In most English translations we read something like this: “For I hate divorce (כִּי-שָׂנֵא שַׁלַּח),” says the Lord (NASB, Mal.2:16-17)
Perhaps what is most interesting is that the Hebrew grammar of the main verse under consideration does not support the now traditional translation “‘For I hate divorce’, says the Lord God of Israel”. Instead, the original Hebrew states כִּי-שָׂנֵא שַׁלַּח, which means something like “because/for he hates” and “he sends”. The translation found in the Christian Standard Bible captures this phrase quite well, reading: “If he hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Armies (Mal. 2:16-17).
This language in the Christian Standard Bible closely matches the phraseology of God’s laws for divorce, spelled out with some clarity in Deuteronomy:
“If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house. If after leaving his house she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the second man hates her, writes her a divorce certificate, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house or if he dies, the first husband who sent her away may not marry her again…. (CSB, Deut. 24:1-4)
There is another explanation that may be given to the statement, “I hate divorce” if, (in the unlikely case) most traditional translations correctly assume YHWH is referring to Himself. In ancient times, the Hebrew word שנא does not always mean “hate” in the modern sense.
For example, “Jacob I loved… Esau I hated” (Mal. 1:2-3) is rendered quite literally in modern terms. However, when translated from ancient Hebrew into our modern way of speaking it could arguably be rendered as “Esau I loved, but Jacob I favored with my great covenantal love.” The same is the case with Jesus’ statement that one must love Him and hate his parents (Luke 14:26). This is an idiomatic Hebraism that makes a comparison and does not actually instruct one to express hatred towards one’s parents. That would be absurd, given God’s explicit commandment to honor them.