What does Malachi 2:14 mean?
ESV: But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
NIV: You ask, 'Why?' It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
NASB: Yet you say, 'For what reason?' Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your marriage companion and your wife by covenant.
CSB: And you ask, "Why? " Because even though the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, you have acted treacherously against her. She was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.
NLT: You cry out, 'Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?' I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.
KJV: Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
NKJV: Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.
Verse Commentary:
Verse 13 describes the angst of Israel, realizing that God is not accepting their offerings. Prior statements by Malachi accused Israel of marrying pagans, a heinous crime. Here, a more immediate cause for God to ignore their prayers is given. The men of Israel have been divorcing their wives, presumably in order to marry these pagan women. This is described using the Hebrew word bagad'tah, which implies "treachery," "dishonesty," or "unfaithfulness." Men are dishonoring their vows to their wives, yet complaining that God is not giving them their demanded blessings.

This verse also puts the concept of a marriage covenant (or vow) into spiritual perspective. Such vows are made in the presence of God; in fact, they are made to God, regarding the spouse. Breaking that vow through divorce is not merely a problem between two people. Divorce means breaking a promise involving God, and disrupting one of the most important institutions He created: marriage.
Verse Context:
Malachi 2:10–16 is perhaps the Bible's strongest indicator of God's views on divorce. This passage begins the second of Malachi's three prophetic lessons, ending in Malachi 3:6. The people of Israel are rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple, but under the control of a foreign nation. Rather than honoring God, and their own wives, it seems the men of Israel were divorcing Jewish women in order to marry pagans (Ezra 9:1–2; Nehemiah 13:23–27). This is described in this passage as an act of violence against the women. In no uncertain terms, Malachi expresses God's hatred for divorce.
Chapter Summary:
God will humiliate the priests who are insulting Him with improper sacrifices. While the priests are being unfaithful to God, the people of Israel are also being unfaithful to each other. In particular, they are marrying pagans, and committing divorce, which God absolutely despises. God's covenant with Israel included both blessings for obedience, and consequences for disobedience. And yet, as Israel disobeys, they blame God for their hardships. God's people are defying Him, then blaming Him for the end results!
Chapter Context:
Malachi's structure is intricate, but can be divided into three primary messages. The first message is to Israel's priests, and runs from Malachi 1:2 through Malachi 2:9. Chapter 2 begins with a warning, to the priests, that God will humiliate them for their arrogant, apathetic attitudes. The topic then transitions to Malachi's second message, directed to Israel as a whole, accusing them of being unfaithful to each other. This rebuke of infidelity continues through the beginning of chapter 3, before calling Israel to repentance in the final message.
Book Summary:
Malachi is the last message of prophecy given to Israel prior to 400 years of silence. Israel has rebuilt the temple, following the invasions of Babylon, but they are still under foreign oppression. Israel's spiritual condition, however, is dire. Hosea depicted Israel as prone to failure, but repentant. Later, Ezekiel exposed Israel's blatant disobedience. By the time of Malachi, Israel has passed into numbness and apathy. Unlike other Old Testament prophets, Malachi takes the form of a dialogue, where Israel responds to accusations as if unaware that they've occurred. The next prophetic voice from God would not come until the ministry of John the Baptist.
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