Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries

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

- Malachi

by Joseph Benson



THOUGH Malachi is the last of those divinely-inspired prophets whose writings have been transmitted to posterity, and in him prophecy ceased; yet the spirit of prophecy appears to have shone as clear, bright, and strong in him as in any that preceded him. The Jews call him, The seal of prophecy, because in him the succession of prophets came to a period; God wisely ordering, that prophecy should cease some ages before the Messiah came, that he might appear the more conspicuous, and be the more welcome. Nothing is known respecting the country or parentage of this prophet, nor even whether Malachi, a word that means my angel, or my messenger, was his proper name, or only a generical name, signifying that he was the messenger of the Lord. The LXX. have rendered the Hebrew word, αγγελος αυτου , his angel, instead of my angel; and several of the fathers have quoted this prophet as the angel of the Lord. Justyn Martyr, however, and most of the primitive fathers, have considered Malachi as a proper name, (as it probably was,) and taken this prophet to have been cotemporary with Nehemiah, and to have prophesied a little after Haggai and Zechariah, as his prophecy supposes the temple to be already rebuilt, and the worship of God established there. For whereas Haggai and Zechariah reprove the people for delaying to build the temple, Malachi reproves them for their neglect of it, now it was built, and for their profanation of the temple service. And the other sins for which he rebukes them are those complained of by Nehemiah. He appears, indeed, to have prophesied when great disorders had begun to take place among both the priests and people, whom he charges with rebellion, sacrilege, adultery, profaneness, and infidelity, and condemns the priests for being scandalously careless in their ministry; at the same time not forgetting to encourage the pious few, who, in that corrupt age, maintained their integrity. And since prophecy was now to cease, he speaks more clearly of the Messiah than almost any other of the prophets had done; and concludes with a prediction of terrible judgments about to be executed on such Jews and others as should reject him when he came, and of signal mercy to such as should believe on him. In the mean time, till the Messiah should appear, he admonishes them carefully to observe the law of Moses, and to look for no other prophet till Elias, that is, John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah, should come. He prophesied about the year of the world 3604, and 400 years before Christ. As to his style, Bishop Lowth says, it shows him to have lived in the decline of the Hebrew poetry; which, from the time of the Babylonish captivity, had been decaying very much, and fast verging toward a state of debility.

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