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Monday, July 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Malachi 1

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3604. B.C. 400.

In this chapter,

(1,) The prophet shows how much Jacob and the Israelites were favoured by God, beyond Esau and the Edomites, Malachi 1:2-5 .

(2,) He reproves the Jews for their ungrateful and unbecoming deportment toward God, Malachi 1:6-10 .

(3,) He intimates that the Gentiles should be called to be the church of God in their room, Malachi 1:11 .

(4,) He charges the Jews with profanation and weariness of the worship of God, and with offering him sacrifices blemished and corrupt, Malachi 1:12-14 .

Verses 1-3

Malachi 1:1-3. The burden of the Lord The word burden is here, as often elsewhere, equivalent to prophecy; to Israel To those of all the tribes that were returned from captivity. I have loved you, saith the Lord That is, in a particular and extraordinary degree; not only as men, but above the rest of men, and above the other posterity, both of Abraham and Isaac. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? That is, wherein does thy particular love to us appear? What proofs hast thou given of loving us in an extraordinary degree? Us, who have been captives, and have groaned under the miseries of captivity, and bondage all our days till of late? Is this a proof of thy love to us?

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord Did not one father beget them, and one mother bear them? Yet I loved Jacob Namely, more than Esau; I preferred him to the honour and privileges of the birthright, and this of free love. I loved his person and his posterity. Here God is introduced as answering the question, which, in the preceding clause, they are represented as asking, namely, wherein his particular regard to them appeared. But it must be well observed, that Jacob and Esau, as elsewhere Israel and Edom, are put to signify the whole posterity arising from these two persons, namely, the Israelites and Idumeans. And in asking, Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? God reminds them that the Idumeans, as they themselves very well knew, were descended from Abraham as well as they, and from a progenitor who was own brother to their progenitor Jacob. And I hated Esau I loved not Esau’s posterity as I loved Jacob’s. By hating here is only meant, having a less degree of love, for in this sense the expression is frequently used. Thus, Genesis 29:31, Jacob’s loving Leah less than Rachel is termed hating her; and Luke 14:26, the loving father and mother, wife and children, less than we love Christ, is termed the hating of them. That this is the meaning of the expression hating, there, is evident from the parallel text, Matthew 10:37-38, where we read, He that loveth father or mother MORE than me, is not worthy of me, &c. From these, and other passages that might be produced, it is evident that the expression, hating, is frequently used to signify no more than loving in a less degree, or showing less regard or favour to one than another. Indeed, as it may be further added, it would be doing a high dishonour to the nature of God to suppose that the expression, as here applied to Jacob and Esau, is to be taken in the strict sense of the word hating. And laid his mountains and his heritage waste In these words the Lord shows in what sense he had hated Esau, that is, his posterity; he had given him a lot inferior to that which he had conferred on Jacob. Idumea had been laid waste by the arms of Nebuchadnezzar, five years after the taking of Jerusalem; and whereas Jacob’s captivity, or that of the Israelites, were restored to their own land, and their cities rebuilt, Esau’s never were. For the dragons of the wilderness Creatures which delight in desolate places, by which the utter desolation of Idumea is signified. The Hebrew word תנם , or תנות , here rendered dragons, signifies any large creature of the creeping kind, whether by land or sea. In this place it is taken for a great serpent, such as are commonly found in deserts and desolate places.

Verses 4-5

Malachi 1:4-5. Edom saith, We are empoverished, [or, brought low, ] but we will return and build the desolate places This they accordingly did, as we learn from the history of those times; and undoubtedly thought to become a flourishing people again, and to continue so. But God had determined otherwise, as is here declared. Thus saith the Lord, They shall build, but I will throw down This was accordingly done by God’s giving success, first to the arms of Judas Maccabæus, and afterward to those of Hyrcanus, by whom Edom was spoiled and laid waste again. And they shall call them, The border of wickedness They shall be called, or accounted by others, a wicked nation, or a country of wicked men, and therefore deservedly laid waste. And ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified Or, rather, Let the Lord be magnified; from the border of Israel Namely, from that border which extended even to Idumea.

Verse 6

Malachi 1:6 . A son honoureth his father, &c. Since it is evident I am not only your Lord, and have a right to govern and command you by my creation of you, but also may be esteemed your Father, on account of the extraordinary benefits I have bestowed upon you, where are those proper dispositions which I might expect to find in you in return? namely, reverence for me, and fear of offending me, as your Lord and Master, and love and honour toward me as your Father. Unto you, O priests, &c. What is here said is addressed in particular to you priests, because, being chosen and appointed, according to your office, to honour and glorify me, you ought to have been the first and most forward to do it; but, instead of that, you have been the first to dishonour me. Had undutifulness been found among the ignorant people, it might have been, in some measure, excusable; but you, whose calling and business it is to know, love, and serve me, are without excuse, because, like Eli’s sons, you have despised me yourselves, and made others do so too. The prophet adds, that perhaps they would have the assurance to pretend they had not done it, and to ask in what particular such a charge could be alleged against them? if so, he would enumerate the particulars to them, which he does accordingly in the following verses.

