[b-hebrew] Re: Malachi 2:16

Dr. Joe Sprinkle jsprinkle at crossroadscollege.edu
Mon Sep 1 18:46:51 EDT 2003


Harold,

What you say about HCSB on Mal 3:16 is interesting.  I had no direct
imput -- my contribution to HCSB was limited to Genesis and Leviticus. I did
publish my translation on Mal 3:16 that Ray C. may have seen, though I
suspect Hugenberger would have had the greater influence.

Given the examples in 3:1 and 1:9 of YHWH speaking of himself in the third
person in Malachi (there is a trinitarian midrash for the former, but not
the latter), I retract my strongly negative appraisal of the traditional
view which introduces the "I" to get around the unfamiliar idiom, though I
still think the alternative (HCSB main text) to be an easier way of taking
the Hebrew.  Admittedly, that may relate to my cultural unfamiliarity with
speaking of one's self in third person!

Still, if a smooth reading is possble that makes sense contextually, why
choose an awkward one?  In  1:9 the "he" of whom YHWH speaks is first
identified as "deity" [EL] and in 3:1 YHWH calls himself YHWH before calling
himself "he."  But in 2:16 the connection of the "he" with God is less
clear, and the speaker in 2:15 (as you say) may well be Malachi, not God.

My connection of hate with divorcing is not only based on Deut 24:3, but
also Jewish Aramaic marriage contracts and certificates of divorce from
Elephantine, Egypt (5th century BC).

An Elephantine marriage contract specifies the name of the wife-to-be, her
father and the groom, the brideprice (5 shekels) and the groom's gifts to
the bride (in this case material goods worth more than 65 shekels given by
the husband to the wife).  In addition, the contract specifies the
inheritance rights of both partners in event of death without children (all
goes to the surviving spouse), and the legal consequences of divorce.  In
this case, if she divorces him (literally, "if she says, `I hate my
husband'"), he gets his brideprice back plus 50% interest (i.e. 7 1/2
shekels) and keeps his presents, but if he divorces her (lit., "If he says,
`I hate my wife'"), then he forfeits the five-shekel brideprice, yet
(according to contract) gets his presents back, and she takes her personal
belongings with her.  The man also agrees to pay the first wife 200 shekels
penalty plus continued support should he take a second wife.  It is signed
by a scribe and witnesses are listed. [A. Cowley, ed., Aramaic Papyri of the
Fifth Century B.C. (1923; Osnabrück: Zeller, 1967) 44-50, 54-56.]

Fifth century is right around the time of Malachi, though it is in another
language and locale.  Nonetheless, it adds to Deut 24:3 that "hate" in
Malachi 3:16 may well be a precurser of divorce by the Jewish man, not God's
attitude to the process, though the final two clauses of the verse makes
that clear.

Joe





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