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her apprehension of some punishment, and probably, it was from a fear of her being made a public example, that his still existing regard prompted him to seek a reconciliation. The indignation, however, and thirst of revenge, which were felt, are sufficiently evident; the Israelites were instigated to take up arms and almost to destroy the whole tribe of Benjamin, because they refused to give up the adulterers,
The case of David and Michal is somewhat stronger : Michal was certainly given by Saul to Phaltiel, and it is said, this could not have been done, unless a Bill of Divorce had been given. But the arbitrary character of Saul is a much more obvious explanation of this ; and we find, that after his death, David claimed her again.
It is tolerably certain, that we do not find any instances in the whole of the Old Testament, of Divorces, either on this or any other ground, except that mentioned as occurring after the captivity, when the Jews, at the instance of their leader, put away the strange or idolatrous wives whom they had married in Babylon.* This, however, was from considerations peculiar to the Jews alone, and was a remarkable instance of the resolute decision of this great reformer, in removing abuses and evils, with whatever painful sacrifices attended, and restoring all things to their pristine rigidness.
* Ezra x, Nehemiah xiii. 23..
Afterwards, as we have remarked, a great corruption of manners was introduced, in which the utmost laxity prevailed ; so much as even to allow, on the most trivial occasions, the liberty of Divorce to the wife.
It has been matter of dispute, whether the Jewish law allowed the women this privilege at all. But the only case, indicating an approach to the grant of this freedom to her, was that of the virgin, betrothed by her parents during her minority, who might refuse to ratify the contract, when she attained her age, on the sole ground of dislike. But this was no liberty of Divorce; as no marriage had been solemnized.*
Josephus was of opinion, that Divorce was
* Selden gives the form of this Bill, which he terms libellus renunciationis. Lightfoot calls it, letters of forsaking, or, a Bill of Dismission. N. recusavit seu renunciavit coram nobis, M. ad hunc modum verba faciens. Mater mea aut frater meus errare me fecit et decepit me et desponsavit me. Nunc vero animi mei sententiam coram vobis aperio; illum mihi non placere neque ego cum illo mansuram. Et scripsimus hoc et subsignavimus et secundum jus ejus sic habetur.
far from being permitted to women ; so that, if a husband even forsook his wife, she had not the power of re-marriage, till she had obtained from him a Bill of Divorce. The cases mentioned three pages back, do not evidence this privilege as belonging to the women. St. Ambrose imagined, that the Levite's wife had actually divorced him, “ remisit claves.” But the most common opinion is, that she only forsook him on occasion of domestic jars ; and it is certain that she did not marry another ; but when her husband claimed her again, her father did not deny his right.
Josephus records the first case of a wife who took upon her to repudiate her husband.* It was of a woman named Salome, the daughter of Herod, who gave a Bill of Divorcement to her husband Costobarus, Governor of Idumea; but, he says, it was only permitted to the men so to do; and this usurpation of his power, as he terms it, was afterwards imitated by many.
Among the eastern nations, the female sex has always had but little authority. The wife is regarded as little more than a necessary possession, and no regard is paid to them in the enacting of laws, or in public
* Antiquities, lib. xv. cap. 7.
transactions. We see that even the Hebrew law contained no permission of this liberty to that sex; the reasons were, doubtless, the wisest, and could not spring from indifference to them, as so many regulations were made which peculiarly respected their comfort and security. And the attainment and exercise of this power by the women, at a future period of the Jewish history, may probably be traced up to the intercourse of the Hebrew nation with the Greek and Roman, who did allow of it to their women. The innovation only required some decisive example. The case of Salome furnished it; and we soon hear of other instances, of Herodias, of Drusilla, the Jewess, mentioned in the Acts,* who left her husband Azizus, King of Emessa, and cohabited with Felix the Roman Procurator, and also of the two other sisters of Agrippa,+ Berenice, and Mariamne, who each divorced their husbands.
It is also supposed, that the words of the Saviour, “ If a woman put away her husband, and marry another,” &c. imply the existence of this practice at that time; and some con
* Antiquities, xx. 7. + Agrippa, formerly King of Chalcis, afterwards of Trachonitis and Batanea.
jecture that the woman of Samaria was an instance of it, who had (divorced, they contend) five husbands, and that her marriage with the first, being still in force, the marriage was unlawful which she had contracted with the last : “ He whom thou now hast is not thy husband;"* but no reliance can be placed on this
With regard to the men, they exercised the power in the later ages of the Jewish nation with great freedom; the interpretation of Hillel they approved, and acted upon it.
Josephus says, “ If a man has a mind to part from his wife, upon what cause soever, as there are pretences in abundance, let him give her under his hand a Bill of Divorce, and they shall never come together again.” And, in the account of his life he tells us, that he acted upon this himself, for he divorced his wife, not liking her temper at all ; † and this, though she was the mother of three children.
Philo the Jew has also a passage to the same effect, indicating a familiarity with divorces which was then prevalent for the slightest and most frivolous pretences.
* John iv. 18. + Την γυναικα μη αρεσχόμενος τους ηθεσι απεπεμψαμιν τριων παιδων μητερα.