f) Gen 2:24: Here Moses inserted an editorial comment regarding the covenant commitment of marriage:[1]

He wrote, “For this reason a man shall forsake (azav) his father and his mother and shall cling to his wife.”

To forsake someone strongly implies abandonment, as in Ps 22:1.[2] When a man marries, he must sever one set of loyalties to begin another.[3]

In traditional societies like Israel’s, honoring one’s parents rose to just below the obligation to revere God (Exod 20:1–12), making this remark about forsaking them quite shocking.

The word “cling” (davaq) often occurs in the context of maintaining a covenant relationship, as it does here (Deut 4:4; Deut 10:20; Deut 11:22–3).[4]

A one-flesh union goes beyond sexuality or even the spiritual and emotional bond which develops as newlyweds form a new household. Just as we consider a person’s blood relatives the same “flesh and blood,” so is one’s spouse.[5]

Israel exempted a newly-married man from military service and other duties which would take him away from home for one year in order that he would “bring joy to his wife” (Deut 24:5).

The biblical pattern for establishing a couple’s own home contrasts with what occurs in many cultures even today. In some places, a man brings his new wife into his parents’ house, where she becomes the lowest-ranking member of the family.

Jesus quoted this verse to emphasize the permanence of the marriage bond, which a spouse can choose to dissolve only in the aftermath of adultery, desertion, or abuse (Matt 19:4–6).[6]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Gen 2:24. In what ways are men to leave their parents and become one with their wives when they marry? Why would Moses’s original audience have found this shocking?





Go to Marital Separation


[Related posts include Not Good! (Gen 2:18); A Parade of Animals (Gen 2:19–20); An Equal and Adequate Partner (Gen 2:21–23); Naked and Not Ashamed (Gen 2:25); Eve Acquires a Man (Gen 4:1); It is Good Not to Touch (1 Cor 7:1‒5); Marital Separation (1 Cor 7:10–11); Concerning Mixed Marriages (1 Cor 7:12–13); Contagious Holiness (1 Cor 7:14); and Dissolution of Marriage (1 Cor 7:15–16)]


[Click here to go to Women and Marriage Throughout Redemptive History; or to Chapter 5: A View from the Ground (Genesis 2:4–25)]


[1] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, A Commentary, 90.

[2]Robert L. Alden, “azav,” NIDOTTE, 3:364–5.

[3] Hamilton, Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 181.

[4]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 181.

[5] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 71.

[6]20th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America, 1992, “Report of the Ad-Interim Committee on Divorce and Remarriage,” 190, http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/divorce-remarriage.pdf.