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Bible Commentaries
Malachi 2

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-9

Mal 2:1-9


(Malachi 2:1-2) Here begins a special decree for the priests of Israel who are the cause of Israel’s infidelity. “Ministers,” Moore points out, “cannot sin or suffer alone. They drag down others if they fall.” Thus does God, for the sake of His people, pronounce a curse on their unfaithful spiritual leaders. That which had been their special blessing as priests would become a curse.

Zerr: Malachi 2:1. The priests were the men who supervised the services at the altar and who were responsible for their proper performances. That is why this passage is addressed to them as stated in the beginning of the verse. Malachi 2:2. Do not lay it to heart signifies that the priests were tolerating this inferior service of the people. They had been guilty of such corruption even before the years of the captivity (Jeremiah 5:31). The present generations of priests were drilting into the same unfaithfulness and the Lord was pronouncing a curse upon them.

(Malachi 2:3) The law of the sacrificial victims was, on feast days, the special food of the priests. (Deuteronomy 18:3) The stomach, or maw, was regarded as one of the choice delicacies. Instead of receiving this, God threatens to fling dung in their faces because of the defiled offerings from which it came.

By law, the dung of the sacrifices was to be carried outside the gate and disposed of. Because of the awful way the priests insulted God in the offering of blemished animals, they were to be carried with it.

Whether the threat to fling dung in their faces and to carry themselves to the dung heap is to be understood literally or not, it leaves little doubt as to how much God despises those who make a sham of His services. They are to be banished from His presence.

Zerr: Malachi 2:3. Dung of your solemn feasts. In preparing an animal for the altar it was required that the internal parts be washed and that would include the removal of the dung. This verse threatened to take that matter and spread it on their faces.

(Malachi 2:4) The reason for God’s rebuke of the priests is that the special priestly covenant which He had made with Levi, the priestly tribe, must be maintained.

Zerr: Malachi 2:4. Such shameful treatment as described would emphasize guilt. It would also impress them with God’s respect for the service that had started with Levi which means the tribe from which the priesthood came.

(Malachi 2:5-9) Here Malachi describes the promises and conditions of the Levitical covenant, Levi’s former observance of this covenant, and the rewards of such observance. Over against these he sets the consequences of violating this covenant as these priests were doing.

Formerly, God had bestowed life and prosperity upon Levi (the priestly tribe). On him God laid the duty of reverence. In return the priests had revered God and respected His name. They had given true instructions to the people and had spoken no injustice. They had lived in accord with Him and in so doing had turned many people from sin to God. Men then stood in respect of the priests and sought to learn from them because they recognized in them God’s messengers.

The unfaithful priests of Malachi’s time, in contrast, have left off the righteous practices of their predecessors. Instead of leading many from sin to God, they have caused many to fall into sin. Whereas the former priests of Levi had taken their special relationship to God very much to heart, these have treated it as of no consequence.

As a result, God will make them despicable in the eyes of the people. Because of their sinful lives and unjust application of the law for favor (cp. Leviticus 19:15) the people would no longer respect them as a special class and their special privileges would cease.

The principles underlying God’s denunciation of the priests through Malachi merit our attention. We, as Christians, are all priests of God (1 Peter 2:9). As such, we enjoy blessings those outside of Christ never dream of. We, too, are charged to offer sacrifices to God, holy and acceptable (Romans 12:1-2). To do less is to make a mockery of His name before the world.

If we do not offer ourselves as holy and acceptable sacrifices to God, we may be assured that our relationship to Him will become a curse rather than a blessing. Un-Christian men will be able to point at us and say they have more fear of God than do we. We shall then be stumbling blocks, leading them deeper into sin rather than teaching them God’s truth, for they will not heed the words of priests whose lives do not match their doctrines.

Zerr: Malachi 2:5-9. Levi as a tribe showed his fear or reverence for God when he responded to the call to take a stand on the Lord’s side (Exodus 32:26). This description of Levi (or that tribe) applies to the time when he came over to the Lord’s side and showed his sincerity by fighting against the rebels. Tbe Lord then honored that tribe with being the custodian of the law. (See Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 17:9.) With such a charge the priests were expected to be informed about the law and see that it was followed. Instead of doing so they had become indifferent and were encouraging the people in their formalities. The Indifference of these priests was causing the common members of the congregation to stumble or become corrupt in their practices. The priesthood was an important and dignified office and should have been respected by the people. But the corruptions that were allowed to creep into the service had lowered the priests in the eyes of all people.

