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Malachi 2:14-16

Context
2:14 Yet you ask, “Why?” The Lord is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, 1  to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law. 2  2:15 No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this. 3  What did our ancestor 4  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. 5  2:16 “I hate divorce,” 6  says the Lord God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” 7  says the Lord who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.”

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

2 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.

3 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).

4 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).

5 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”).

6 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).

7 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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