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by John Gill
INTRODUCTION TO MALACHI
This book, in the Hebrew copies, is called "Sepher Malachi", the Book of Malachi; in the Vulgate Latin version, "the Prophecy of Malachi"; in the Syriac and Arabic versions, "the Prophecy of the Prophet Malachi"; According to Lactantius a, Zechariah was the last of the prophets; but the more commonly received opinion, and the truest, is, that Malachi was the last; hence Aben Ezra calls him סוף הנביאים, "the end of the prophets"; and by Kimchi he is said to be, אחרון שבם "the last of them"; and sometimes, by the Rabbins, חותם הנביאים, "the seal of the prophets" b; by whom they are all sealed up, concluded, and finished. His name signifies "my angel", as is commonly said; though Hillerus c makes it to signify "the angel of the Lord"; hence some have thought that he was not a man, but an angel; and so the Septuagint render ביד מלאכי, in the first verse Malachi 1:1, "by the hand of his angel"; and others have thought that the book takes its name, not from the author of it, but from the mention that is made of the messenger or angel of the Lord, John the Baptist, in Malachi 3:1 but the more prevailing opinion is, that Malachi is the name of a man, the writer of the book, about whom the Jews have been divided. Rab Nachman says Malachi was Mordecai; and that he was so called because he was second to the king. R. Joshua ben Korcha contradicts him, and affirms Malachi is Ezra; and to him agrees the Chaldee paraphrase on Malachi 1:1 which says, that Malachi, his name is called Ezra the scribe; but, as Kimchi observes, Ezra is never called a prophet, as Malachi is, only a scribe; wherefore in the Talmud d, where this matter is debated, it is concluded thus; but the wise men say, Malachi is his name; that is, it is the proper name of a man; there was a man of this name, that wrote this prophecy; not Mordecai, nor Ezra, nor Zerubbabel, nor Nehemiah, as some have thought; but Malachi: and if the accounts of Epiphanius e and Isidore f are to be credited, this prophet was born at Sapho, in the tribe of Zebulun; and had his name from his beautiful form, and unblemished life; and that he died very young, and was buried in his own field. The time of his prophesying is not agreed on: the Jews commonly make him contemporary with Haggai and Zechariah; they say g that Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, all of them prophesied in the second year of Darius; and Ganz, their chronologer h, places the death of these prophets together in one year; but he seems to be later than they: Haggai prophesied before the building of the temple; Zechariah about the time of it; and Malachi after it, when the temple was rebuilt, and the worship of God restored and settled; and when both priests and people were become very corrupt and degenerate, of which he complains; so that it is possible that he might live a century after the other prophets, and about four centuries before the coming of Christ, during which time prophecy ceased; though some think he lived not long before the times of Christ, which is not probable. Bishop Usher i makes him contemporary with Nehemiah, and places him in the year 416 B.C.; and Mr. Whiston k in the year 400 B.C.; Mr. Bedford l in the year 424 B.C.: however, this book has been always accounted authentic, and a part of the canon of the Scripture; and is confirmed by the passages cited out of it, and the references made unto it, in the New Testament, Matthew 11:10. The general design of it is to reprove the Jews for their ingratitude to the Lord, their neglect and contempt of his worship, and breach of his laws; and to raise in the minds of the truly godly an expectation of the Messiah, and his forerunner, John the Baptist.
a De vera Sapientia, l. 4. c. 5. p. 279. b Nizzachon, p. 200. apud Hottinger. Thes. Phil. p. 489. c Onomastic. Sacr. p. 147, 359, 541. d T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 15. 1. e De Prophet. Vita & Interitu, c. 22. f De Vita & Morte Sanct. c. 51. g T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 15. 1. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 20. p. 55. h Ganz, Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 18. 1. i Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3589. k Chronological Tables, cent. 12. l Scripture Chronology, p. 725.
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