Malachi 2:15
And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15, 16) These are two very difficult verses, which should perhaps, be rendered as follows:—

For did He not make [man and his wife, Genesis 2:24] one? and has he [the husband] any superiority of spirit [that he should divorce at will]? And what is this [pair which is become] one? [Answer.] It seeketh a godly seed. Therefore take heed to yourselves [literally, your spirit], and with respect to the wife of thy youthLet none be faithless.

2:10-17 Corrupt practices are the fruit of corrupt principles; and he who is false to his God, will not be true to his fellow mortals. In contempt of the marriage covenant, which God instituted, the Jews put away the wives they had of their own nation, probably to make room for strange wives. They made their lives bitter to them; yet, in the sight of others, they pretend to be tender of them. Consider she is thy wife; thy own; the nearest relation thou hast in the world. The wife is to be looked on, not as a servant, but as a companion to the husband. There is an oath of God between them, which is not to be trifled with. Man and wife should continue to their lives' end, in holy love and peace. Did not God make one, one Eve for one Adam? Yet God could have made another Eve. Wherefore did he make but one woman for one man? It was that the children might be made a seed to serve him. Husbands and wives must live in the fear of God, that their seed may be a godly seed. The God of Israel saith that he hateth putting away. Those who would be kept from sin, must take heed to their spirits, for there all sin begins. Men will find that their wrong conduct in their families springs from selfishness, which disregards the welfare and happiness of others, when opposed to their own passions and fancies. It is wearisome to God to hear people justify themselves in wicked practices. Those who think God can be a friend to sin, affront him, and deceive themselves. The scoffers said, Where is the God of judgement? but the day of the Lord will come.And did not He - , God, of whom he had spoken as the witness between man and his wife, "make one," namely, Adam first, to mark the oneness of marriage and make it a law of nature, appointing "that out of man (created in His own image and similitude), woman should take her beginning, and, knitting them together, did teach that it should never be lawful to put asunder those, whom He by matrimony had made one?" "Between those two, and consequently between all other married, to be born from them, He willed that there should be one indivisible union, for Adam could be married to no other save Eve, since no other had been created by God, nor could Eve turn to any other man than Adam, since there was no other in the world. 'Infringe not then this sanction of God, and unity of marriage, and degenerate not from your first parents, Adam and Eve.'" "If divorce had been good, Jesus says, God would not have made one man and one woman, but, having made one Adam, would have made two women, had He meant that he should cast out the one, bring in the other; but now by the mode of creation, He brought in this law, that each should have, throughout, the wife which he had from the beginning. This law is older than that about divorce, as much as Adam is older than Moses."

Yet had he the residue of the spirit - Genesis 2:7, "the breath of life, which He breathed into Adam, and man became a living soul." All the souls, which God would ever create, are His, and He could have called them into being at once. Yet in order to designate the unity of marriage, He willed to create but one. So our Lord argues against divorce Matthew 19:4-6, "Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning, made them male and female?" They both together are called "one man" Genesis 1:27, and, therefore, should be of one mind and spirit also, the unity of which they ought faithfully to preserve.

And wherefore one? - "Seeking a seed of God," i. e., worthy of God, for from religious marriage, religious offspring may most be hoped from God; and by violating that law, those before the flood brought in a spurious, unsanctified generation, so that God in His displeasure destroyed them all. "And take heed to your spirit," which ye too had from God, which was His, and which He willed in time to create. He closes, as he began, with an appeal to man's natural feeling, "let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth."

15. Maurer and Hengstenberg explain the verse thus: The Jews had defended their conduct by the precedent of Abraham, who had taken Hagar to the injury of Sarah, his lawful wife; to this Malachi says now, "No one (ever) did so in whom there was a residue of intelligence (discriminating between good and evil); and what did the one (Abraham, to whom you appeal for support) do, seeking a godly seed?" His object (namely, not to gratify passion, but to obtain the seed promised by God) makes the case wholly inapplicable to defend your position. Moore (from Fairbairn) better explains, in accordance with Mal 2:10, "Did not He make (us Israelites) one? Yet He had the residue of the Spirit (that is, His isolating us from other nations was not because there was no residue of the Spirit left for the rest of the world). And wherefore (that is, why then did He thus isolate us as) the one (people; the Hebrew is 'the one')? In order that He might seek a godly seed"; that is, that He might have "a seed of God," a nation the repository of the covenant, and the stock of the Messiah, and the witness for the one God amidst the surrounding polytheisms. Marriage with foreign women, and repudiation of the wives wedded in the Jewish covenant, utterly set aside this divine purpose. Calvin thinks "the one" to refer to the conjugal one body formed by the original pair (Ge 2:24). God might have joined many wives as one with the one husband, for He had no lack of spiritual being to impart to others besides Eve; the design of the restriction was to secure a pious offspring: but compare Note, see on [1193]Mal 2:10. One object of the marriage relation is to raise a seed for God and for eternity. And did he, God our Creator, not make one, but one man and one woman?

