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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Malachi 3

 

 

Verses 1-6

Malachi 2:17 to Malachi 3:6. The Coming of Judgment.—This passage is addressed to those of the prophet's contemporaries who were so perplexed by the state of things around them that they had become sceptical of God's justice. The times were out of joint, prosperity was the lot of the wicked instead of the righteous. Their querulousness became a burden to Yahweh, so that He announces His immediate intervention; the day of Yahweh, long regarded as the panacea for all Israel's ills, is about to dawn. Malachi, like Amos (Amos 5:18) and other prophets, stamps the popular conception with an ethical value. Yahweh is even now sending His forerunner, possibly to be identified with Elijah (Malachi 4:5) but probably more like "Yahweh's angel" so often mentioned in the historical books, who is often almost one with Yahweh Himself. So here "the Lord . . . even (mg.) the messenger." Perhaps we should distinguish between "my messenger" and "the messenger of the covenant." The phrases whom ye seek (cf. Malachi 2:17, Where is the God of judgment?) and whom ye delight in (or desire) are parallel. The Gospels (Matthew 11:10 = Luke 7:27, Mark 1:2) cite Malachi 3:1 a in reference to John the Baptist. The judgment is to be a time of purifying and cleansing—like a fierce crucible in which the silver is separated from the base elements of the alloy. By "soap" is meant lye, water alkalised by vegetable ashes. The judgment will begin by purging (lit. straining) the corrupt priesthood, and be effective (Malachi 3:3 f); it will then pass on to attack evildoers of different kinds among the people. It is a mission of cleansing, not of destruction (cf. Jeremiah 30:11); Yahweh's love of the house of Jacob (cf. Malachi 1:2 f.) is unchanging.


Verses 7-12

Malachi 3:7-12. Tithes and the Divine Blessing.—The people cannot hope to win God's favour so long as they Withhold God's dues. When the tithes (Deuteronomy 12:17 f; Deuteronomy 14:22-29*, Numbers 18:21-32*, Leviticus 27:30-33*; see p. 99—Malachi presupposes the stricter legislation of P as represented in the two latter passages) are paid in full to the Temple treasury, the curse of locusts (the devourer, Malachi 3:11) and drought shall be removed, and showers of blessing shall make the land fruitful. The word used for offerings (Malachi 3:8) is terumah (see HDB, "Offering," Malachi 3:5) and here means gifts from the produce of the soil, and strictly includes tithe. It is often wrongly translated "heave-offering."


Verses 13-18

Malachi 3:13 to Malachi 4:3. The Final Triumph of Righteousness.—The prophet here returns to the complaint of those who thought that religion did not pay (with Malachi 3:14; cf. Malachi 2:17). They had "kept God's charge," faithfully observing their religious duties, and even wearing the sackcloth and ashes which marked humiliation and penance. Yet it is the arrogant and lax members of the community (cf. Psalms 119:21; Psalms 119:51, etc.) that do well; they challenge God's judgment by their evil-doing, yet it does not fall upon them. Such were the words of pious Jews in Malachi's day (the first word of Malachi 3:16 should be "thus" or "these things" (LXX) instead of "then"), and Yahweh, ever mindful of His people, prepared a record (cf. the custom referred to in Esther 6:1 f.) so that He may not fail to do them justice when the hour strikes. In the day of His action ("the day on which I do" or "act") they, the true Israel, will be His peculium or special private possession, and while the sons who have been rebellious and disloyal are punished, those who have been faithful in service will be protected. Men will "return and discern" (i.e. they will once more, as in the good old times, see) virtue rewarded and vice punished; the moral distinctions will no longer be obliterated or blurred. Indeed, the arrogant and wicked will be totally destroyed like a prairie or a forest on fire. But the righteousness of the God-fearers (or of God Himself) will shine forth conspicuous to all, like the sun, and in its beneficent rays all their affliction will be healed. We may note that the Babylonian Shamash, the sun-god, was conceived of as the god of justice, and that Assyrian, Persian, and Egyptian monuments represent the solar disc with wings issuing on either side, his (Malachi 4:2) is simply the archaic form of its"; Malachi is not definitely predicting Christ, or indeed any personal agent. Exulting in their vindication, the godly will be as vigorous and joyful as young calves turned out from the dark stall to the sunny meadow. Alongside this picture is the grimmer one of the fate of the wicked (cf. Isaiah 66:24).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Malachi 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/malachi-3.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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