias’. In AD39, six years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the new emperor Caligula suspected Antipas of conspiring against him. He banished Antipas to Gaul (what is near Lyon, France). Herodias did choose to go into exile with her husband where they both died.
LORD, I pray that you will powerfully move your children to recognize the need for their marriage promises to be sacred and binding. Help those who have fallen into sin like Herodias and Antipas, not to be like them in hardness of heart. Help them to confess their sins so they can receive Jesus’ forgiveness and mercy.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!