Yet had he the residue of the spirit; yet he could have made more men and women; and if it had been good, and well-pleasing to him, he could have made many women for one man; but though by his power he could, yet in his wisdom, goodness, and holiness he would not make more; from the beginning marriage was ordained to be between one man and one woman alone at once. So Christ argued Matthew 19:4-6.

And wherefore one, one couple, and no more?

That he might seek a godly seed; or, a seed of God; either an excellent seed, as the Hebrew expresses the excellency of a thing by the addition of the name God to it; or rather a holy seed, born to God in chaste wedlock, and brought up under the instructions and virtuous examples of parents living in the fear of God, and love of each other, which in polygamy cannot be expected.

Take heed to your spirit; keep your heart from wandering after strange wives, as you tender your life and souls.

Let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth; though many have done so, let none now do it any more.

And did not he make one?.... That is, did not God make one man, and out of his rib one woman? did he not make man, male and female? did he not make one pair, one couple, only Adam and Eve, whom he joined together in marriage? or rather, did he not make one woman only, and brought her to Adam to be his wife? which shows that his intention and will were, that one man should have but one wife at a time; the contrary to which was the then present practice of the Jews:

Yet had he the residue of the spirit; it was not for want of power that he made but one woman of Adam's rib, and breathed into her the breath of life, or infused into her a human soul or spirit; he could have made many women at the same time; and as the Father of spirits, having the residue of them with him, or a power left to make as many as he pleased, he could have imparted spirits unto them, and given Adam more wives than one:

And wherefore one? what is the reason why he made but one woman, when he could have made ten thousand, or as many as he pleased? the answer is,

That he might seek a godly seed; or "a seed of God" (d); a noble excellent seed; a legitimate offspring, born in true and lawful wedlock; see 1 Corinthians 7:14 a seed suitable to the dignity of human nature, made after the image of God, and not like that of brute beasts, promiscuous and uncertain:

Therefore take heed to your spirit; to your affections, that they do not go after other women, and be led thereby to take them in marriage, and to despise and divorce the lawful wife, as it follows:

and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth; by marrying another, or divorcing her: these words are differently rendered and interpreted by some; but the sense given seems to be the true one, and most agreeable to the scope of the place. Some render the first clause, "hath not one made?" (e) that is, did not the one God, who is the only living and true God, make one man or one woman? and then the sense is the same as before; or did not that one God make, constitute, and appoint, that the woman should be the man's companion, and the wife of his covenant, as in the latter part of the preceding verse Malachi 2:13? or, "did not one do?" (f) that is, so as we have done, take another wife besides the wife of his youth? and so they are the words of the people to the prophets, justifying their practice by example; by the example of Abraham, whom some of the Jewish writers think is intended by the "one", as in Isaiah 51:2. The Targum is,

"was not one Abraham alone, from whom the world was created?''

or propagated. Kimchi gives it as his own sense, in these words;

"Abraham, who was one, and the father of all that follow him in his faith, did not do as ye have done; for he did not follow his lust, nor even marry Sarah, but so that he might cause the seed of God to remain;''

yet he mentions it as his father's sense, that they are the words of the people to the prophet, expressed in a way of interrogation, saying, did not our father Abraham, who was one, do as we have done? who left his wife, and married Hagar his maid, though he had the residue or excellency of the spirit, and was a prophet; to whom the prophet replies, and what did that one seek? a godly seed; which is, as if it was said, when he married Hagar, it was to seek a seed, because he had no seed of Sarah his wife. A seed was promised him, in which all nations of the earth were to be blessed; he sought not to gratify his lust, but to obtain this seed, the Messiah, to whom the promises were made, as the apostle argues, Galatians 3:16 "he saith not, and to seeds as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ"; called here the "godly seed", or the "seed God" (g), as some choose to render the words; that is, that seed which is God, who is a divine Person, God and man in one person; or which is of God, of his immediate production, without the help of a man; which the Jews call the seed that comes from another place, and which they use as a periphrasis of the Messiah. So on those words in Genesis 4:25, "she called his name Seth, for God hath appointed me another seed",

"says R. Tanchuma, in the name of R. Samuel, she has respect to that seed which comes from another place; and what is this? this is the King Messiah (h).''

