Origens Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew by Origen
16. Concerning the Pharisees and Scribes Tempting Jesus (by Asking) Whether Was Lawful for a Man to Put Away His Wife for Every Cause.
After this it is written that |there came unto Him the Pharisees tempting Him and saying, Is it lawful for a man to wife for every cause?| Mark, also, has written to the like effect. Accordingly, of those who came to Jesus and inquired of Him, there were some who put questions to tempt Him; and if our Saviour so transcendent was tempted, which of His disciples who is ordained to teach need be vexed, when he is tempted by some who inquire, not from the love of learning, but from the wish to tempt? And you might find many passages, if you brought them together, in which the Pharisees tempted our Jesus, and others, different from them, as a certain lawyer, and perhaps also a scribe, that by bringing together what is said about those who tempted Him, you might find by investigation what is useful for this kind of inquiries. Only, the Saviour, in response to those who tempted Him, laid down dogmas; for they said, |Is it lawful for a man to put away his own wife for every cause?| and He answered and said, |Have ye not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female?| etc. And I think that the Pharisees put forward this word for this reason, that they might attack Him whatever He might say; as, for example, if He had said, |It is lawful,| they would have accused Him of dissolving marriages for trifles; but, if He had said, |It is not lawful,| they would have accused Him of permitting a man to dwell with a woman, even with sins; so, likewise, in the case of the tribute-money, if He had told them to give, they would have accused Him of making the people subject to the Romans, and not to the law of God, but if He had told them not to give, they would have accused Him of creating war and sedition, and of stirring up those who were not able to stand against so powerful an army. But they did not perceive in what way He answered blamelessly and wisely, in the first place, rejecting the opinion that a wife was to be put away for every cause, and, in the second place, giving answer to the question about the bill of divorcement; for He saw that not every cause is a reasonable ground for the dissolution of marriage, and that the husband must dwell with the wife as the weaker vessel, giving honour, and bearing her burdens in sins; and by what is written in Genesis, He puts to shame the Pharisees who boasted in the Scriptures of Moses, by saying, |Have ye not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,| etc., and, subjoining to these words, because of the saying, |And the twain shall become one flesh,| teaching in harmony with one flesh, namely, |So that they are no more twain, but one flesh.| And, as tending to convince them that they should not put away their wife for every cause, is it said, |What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.| It is to be observed, however, in the exposition of the words quoted from Genesis in the Gospel, that they were not spoken consecutively as they are written in the Gospel; and I think that it is not even said about the same persons, namely, of those who were formed after the image of God, and of those who were formed from the dust of the ground and from one of the ribs of Adam. For where it is said, |Male and female made He them,| the reference is to those formed |after the image,| but where He also said, |For this cause shall a man leave his own father and mother,| etc., the reference is not to those formed after the image; for some time after the Lord God formed the man, taking dust from the ground, and from his side the helpmate. And mark, at the same time, that in the case of those who are formed |after the image,| the words were not |husband and wife| but |male and female.| But we have also observed this in the Hebrew, for man is indicated by the word |is,| but male by the word |zachar,| and again woman by the word |essa,| but female by the word |agkeba.| For at no time is it |woman| or |man| |after the image,| but the superior class, the male, and the second, the female. But also if a man leave his mother and his father, he cleaves not to the female, but to his own wife, and |they become,| since man and woman are one in flesh, |one flesh.| Then, describing what ought to be in the case of those who are joined together by God, so that they may be joined together in a manner worthy of God, the Saviour adds, |So that they are no more twain;| and, wherever there is indeed concord, and unison, and harmony, between husband and wife, when he is as ruler and she is obedient to the word, |He shall rule over thee,| then of such persons we may truly say, |They are no more twain.| Then since it was necessary that for |him who was joined to the Lord,| it should be reserved |that he should become one spirit with Him,| in the case of those who are joined together by God, after the words, |So that they are no more twain,| it is said, |but one flesh.| And it is God who has joined together the two in one so that they are no more twain, from the time that the woman is married to the man. And, since God has joined them together, on this account in the case of those who are joined together by God, there is a |gift|; and Paul knowing this, that marriage according to the Word of God was a |gift,| like as holy celibacy was a gift, says, |But I would that all men were like myself; howbeit, each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that.| And those who are joined together by God both mind and keep the precept, |Husbands love your wives, as Christ also the church.| The Saviour then commanded, |What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,| but man wishes to put asunder what God hath joined together, when, |falling away from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron, forbidding,| not only to commit fornication, but |to marry,| he dissolves even those who had been before joined together by the providence of God. Let these things then be said, keeping in view what is expressly said concerning the male and the female, and the man and the woman, as the Saviour taught in the answer to the Pharisees.