–David Robert Reuben
Success in marriage is more than finding the right person: it is being the right person.
These two quotes are true. David Robert Reuben and Robert Browning were not the first people to say something about marriage. Much has been said about marriage. Many books have been written about the subject, yet if we look at the divorce statistics we see something is seriously wrong. I believe one reason for marriages not lasting, is because instead of looking to YHVH’s word for guidance in marriage, people tend to look to pop psychology for help and answers.
Lots of instruction on marriage can be found in scripture. We have written an article about set apart marriage in which we cover the scriptural basics of marriage according to YHVH’s word. In this article, we will look a bit deeper into what marriage is. There are certain aspects about marriage that make this union unique.
Marriage, the cornerstone of civilization
In Genesis, we read about the creation of man and woman.
27 Elohim created man in His own image, in the image of Elohim He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Elohim blessed them; and Elohim said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
YHVH gave a unique task to man and woman: to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. This partnership between a man and a woman forms the cornerstone of civilization. This, is one of the reasons satan wants to destroy the sanctity of marriage. If he manages to destroy marriage, he also has the ability to destroy the next generation through the children. Children broken through divorce often end up in broken relationships themselves. Mission accomplished for satan. Also, broken people, if they are not healed by YHVH, often do not accomplish the purpose YHVH have for them. This is why we can say marriage is the cornerstone of civilization. A godly marriage has a greater probability to produce godly children who fulfill the purpose YHVH has for them, thus adding to the building of a god-fearing civilization. A broken marriage often produces broken children who may fail in achieving their purpose unless they go to YHVH for healing.
It is due to the importance of marriage that YHVH has created it to be such a special, unique relationship.
Becoming one, a mystery
When a man and a woman marry, they become one, and in this oneness they can achieve what YHVH has planned for them. This can only take place with His help and guidance.
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
The man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. They shall become one flesh. This is very profound. In no other relationship do people become “one flesh.” the level of intimacy shared in marriage is unique. The Hebrew word “debaq” was translated as “joined” and means:
1815 דָּבַק (dā·ḇǎq): v.; ≡ Str 1692; TWOT 398
1. LN 18.12–18.23
(qal) cling to, i.e., fasten oneself to an object (Ru 1:14; 2Sa 23:10; Job 29:10);
(hif) stick to (Eze 3:26; 29:4b+);
(pual) joined fast, be stuck together (Job 38:38; 41:9[EB 17]+);
(hof) be made to cleave, stick to (Ps 22:16[EB 15]+);
2. LN 83.23–83.32
(qal) stay close, formally, cling, i.e., be in close proximity to another object (Ru 2:8);
3. LN 15.75–15.80
(hif) catch up, overtake, engage, i.e., make linear motion to come to the same place as another person or party, for either favorable or hostile intent (Ge 31:23; Jdg 18:22; 20:42, 45; 1Sa 14:22; 31:2; 2Sa 1:6; 1Ch 10:2+);
4. LN 34.1–34.21
(qal) be united, joined, i.e., be in a close association, implying a normal continuing relationship (Ge 2:24);
(hif) be associated, formally, bind, i.e., be in a close association as a figurative extension of a belt fastening objects together (Jer 13:11+); 2
A man and woman are stuck together in marriage. The bond that forms between a husband and wife is like glue, but also like a diamond, multifaceted forming on an emotional, spiritual and physical level.
The Bible uses the word “echad” to describe this union.The word “echad” was translated as “one” and is the same word that is used to describe the oneness of YHVH in Deut 6:4. The Dictionary of Biblical Languages defines the word as follows:
LN 63.1–63.4 one, i.e., that which is united as one in contrast to separate parts (Ge 2:24; Dt 6:4);2
The word “echad” speaks of unification. The Hebrew word “basar” translated as “flesh” can point to physical union, but it can also mean they become one creature, one body, one human to a certain extend. A strong tie forms in their souls and spirit while they remain two distinct persons at the same time.
