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  Discovery Box

Malachi 2:10-16

Context
The Rebellion of the People

2:10 Do we not all have one father? 1  Did not one God create us? Why do we betray one another, in this way making light of the covenant of our ancestors? 2:11 Judah has become disloyal, and unspeakable sins have been committed in Israel and Jerusalem. 2  For Judah has profaned 3  the holy things that the Lord loves and has turned to a foreign god! 4  2:12 May the Lord cut off from the community 5  of Jacob every last person who does this, 6  as well as the person who presents improper offerings to the Lord who rules over all!

2:13 You also do this: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears 7  as you weep and groan, because he no longer pays any attention to the offering nor accepts it favorably from you. 2:14 Yet you ask, “Why?” The Lord is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, 8  to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law. 9  2:15 No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this. 10  What did our ancestor 11  do when seeking a child from God? Be attentive, then, to your own spirit, for one should not be disloyal to the wife he took in his youth. 12  2:16 “I hate divorce,” 13  says the Lord God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” 14  says the Lord who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.”

1 sn The rhetorical question Do we not all have one father? by no means teaches the “universal fatherhood of God,” that is, that all people equally are children of God. The reference to the covenant in v. 10 as well as to Israel and Judah (v. 11) makes it clear that the referent of “we” is God’s elect people.

2 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

3 tn Or perhaps “secularized”; cf. NIV “desecrated”; TEV, NLT “defiled”; CEV “disgraced.”

4 tn Heb “has married the daughter of a foreign god.” Marriage is used here as a metaphor to describe Judah’s idolatry, that is, her unfaithfulness to the Lord and “remarriage” to pagan gods. But spiritual intermarriage found expression in literal, physical marriage as well, as vv. 14-16 indicate.

5 tn Heb “tents,” used figuratively for the community here (cf. NCV, TEV); NLT “the nation of Israel.”

6 tc Heb “every man who does this, him who is awake and him who answers.” For “answers” the LXX suggests an underlying Hebrew text of עָנָה (’anah, “to be humbled”), and then the whole phrase is modified slightly: “until he is humbled.” This requires also that the MT עֵר (’er, “awake”) be read as עֵד (’ed, “until”; here the LXX reads ἕως, Jews). The reading of the LXX is most likely an alteration to correct what is arguably a difficult text.

tn Heb “every man who does this, him who is awake and him who answers.” The idea seems to be a merism expressing totality, that is, everybody from the awakener to the awakened, thus “every last person who does this” (NLT similar); NIV “whoever he may be.”

7 sn You cover the altar of the Lord with tears. These tears are the false tears of hypocrisy, not genuine tears of repentance. The people weep because the Lord will not hear them, not because of their sin.

8 tn Heb “the Lord is a witness between you and [between] the wife of your youth.”

9 sn Though there is no explicit reference to marriage vows in the OT (but see Job 7:13; Prov 2:17; Ezek 16:8), the term law (Heb “covenant”) here asserts that such vows or agreements must have existed. References to divorce documents (e.g., Deut 24:1-3; Jer 3:8) also presuppose the existence of marriage documents.

10 tn Heb “and not one has done, and a remnant of the spirit to him.” The very elliptical nature of the statement suggests it is proverbial. The present translation represents an attempt to clarify the meaning of the statement (cf. NASB).

11 tn Heb “the one.” This is an oblique reference to Abraham who sought to obtain God’s blessing by circumventing God’s own plan for him by taking Hagar as wife (Gen 16:1-6). The result of this kind of intermarriage was, of course, disastrous (Gen 16:11-12).

12 sn The wife he took in his youth probably refers to the first wife one married (cf. NCV “the wife you married when you were young”).

13 tc The verb שָׂנֵא (sane’) appears to be a third person form, “he hates,” which makes little sense in the context, unless one emends the following word to a third person verb as well. Then one might translate, “he [who] hates [his wife] [and] divorces her…is guilty of violence.” A similar translation is advocated by M. A. Shields, “Syncretism and Divorce in Malachi 2,10-16,” ZAW 111 (1999): 81-85. However, it is possible that the first person pronoun אָנֹכִי (’anokhi, “I”) has accidentally dropped from the text after כִּי (ki). If one restores the pronoun, the form שָׂנֵא can be taken as a participle and the text translated, “for I hate” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT).

sn Though the statement “I hate divorce” may (and should) be understood as a comprehensive biblical principle, the immediate context suggests that the divorce in view is that of one Jewish person by another in order to undertake subsequent marriages. The injunction here by no means contradicts Ezra’s commands to Jewish men to divorce their heathen wives (Ezra 9–10).

14 tn Heb “him who covers his garment with violence” (similar ASV, NRSV). Here “garment” is a metaphor for appearance and “violence” a metonymy of effect for cause. God views divorce as an act of violence against the victim.



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