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Friday, February 18, 2011

Can "Uncleanness" in Deuteronomy 24 be scripturally defined beyond reasonable doubt?

This is not an "average blog post" for entertainment, but rather a personal study for serious students of scripture who wish to know what Moses was talking about in Deuteronomy 24. I simply post this study as an aid to many who have recently visitted this blog searching for information relative to divorce and remarriage. (I would urge new visitors to my blog to first check out the other posts on these subjects which can be found in the directory of subjects at the bottom right of this page.)

In spite of commentators' confusion as to the meaning of this word, we have the same scriptural evidence available to us today which would have made Moses' meaning clear to the Israelites of his day. We have the Pentateuch which demonstrates how all the key words of Deut.24:1-4 were used and understood. The Lord surely did not reveal His mind on such an important subject in words which could not be clearly understood when they were given. The meaning of these words need not be hidden to any student today who will simply search them out.

I do not give my conclusions here. I simply ask the questions which I have asked myself. I believe that all who will honestly look at the evidence below will come to one united conclusion. (This study requires the use of a Strong's Concordance, Online Bible or similar Bible program referenced with Strong's numbers simply to determine how each of the key words is used in scripture prior to Deut.24.)

1.The use of the word "uncleanness". This word is the Hebrew "ERVAH" (Strong's #6172) which is translated in our Bibles by two English words "nakedness" and "uncleanness".
-How often is this word found in scripture prior to Deut.24? (it is used more than once in some verses)________
-How many times is it used of the following relations or conditions?
-exposure of nakedness to a person of near kinship? _________
-nakedness of a priest not to be exposed on steps to the altar? ______
-nakedness of the land of Egypt? ___________
-relations with an Israelite woman during her menstrual period?_____
-excretion of body wastes outside the camp of Israel? ___________
-Which is used most often?_________________________
-In which chapter of scripture is this word used most frequently? ____
-What kind of relation or condition does it describe most often in this chapter?_________________

2.The use of the word "defiled". This is the Hebrew word "TAME". The noun, verb and adjective forms of this word (Strong's #'s 2930, 2931 and 2932) translate our English words "defile", "defiled", "defileth", "unclean" and "uncleanness".
-How many times is this word in its' various forms found in scripture prior to Deut.24?__________
List the number of times it is used in the following ways:
-of uncleanness of beasts________
-of leprosy________
-of uncleanness of dead bodies_________
-of general uncleanness of things or persons_________
-of moral uncleanness, illicit sexual practices_________
-of an issue in one's flesh, a running sore etc.__________
-of a woman's menstruation_________
-of a man's seminal fluid_________
-of uncleanness resulting from birth__________
-of defilement of the tabernacle or sanctuary__________
-of defilement of murder__________
-of defilement of witchcraft_________

Of these 12 kinds of uncleanness which could possibly fit the context of Deut.24 in a marital relationship?______________________
When these are related to the most common usage of "ERVAH" above, do you have any indication which is the most likely meaning to be seen in Deut.24?____________________

3.The use of the word "land" (Hebrew "ERETS") as being "defiled". This word is Strong's # 776.
-of the 12 categories of defilement above, which are said to be "defiling to the land"? List those categories with the appropriate references:

Death was to have been the penalty for these "land defiling" practices. Is it possible that any of them could have been done ignorantly or unintentionally?_____________
-If so, would Lev. 4 and 5 provide a remedy less severe than the death penalty?___________
-Is there a single category of defilement of the land that seems to confirm or clarify your conclusions thus far regarding "uncleanness" and "defilement" in Deut.24?

4.The use of the word "abomination" (Hebrew "TAWEBAH"). This word is Strong's # 8441 which is translated in scripture by our English words "abominable", "abomination" and "abominations".
-How many times do you find these words translated from #8441 prior to Deut.24?___________
-How many times do you find these words in each of the following categories?
-of idolatry, witchcraft or child sacrifice? ___________
-of immoral sexual practices?____________
-of things abominable to Egyptians? _____________
-of eating unclean meats? ____________
-of offering blemished animals to God? ________________
-of men or women wearing clothing pertaining to the other?_______
Which of these categories, if any, fit the context of Deut.24 and coincide with what you have observed above? ____________

5. The use of all four words above in all the O.T. and in two specific chapters:
If you were to list every chapter in the O.T. where any one of these 4 words is found, you would find that 40 different chapters contain at least one of them. It is a relatively rare occurrence when 2 or more of these words are found in the same chapter. Only 4 chapters (1 in 10) contain any two of these words. But beside Deut.24 there is ONLY ONE CHAPTER IN ALL THE O.T. which contains all four of these words!

-From your research, what chapter is it? _________________
-Is there any indication that this chapter and it's usage of these four words which are also found in Deut.24:1-4, has any bearing on how we should understand Deut.24?____________
Why? or Why not?_____________________________________

YOUR CONCLUSION: At the commencement of this exercise,there may have been a number of options which could possibly have explained the "uncleanness" of Deut.24:1. Did you find those possibilities narrowed down as you progressed?___________

-If you were a juror in a court of law and had to give a verdict on the meaning of the word "uncleanness" in Deuteronomy 24, and had to give your verdict soely on the evidence you have gleaned from this study, what would your verdict be?__________________________

-If you had to answer the following questions on the same basis, how would you respond?
-Why would the wife find no favour in her husband's eyes?__________
-Why is she clearly permitted to marry another man?___________
-Exactly how is she defiled? ___________________________
-With whom was she defiled?___________________________
-Why is the defilement only mentioned in connection with the consideration of whether the first husband could take her back?_____
-Why would resuming the first marriage be abominable to the Lord?
-What would it be about that relationship which would defile the land?
-What penalty did the law require if the former husband had actually taken this woman back?_______
-Since the Lord Jesus clearly relates Deut.24 to His teaching on divorce and remarriage, do you now have any reason to doubt the commonly accepted belief that the exception clause of Matt.19 speaks of "adultery" or "marital unfaithfulness"?

If you have finished the complete study above and would care to share your conclusions with me, I'd be most interested to hear from you! Please email me at

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