And the same Rabbi elsewhere (i) observes, on those words in Genesis 19:32, "that we may preserve seed of our father",

"it is not written, that we may preserve a son of our father, but that we may preserve seed of our father; that seed which is he that comes from another place; and what is this? this is the King Messiah.''

Now as Abraham had the promise of a son, and his wife was barren, he took the method he did that he might have one, the son of the promise, a type of the Messiah, and from whom he should spring; and this is sufficient to justify him in it: besides, he did not deal treacherously with Sarah his wife, for it was with her good will and by her authority he did this thing; but do you take heed to your spirit, that no one of you deal treacherously with the wife of his youth, to leave her, and marry the daughter of a strange God: and much the same sense Jarchi takes notice of as the Agadah, or the interpretation of their ancient Rabbins. Some render the words, "and not one does this"; that is, deals treacherously with the wife of his youth, that has the residue of the spirit, or the least spark of the Spirit of God in him; and how should anyone do it, seeking a godly seed? therefore take heed to your spirit, &c.; so De Dieu. But according to others the sense is,

continued...

And did not {x} he make one? Yet had he the {y} residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly {z} seed. Therefore take heed to your {a} spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

(x) Did not God make man and woman as one flesh and not many?

(y) By his power and strength he could have made many women for one man.

(z) Those who should be born in lawful and moderate marriage, in which is no excess of lusts.

(a) Contain yourselves within your bounds, and be sober in mind, and bridle your affections.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. did not he make one?] The interpretation of this very difficult verse follows in the main, though with some variety of detail, one or other of two lines.

(1) By “one” here Abraham is held to be intended, who is called “one” in Isaiah 51:2 (lit. “for one I called him”; “I called him alone”, A.V.; “when he was but one I called him”, R.V.), and in Ezekiel 33:24 (“Abraham was one”). The words are thus regarded as spoken by the Jews, who seek to shelter themselves from the prophet’s censure under the example of Abraham. “Did not one (Abraham)”, say they, “do it (that of which you complain in us, when he took to wife Hagar, the Egyptian)? And yet he had the residue of the spirit” (comp. Numbers 27:18 : “Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit”). “And wherefore”, the prophet replies, “(did) the one (do it)? He was seeking (not as you are the gratification of his lust, but) a seed of God” (the son whom God had promised him. Genesis 16:2). “Therefore”, seeing that Abraham’s example avails you nothing, “take head.” If this, however, were the argument, we might have expected the prophet to reply, that so far from divorcing (as they were doing) his proper wife, it was Hagar and not Sarah whom Abraham sent away, so soon as disagreement arose.

(2) The other line of interpretation is that adopted in A.V. and retained in R.V. According to it the prophet recalls them (as our Lord does in His argument with the Jews on the same subject, Mark 10:2-9) to the original institution of marriage and relation of the sexes. “Did not He (God) make one (one man, and out of him one woman, and the twain ‘one flesh’)? And (yet) the residue of the spirit (of life, comp. Genesis 7:22 : ‘the breath of the spirit of life’) was His (so that He could, had it pleased Him, have created, for example, one man and many women). And why (did He make) the one? He sought (what only by the purity and integrity of the marriage bond can be secured) a godly seed.”