Verses 10-16

Mal 2:10-16

GOD DESPISES INFIDELITY . . . Malachi 2:10-16

(Malachi 2:10-12) The special covenant which made priests of the tribe of Levi was not unrelated to the everlasting covenant which is the prophet’s primary concern. The common father here (Malachi 2:10) is not God as some have said, but Jacob. The Levites as well as the people were the children of Israel (i.e. Jacob) Of all the nations on earth, they alone worshipped but one God In any other nation the people professed varied loyalties to various household deities.

Zerr: Malachi 2:10-11. The common brotherhood of the Jews under one Father should have induced the leaders to treat the others respectfully. They did not do so but used their office to take advantage of’ the poor and common people. The tribe of Judah had nothing to do officially with the altar services, but those men became guilty with the priests by offering these inferior articles to be used as sacrifices. They also showed their greed for gain in all of theIr conduct as was seen in verse 10 of the preceding chapter. Married the daughter of a strange god. The last word is defined in the lexicon as meanIng "any deity." The Jews never worshiped idols as that word is used after the captivity, but there are other kinds of gods whom one might worship. Paul says that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), and the Jews were cer- tainly covetous. And Jesus compared mammon (a word meaning riches) to a god (Matthew 6:24). Hence the god these Jews had married was doubtless the god of mammon or riches as we have seen by their attachment to their wealth.

Because all Israel, priests and people alike, stood under one covenant before one God, unfaithfulness to one another constituted unfaithfulness to the covenant. And such abominable practices were present, the prophet assures his readers, in all Judah and even in the holy city in the shadow of the temple. The holy relationship of the covenant was being violated in loving and marrying pagan women.

(Malachi 2:12) The words of verse twelve are not idle threat. The practice of inter-marriage with foreign women had brought Baal worship among the people and it was this which brought about the destruction of the northern tribes as well as the captivity of the southern tribes. If it again gained ascendance among the returned remnant, God’s covenant purpose would indeed be in jeopardy. To avoid this, God here threatens to cut off to the man, i.e. on an individual basis, all who indulge in such practice. “Out of the tents of Jacob” signifies separation from the people of the covenant.

Zerr: In Malachi 2:12 Master means the man who originates these unlawful practices and scholar means the one who cooperates by using them and both classes were to be condemned.

(Malachi 2:13 -a) This sin had once, since the return, been checked by Ezra (Ezra 9:10). Malachi here addresses a relapse. “This again ye do.”

(Malachi 2:13(b) - Malachi 2:14) The covering of the altar with tears is symbolic of the weeping of wives who were being deserted for foreign women. These were Israelite women who were of the covenant people. Their abuse covered the altar i.e. the covenant with tears. It was customary for such marriages, i.e. “the wife of thy youth,” to be contracted when the parties were very young. Many were only thirteen or fourteen and their wives even younger. (cf. Proverbs 5:8, Isaiah 54:6) The couple was bound not only by the covenant of marriage, but by the even deeper relationship they shared as children of God’s covenant. Those who, at later age, abandoned the wives of their youth to marry foreign women were not only breaking their own marriage vows, they were violating God’s everlasting covenant with Israel.

Zerr: Malachi 2:13 describes the hypocritical performances of the covetous Priests about the altar. All their tears and weeping were for the purpose of making a show. Because of their insincere devotions the Lord refused to accept their offerings. In Malachi 2:14 --They said Wherefore? meaning to ask why God was rejecting their service. The answer was in the form of an accusation of their un· faithfulness to their marriage relation. The priests had behaved treacherously against the women whom they had taken into covenant relation to be their life companions.

(Malachi 2:15) “Did He not make one . . .” Malachi’s argument here in reference to this abandonment is similar to that of Jesus concerning divorce. (cp. Matthew 19:3 -ff) God, in the beginning, made one male and one female, although He had unlimited spiritual resources and could have made more of either. These two, male and female, are called one man (humankind). (cf. Genesis 1:27) Malachi, as Jesus, understands this to indicate God’s intent that there be one wife for each man.

