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Did God Divorce the Jews as His chosen people?

Some Christians assert that God divorced the Jews as his chosen people in Jeremiah 3:8. Let's examine this claim.

R: God divorced the jews as His chosen ppl…
t: R, I thought I disproved that to you…?
R: lol
R: read the bible
R: look at history
t: R, Yeah we looked it up in jeremiah. He didn't divorce the jews.
R: yeah, but take the obivious meaning of the words, sentences, paragraphs that develop the concepts
t: R, It's a) a hypothetical construct and b) he says he won't do it if the jews repent.
R: !kjv jer 3:8
BibleBot: And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. (KJV)
R: God divorce Israel there
t: R, No he didn't
R: do you understand these words …. I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce;
t: R, If you like we can debate it. Would you like to get into it?
R: just tell me, how “I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce;” that means God did not divorce ancient israel as His kingdom of priests
R: even today, the “jews” deny the messiahship of Jesus
R: the apostle paul said the experiences of ancient israel were lessons for those on who the end of the age comes on
R: the levitcal teaches the plan ofsalvation in types. that the book of hebrews explains
R: God's plan was the Garden of Eden life before sin entered

This is an important issue for Christians because Christianity being the New Israel (see: Romans 11) i.e. Replacement Theology is predicated on God divorcing the Jews, or otherwise abrogating his promise to them.

Let's begin with Jeremiah 3:8. Does God indeed divorce Israel, as the Christian claims, in Jeremiah 3:8? Let's take a look:

She[c] saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.Jeremiah 3:8 (NRSV)

And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.Jeremiah 3:8 (KJV)

In the above, God clearly states he sent away Israel and issued to her a decree of divorce. What's going on?

The Big Deal

The big deal is that God stated in many places and in many ways he would never abrogate his covenant with Israel. A great example is in Leviticus 26:44-45;

Leviticus 26:44-45 (NIV)
44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God.
45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’”

So you see, just from the above, it does not seem to make sense that God would ultimately 'divorce' the Jews, and cancel his covenant with him. Therefore this is not just a simple issue; we are not looking at this claim made out of one verse in Jeremiah in the absence of any other credible information; on the other hand our knowledge of God's covenant with Israel makes this a fantastic claim. We will need some fantastic evidence to ratify this claim one way or another. Therefore let us look closely at this passage and try to understand God's opinion of what it means.

Israel, not Judah

First, this passage is about Israel and not Judah, as can be seen from the text itself, which contrasts Israel versus Judah. Israel was the northern, idolatrous kingdom, which was cursed by God for it's idolatry, and carried off by Assyria. The people of Israel then became known as the lost ten tribes of Israel. Judah was the southern kingdom that remained loyal to God and did not indulge in idolatrous ways to the same degree as Israel. Whatever the situation, although Israel was cursed (and punished) by God, Judah was not. In fact, the reason why we call Jews “Jews” today is entirely because they are from the kingdom of “Jew”-da.

Therefore while God may have divorced the idolatrous northern kingdom of Israel, he did not do so to Judah; at least not yet, but, this particular text is about Israel and not Judah. So just this passage alone cannot be used as proof that “God divorced the Jews”. In fact it is proof he didn't, only that he divorced Israel and that Judah (who was not divorced) didn't pay heed to the example.

Judah is just a tribe in Israel

This was true before the split in King David's time. But Jeremiah 3:6 states “The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah:”, thus we know this message is in the context of the time of King Josiah.

The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, …Jeremiah 3:6 (KJV)

In King David's Time, after David united the twelve tribes in a time of civil war (2 Samuel 5), David’s son Absalom promoted himself as the new king and drew many Israelites away from their allegiance to David (2 Samuel 15). Significantly, Absalom set up his throne in Hebron, the site of the former capital (v. 10). A later revolt was led by a man named Sheba against David and the tribe of Judah (20:1-2). Thus the Kingdom of Israel was created and typefied by a rejection of, and rebellion against, God's chosen King, King David.

King David reigned until about 970 BCE.

In 640 to 609 BCE, King Josiah returned Judah to the worship of Yahweh alone, but his efforts were too late and Israel's unfaithfulness caused God to permit the kingdom's destruction by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in the Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC).