Verse 15. - And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. The passage has always been a crux, and has received many interpretations. The Anglican rendering (which, however, is probably not correct) is thus explained: God made at first one man and one woman, to show the oneness of marriage, and God gave man the breath of life and the residue to the woman; he made them both equally living souls; therefore divorce was never contemplated in the first institution of marriage. Others take "one" to mean Abraham, and explain: Abraham did not do so, i.e. did not repudiate his legitimate wife, though barren; and he had a share of the spirit of right, or he had excellence of spirit. But these are very forced interpretations, and do not occur naturally from a consideration of the words. The Hebrew may be translated more satisfactorily, Not any one has done so who has a remnant of the spirit (ruach)." No one acts as you have done who has in him any of that Divine life which God at first breathed into man; in other words, no man of conscience and virtue has ever thus divorced his wife. The reading of the Septuagint varies here, the Vatican manuscript giving, Οὐ καλὸν ἐποίησε; "Did he not well?" and the Alexandrian, οὐκ ἄλλος ἐποίησε: but both seem to imply an interpretation such as we have just given. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Why did one act in this way? was it that he might have godly children? Surely not. No one would divorce his lawful Hebrew wife, and marry an idolatress, who wished to leave a holy posterity behind him. Many commentators, thinking that Abraham is here meant, and that the prophet is meeting an objection which might be founded upon his action with regard to Hagar, translate, "And what did the one? He was seeking a godly seed." Abraham at Sarah's request took Hagar to wife, in order to have the promised seed; he dismissed her in order to carry out the purpose of God in confining the promise to Isaac. Therefore his conduct is no support for those who repudiate their own wives and marry strange women, not to raise up children for God, but to satisfy their carnal lusts. It is difficult, however, to see how the prophet's hearers could have understood the allusion without further explanation. As Ribera pithily observes (quoted by Knabenbauer), "Neque ita clare ex re allata designatur (Abraham), ut non potius divinatione quam explicatione opus sit ad eum eruendum." It may also be remarked that the reference to the patriarch would not have been altogether successful, if the auditors remembered the Keturahites, who, though sprung from Abraham, were not "a godly seed." The LXX. has, Καὶ εἴπατε, τί ἄλλο η} σπέρμα ζητεῖ ὁ Θεός; "And ye said, What else than seed doth God seek?" as if the increase of population, from whatever source, was the only object required. This may have been one thought of the people, but it can hardly be got out of the present Hebrew text. Take heed to your spirit. Beware lest ye lose the spirit which God has given you. By acting thus contrary to conscience and the light vouchsafed to them, they ran the risk of being deprived altogether of this heavenly guide, and losing all distinction between right and wrong. Malachi 2:15Malachi 2:13. "And this ye do a second time: cover the altar of Jehovah with tears, with weeping and signs, so that He does not turn any more to the sacrifice, and accept the well-pleasing thing at your hand. Malachi 2:14. And ye say, Wherefore? Because Jehovah has been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, towards whom thou hast acted treacherously; whereas she is nevertheless thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. Malachi 2:15. And not one did so who had still a remnant of spirit. And what (did) the one? He sought seed of God. Therefore shall ye take heed for your spirit, and deal not faithlessly to the wife of thy youth. Malachi 2:16. For I hate divorce, saith Jehovah, the God of Israel; and he will cover wickedness over his garment, saith Jehovah of hosts. Thus shall ye take heed to your spirit, and not deal treacherously." In these verses the prophet condemns a second moral transgression on the part of the people, viz., the putting away of their wives. By shēnı̄th (as a second thing, i.e., for the second time) this sin is placed in the same category as the sin condemned in the previous verses. Here again the moral reprehensibility of the sin is described in Malachi 2:11, before the sin itself is named. They cover the altar of Jehovah with tears, namely, by compelling the wives who have been put away to lay their trouble before God in the sanctuary. The inf. constr. introduces the more minute definition of זאת; and בּכי ואנקה is a supplementary apposition to דּמעה ot , added to give greater force to the meaning. מאין עוד, so that there is no more a turning (of Jehovah) to the sacrifice, i.e., so that God does not graciously accept your sacrifice any more (cf. Numbers 16:15). The following infinitive ולקחת is also dependent upon מאין, but on account of the words which intervene it is attached with ל . רצון , the good pleasure or satisfaction, used as abstractum pro concreto for the well-pleasing sacrifice. Malachi 2:14. This sin also the persons addressed will not recognise. They inquire the reason why God will no more graciously accept their sacrifices, whereupon the prophet discloses their sin in the plainest terms. על־כּי equals על־אשׁר, as in Deuteronomy 31:17; Judges 3:12, etc. The words, "because Jehovah was a witness between thee and the wife of thy youth," cannot be understood as Ges., Umbreit, and Koehler assume, in accordance with Malachi 3:5, as signifying that Jehovah had interposed between them as an avenging witness; for in that case העיד would necessarily be construed with ב, but they refer to the fact that the marriage took place before the face of God, or with looking up to God; and the objection that nothing is known of any religious benediction at the marriage, or any mutual vow of fidelity, is merely an argumentum a silentio, which proves nothing. If the marriage was a berı̄th 'Elōhı̄m (a covenant of God), as described in Proverbs 2:17, it was also concluded before the face of God, and God was a witness to the marriage. With the expression "wife of thy youth" the prophet appeals to the heart of the husband, pointing to the love of his youth with which the marriage had been entered into; and so also in the circumstantial clause, through which he brings to the light the faithless treatment of the wife in putting her away: "Yet she was thy companion, who shared thy joy and sorrow, and the wife of thy covenant, with whom thou didst made a covenant for life."

