I have posted a question about the translation of μισέω in Romans 9:15, which quotes Malachi 1:2-3. To further dig into the question of whether "rejected" is a correct translation, I would like to know: Do we have textual evidence from other passages within the Old Testament or other Hebrew writings that would countenance the understanding of שָׂנֵא as meaning "rejected" in this text? Further comments on the interpretation of the Hebrew of Malachi 1:2-3 are welcome as well since my Hebrew does not extend much beyond a few dozen basic vocab words.

  • It can mean to change or alter. It comes from שן which is a crag in the rock indicating a separation. Hate does not mean to detest, but to not love. שני means second. this is closely related to not making first or hating. God did not detest Esau, he moved him from first to second. We must do the same with parents.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 11:11

2 Answers 2


Borrowing from my answer to your related question,

In Brown, Driver, Briggs Lexicon, they list the meanings of sone and its permutations as "hate, hatred, abhor, detest, foe, etc." They also note that it can be used in some cases for "revulsion/repulsed." The examples they give are 2 Sam 13:15, Dt 22:13, 16; and 24:3.

2 Samuel 13:15 ¶ Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, "Get up, go away!"

Deuteronomy 22:13 ¶ "If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her,

Deuteronomy 22:16 "The girl's father shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her;

Deuteronomy 24:3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, [All NASU. Translations of sone bolded.]

In the Deuteronomy verses, we see that she is being turned away and divorced. In that sense she is rejected.

R L Harris also says this in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.

[An interesting usage of the word "hate" is found in Rom 9:13 which quotes from Gen 25:13 and Mal 1:2-3. Some have concluded that Paul grounds the reprobation of Esau on a divine decree in which God hated Esau before he was born. It may be helpful to offer an alternative suggestion. The statement in Rom 9:11 that God's choice of Jacob was apart from works may be completely satisfied by the quotation from Gen 25:23 which indeed was spoken before the twins were born. It does not necessarily follow that Esau was hated before he was born. This statement is quoted from Mal 1:3 which was written long after Esau had lived his predominantly secular life. Though the doctrine of election by God's grace alone is widely held, the condemnation of the lost is most widely held to be upon the basis of their own sin (so the Westminster Confession iii, 7). R.L.H.]

Harris was the general editor of the work and added this paragraph to the entry on sone written by another scholar, G. V. G.

  • "Rejected" may still be weak in the sense that one hardly rejects his wife if he has any lingering love for her. But good answer.
    – Kazark
    Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 3:37
  • @Kazark. Thanks. The context in Dt is that the men suspect the women have lied to them (claimed to be virgin but he has found evidence that she was not). Probably not much love there, you're right.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 3:46

שנא always includes the meaning of rejection in the OT, but never loses its primary meaning of "hate". See Genesis 37:4, where "love" and "hate" contrast in the same verse about Joseph and his brothers.

There is no OT word for "rejection" in the sense that we use the word. The closest is עזב (azav), meaning to leave something, as in אישה עזובה a woman whose husband has left her (though not necessarily hated) often used allegorically to describe the relationship between the people of Israel and the Almighty.

Another similar word is יטש (yatash) meaning to abandon as in 1 Samuel 12:22, and Psalm 94:14. The latter verse uses both yatash first and then azav in classic Biblical parallelism.

The translation "turned against her" in Dt 22 and 24 is a daintiness for the Western ear. The simple meaning is hate, and in the case of Dt 22, the husband is not allowed to reject the wife, at least in the legal sense, although he hates her.

  • Modified slightly for accuracy of sense, added further example word with link Commented Apr 15, 2012 at 7:54

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