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Malachi 2:15a, New International Version

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit.

Mal 2:15 in English Standard Version

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?

Which is correct?

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This is a VERY difficult verse to translate. The Hebrew of the first phrase is extremely terse:

וְלֹא־אֶחָ֣ד עָשָׂ֗ה

It is literally, "And/but one did [he] make". This has been variously rendered:

  • NIV: Has not the one God made you?
  • NLT: Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife?
  • ESV: Did he not make them one
  • BSB: Has not the LORD made them one
  • NASB: But not one has done so
  • CSB: Didn't God make them one

... and so forth. ALL of these are to a greater or lesser extent interpretive because "the LORD" and "God" are not explicit.

The closest most literal rendering of the Hebrew is found in the NASB which only makes sense when the previous few verses are included (V13-15):

“This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. “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 companion and your wife by covenant. 15 “But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.

However, it is also possible that the Hebrew can be treated as Ellicott suggests:

(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 youth—Let none be faithless.

Matthew Poole and the Cambrige reach similar conclusions. But many other commentaries diverge.

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  • Here is the Jewish Publication Society's translation: ."Did not the One make [all,] so that all remaining life-breath is His?" (Mal 2:15, JPS).
    – Perry Webb
    Dec 18 '20 at 1:14
  • @PerryWebb - thanks for this - very tricky to read much less understand.
    – Dottard
    Dec 18 '20 at 2:20
  • That's apparently an idiom. I'm wondering what JPS bases their translation on. If it's old enough to preserve the idiom.
    – Perry Webb
    Dec 18 '20 at 13:38

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