In his first letter, the Apostle Peter directs the following words to wives:
In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live, having observed your pure lives lived with respect. (1 Peter 3.1–2)
These words have sometimes been used to expect victims of domestic violence to remain within their abusive relationships. Women are seen to be encouraged to put up with suffering under domestic abuse for the sake of the salvation of their spouses.
First of all, let me say straight up that domestic violence is always wrong. Always. There is never a time that domestic violence should be condoned or encouraged. Never. Ever.
Second, I believe that using Peter’s words here to encourage victims of domestic violence to remain in abusive situations is a complete misunderstanding and misuse of…
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Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse — a paper by Barbara Roberts
The translation and application of Malachi 2:16 is very significant when dealing with domestic abuse. I have published a paper Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse.
The paper examines and compares the ancient textual witnesses to that verse, how the verse has been variously translated into English, and how the verse applies to situations where a husband abuses his wife. It weighs the evidence and concludes that Myles Coverdale’s translation of Malachi 2:16 (published in 1535 in the Coverdale Bible) best conveys the meaning of the Hebrew text and is most consistent with the heart and character of God.
The paper is published at Academia.edu. You may have to sign in to Academia to read the paper. It is free to sign in. You don’t need to have an academic qualification or be working in an academic institution to sign in. The sign in options are email address, Facebook, or Google.
Go here to read the paper: Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse.
I hope you will share the paper with church leaders, Christian counselors and seminary teachers.
I am publishing this material here because I decided to remove it from the revised edition of my book Not Under Bondage in order to make room for other things. I did not want the revised edition to have more pages than the first edition. To increase the page length would have required an expensive and time-consuming update to the index.
The first edition of Not Under Bondage came out in 2008. Since then, new English versions of the Bible have been published: NIV2011 and CSB. The CSB was merely an update to the HCSB; it did not alter what the HCSB had at Malachi 2:16. I have added these two Bibles to the list and indented them to indicate what I added that was not in the 2008 book.
I will also publish this material at Academic.edu and put a link here when I’ve uploaded it to Academia. Footnote numbers are shown thus: (1)
Appendix 7 from the first edition of Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion
Translations of Malachi 2:16
This appendix presents eighteen translations of Malachi 2:16 where the one who hates is the divorcing husband. The date of each translation is shown.
• 1868 (Ewald) For he who from hatred breaketh wedlock, saith Yahweh Israel’s God, — he covereth with cruelty his garment, saith Yahweh of Hosts. To arrive at his translation, Ewald repointed the perfect verb śānē’ as a Qal participle śōnē’ and the infinitive construct šallah as an infinitive absolute šallēah. (1)
• 1908 (van Hoonacker) Quand quelqu’un répudie par aversion, dit Jahvé le Dieu d’Isräel, il se couvre d’injustice par-dessus son vêtement, dit Jahvé des Armées. Hoonacker repoints śānē’ to the Qal active participle śōnē’ (like Ewald), but repoints the infinitive construct šallah as a Piel perfect “to send away, divorce” to match the perfect “covers” in the latter part of the verse. (2)
• 1927 (J. M. P. Smith) “For one who hates and divorces,” says the Lord God of Israel, “covers his clothing with violence,” says the Lord of Hosts. (3)
• 1934 (Lattey) For he that putteth away with hatred… (4)
• 1970 (New English Bible) If a man divorces or puts away his spouse, he overwhelms her with cruelty, says the Lord of Hosts the God of Israel.
