1 Corinthians 7:9

New Testament

8 To the unmarried and widows I say that it is best for them to remain as I am. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them get married. For it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire. 10 To the married I give this command—not I, but the Lord—a wife should not divorce a husband 11 (but if she does, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband), and a husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say—I, not the Lord—if a brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is happy to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is happy to live with her, she should not divorce him.

Mishnah Ketubot 5:6


With regard to one who vows that his wife may not derive benefit from marital relations with him, Beit Shammai say: He may maintain this situation for up to two weeks, but beyond that he must divorce her and give her the payment for her marriage contract. Beit Hillel say: He must divorce her if it continues beyond one week. Apropos the husband’s obligation to his wife regarding marital relations, the Gemara mentions other aspects of this issue: Students may leave their homes and travel in order to learn Torah without their wives’ permission for up to thirty days, and laborers may leave their homes without their wives’ permission for up to one week. The set interval defining the frequency of a husband’s conjugal obligation to his wife stated in the Torah (see Exodus 21:10), unless the couple stipulated otherwise, varies according to the man’s occupation and proximity to his home: Men of leisure, who do not work, must engage in marital relations every day, laborers must do so twice a week, donkey drivers once a week, camel drivers once every thirty days, and sailors once every six months. This is the statement of Rabbi Eliezer.

 Notes and References

"... Polygamy was still practiced by Palestinian Jews, but it was not practiced in any Graeco-Roman culture. The Aramaic contracts follow fairly closely the rabbinic norms as recorded in Mishnah, though there was still a great deal of flexibility in the wording ... The phrase 'feed and clothe' is also very common in Jewish marriage contracts (as detailed above), and is often accompanied, as here, by some kind of euphemistic reference to conjugal rights. Here we find two references to food and clothing with each followed by a different euphemistic phrase: 'I will bring you into my house' and 'your bed' ... Paul recognizes these same marital obligations in 1 Corinthians 7 ..."

Instone-Brewer, David 1 Corinthians 7 in the Light of the Jewish Greek and Aramaic Marriage and Divorce Papyri (pp. 225-243) Tyndale Bulletin, 52.2, 2001

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