Troublesome Topic: God Did Not Condone Divorce as a Loophole for Adultery Malachi 2

By the time of the prophet Malachi, many of the people had gone far afield from where God wanted them to be. One of those ways was related to divorce and remarriage.

Malachi 2:13

Translation

And this is the second

Go to footnote number

thing you do, you cover the altar of YHVH with tears, with bitter weeping and cries of distress for He will not continue to turn toward

Go to footnote number

the offering or receive [it] from your hands with pleasure.

Paraphrase

Here is another thing you do, you show plenty of signs of contrition in what you offer to THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD, and your demonstrations of sorrow are deeply emotional and full of distress; you do this because God has stopped paying attention to your offerings, and He is no longer pleased to accept them from you.

Malachi 2:14

Translation

And yet you say, “Why?” “Because YHVH is a witness between you and the wife of your youth

Go to footnote number

against whom you have acted treacherously,

Go to footnote number

even though she is knit together with you because you share so many similarities

Go to footnote number

and is your wife by covenant.”

Go to footnote number

Paraphrase

And yet you ask, “Why does God reject our offerings?” The answer is this: “THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD has seen what you have done and has chosen to testify against you and in favor of the wife you are supposedly very close to because you have acted deceitfully against her, even though, supposedly, the two of you are inextricably bound together and have so much in common and even though you committed in the most serious way to being her husband.”

Malachi 2:15

Translation

Did He not make one,

Go to footnote number

with a remnant of the Spirit to Him? And why one? He is seeking Godly offspring. Therefore, be watchful and build a hedge around

Go to footnote number

your spirit!

Go to footnote number

And let no man act deceitfully toward the wife of his youth.

Go to footnote number

Paraphrase

Did He not make [you and your wife] one [body]? Did He not put His life-giving Spirit [in both of you] so you could know Him and be like Him? And why did He make you one body? Because God is seeking a continuing series of replicas of Himself. That is why you need to watch out for situations that might compromise your soul and take steps to avoid at all costs any spiritual danger. Therefore, commit yourself to the principle that no man should ever cheat on his wife whom he has promised to love.

He Is Seeking Godly Offspring

God’s desire is for us to be a reflection of Him. Then He wants us to pass on those godly traits to our children through training and example. Unfortunately, what we pass on to the next generation is a mixture of the good and the bad. Gen 5:3 says that he bore children in his own likeness and in his own image. In other words, he passed on his traits to the next generation, both good and bad.

Malachi 2:15 is highlighting the desire of God for us to train our children to not only follow Him, but also to be a reflection of who He is and what He is like. In order to do that we need to treat marriage with the seriousness He intended. There is no room for any sexual immorality.

Malachi 2:16

Translation

“When he hates, put her away,”

Go to footnote number

says YHVH, the ELOHIM of ISRAEL, “And it will definitely cover

Go to footnote number

one’s garments with violence,” says the YHVH of hosts. “Therefore, be watchful and build a hedge around your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

Paraphrase

“Go ahead and divorce your wife,” says THE ETERNAL PERSON GOD, the CREATOR AND OWNER OF THOSE WHO REFUSE TO LET GO OF GOD, “but there will be serious consequences, for doing so will assuredly saturate your reputation with violence,” says THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD who has more power than all the armies of all time. “Therefore, watch out for situations that might compromise your soul, and take steps to avoid at all costs any spiritual danger; in that way you will avoid acting deceitfully [against your wife].”

In my translation and paraphrase of this verse found in Perplexing Passages, I go into the various options for how the verse can or has been translated, and the weaknesses of each option. If you are interested in seeing those details, click here Malachi 2:16.

Whichever translation option you prefer, the following statements should be agreeable to everyone:

  • God is not pleased with divorce, rather it goes against His design for us.
  • Divorce is at type of violence
  • God wants all men to be faithful to their wives.

The message of these verses was that they could not use divorce as a loophole to legally commit adultery. They had invented a category one could call “legally permissible adultery,” but God refused to acknowledge their invention. In fact it was the reason God was no longer pleased with their sacrifices in general.

The next lesson is: Jesus Was Asked About Divorce Mt 19

Footnotes

1

This word means “second,” but it was sometimes used in sequences that had more than two items, thus it could mean “again or another.” The number of elements in this sequence depends on where you start counting.😊

2

This usually assumed the turning of the face toward someone, which in turn could bring either punishment or blessing, depending on whether the one turning his face was angry or pleased. Here the context clearly points to turning the face with pleasure, which is something the Lord is no longer willing to do for reasons that will be explained in the next verse.

3

The phrase “the wife of your youth” was used to point to a close, well established relationship involving strong commitments. It was much more than a statement about how long a couple had been married; instead, it was a picture of a solid and healthy relationship, or one that gives every appearance of being one.

4

The primary ideas expressed by this word are treachery and deceit. It involves an act of deceit for the purpose of personal gain at the expense of the other, with whom there is supposedly a close relationship.

5

This word conveys two main ideas: being knit closely together: and sharing many similarities. It is a picture of a very close relationship between two people whose souls beat as one. It was used of close friendships between people of the same gender, or of a close marriage relationship.

6

My translation refers to the wife, but my paraphrase refers to the husband.

7

In this discussion about men who had cheated on their wives, the reference to God making “one” is most likely a reference to the way God made man and woman “one flesh/one body,” (see Gen 2:24). It was intended as a slap in the face to the men who had violated the “one flesh” principle by sharing a bed with a woman to whom they were not married.

8

This verb comes from a root word meaning to protect by building a hedge around something, usually a hedge of thorny branches. It also acquired a strong emphasis on watching. Thus it is a picture of protection by watching out for danger and building a hedge around that which needs to be protected.

9

This Hebrew word means “spirit, soul and life.” We could render it, “guard your soul,” or “guard your spirit.”

10

The phrase “the wife of your youth” was used to point to a close, well established relationship involving strong commitments. It was much more than a statement about how long a couple had been married; instead it was a picture of a solid and healthy relationship, or one that gives every appearance of being one.

11

See the full comment below the translation and paraphrase of this verse for an explanation of the challenges facing translators in the first part of this verse. It is too long for a footnote.

12

This verb is an intensified verb in the perfect tense, but when a perfect has “and” prefixed to it, the meaning can be that of a future tense in English. Thus “it will definitely cover” is a viable option here.