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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Malachi 2

 

 

Verses 1-17

2
The Degeneracy of the Priesthood

1. A reminder to the priests that they are to blame for the laxity denounced in Malachi 1:13, Malachi 1:14. They are responsible for the offering of fit victims, which in some cases it was their duty to provide.

3. I will corrupt your seed] RV 'I will rebuke the seed for your sake'; but the threat of a curse on the crops does not appear to be specially applicable to the priests. A very slight change in the Heb. which has been suggested, gives the admirable sense, 'I will cut off your arm' (cp. 1 Samuel 2:31); i.e. I will make you powerless: cp. Psalms 37:17.

The dung of your solemn feasts (RV 'sacrifices')] the offal of the animals slain for sacrifices, which at the three great feasts of the year would be very numerous, and a source of great gain to the priests.

The words rendered upon your faces do not necessarily mean more than 'in your presence.' To scatter offal and filth in a person's presence would be an insult to him: cp. Deuteronomy 23:14. Malachi seems to mean that the fastidious priests, who now hold aloof while the Temple servants clear away the offal of the sacrifices, will no longer meet with outward respect from the people who even now despise them (Malachi 2:9), and who will treat them with less reverence than the humblest of Temple servants. The last words of the v. are obscure and possibly corrupt. They perhaps mean, 'You shall be taken away from your place of honour in the Temple to the place where the offal is taken.'

4. Cp. Malachi 2:1. This charge is given to the priests that they may repent, and that so the covenant with Levi may be confirmed to them.

5. Lit. 'My covenant was with him; the life and the peace I gave unto him; fear and he feared me.'

6. Cp. the ideal priesthood described in Deuteronomy 33:8-11.

7. To Malachi, as to Haggai (Haggai 2:11), the law is not yet completely crystallised into a book, but means the priests' decisions on points submitted to them. Messenger] cp. Haggai 1:13.

8. Ye have caused many to stumble] i.e. by giving unjust decisions the priests have brought many to ruin. With the charge of partiality in Malachi 2:9 contrast the ideal of Deuteronomy 33:9, where it is represented as a priest's duty to give his decisions without regard to his nearest relatives: cp. Matthew 10:37.

9. Cp. the whole section, 1 Samuel 2:28-36, which was probably written about this period.

10. Malachi seems to have in view mainly such evils as are described in Nehemiah 5. His argument here seems somewhat inconsistent with his argument in Malachi 1:2., since one God had created both Esau and Jacob; but it is an inconsistency natural enough in the as yet undeveloped teaching. A man must learn to love his brother before he can love his enemy.

11. The mention of Israel is quite out of place in this v. The word has probably arisen by a scribe's blunder from Jerusalem, which it somewhat resembles in Hebrew. The daughter of a strange god must mean either a foreign nation with which Judah has entered into some compact, whether political or religious (by which some alliance or understanding with the Samaritans might be intended); or the text must be corrected by the insertion of one letter, so that for 'daughter' we should read 'daughters.' In either case Malachi denounces the tendency of his people to fuse with the neighbouring nations.

12. The master and the scholar] RV 'him that waketh and him that answereth.' A very slight change in the Hebrew gives the better antithesis, 'plaintiff and defendant;' two opposites being frequently used in Hebrew to denote all. Cp. 'going out and coming in,' etc. Tabernacles] better, 'homes.'

13. Insomuch that he regardeth] better, 'because he regardeth.' The people are regarded as covering the altar with their tears in the intensity of their desire for the favours He is withholding.

14. The wife of thy youth] i.e. the wife married in youth. The evil here denounced is the divorce of an old wife in favour of a younger woman. The wife of thy covenant] The thought that there is a solemn compact between husband and wife is stated definitely here only in the OT but it is the natural inference from the representation of Israel as Jehovah's wife, for though Israel was false to Jehovah, He remained faithful. 15. The text, as it stands, is unintelligible. A simple correction has been suggested, which gives the following sense: 'Did not one (God) make and continue life to us? And what does the one (God) seek? A sacred seed. Therefore take heed to your life, and deal not treacherously against the wife of thy youth': i.e. One God (cp. Malachi 2:10) has created a life to which He has given continuance through marriage. The object of marriage—God's object in its institution—is to obtain, children, 'seed of God.' When children are born, the object of marriage is attained. Therefore let not a man put away his wife, because she has grown old and lost her attraction.

16. Putting away] i.e. divorce. Covereth violence with his garment] The reference is probably to the illtreatment of the wife; but the Hebrew is obscure.

17. An address to those who are losing faith, through their inability to solve the riddle of the prosperity of the ungodly: cp. Psalms 37, 73.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Malachi 2:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/malachi-2.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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