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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Malachi 1

 

 

Verse 1

Malachi 1:1 contains the title, which is similar to that in Zechariah 12:1 (compare also the common translation of Zechariah 9:1, but see comment there).

Burden — See on Nahum 1:1.

Word of Jehovah — See on Hosea 1:1.

Israel — Not in the narrow sense, the northern kingdom (Amos 1:1), but the entire postexilic community, whether descendants of the northern tribes or of Judah.

By Malachi — Literally, by the hand of Malachi (compare Haggai 1:1). See Introduction, p. 687.


Verses 2-5

JEHOVAH’S LOVE OF ISRAEL, Malachi 1:2-5.

The contents of these verses form the basis of all subsequent appeals, for they emphasize the fatherly love of Jehovah toward the Hebrews, which entitles him to their gratitude and devotion. The prophet points out that they do not have to go far to find proofs of the divine love. Jacob and Esau were brothers, hence one would naturally expect their descendants to be treated alike by God; but what contrast between the fortunes of the two! Israel, after many ups and downs, restored to its old home, there to remain forever; the territory of Edom doomed to be a perpetual desolation. There can be but one reason for all this — Jehovah loved Jacob, but Esau he hated. This love of Jehovah for Israel, the prophet thinks, should be the motive and model for Israel’s attitude toward him.

2, 3. I have loved you — In his emphasis of the divine love which manifested itself throughout the entire history of Israel, Malachi resembles Hosea (see p. 30).

Yet ye say — These words give the first illustration of the dialectical and didactic character of the literary style of Malachi (compare Malachi 1:6-7; Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:13-14). The author states a simple thesis, in this case “I have loved you.” Over against it he sets an objection which may have been raised at some previous time, or which he suspects may be in the mind of some one. This gives to him an opportunity to elaborate and prove the truth which in the beginning he simply affirmed.

Wherein hast thou loved us? — These words express the objection. During the postexilic period doubts of this sort arose in the minds of many Jews, who were disappointed because the bright visions of the pre-exilic prophets were not realized; and this skepticism increased when it was seen that the expectations of Haggai and Zechariah also were not being fulfilled (see pp. 553f. and pp. 695). The prophet introduces his answer by another question.

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? — The two earliest of the Minor Prophets, Amos (Amos 1:11) and Hosea (Hosea 12:3), call attention to this relationship. As the succeeding verses show, the prophet is thinking primarily of the descendants of the two, but he traces the history back to the ancestors, because in their lives the difference in the attitude of Jehovah could already be seen. Everything else being equal, twin brothers might be expected to have similar experiences in life, and their descendants might be expected to enjoy similar fortunes. In the case of these two a vast difference could be seen.

Yet — Though they were twin brothers.

I loved Jacob,… hated Esau — Keil is right in insisting that the meaning of these words “must not be weakened down into loving more and loving less… To hate is the opposite of love. And this meaning must be retained here.” At the same time the meaning must not be pressed too literally. The expression is an anthropomorphism like repent (see on Joel 2:13) and swear (Amos 4:2), used by the prophet to present to his listeners or readers an idea in a form which they could easily understand. The great mass of Jews considered prosperity an infallible proof of the divine love and favor, adversity of the divine hatred. But if they explained their own present prosperity as an evidence of the divine favor, they must explain the affliction of Esau as an evidence of the divine wrath. The prophet says nothing concerning the ground of distinction, for to judge the motive was outside of his sphere. So far as his words are concerned Jehovah might have had good grounds for his action or he might have been arbitrary; but when we bear in mind the date of Malachi we must consider it very probable, to say the least, that he possessed a sufficiently lofty conception of the character of Jehovah to exclude arbitrariness (compare Malachi 1:4).

R.V. renders the rest of Malachi 1:3, “and made his mountains a desolation, and gave his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness.” These words and Malachi 1:4 supply the proof of the divine hatred against Edom, and by implication the divine love for the Jews.

Mountains — The territory of Edom was rocky and mountainous (see on Amos 1:11; Obadiah 1:3-4), therefore the whole country might be called mountain.

Heritage — Denotes the territory of the Edomites as a possession inherited from their ancestors and from their god (compare Judges 11:23-24).