1414 בָּשָׂר (bā·śār): n.masc.; ≡ Str 1320; TWOT 291a
1. LN 4 creatures, living things, formally, flesh, i.e., any biological life, human or animal, with a focus on the substance of that life (Ge 6:17);
2. LN 8.1–8.8 flesh, i.e., all the soft-tissue component parts of the body (of any creature) that make up the total of the corporeal mass, including (but not limited to) skin, ligament, muscle, etc. (Ge 40:19);
3. LN 8.1–8.8 body, i.e., the whole of the human body, including bones, as an extension of the soft-tissue corporeal mass (Lev 15:16);
4. LN 5.1–5.22 meat, flesh, i.e., muscle and soft tissue of an animal used for food or sacrificial offering (Ex 12:8);
5. LN 9.1–9.23 human, i.e., a male or female person who is of the class of humanity, with a focus that this class of being is made of soft-tissue which can perish and decompose (Dt 5:26[EB 23]);
6. LN 8.9–8.69 genitalia, formally, flesh, i.e., the male or female sex organs as a soft-tissue area of the body (Lev 15:2, 19); 2
This tie that forms is so strong that breaking it causes a deep spiritual wound, they are literally torn apart. Y’shua quoted this verse in Genesis 2:24, when He was tested by the Pharisees about divorce.
6 “But from the beginning of creation, Elohim made them male and female. 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 “What therefore Elohim has joined together, let no man separate.”
The two shall become one flesh. We feel strongly that there is no place in a marriage union for another person. It was not YHVH’s design from the beginning. He created one man and one woman and joined them in marriage. YHVH also didn’t create the union of marriage with divorce in mind (Mark 10:2-12; Mal 2 16).
Both polygamy (polygyny) and divorce was allowed, but the fruit of both was not good. However, the purpose of this article is not to discuss this, but to focus on how YHVH designed it to be. We are in a time of restoration and YHVH is restoring the truth of His word to us. I believe this to be true of marriage as well. When YHVH created man and woman, joined them in marriage and placed them in the garden, He said it was good. Sin entered the world and things changed. Let us embrace YHVH’s original design and be restored back to the garden.
Paul also quoted Genesis 2:24 and called this oneness in marriage a great mystery.
31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Messiah and the church.
Paul equates the oneness between a husband and wife with the oneness of Y’shua and the assembly.
These are familiar words, but do we understand what it means? This “oneness” spoken of here is a very strong bond and a covenant relationship.
The Bond of Marriage
This is confirmed by these words in Malachi:
14 “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because YHVH has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
The ESV translation states it as follows:
13 And this second thing you do. You cover YHVH’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because YHVH was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one Elohim seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says YHVH, the Elohim of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says YHVH of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
We shall first look at the word “companion.”
The word “companion” was translated from the Hebrew word “haber”
(ḥābēr). Companion, associate, knit together (RSV “associated with” him; ASV “companion” for fellows).
This word is used as an adjective and noun to refer to the very close bond that can exist between persons (cf. UT 19: no. 834). In Aramaic the term indicates the close relationship between Daniel and his three friends because of their common faith and loyalty to God (Dan 2:13–18). The Psalmist expressly states that the fear of God is the common bond between “companions” (Ps 119:63).
The term hābēr is also used to express the very close relationship that exists between people in various walks of life. Israelites were “united as one man” (RSV) in their war against the Benjamites because of their outrageous crime (Jud 20:11). Men can be very closely joined together as thieves (Isa 1:23), as destroyers (Prov 28:24), and as corrupt priests likened to ambushing robbers (Hos 6:9).
חֲבֶרֶת (ḥăberet). Consort, wife, companion. This feminine noun, synonym of wife (Mal 2:14), indicates the type of a close relationship which the root ḥābar expresses.3
This word “haber” means to join or knit together, it describes a very close bond. This bond is even stronger if the husband and wife fear YHVH. In Psalm 119:63, we read that we are a companion (have a very strong bond) with those who fear YHVH.
63 I am a companion of all those who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.
We also read in Ecclesiastes that a cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
This cord of three strands is the bond between husband, wife and YHVH. The previous passage we looked at in Malachi, in the ESV translation read “5 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?” This is truly amazing and confirms the uniqueness of the marriage union.
Y’shua, when He quoted the verse about the oneness between a husband and wife added “ what YHVH has joined together, let no man separate”
When we read this “let no man separate,” we may think of it in a legal way as in divorce, but it can be understood in a much wider sense. The word translated as “man” is “antropos” in Greek and means another human being or person.