Verses 7-8

Malachi 1:7-8. Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar By this seems to be meant, the bread-offering, or the cake of fine flour, which was to be offered with the continual sacrifice in the morning and evening of every day. By being polluted is to be understood, that it was not such as the law required. They diminished something, either in the quality or quantity of what the law commanded them to offer; either the bread was not made of good flour, or mixed with the required quantity of good oil. And ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? Or dishonoured, or had thee in contempt? The answer is ready, In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible You pretend, as a cover for your avarice, that the table or altar of the Lord is despised among the people, and that therefore they do not bring to it, by way of offering, that quantity of flour and oil which they should. Or the meaning is, By your actions you declare how little value you have for the worship of God, since you care not in how slight and contemptuous a manner it is performed. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? The beasts to be offered were required to be perfect and without blemish, Leviticus 22:21-22. Offer it now to thy governor; will he be pleased with thee? Wilt thou be acceptable or welcome unto him, bringing him such a worthless present? It argues a great contempt of Almighty God, when men are less careful in maintaining the decencies of his worship than they are in giving proper respect to their superiors.

Verses 9-10

Malachi 1:9-10. And now, I pray you, beseech God, &c. And now I beseech you, (for you cannot deny that ye have done as I have said,) that you would supplicate God to pardon the nation in general, as well as yourselves, for what offences have been committed against his laws; for ye have been the principal cause of them, by the disregard you had for God’s service. Will he regard your persons? This ought rather to be rendered, If, perhaps, he may regard your persons. Who among you would shut the doors for naught? All those pretences which you make use of to excuse yourselves, for presenting unto God improper and worthless offerings, are quite vain, for it is plain that a general avarice prevails, and is practised among you; for even the officers, or ministers, whose duty it is to open and shut the doors of the temple, and to kindle fire on the altar, will not perform their office without making a gain of it, or receiving fees for it. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord I cannot take pleasure in men so intent upon their own profit as ye are; and under the gospel I will put an end both to your priesthood and the sacrifices which you offer. This is implied in the next verse.

Verse 11

Malachi 1:11. For from the rising of the sun, &c., my name shall be great among the Gentiles You may perhaps think, if I will not accept an offering from your hands, that I shall have none; but in this you err greatly; for know that my name shall be great, or highly reverenced, among all the nations of the earth, who will worship me, not as you do, as if it were a labour for which they ought to be paid; but with pure minds, inflamed with love toward me and zeal for my glory. And in every place incense shall be offered to my name Prayers and praises shall be presented before me as incense. For here the prophet describes the Christian sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving by the outward rites of the Jewish worship: see note on Zechariah 14:16. Indeed, incense was considered by the Jews themselves as a figure or emblem of prayer and praise: see Psalms 141:2; Luke 1:10. This spiritual service, the prophet says, shall be offered in every place, whereas the Jewish worship was confined to the temple. The words of Christ, John 4:21-22, are a good commentary upon this text; where to worship in spirit is opposed to the carnal ordinances of the Jewish service, such as meats and drinks and bloody sacrifices, or to mere external worship; and in truth, to the types and ceremonies of the Mosaic law, which were only shadowy representations of things to come. And a pure offering Namely, the offering of prayer and praise, of faith, love and obedience, of the heart and life, the body and soul, to be dedicated to and employed for God. Such, also are the oblations of real Christians for the support of God’s worship, the maintenance of a gospel ministry, or the relief of the poor. Thus, in this verse, two important points of our religion are declared in the fullest manner: the abolition of the sacrifices and ceremonies of the ancient law, and the pure and spiritual nature of the Christian worship and service.

Verses 12-13

Malachi 1:12-13. But ye O priests, and the people, by your example; have profaned it Namely, my great name. You have used it as a common thing, and as of no importance or consideration. In that ye say Namely, by your deportment; The table of the Lord is polluted Not a sacred thing, or a thing to be revered; and the fruit thereof, his meat, is contemptible Either the meat which fell to the priests’ share, or the portion which was laid upon the altar. They were neither pleased with that which the Lord reserved for himself, nor with that which he gave to them, but they found fault with both; the latter, in particular, they termed contemptible, a poor, sordid allowance, scarce fit for meaner persons and less service. Ye said also To the sins before mentioned, the priests chiefly, and the people with them, added this also, that they openly complained of God’s service. Behold what a weariness What a toil and drudgery is it to observe every point of the law! Ye have complained of the constant attendance upon my altar as a wearisome employment. And ye have snuffed Have expressed your disgust, at it. And ye have brought that which was torn Ye have brought into the temple, for victims, that which had been torn by wild beasts, &c. It was forbidden even to eat in common that which had been torn, Exodus 22:31, and therefore nothing could show higher contempt than to bring such things for offerings to God.

Verse 14

Malachi 1:14. But cursed be the deceiver The hypocrite, that deceives man, and seems as if he would be glad to deceive God; the false heart, that intends one thing and pretends another, would appear to offer a sacrifice of the best, but puts God off with the worst. Which hath in his flock a male A perfect male, such as God requireth; and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing Such as the Lord hath declared he will not accept. The former reproofs related only to the priests; here the prophet reproves those in general who showed a contempt of God by vowing unto him, upon any occasion, the worst of their flock. It seems to be spoken of such offerings as any of the people, of their own accord, vowed to God: see Leviticus 22:19. And if they did not think fit to vow such things as God directed, they would have done less dishonour to him not to have vowed at all. For I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is, or shall be, dreadful As God is the great King over all the earth, and will be acknowledged as such among the Gentiles under the gospel, (Malachi 1:11,) so men’s religious services ought to be performed with a reverence suitable to the greatness of his majesty.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Malachi 1". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/malachi-1.html. 1857.
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