For the dragons of the wilderness — R.V., “to the jackals.” The meaning of the Hebrew word translated dragon or jackal is not quite certain, since it occurs nowhere else in this form. It is related to a word ordinarily translated sea-monster (compare Genesis 1:21), which is used in an oracle against Edom in Isaiah 34:13, where it is translated jackals. The idea is that Edom has been wasted so completely that now only beasts of the desert live there. LXX. and Peshitto read, “into dwellings of the wilderness.” A similar expression, to which Stade proposes to change the phrase in this verse, “pastures of the wilderness,” occurs in Jeremiah 9:10; but here it would be no improvement, and unless a more serious corruption is assumed the translation of R.V. is preferable. If an emendation is thought necessary, that suggested by Marti is the most satisfactory, “and made his heritage to a wilderness.”

When the devastation of Edom took place is not stated; however, Malachi 1:4 suggests that it occurred quite recently, for at the time of the utterance the damage had not yet been repaired, nor had there been made any attempt in that direction. In all probability Malachi has in mind the expulsion of the Edomites from their territory by the Nabatean Arabs, which began during the period of the exile and reached its culmination during the early part of the fifth century B.C. (compare Amos 1:11; Joel 3:20; Obadiah 1:1-15).

But, some one might say, the Israelites also passed through a period of oppression and homelessness, and yet they were restored to their old home, and prosperity is returning; may not the Edomites enjoy a similar restoration? This objection is met in Malachi 1:4 by the declaration that the desolation of Edom will continue forever, that every attempt to restore its fortunes will prove futile.

We are impoverished — R.V., “beaten down.” This the Edomites admit, but they are not disheartened, for they expect to rebuild the waste places.

We will return and build — If the calamity alluded to is the expulsion of the Edomites from their home land (see on Malachi 1:3), this translation should be retained. They expect to recover the territory, and then to rebuild the desolate places. The Hebrew idiom also permits the translation “we will build again,” which does not imply an expulsion or a hope of return. Jehovah will prevent the execution of their plans (compare Isaiah 9:8-10), for his hatred against Edom will continue, and he will keep it in ruins forever.

I will throw down — Bring to naught all attempts of restoration.

They shall call — Better, R.V., “men shall call.” The subject is indefinite. Whoever observes the vain struggle will pass the judgment expressed in the rest of the verse.

The border of wickedness,… The people against whom Jehovah hath indignation — The continued desolation and the failure of every attempt to rebuild the waste places would constitute conclusive evidence that the wrath of Jehovah is resting upon Edom, but that presupposed, according to popular belief, the commission of some great crime by the Edomites. If they or men include people outside of the Jewish community the expression “Jehovah hath indignation” implies that Malachi assumes the recognition of Jehovah as the true God by people other than the Jews (compare Malachi 1:11).

Forever — See on Joel 3:20.

5. When the Jews see with their own eyes the fulfillment of these threats upon Edom they will be convinced of the divine majesty and love.

Your eyes shall see — They need not depend upon hearsay, for with their own eyes will they witness the humiliation of Edom.

Ye shall say — Convinced by the fulfillment of the threats.

Jehovah will be magnified from the border of Israel — R.V., “Jehovah be magnified beyond the border of Israel”; margin R.V., “Jehovah is great beyond the border of Israel.” Of these three translations the last is the best. The treatment accorded to the Edomites will prove to the Jews that Jehovah is supreme even over the nations outside of Israel. However, the force of the preposition is not quite clear; literally it is “from upon,” which may be used in the sense of above or over, “Jehovah is great over the borders of Israel,” that is, the contrast between the fortunes of Edom and those of Israel is proof that Jehovah’s great powers are exercised especially on behalf of the Jews — in other words, that he loves them. This thought would seem to fit even better into the context.


Verse 6

Rebuke of the faithless priests and people, Malachi 1:6-14.

6. The prophet starts from a generally recognized truth. Son… servant Every one would admit that a son owes loving reverence to his father or that a servant should regard his master with respect and honor. But though Jehovah was the father of Israel (Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Jeremiah 31:9) and his master, Israel being his servant (Isaiah 41:8; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 44:1), the nation has failed to render to him that which rightfully belongs to him.