• 1981 (René Vuilleumier) En effet, répudier par haine, c’est couvrir son vêtement de violence, dit YHWH Sabaot. (In fact, to repudiate through hatred is similar to covering one’s garment with violence says YHWH Sabaot.) (5)
• 1986 (Westbrook) For he has hated, divorced … and covered his garment in injustice… Westbrook follows J. P. M. Smith and takes the two verbs as finite. (6)
• 1987 (Glazier-McDonald) “For one who divorces because of aversion,” says Yahweh, the God of Israel, “thereby covers his garment with violence.” Glazier-McDonald says “making Yahweh the subject is wholly arbitrary and requires too many inferences.” (7)
• 1994 (Hugenberger) If one hates and divorces, says Yahweh, God of Israel, he covers his garment with violence, says Yahweh of hosts. Hugenberger spends thirty-five pages analyzing the various interpretations and translations of verse 16 made prior to his time of writing, and presenting reasons why his translation is the most supportable. He leaves both śānē’ and šallah unchanged, suggesting that šallah be interpreted “as a Piel infinitive absolute functioning as a substitute for a finite form, in this case a perfect … in the Piel conjugation the infinitive construct often provides an alternative form for the infinitive absolute.” (8)
• 1994 (D. C. Jones) Translation of the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament made in the intertestamental period). The Septuagint has the first clause in the verse in the second person: If you divorce out of hatred, says the Lord God of Israel, then ungodliness covers your thoughts. Jones says:
The Septuagint … is widely and mistakenly assumed to have the same rendering as the Targum and the Vulgate: “If you hate, divorce!”… Correctly parsed, however, the Septuagint is not a subjunctive and an imperative, but a participle and a subjunctive. It does not say, “If you hate, divorce!” It says, “If hating you divorce,” with the apodosis [result] still to come, as in the Hebrew. …This rendering is congruent with Malachi’s general style as Malachi often inserts “says the Lord” before completing the thought (1:10, 14; 3:10, 17). In one other verse he places it as here, between the protasis [condition] and the apodosis [result] of a conditional sentence (2:2). (9)
Jones notes how two distinct Septuagint readings dating from the fifth century have been confused. One reading said “If you hate, divorce!” the other said “If hating you divorce…”. The former came to be regarded as “the LXX” of Mal. 2:16 to the neglect of the other reading. Jones says there is overwhelming manuscript evidence for the latter reading. (10)
• 1994 (C. John Collins) renders the Septuagint as If having hated you should divorce… because “the participle is an aorist, and an adverbial aorist participle before the main verb normally denotes action prior to that of the main verb.” (11)
• 1994 (C. John Collins) translates the Hebrew: For he hated, he divorced [his wife] … and he will [consequently] cover his garment with wrongdoing. Collins suggests that šallah (‘divorce’) be taken “as a Piel perfect, with a rare but not wholly unattested a in the first syllable rather than the usual i.” This suggestion would give two perfect verbs (hated, divorced) denoting consecutive past action. He concludes: “Taken this way, Malachi 2:16 shows how the sin condemned but not named in verses 13 and 14 is a violation of the marital unity described in verse 15.” (12)
• 1997 (Sprinkle) When he hates so as to divorce, says the LORD God of Israel, then he covers himself with lawlessness. Sprinkle says I hate divorce is “an impossible translation of the MT, one that can only be retained on the basis of conjectural emendation without any manuscript support.” He takes the infinitive šallah as a result clause. (13)
• 1998 (Stuart) If one hates and divorces (Yahweh, Israel’s God, said), he covers his clothes with crime (Yahweh of the Armies said). Stuart sees both Hoonacker and Hugenberger’s suggestions as reasonable and does not arbitrate between them. He describes Malachi 2:16 as a conditional sentence with a typical “if … then” structure. The condition (if he hates and divorces) reflects the reference to divorce for aversion in Deuteronomy 24:3. The result (then he covers his clothes with crime) is the consequence of divorce for aversion. (14)
• 1999 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) “If he hates and divorces [his wife],” says the LORD God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the LORD of Hosts.
• 1999 (Shields) For the one who hates and divorces, says Yahweh, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says almighty Yahweh. (15)
• 2001 (English Standard Version) For the man who hates and divorces, says the LORD, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. (16)
• 2003 (Zehnder) For the one who hates and divorces, covers his garment with violence, says YHWH of hosts. Zehnder says “The widespread rendering of the clause with ‘For I hate divorce’ is … untenable.” He interprets śānē’ as “either a verbal adjective or (with revocalization) as a Qal participle, šallah as an infinitive Piel or (with revocalization) as a third person singular perfect Piel.” He also gives, as an alternative translation, the same wording used by Hugenberger. (17)
Added (not listed in the first edition of Not Under Bondage)
• NIV 2011 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,”[a] says the Lord Almighty. Note [a] says: Or “I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “because the man who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence,”
• CSB “If he hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord God of Israel, “he[a] covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Hosts. Note [a] says: Or The Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce and the one who
These translations supply a weight of evidence against the common rendering “I hate divorce” and they all read the text as condemning a husband who both hates and divorces his wife. Since 1986, when the wave of these new translations began in earnest, an impressive degree of agreement has been developing amongst scholars.
