Must a man divorce an adulterous wife?

I ask as I am unaware of the halacha, I know Hosea was commanded to take back his after he was commanded by G-d to marry his adulterous wife.


2 Answers 2


Yes, he must divorce her, but see all the halachot for full details. Here is a basic proof:

מִי שֶׁרָאָה אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁזִּנְּתָה אוֹ שֶׁאָמְרָה לוֹ אַחַת מִקְּרוֹבוֹתָיו אוֹ מִקְּרוֹבוֹתֶיהָ שֶׁהוּא מַאֲמִינָם וְסוֹמֶכֶת דַּעְתּוֹ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁזִּנְּתָה אִשְׁתּוֹ. בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה הָאוֹמֵר אִישׁ בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה אִשָּׁה הוֹאִיל וְסָמְכָה דַּעְתּוֹ לְדָבָר זֶה שֶׁהוּא אֱמֶת הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב לְהוֹצִיא

When a man sees his wife commit adultery, or he was informed of this by one of his relatives or her relatives - whether male or female - whom he trusts and whose statements he believes, he is obligated to divorce her

(Hilchot Ishut 24:17)

Radak holds that Hoshea was having a dream. Others state that this was an "exception" made by Hashem for a specific, urgent reason, among other exceptions in the Torah like this.

  • Doesn't that contradict that ordeal in Numbers 5? There the husband had the spirit of jealousy, which applies in this case exposed by you. In the case of the law of Numbers 5, the test result did not prevent the husband from continuing with his wife if nothing happened to her even with indications or suspicion of adultery. Wouldn't the case of divorcing one's wife for adultery have to be proven ipsis litteris such a fact before an official court that is not functioning in Judaism?
    – Thales
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 23:50
  • 1
    @Thales you'd have to ask an expert in the laws of Sotah and Adultery in general. We don't have that test anymore, so we need some sort of standard
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 14:35
  • I just raised the possibility that the test in Numbers 5 correlates with Raul's doubt. Fulfilling what Hilchot Ishut 24:17 declares does not hurt this principle? Wouldn't adultery have to be legally proven to be used in a divorce? Are rumors or suspicions enough?
    – Thales
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 16:52
  • @Thales In Numbers, the wife is forbidden to her husband unless she passes the test and proves her innocence. If a man knows his wife committed adultery, he must divorce her.
    – N.T.
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 23:56
  • It's like I raised in a similar question a while ago here. Why is there a Hasidic rabbi who, when advising a case of adultery, is recommending that they dialogue about what happened to reach a consensus on whether to continue or not? Some raised the opinion that he must be referring to gentiles but I was not convinced, I asked on his youtube channel but I did not get a response until today.
    – Thales
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 1:12

The question and issue is how did the above info come about?

Was there witnesses (kosher)? Is it only the husband claiming so? Are there children in the picture?

All the above can result in different rulings.

I recall, due to the fact of Cheram Rabenu Gershom, the husband is not relied upon. See Hilchot Ishut Ch 11.

  • You are discussing what evidence the court needs to compel the divorce. The question was about the husband's obligation which is independent of the court.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 14:15

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