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provision. A woman, thus divorced, might be united to any person, except to her husband unless under circumstances to be mentioned presently.
We notice now the form of the Bill of Divorce, called Ghett. The treatise in the Talmud concerning it, is called Ghittim. It is stated, with some slight variations, by Maimonides, Buxtorf, Selden, and Grotius. It will be sufficient to quote the two latter. It began with setting forth the names of the parties, the date of the instrument, and the circumstances leading to the separation; and then concludes thus :
“ Mea sponte, nullius coactu, te uxorem hactenus meam dimittere a me, deserere ac repudiare decrevi; jamque adeo te dimitto, desero, ac repudio, atque a me ejicio, ut tuæ sis potestatis, tuoque arbitratu ac lubitu quolibet discedas, neque id quisquam ullo tempore prohibessit.” And then the concluding clause gives this liberty of re-marriage; “ Atque ita dimissa esto, ut cuivis viro nubere tibi liceat.”.
The words of Selden are, “ Detur ei potestatem abeundi, et nubat cuiqunque viro voluerit, nec quisquam ei interdicatur ab hoc tempore in perpetuam.”
Now here was the utility of this Bill. It served as an attestation of the condition of the wife to all the world, and particularly to the “ cuiqunque viro,” who might wish to ascertain her liberty in this respect. It might also be used by the wife, as a bar against the husband's resumption of her. Both Josephus and St. Jerome speak of the Bill of Divorce, as being to this effect; “I promise thee, that hereafter, I will lay no claim to thee.” But, as it has been already said, there was an opportunity afforded to restore the connexion. A legal interval was allowed (indeed it was necessary) between the separation and the wife's alliance with another, stated variously, at ninety days ; by some, at less, and by others, at more; in order to determine whether the wife might not be in that state in which offspring might · be anticipated, and thus its right parent be
ascertained. Within this interval might be enjoyed the privilege of reconciliation ; that is, if both parties were desirous of it, and, the wife would wave her power of perpetual alienation from her husband: but if she was once married to another, the power of re-union then ceased.* This re-union was called abomination before the Lord ; and Grotius assigns this as the reason: “Ne specie divortii alii aliis uxores darent usurarias;" this custom of lend
ing wives being one of the detestable evils of many cotemporary nations.
We come now to a few remarks on the actual use and instances of this privilege of Divorce. With regard to the employment of the Bill of Divorce, it is certain, that, like the test of Adultery, no specific record of it is to be found in the Sacred Volume, and no mention is made of it after the passage before noticed, till the time of Isaiah, near seven hundred years afterwards.* How far, in consequence of this absence of records of their use, the institution of these provisions may indicate the wisdom and practical good of their tendency, in restraining those acts which might have previously led to the licentious
* “ Ante Isaiam Prophetam nomen ejus in historia sacra non occurrit D.CC. a lege annos elapsos.” Selden Ux. Heb.
It is, indeed, thought, from the reports of the Rabbies, that soldiers, going on service, were obliged to give their wives Bills of Divorce, so that, if they did not return in three years, they might marry again: and that it was for these Bills, that Jesse sent his son David to his brethren, in the Camp of Saul ; (take their pledge :) but how much more natural is the interpretation of that term, to signify the proof or pledge of their health, (see how they fare.) It was also thought, that Uriah had given his wife a Bill of this kind; but the ingenuities of the Rabbies are endless.
commission of Adultery, or the wanton use of Divorce, is a question that merits some attention.
It is, however, certain, that Divorces could not have been frequent among the ancient Jews, and this from two or three provisions of their law. Deuteronomy xxi. 15, 16. xxii. 13, 19.* By one of these, a man, accusing his wife of not being a maid, was obliged to bring the matter to a kind of judicial investigation, and if innocent, she could not be sent away all her days. The other preserved the first-born from being deprived of his inheritance, although he was the son of a wife not beloved. If Divorces, under the new regulation, had not been considerably restrained, these laws would have been of little use, as the Israelite would not, in the possession of such a liberty, live with a wife he hated, but would have immediately put her away.t
It has indeed been even supposed, from the cases of the Levite, mentioned in Judges
* Deut. xxi. 15, 16. xxii. 13, 19.
+ According to the expression in the Book of the Ecclesiasticus ; “ If she go not as thou wouldst have her, cut her off from thy flesh, write her a Bill of Divorce, and let her go.” xxv, 26.
xix.* and of Samson, in the same book, xv. † as well as that of David, in 2 Samuel, xx. 3. ;f that the nuptial breach was not considered a sufficient ground of Divorce. But this is absurd enough. These cases prove nothing of the kind. Indeed, we have already remarked on the punishment with which the nuptial breach was visited, and the inapplicability of a provision for Divorce in such cases, except as opening a path of lenience and mercy, by which the injured party might be content with the remedial, and not seek the infliction of the penal consequences.
David's was the case of concubines, never regarded with the same strictness as that of a wife; and from the monarch's treatment of them, viz. by condemning them to perpetual confinement, and a sort of widowhood, we may infer how much more severely he would have visited this offence in a wife. The conduct of Samson is a proof of strong feeling and revival of affection, rather than of the state of the law on these matters, and that of the Levite is nearly similar. She was his wife, and had been guilty of Adultery; the circumstance of her fleeing from him, proves