9.1 ἄνθρωποςa, ου m; ἀνήρb, ἀνδρός m: a human being (normally an adult)—(in the singular) ‘person, human being, individual,’ (in the plural) ‘people, persons, mankind.’4
This proves that another human being can bring separation between a husband and wife. This can be a physical or a fictional person. Allow me to explain.
When a relationship is formed between a man and woman as in marriage, a soul tie forms. In marriage this is good for it bonds us together, it is the glue that makes us stay together. However, soul ties can exist between people due to previous relationships or sexual encounters. It can also form as a result of pornography. These soul ties are ungodly and have to be broken in Y’shua’s name. It will otherwise affect the bond between the husband and wife. These soul ties will pull you away from your husband or wife; you will always subconsciously have a longing for the other person. It scatters the soul and makes oneness, as YHVH designed it, impossible.
Even fantasizing about another person, whether real, or fictional will cause separation between husband and wife. When you fantasize about another person, your subconscious mind regards it as a real relationship. After a while it believes you to have a relationship with this person. This is why Y’shua said you are not even to look at another woman with lust for her.
28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Y’shua understood the nature of mankind. Therefor His warning. We are to control our thoughts. Ungodly thoughts will lead to sin. We have written a more extensive article about soul ties if you are interested Relationships: ties that bind.
Marriage is to be exclusive and sanctified. The marriage bed is to be undefiled. Any defilement will cause separation.
4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers Elohim will judge.
Oneness can only be a reality in marriage if both parties give themselves completely to the other. In the garden YHVH took a part of Adam and made Eve for him. In marriage He joined them together again. Eve completed Adam. There is no place for another person.
When YHVH refers to His relationship with believers, He often refers to Himself as the husband or bridegroom and us as the bride. Why would He use this imagery? I believe it is because of the deep bond between a husband and wife. The level of intimacy shared on so many levels. YHVH wants to have a relationship with us, a deep intimate relationship. We are not to hold anything from Him. Sin always brings separation, between us and YHVH, and so can and will certain sins bring separation between a husband and wife.
A warning in the word
The root idea of the word “haber” translated as “companion” can also express the idea of charming, tying up a person as by magic. This is idolatrous and is a warning for us not to idolize one another.
The main idea of ḥābar in the OT is “to join or unite” two or more things. However, the root idea of the term “to bind” also appears, especially in the concept “charm.” Only in Deut 18:11, does this term appear in a verbal form to express the idea of charming, i.e. casting a spell or tying up a person by magic. The act of charming is set forth as an idolatrous act and diametrically opposed to receiving revelation from God through his appointed prophets (Deut 18:15)3
It also points to control. We are not to control one another. It is unnatural and unhealthy.
In the latter part of the verse in Malachi, we read about marriage being a covenant.
The word “covenant” is “berit” in Hebrew and is defined as follows:
1382 בְּרִית (berîṯ): n.fem.; ≡ Str 1285; TWOT 282a
1. LN 34.42–34.49 covenant, treaty, compact, i.e., an agreement between two parties (Ge 6:18; 14:13), note: the exact relationships of the two parties will vary according to context;
2. LN 34.42–34.49 pledge, a binding oath of promise (2Ki 11:4);
3. LN 34.66–34.78 marriage (Pr 2:17);
4. LN 34.43 unit: כָּרַת בְּרִית (kā·rǎṯ berîṯ) make an agreement, formally, cut a covenant (Ge 26:28), note: see also domain2
We find another reference to marriage as a covenant in Proverbs. Of the adulterous wife it is written:
17 That leaves the companion of her youth And forgets the covenant of her Elohim;
The partner of her youth refers to her husband (cf. “the wife of your youth,” 5:18), and the covenant which she ignored is her marriage vows. Forgetting her commitment to her husband, she became promiscuous. To be involved with such a person (in her house) leads to death; adultery puts a person on an irretrievable path that eventually results in physical death (cf. 5:5; 7:27). It is fatal.5
Again, we see the use of the words “companion” and “covenant” together. Before we look at the covenantal nature of a marriage, we want to look at the vow that is made in marriage.