The prophet says the reason God established this unity is that He “sought a godly seed.” The modern concern of the sociologist for the effect of broken marriages upon the children (seed) of those marriages is well-founded. Eternity alone will reveal the number of children who have turned from God because their fathers abandoned their mothers to marry pagan women! Every Christian father stands in covenant relationship to God, as did those in Israel who were addressed by Malachi. Such a father always jeopardizes his children’s relationship to God when he leaves the “wife of his youth” for another woman. “Therefore,” says Malachi, “take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.”

Zerr: Malachi 2:15. Did not he make one? This refers to the original plan of the Lord that one man and one woman should constitute the number composing the marriage unit. These corrupt priests had disregarded that law and were paying attention to other women besides their lawful wives to whom they had promised their exclusive love.

(Malachi 2:16) “I hate putting away . . . “Whatever doubt may linger concerning God’s attitude toward divorce is certainly dispelled by this verse, The statement of His hatred of the practice is accompanied by His name Jehovah as God of the covenant people. It could not be more emphatic.

“Him that covereth his garments with violence.” A better translation would be “Him that covereth his violence with a garment.” One commentator has suggested “their violence is the putting away of their wives; the garment with which they try to cover it is the plea of Moses permission.”

The terminology of Genesis 20:16, Deuteronomy 22:30, Ruth 3:9, and Ezekiel 16:8 in which husbands and wives are each described as a covering for the eyes of the other would tend to indicate that the garment here is the wife and the violence with which the garment is covered is the divorce. The thought in these passages is that one’s love for and marriage to one’s wife should cover his eyes against the attraction of other women. Whatever the meaning of this idiomatic expression, it is obvious that Malachi is denouncing, in God’s name, the practice of leaving a wife who is of the faith for another who is not of the faith, and denouncing divorce in general.

Zerr: Malachi 2:16. Garment is used figuratively and means something for a covering over another person or object. These priests were guilty of violence (unfaithfulness) against their wives, but were hiding behind the leniency of Moses on the subject of tolerating plurality in marriage. (See Matthew 19:8.)

Verse 17

Mal 2:17

WHERE IS THE GOD OF JUSTICE . . . Malachi 2:17

Two things in the arguments of the priests wearied Jehovah. First, they considered evil to be good, so they declared it good “in the sight of Jehovah.” Second, they said “where is the God of justice.” They looked at the drought, crop failures and generally unprosperous conditions of Judah on the one hand, and on the other, the fact that the forms of the ceremonial law were being observed and concluded that God was slack in His justice, As we have seen, the quality of the sacrifices and the spirit in which they were offered put the lie to their arguments.

Zerr: Malachi 2:17. God never tires in the sense of becoming weak bodily as man does, but His patience can be exhausted. These priests were charged with having wearied the Lord with their words of falsehood. Those words were in the form of confusing good with evil and then implying that God was not just in condemning them.

Questions On Malachi Chapter Two

1. Who is addressed? (Malachi 2:1)

2. What will happen to the priests if they do not listen to the Lord? (Malachi 2:2)

3. What else will God do to them? (Malachi 2:3)

4. When this happens, what will they know? (Malachi 2:4)

5. How did God describe His covenant? (Malachi 2:5)

6. How did God characterize Levi’s response to Him? (Malachi 2:6)

7. What should the lips of the priests do? Why? (Malachi 2:7)

8. What did the lips of the priests do? (Malachi 2:8)

9. What was the Lord’s reaction? (Malachi 2:9)

10. What is God’s relationship with all people? (Malachi 2:10)

11. How had Judah acted treacherously? (Malachi 2:11)

12. They came to the altar with tears (Malachi 2:13). Why were they crying?

13. How were the people treating the "wife of your youth"? (Malachi 2:14)

14. Who should not received treacherous treatment? (Malachi 2:15)

15. What does God hate? (Malachi 2:16)

16. How had they wearied God? (Malachi 2:17)

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Malachi 2". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/malachi-2.html.
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