Malachi 3:7

David Humpal ebedyah at
Sat Sep 19 02:07:27 EDT 1998

Tony wrote -- The hypothetical response of Israel to the Lord Almighty's
question in
Malachi 3:7 is BaMMeh NaSHuB - translated "How shall we return". Is Pieter
Verhoef's (NICOT, p.297) "Why do we have to return?" a fair translation. He
does not make any comment regarding changing the interrogative to "why".


Bammeh means literally "in what," and can be translated by different English
words depending on the context, and both "how" and "why" are possibilities.
But if bammeh in Malachi 3:7 is being used to mean "why" (as in why shall we
return), then it seems it also must mean "why" in Malachi 3:8 bammeh
q'ba'anuka (as in why have we robbed you).  The meaning "how" seems to make
more sense.  Those who heard Malachi's prophecies would probably ask how
have we robbed you, but I seriously doubt that they would ask why have we
robbed you.  Also, it seems the hypothetical question in verse 7, how shall
we return [to the commandments], is answered in verse 8 by pointing the
listener toward tithing and  giving to God.  Keil and Delitzsch give for
verse 7 "wherein, i.e. in what particular shall we turn," and for verse 8
"in what have we defrauded thee."  It is interesting that Verhoef in NICOT
abandons his use of "why" in verse 8 and uses the normal "how" have we
robbed you.  His point in verse 7 is that they didn't realize their sin and
so he translates it "why" to indicate this ignorance.  I am not sure this
idea of ignorance is clearly in the text.  It seems to me he may be reading
more into it  than is there.

Pastor Dave Humpal ebedyah at
First Christian Church, Merced, California
Help for the Hurting Christian
First Christian Church Site

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