Fear — Better, reverence (compare Isaiah 8:13).

O priests — Though the priests are addressed as the “soul of the national life,” the reproof applies with equal force to the whole people.

Despise my name — See on Amos 2:7; Micah 4:5. In the place of honor and reverence they bestow upon Jehovah insult and shame.

Wherein have we despised? — The prophet knows that this question might be raised by those who were accustomed to pass through the forms of religion but were unable to enter into the spirit of it (see on Malachi 1:2); hence he immediately proceeds to answer it.


Verses 6-9

ISRAEL’S NEGLECT OF JEHOVAH, Malachi 1:6 to Malachi 2:9.

Throughout the entire history of Israel Jehovah showed himself a loving father and kind master; this would seem to entitle him to the people’s gratitude and reverence, but they fail to give him his dues (Malachi 1:6), as is clearly shown by the fact that they offer to Jehovah gifts which a human governor would reject with scorn (Malachi 1:7-8). No wonder that Jehovah refuses to listen to their prayers (Malachi 1:9). It would be far better to close the temple and extinguish the altar fires than to continue this sort of service (Malachi 1:10). The service rendered to Jehovah among the nations is preferable to that of the Jews, for it is pure and generous, while that of the Jews is corrupt and heartless; the offerings are small, the sacrificial animals diseased and worthless, and the little they do give they give grudgingly (Malachi 1:11-13). Cursed be everyone who dares to insult Jehovah in this manner (Malachi 1:14). If the priests do not heed the warning and render unto Jehovah the service acceptable to him he will send his curse upon them, that they may understand his purpose to maintain the ancient covenant with Levi (Malachi 2:1-4). According to this covenant Jehovah promised to Levi life and peace, while Levi promised to fear Jehovah. Both parties kept the covenant faithfully; Levi served God, and by his faithfulness turned many to righteousness (Malachi 2:5-6). Similar conduct is expected of all his priests (Malachi 2:7), but how far short of the ideal do they come (Malachi 2:8)! Therefore disgrace and contempt will be their portion (Malachi 2:9).


Verse 7-8

7, 8. The insult consists in the presentation upon Jehovah’s altar of gifts and sacrifices which they would not dare to offer to an earthly ruler.

Ye offer — The priests. They should have refused to accept improper offerings from the worshipers (Leviticus 22:17-25), and should have instructed them in their duties (Malachi 2:7), but they did not guard the interests of Jehovah.

Bread — Or, food. Here in the more specific sense of food of the Deity, that is, sacrifice, which is called bread of God (Leviticus 21:6; Leviticus 21:8; Ezekiel 44:7).

Polluted — Or, unclean. The sacrifice is so called because (1) it was offered in a spirit of hypocrisy; (2) the animals presented were blemished and therefore unfit for sacrifice (Malachi 1:8; Malachi 1:12; compare Leviticus 22:17-25). This accusation also is resented.

Wherein have we polluted thee? — The idea underlying the question is that to touch or eat anything unclean makes a person unclean (compare Ezekiel 13:19; Haggai 2:13). The question does not follow naturally upon the preceding accusation, which already supplies an answer to it, nor is the succeeding clause a suitable answer. LXX. gives a preferable reading, “Wherewith have we polluted it?” that is, the bread which the prophet has called polluted. To which the prophet replies, By saying that the table of Jehovah is contemptible. This they have said not in words but by the actions described in Malachi 1:8.

Table — As sacrifice is called food, so the altar may be called a table.

Contemptible — In the sense that anything is good enough for it.

In 8a the prophet points out how they show their contempt for the altar and for Jehovah.

If — Better, R.V., “when.”

Ye offer the blind — Therefore unfit for sacrifice (Leviticus 22:22).

Is it not evil? — Better, R.V., “it is no evil!” The words are used ironically; according to their own notions it is no evil.

Lame and sick — Also unfit for sacrifice (Leviticus 22:20-25; Deuteronomy 15:21). Would they dare to present such gifts to an earthly governor? But if not, how can they justify themselves for presenting them to one greater than he?