In Malachi 2:15 the prophet shows still further the reprehensible character of the divorce, by rebutting the appeal to Abraham's conduct towards Hagar as inapplicable. The true interpretation of this hemistich, which has been explained in very different, and to some extent in very marvellous ways, is obvious enough if we only bear in mind that the subordinate clause וּשׁאר רוּח לו, from its very position and from the words themselves, can only contain a more precise definition of the subject of the principal clause. The affirmation "a remnant of spirit is (was) to him" does not apply to God, but only to man, as L. de Dieu has correctly observed. Rūăch denote here, as in Numbers 27:18; Joshua 5:1; 1 Kings 10:5, not so much intelligence and consideration, as the higher power breathed into man by God, which determines that moral and religious life to which we are accustomed to give the name of virtue. By 'echâd (one), therefore, we cannot understand God, but only a man; and לא אחד (not any one equals no one, not one man) is the subject of the sentence, whilst the object to עשׂה must be supplied from the previous sentence: "No man, who has even a remnant of reason, or of sense for right and wrong, has done," sc. what ye are doing, namely, faithlessly put away the wife of his youth. To this there is appended the objection: "And what did the one do?" which the prophet adduces as a possible exception that may be taken to his statement, for the purpose of refuting it. The words וּמה האחד are elliptical, the verb עשׂה, which may easily be supplied from the previous clause, being omitted (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:12). האחד, not unus aliquis, but the well-known one, whom it was most natural to think of when the question in hand was that of putting away a wife, viz., Abraham, who put away Hagar, by whom he had begotten Ishmael, and who was therefore also his wife (Genesis 21). The prophet therefore replies, that Abraham sought to obtain the seed promised him by God, i.e., he dismissed Hagar, because God promised to give him the desired posterity, not in Ishmael through the maid Hagar, but through Sarah in Isaac, so that in doing this he was simply acting in obedience to the word of God (Genesis 21:12). After meeting this possible objection, Malachi warns his contemporaries to beware of faithlessly putting away their wives. The Vav before nishmartem is the Vav rel., through which the perfect acquires the force of a cohortative as a deduction from the facts before them, as in ועשׂית in 1 Kings 2:6 (see Ewald, 342, c). נשׁמר בּרוּחו is synonymous with נשׁמר בּנפשׁו in Jeremiah 17:21, and this is equivalent to נשׁמר לנפשׁו in Deuteronomy 4:15 and Joshua 23:11. The instrumental view of ב ("by means of the Spirit:" Koehler) is thus proved to be inadmissible. "Take heed to your spirit," i.e., beware of losing your spirit. We need not take rūăch in a different sense here from that in which it is used in the clause immediately preceding; for with the loss of the spiritual and moral vis vitae, which has been received from God, the life itself perishes. What it is that they are to beware of is stated in the last clause, which is attached by the simple copula (Vav), and in which the address passes from the second person into the third, to express what is affirmed as applying to every man. This interchange of thou (in wife of thy youth) and he (in יבגּד) in the same clause appears very strange to our mode of thought and speech; but it is not without analogy in Hebrew (e.g., in Isaiah 1:29; cf. Ewald, 319, a), so that we have no right to alter יבגּד into תּבגּד, since the ancient versions and the readings of certain codices do not furnish sufficient critical authority for such a change. The subject in יבגּד is naturally thought of as indefinite: any one, men. This warning is accounted for in Malachi 2:16, first of all in the statement that God hates putting away. שׁלּח is the inf. constr. piel and the object to שׂנא: "the sending away (of a wife), divorce." שׂנא is a participle, the pronominal subject being omitted, as in maggı̄d in Zechariah 9:12, because it may easily be inferred from the following words: אמר יי (saith the Lord of hosts). The thought is not at variance with Deuteronomy 24:1., where the putting away of a wife is allowed; for this was allowed because of the hardness of their hearts, whereas God desires that a marriage should be kept sacred (cf. Matthew 19:3. and the comm. on Deuteronomy 24:1-5). A second reason for condemning the divorce is given in the words וכסּה חמס על ל, which do not depend upon כּי שׂנא, but form a sentence co-ordinate to this. We may either render these words, "he (who puts away his wife) covers his garment with sin," or "sin covers his garment." The meaning is the same in either case, namely, that wickedness will adhere irremoveably to such a man. The figurative expression may be explained from the idea that the dress reflects the inward part of a man, and therefore a soiled garment is a symbol of uncleanness of heart (cf. Zechariah 3:4; Isaiah 64:5; Revelation 3:4; Revelation 7:14). With a repetition of the warning to beware of this faithlessness, the subject is brought to a close.

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