The loyalty of Judah, and especially its kings, to Yahweh, in contrast to the “backsliding” and idolatrous Israrel, is in fact a major theme in books like Samuel, Kings, and Jeremiah. All of the kings of Israel were typefied as bad or idolatrous, and only very few kings such as Hezekiah of Judah were good. Jeremiah writes in the days of Josiah after the days of Mannaseh in which the division between Israel and Judah is exceedingly clear; thus the implication that “Judah” is a member of “Israel” for the purposes of claiming “God Divorced Israel” cannot stand.

A variant of this claim (Judah also played the harlot) is discussed below.

The passage states that Judah also played the harlot

This is true, but it does not say God divorced Judah. Au contraire, this passage is often titled “A Call to Repentance” in many modern translations. To understand why you must read Jeremiah 3 from the beginning. After all, if it clearly says it is not talking about Judah, then there would be no reason to assume it is talking about Judah. But as we are about to see, there is much more to the story than just Israel vs. Judah.

Let's now take a look at what the passage really states, and get to the heart of the matter.

Married or Divorced?

After Jeremiah 3:1-5, which is a poem about “Unfaithful Israel”, we read:

The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.Jeremiah 3:6 (KJV)

In this passage, Jeremiah phrases the verse as “that which backsliding Israel hath done”.

And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.Jeremiah 3:7 (KJV)

In this passage, it is made yet clearer that this was a wake-up call to Judah and not a divorce of Judah. Judah saw what Israel had done, and saw what God did to Israel.

8 And I (She -NRSV) saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.

10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. Jeremiah 3:8-11 (KJV)

In this passage God notes that he does not necessarily accept Judah's “feigned” return to him, and states that in fact Israel has justified herself moreso than Judah (without speculating why, as it is not germane to this discussion).

But the real importance of this message comes below;

To Israel God says,

12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever.

13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord.Jeremiah 3:12-13 (KJV)

To Israel and Judah, God says,

14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.

17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

18 In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.Jeremiah 3:14-18 (KJV)

Thus we see, that the 'bill of divorce' is conditional! And that God not only did not divorce Judah – he also did not divorce Israel! The statement in 3:14 that God is (still) 'married' to his 'backsliding children' Israel and Judah shows God's true intent with these passages. He says very clearly that he is still 'married' to them, to continue with the original analogy, and he frames this as a call to repentance; He says very clearly, 'Turn… and I will being you to Zion.'

Here and in the preceding verse we clearly see that in fact God has not “divorced” Judah or Israel but in fact the statement that Israel was issued a bill of divorce was a warning. In fact, the passage above contains an actual prophecy that Judah and Israel will be rejoined and that even Israel will receive inheritance as sons of Abraham.

Further to this, Jeremiah 3:16 and onwards states,

19 But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.

20 Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.

21 A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God.

22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.Jeremiah 3:19-22 (KJV)

Without a doubt, this and the preceding passages clearly state that God did not divorce Judah (the Jews as his chosen people) nor did he divorce Israel in any final way, but rather that Judah and even Israel, who was cursed and carried away, could repent and return to God and receive his salvation.

“Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.” – Jeremiah 3:22 (KJV)

Christian Responses

Some Christian's responses to this page, included (unedited) for fairness.

Response from D.

An ionteresting post.. I have looked at the comments. 1st Divorce in the Biblical days can not be equivelent to divorce today. In Biblical days remarriage was not an option. Christ specifically forbade it as did Paul (Romans 7 is very clear
Rom 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
Rom 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
Israel played the harlot and as a result God seperated himself from her. This applied to both kingdoms, Judah and Ephraim
Does the divorce or separation from God remain? The answer is no. If Israel and Judah repent then God will take them back again.

Hosea chapters 1 to 3 give us a cameao. Hosea typifies God, Gomer his wife typifies Israel
When Christ retuens Israel will be reunited with God and God will accept them
several things here. God is and will remain married to Israel - Prophetically, in the OT Ephraim represents
Israel in dispersment Judah represents Israel in the land. Hosea 11 last verses and ch 12 indicate this.
Isaiah 12 is the song sung as Israel enters the land After Christ has returned after armageddon.
Israel is married to God, True beliuevers are married to Christ
consider the implications o that statement.. and of these verses..
Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

did_god_divorce_the_jews.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/20 17:33 by serena