When we get married, we make a vow before YHVH. This promise is a vow or an oath. It usually goes like this:
I,….., take you, ……., to be my wife (or husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.6
Some couples personalize their vows, but the point is: a vow is made. The idea of making a vow when we get married points to the covenantal nature of this relationship. This vow is made before YHVH and He requires us to keep our vows. A vow is an oath and is defined as follows:
A sacred promise to keep one’s word (Num. 30:2) and to honor one’s covenants and agreements(Gen. 26:28; 2 Kgs. 11:4). As such, oaths are solemn declarations, which invoke God (Gen. 24:3; 31:53; Deut. 10:20) or some sacred object (Gen. 24:2; 47:29; cf. Matt. 5:33–37; 23:16–22) in order to guarantee the truth of what is declared. The power of the promise itself is binding in biblical oaths and is premised on the understanding that an oath confirms the obligation of the spoken word (Judg. 11:35; 1 Sam. 14:24–27; Jdt. 8:30; cf. Matt. 14:9). The sacral nature of oaths is emphasized by the invocation of God as the guarantor or witness to the sworn word (Gen. 21:23; Josh. 9:19; 1 Kgs. 2:8, 23, 42), and not uncommonly God swears an oath in the OT. Often these concern the promises made to Israel, e.g., those made to Abraham and other ancestral figures (Gen. 22:16–18; 24:7; Deut. 19:8; Josh. 21:43–44; Jer. 11:5; Sir. 44:21), but sometimes they involve threats and sanctions against those who would violate the covenant (Josh. 5:6; 1 Sam. 3:14; Ezek. 17:16–19).7
2 “If a man makes a vow to YHVH, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
A vow we make is binding. The vow we make when we get married is no different. Getting married is a serious commitment for life.
The Marriage Covenant
Marriage is not a contract that can be dissolved when required. A covenant relationship is for life. YHVH is witness to this covenant promise. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were to live in the fullness of what covenant means.
What does it mean to be in covenant?
It means that the other party will stand with you and love you no matter what, in all circumstances, whatever happens in your life, till death part you. The forever part of a covenant gives security and allows you to be yourself.
Schalk has written a series of articles on covenants and it may give you more insight into covenants. Here is a link to the first article Introduction to covenants – Covenants Part 1
It also means that we have to work hard at our relationship. If we neglect each other, it could be unbearable for both. In the next article we will look at what is written in scripture about how to be an excellent wife and a loving husband.
Last, but not least, marriage is a blessing from YHVH.
Marriage is a blessing
The relationship we enjoy in marriage is truly unique, two people becoming one for as longs as they both shall live. This is how YHVH intended it to be anyway. A true blessing from YHVH. It is written in the book of Proverbs:
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from YHVH.
In Ecclesiastes, marriage is described as a reward:
9 Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.
YHVH is our good Father and we receive good out of His hand. Marriage is one of these good things. YHVH created man and saw his need for companionship and help in fulfilling his purpose on earth. He formed him a helper from his side and joined them in marriage. He took a part from Adam, formed a helpmeet for him, and joined them again. Joined together in marriage, they became complete, one flesh. This union was instituted by YHVH and is therefor holy or set apart. A covenant relationship He made it, designed to be for life.
Sin entered the world and this changed. Marriage was, and still is, dishonored and the physical union that was designed to be set apart, was defiled. This leads to brokenness and men and women not fulfilling their purpose in YHVH. We now live in a broken world, that which was made perfect was ruined.
YHVH wants to restore us back to Him. He wants to heal us and restore us back to the garden. Marriage was His design, and with His help we can experience it as YHVH has planned it to be. We are to heed His instructions and we will reap the benefits He planned for us. We can experience the oneness in marriage as YHVH designed it.
In next week’s article we will look to scripture for more specific instruction on what we are to do.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- (1999). 598 חָבַר. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 260). Chicago: Moody Press.
- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 103). New York: United Bible Societies.
- Buzzell, S. S. (1985). Proverbs. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 910). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Mitchell, A. C. (2000). Oath. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 978). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
Tags: bond, bound, cling, companion, cornerstone civilisation, covenant, defile, divorce, echad, emotional, Gen 2:24, honor, husbans, intimate, marriage, one flesh, physical, promise, sacred, set apart, soul tie, spiritual, union, vow, wife
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