There is not complete unanimity, however. For the sake of fairness, the scholars who have taken differing views will now be briefly canvassed. It will be seen that their various solutions have far less unanimity than the scholars listed above.
• Wilhelm Rudolph did not emend or revocalise śānē’ but argued that it could be construed as a verbal adjective acting as a participle, with an elided first person singular pronoun “I” as the subject. He read “sallah” as the object and arrived at “Because I hate divorce”. (18) Hugenberger refuted this, saying there are “no other first person pronouns in the context, and … a verbal adjective of śānē’ is otherwise unattested”. (19) Rudolph also repointed “covers” as an infinitive construct and added a prepositional prefix to it. Martin Shields refuted this by saying, “When a participle constitutes the predicate of a verbless clause, the subject is usually explicitly represented in the clause. The absence of such explicit representation in Malachi 2:16 is a serious difficulty for this view.” (20)
• In 1984, Ralph L. Smith emended śānē’ to the first person perfective form (“I hate”) as found in Malachi 1:3. (21)
• In 1986, A. S. van der Woude rejected the “I hate divorce” reading because it required emendation of “he covers”. He recognized the third person of “hates” but rejected Hoonacker’s translation on the grounds that “it must sincerely be doubted whether in Old Testament times even a prophet would have denounced divorce as a crime. Deuteronomy 24 tells against this interpretation.” His solution was to translate šallah not as divorce, but as “a morally detestable hostile act”. (22)
• In 1987, Pieter Verhoef rejected the translation “he hates” because he thought it must lead to “if he hates, let him send away” — which would contradict all that the prophet was seeking to convey. He argued for “I [God] hate divorce”, positing an elided “I” and repointing śānē’ to make it the Qal participle śōnē’. (23)
• In 1993, Andrew Cornes echoed Verhoef and Rudolph. He rejected a posited translation, “if he hated when divorcing it would be as bad as covering his garment with violence”, because “it would imply that divorce was perfectly acceptable if there were no hate involved and that would undermine all that Malachi is wanting to say about not breaking faith with your partner…” (24)
• In 1994, Eugene Merrill argued for “I hate divorce”, simply because he claimed that that translation seemed to be preferred by the majority of scholars. He saw no difficulty in rendering “he hates” as “I hate” because “one must allow for fluidity in such grammatical forms”. (25)
• In 1995, David Petersen translated verse 16a as “Divorce is hateful!” reading ki as asseverative and šallah as either a Piel imperative or an infinitive absolute. However, he read the passage as a metaphorical comment about Yahweh’s relationship to Israel rather than taking a literal divorce interpretation. (26)
• In 1995, John J. Collins reviewed Hugenberger’s book, applauding the new translation, but questioning the conclusion that Malachi was making a distinction between divorce based on aversion and divorce that is justified:
He [Hugenberger] is surely right to reject the traditional translation “for I hate divorce,” since the term “hate” is very widely associated with divorce in the extrabiblical sources. Despite the support of Westbrook, however, the term “hate” does not imply that divorce is “merely on the ground of aversion”. In the context of divorce, to “hate” means to repudiate without further qualification. The term is used as a technical term for divorce in the Elephantine papyri and the technical sense is reflected in such expressions as “silver of hatred” = divorce money, and “judgment of hatred” = divorce proceedings. The fact that the longer expression “hate and divorce” is also used at Elephantine does not prove that “hate” implies something beyond mere divorce. Marriage formulae are often redundant (cf. “to have and to hold, to love and to cherish”). We need not conclude that Malachi condemned divorce without qualification. Prophetic speech does not lend itself to legal niceties. We can only conclude that he was unhappy with the current practice of divorce in his day. We cannot attribute to him, on the basis of the verb “to hate”, a distinction between divorce based on aversion and divorce that is justified. (27)
Against John J. Collins, the view of Douglas Stuart may be relevant:
For those who recognize the overt dependency of the prophets on the Pentateuch and of Malachi specifically on Deuteronomy, it is entirely reasonable to expect that Malachi would be careful in the process of condemning what his contemporaries were doing — divorcing their first wives to marry pagans — not to state that all divorce was illegal. He might do this in the most semantically economical way (by the use of a single adjective [“hating”] to pin down the type of divorce under attack), but he would certainly want to do it. (28)
• In 1998, Andrew Hill argued that: “śānē’ makes excellent sense if one presumes that the subject, hā’ehād [‘The One,’ i.e., Yahweh], of the verb has been gapped from verse 15 (‘Indeed, The One hates divorce…’).” Yet Hill seemed to contradict himself by implying that the divorcing husband was the one doing the hating: “The occurrence of the verbs śn’ and šlh [hate/divorce] in Deuteronomy 24:3 gives rise to the interpretation that ‘hating’ or ‘aversion’ was the motive for divorce.” (29)
1 H. Ewald, Die Propheten des Alten Bundes, (2nd ed. 1868, Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 3. 224). I have quoted the English edition Commentary on the Prophets of the Old Testament (trans. J. F. Smith, London: Williams,1881) cited by David Clyde Jones in “A Note on the LXX of Malachi 2:16”, 1990.
