Can "meat" in Malachi 3:10 KJV refer to "prey"? Specifically, the Hebrew word in question is "טֶ֨רֶף֙". The HLOT and BDB lexicons refer to the word meaning both "prey" and "food" and specifically identifies טֶ֨רֶף֙ to mean "food". So, again my question, in spite of what the lexicons say, can the word טֶ֨רֶף֙ in Mal 3:10 also be translated as "prey" or does the context require the translation be "food" or "meat" exclusively? I've included the lexicon entries here below for quick access.

טֶרֶף, SamP.M101 ṭāref; MHeb.: I טרף, טָֽרֶף, טַרְפֵּכְ/פּוֹ, —1. prey (of wild beasts) Nu 23:24 Is 5:29 31:4 Am 3:4 Nah 2:13f 3:1 Ps 104:21 124:6 Job 4:11 29:17 38:39; טָרַף טֶ׳ Ezk 19:3, 6 22:25, 27; —2. what has been torn > food (→ Palache 37) Mal 3:10 Ps 111:5 Job 24:5 Pr 31:15; —Gn 49:9 rd. *מְטָרֵף; Ps 76:5 for מֵהַרְרֵי־טָֽרֶף rd. *מְאַרְיֵה טֹרֵף (Ehrlich), :: Junker BZAW 66:164f. † (Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M. E. J., & Stamm, J. J. (1994–2000). The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 380). Leiden: E.J. Brill.)

†טֶ֫רֶף S2964 TWOT827b GK3272 n.m. Na 3:1 prey, food; leaf;—טֶרֶף Gn 49:9 +; טָ֑רֶף Jb 4:11 +; sf. טַרְפֵּךְ Na 2:14; טַרְפּוֹ Is 31:4; pl. cstr. טַרְפֵּי Ez 17:9;— 1. prey of lion Am 3:4 Jb 4:11; 38:39 ψ 104:21; metaph. of Judah’s conquests Gn 49:9, Israel like lion Nu 23:24 (both poems in JE); of Assyrians Is 5:29; of Nineveh and its king Na 2:13, 14; 3:1; Israel’s princes (as young lion) Ez 19:3, 6; sim. of false prophet (like lion) 22:25; of princes of Judah v 27; sim. of י’s descending to battle, like lion Is 31:4; cf. ψ 76:5 coming down from mountains of prey (the lion’s lair), but read perhaps עַד, cf. 𝔊 Bi Che crit. ; fig. of spoil of wicked Jb 29:17, cf. ψ 124:6. 2. food, of outcasts, under fig. of wild ass פֶּרֶא Jb 24:5; of human food (late): for those who fear God ψ 111:5; for household Pr 31:15; in י׳’s house Mal 3:10. 3. leaf, (cf. Gn 8:11) טַרְפֵּי צִמְחָהּ Ez 17:9 metaph. of Judah. (Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 383). Oxford: Clarendon Press.)

  • I am struggling to understand the question. The word means "Something torn, a fragment, a fresh leaf, prey, food" - the final meaning is intended here as almost all versions render it. What is the question?
    – Dottard
    Aug 1, 2020 at 2:21
  • You may well be correct in what you say but you have not organised the question very well. It is difficult to follow and not in logical paragraphs and sensible order. Try again and edit some ? +1 in the hope of a useful edit.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 1, 2020 at 7:54

3 Answers 3



the same word is used in Proverbs 31 - a virtuous wife providing "food" not "prey" for her family. Context is people.

She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. (KJV translates the word "meat")

When the context is a lion - Isaiah 5:29 - over its "prey" then it obviously makes sense to translate it prey instead of food.

Their roar is like that of the lion, they roar like young lions; they growl as they seize their prey and carry it off with no one to rescue.

Malachi 3:10 is bringing food or meat into the storehouses that would provide meals for those people in need (or to the priests).

  • It seems to me that 'meat' (covering both the archaic meaning of 'mealtime food' and also the general meaning of animal parts) is still the best translation with scope for both contexts, here. Nevertheless +1.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 1, 2020 at 7:56

To understand the matter better, let us consider two Proverbs' passages: 30:8, and 31:15. They both include verbal forms from the conceptual root טרף, that means ‘to take out - from a big stuff - what is considered the own part’.

From this concept derive the specialized term ‘prey’ = what is due to a predator animal (according his viewpoint, at least!) for his sustentation (Job 4:11). An example of this we find in Gen 49:27 (regarding the wolf’s diet behaviour).

In a similar way, from this concept derive the specialized term ‘portion’, ‘allotted (food)’= what is due to a human for his sustentation.

So, טרף, cannot be translated, sic et simpliciter, as a simple ‘food’ – since the root אכל yet covers fully this generic meaning throughout the TaNaKh – but with a a-portion-that-is-due nuance.

Moreover, the term טרף cannot be considered linked to meat, necessarily. In fact Gen 8:11, and Eze 17:9 put it in connection with ‘what one may take out from a tree’.

As you see, the core issue of this term has not linked with the concept of ‘(generic) food’ or ‘meat’ but with the idea of ‘something – considered to be the own portion - that is taken out from a stuff’.

Robert Alter, in his recent The Hebrew Bible, translates the passages of Pro 30:8 and 31:15 in the following manner (bold is mine), respectively: “[…] Provide me my allotted bread”, and “[…] a portion for her young women”.

I hope these information will be useful for your research.


This question is easily answerable from the cultural context. The verse in the NIV is:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. "Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it".

The sense of "prey" for טרף means carrion, animals killed by other animals or animals who blood has not been covered. These are specifically forbidden and it is therefore inconceivable to bring them into the temple. So the meaning of "sustenance" or "food" is the only intended meaning in this verse.

See Leviticus 17:15:

Anyone, whether native-born or foreigner, who eats anything found dead or torn (טרפה) by wild animals must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then they will be clean.

See Exodus 20:31 (MT 30):

You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn (טְרֵפָה) by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs.

In Leviticus 17:13:

Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth...

Here the operative word is not טרף but ציד meaning hunted in the sense of trapping alive and then slaughtering.

In context of a prophet whose message is the quality and sincerity of the offerings, Malachi 1:8:

When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

the idea of bringing טרף in the sense of prey is anathema.

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