Unleashing God's Truth, One Verse at a Time

Leaving and Cleaving

Matthew 19

Code: BQ011514

The following is an excerpt from
The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Matthew 19.

And He answered and said, “Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4–5)

Jesus said, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife.” Since Adam and Eve had no parents to leave, the leaving of father and mother was a principle to be projected into and applied to all future generations.

The Hebrew word (dabaq) behind cleave refers to a strong bonding together of objects and often was used to represent gluing or cementing. Job used the word when he spoke of his bones clinging to his skin and flesh (Job 19:20; cf. Ps. 102:5). It could also have the connotation of following closely. The two ideas were, in fact, sometimes carried together, as in Ruth’s clinging to Naomi (Ruth 1:14) and the men of Judah remaining steadfast to David (2 Sam. 20:2). Several times the term is used of the Israelites’ holding to the Lord in love and obedience (Deut. 10:20; 11:22; 13:4; Josh. 22:5; 23:8).

The idea of close bonding and interrelationship is seen in the modern Hebrew word for marriage, kiddushin, a word closely related to the terms for holy and sanctified, which have the basic meaning of being set apart and consecrated. This meaningful word for marriage beautifully expresses the consecration of husband and wife to each other as well as to God. Marriage as God has always intended it to be involves the total commitment and consecration of husbands and wives to each other and to Him as the divine author of their union and witness to their covenant. The third reason Jesus gives for divorce not being in God’s plan is that, in marriage, the two … become one flesh. As Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 7:4, spouses belong to each other in the physical relationship of marriage: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

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