2 A. van Hoonacker, Les Douze Petits Prophètes, J. Gabalda & Cie., 1908, cited in Beth Glazier-McDonald, Malachi: The Divine Messenger (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987), p. 110. A. S. van der Woude notes that Junker, Nötscher and Chary have each advocated similar repointing to Hoonacker’s.
3 J. M. P. Smith, The Old Testament, An American Translation, University of Chicago, 1927, cited in Jones, Biblical Christian Ethics, p. 191.
4 Lattey, The Book of Malachy (London, New York, Toronto: Longmans Green & Co., 1934), p. 12.
5 Réné Vuilleumier, “Malachie” in Commentaire de L’Ancein Testament XIc, eds Delachaux & Niestlé, (Paris: Neuchatel, 1981), p. 237.
6 Westbrook, “The Prohibition on Restoration of Marriage”, p. 403.
7 Glazier-McDonald, Malachi: The Divine Messenger, pp. 82, 110.
8 Hugenberger, Marriage as Covenant, pp. 69, 72-3, 83.
9 Jones, Biblical Christian Ethics, p. 191.
10 See Jones, “A Note on the LXX of Malachi 2:16”. Also Russell Fuller, “Text Critical Problems in Malachi 2:10-16” Journal of Biblical Literature 110/1 (1991): 54-7.
11 C. John Collins, “The Intelligible Masoretic Text of Malachi 2:16”, p. 40.
12 Ibid., pp. 37-9.
13 Sprinkle, “Old Testament Perspectives on Divorce and Remarriage”, p. 539.
14 Stuart, “Malachi”, pp. 1339, 1343-4.
15 Martin A. Shields, “Syncretism and Divorce in Malachi 2:10-16”, Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 111 (1999): 76.
16 Heth, “Jesus and Divorce, How my mind has changed”, p. 7, comments that the ESV is “the most probable translation”.
17 Zehnder, “A Fresh Look at Malachi 2:13-16”, pp. 251-2.
18 Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai, Sacharja 1-8, Sacharja 9-14, Malachi, Kommentat zum Alten Testament (Gutersloh: Gutersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 1976) p. 270; ibid., “Zu Mal. 2:10-16” Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 93 (1981): 90.
19 Hugenberger, Marriage as Covenant, p. 64.
20 Shields, “Syncretism and Divorce in Malachi 2:10-16”, p. 82.
21 Ralph L. Smith, Micah: Malachi, Word Biblical Commentary Series vol. 32 (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1984), p. 320.
22 A. S. van der Woude, “Malachi’s Struggle for a Pure Community: Reflections on Malachi 2:10-16”, in Tradition and Re-Interpretation in Jewish and Early Christian Literature ed. van Henten, de Jonge, van Rooden, & Wesselius (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986), pp. 65-71.
23 Pieter A. Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), p. 278.
24 Cornes, Divorce and Remarriage, p. 167.
25 Eugene Merrill, An Exegetical Commentary: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), pp. 420-25.
26 David L. Petersen, Zechariah 9-14 and Malachi: A Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), pp. 194-5.
27 John J. Collins, “Review of Marriage as Covenant by Hugenberger” Journal of Biblical Literature 114/2 (1995): 307.
28 Stuart, “Malachi”, p. 1342.
29 Andrew E. Hill, Malachi: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1998), pp. 250-1.
The abuser contaminates his moral character. Harsh cruelty is the fabric, the warp and weft, of his thoughts. He scorns his marriage promises. If he has a position of authority, he scorns his responsibility to those he leads. Malevolence permeates his thoughts. He engrosses his moral character with wickedness. And if he refuses to set his victims free, his sinfulness is even greater.
Genesis 6:5 comes to mind:
the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (NKJ)
the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was increased upon the earth, & that all the imagination & thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (MB)
The abuser is filthy, let him be filthy still. He will not reform. Set the oppressed free, so they can grow in holiness.
Is 21:2 (NKJ) The treacherous dealer deals treacherously, and the plunderer plunders.
Rev 22:11 (NMB) He who does evil, let him do evil still; and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he who is righteous, let him be more righteous; and he who is holy, let him be more holy.
Dan 12:10 (CSB) Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.
Proverbs 26:24 in different versions:
An enemy dissembleth with his lips, and in the mean season he imagineth mischief. (MB)
He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself. (NKJ)
A hateful person disguises himself with his speech and harbors deceit within. (HCSB)
Proverbs 13:2b in different versions:
the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence (NKJ)
treacherous people have an appetite for violence (HCSB)
he that hath a froward mind shall be spoiled (MB)
[froward means stubbornly contrary and disobedient; obstinate]
I have nearly completed a paper on Malachi 2:16 which I intend to publish at independent.academia.edu/BarbaraRoberts3.
UPDATE (13 Nov 2020): The paper is now published. Read it here: Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse
The paper will present the results of my research on the translation of Malachi 2:16. I will give evidence to show that Myles Coverdale’s translation of Malachi 2:16 is consistent with the meaning of the Hebrew text.
I have come to the conclusion that, of all existing English translations of Malachi 2:16, Coverdale’s is the best.
If thou hatest her, put her away, sayeth the Lord God of Israel and give her a clothing for the scorn, says the Lord of Hosts. Look well then to your spirit, and despise her not.
— Coverdale’s translation of Malachi 2:16
Coverdale’s Bible was published in 1535. Coverdale’s translation of Malachi was brought in to the Matthew Bible (1537). Learn more about the Matthew Bible here.
In my paper I will be citing evidence from
- Hebrew and Greek lexicons & expository dictionaries
- Hebrew grammar books and PDFs.
- Ancient versions of the Malachi text:
- Dead Sea Scrolls
- Septuagint witnesses
- Latin Vulgate
- English translation of the Vulgate
- Early Modern English versions (pre King James Version)
- English translations of the Septuagint
- Word Usage studies from various biblical scholars and websites.
The paper will be longer and more technical than what I usually publish at this blog. Hence my decision to publish it at independent.academia.edu/BarbaraRoberts3Academia.edu.
After I have published the paper, I will be able to condense it into a form which will suit the Revised Version of Not Under Bondage (my book). The condensed version will replace the chapter on Malachi in the first edition of my book. I will do my best to make that chapter easy to understand and non-technical. If readers of my revised book want to know my technical arguments for why I think Coverdale’s translation of Malachi 2:16 is the best, they will be able to consult my academic paper.
I trust this helps you understand why I haven’t published many posts on this blog in the last few months. Thank you so much, dear readers, for your patience and prayers!
Where I live (Victoria Australia) is still in heavy lock-down. The Victorian Govt has passed a law which will make it easy for them to keep all Victorians locked-down indefinitely and persecute truth-tellers. I consider this a political emergency because so many human rights are being violated and so many lies are being told. For that reason, I have been more than usually active on Twitter (and to a lesser degree on Facebook) trying to raise awareness about the Covid Fraud. I have also composed and recorded new lyrics for the Australian National Anthem.
To understand why I use the term Covid Fraud, watch these two videos —
I tweet at @NotUnderBondage
When survivors of abuse tell their stories, it helps other survivors learn and grow.
Back in 2018 we published a guest post For the Kingdom! – A survivor of domestic abuse tells her story. She used a different pseudonym then. She set up a blog called Hadassah’s Legacy, but she has now removed the blog and turned all her posts into a Kindle book.
This is my story of intimate partner abuse, the conclusions I came to in my search for answers, and the good news about the Good News of Jesus that I rediscovered! The story is told in a short collection of blog posts from my two year therapeutic blogging experience.
If there be only one person for whom even one of these messages is a signpost to the freedom we were created for, then it has been worth putting this book together.