Offer — R.V., “Present,” as a gift. The sacrifices are gifts presented to Jehovah.

Thy governor — At this time probably a Persian, whose favor might be bought; but he would refuse to have anything to do with a present of little or no value, and with the person presenting such gift.


Verse 9

9. They know well enough that the favor of an earthly governor cannot be secured in this way; let them now see if Jehovah is pleased with such things.

Beseech God — Literally, the face of God (compare Zechariah 7:2). Not a call to repentance, but an ironical challenge to supplicate Jehovah with gifts and prayers. In other great crises he heard intercessory prayer (Genesis 18:22 ff.; Exodus 32:11).

This hath been by your means — Literally, from your hands was this; that is, the offering of unclean animals. These words interrupt the thought; the question following is the real continuation of the ironical exhortation; therefore many commentators omit them as a later gloss. As they stand now, they can serve only to emphasize the illegitimacy and hypocrisy of their conduct.

What can they expect under these circumstances?

Will he regard your persons? — R.V., “accept any of your persons?” margin, “accept any because of you?” The Hebrew is ambiguous, but in view of the exhortation, which seems to imply intercessory prayer, the marginal translation is to be preferred. The priests were mediators between Jehovah and the people, they offered sacrifice as servants of Jehovah and of the people, to secure the divine favor for the latter; but since they have proved faithless their service is no longer acceptable, they can no longer secure the favor of Jehovah for the people.

Jehovah of hosts — See on Hosea 12:5.


Verse 10

10. The translators of A.V. misunderstood the force of 10a. R.V. expresses the thought much more clearly, though in some respects it is less literal than A.V.: “Oh that there were one among you that would shut the doors, that ye might not kindle fire on mine altar in vain!” The sense of the passage is: It were better that the doors of the temple be closed, and that sacrifices would cease entirely, than that the present condition be continued. Oh that there were one (R.V.) — Literally, Who is there even among you? This question has the force of a wish (compare 2 Samuel 15:4; Psalms 4:6): Is there not even one among you? — Would that some one were among you (G.-K., 151a)!

Shut the doors — Of the temple, so that all worshipers will be excluded, and in consequence all sacrifices will cease.

Kindle fire on mine altar — Literally, light my altar, with sacrificial fires (Isaiah 27:11; Isaiah 50:11). In vain (R.V.) — To no purpose, for it does not secure for them the divine favor (Malachi 1:9).

I have no pleasure in you — Primarily the priests, but also the worshipers in general, because they leave undone the things pleasing to him, and for the things which they do he does not care (compare Isaiah 1:10-17; Amos 5:21-24).

An offering — The word is ordinarily used to denote the meal offering (see on Joel 1:9); here it stands for sacrifice or offering of every sort (compare Zephaniah 3:10).


Verse 11-12

11. Jehovah cannot accept impure sacrifices from his own people, when less favored nations offer to him sacrifices that are pure.

Rising of the sun… going down — The farthest ends of the earth (compare Zechariah 8:7; Psalms 103:12).

My name shall be great — LXX., “glorified,” which is to be preferred here, since “great” is found later in the verse, where it is in its proper place. The name of Jehovah is glorified and sacrifice is offered because the name of Jehovah is great. To glorify the name of Jehovah is to render proper worship and honor to him.

Gentiles… heathen — The same word in Hebrew in both cases. It would be better to translate “nations,” that is, the nations other than the Jews.

In every place — Not only “in every sacred place,” but “everywhere” (Zephaniah 2:11); to be understood literally, but in the loose sense in which the English word is sometimes used; Schultz, “in every clime.”

Incense — Not to be limited to incense proper; like “offerings” in Malachi 1:10 and again here, the term includes sacrifices and offerings of every sort (compare Amos 4:5).

Offering — Practically identical in meaning with “incense,” with which it stands in apposition: “incense is offered, even a pure offering.”

Pure — The emphasis rests upon this word. In contrast to the “polluted bread” offered by the Jews (Malachi 1:7-8) the nations offer sacrifice that is faultless. Some recent commentators abbreviate the present Hebrew text, which is a little awkward, and read simply, “in every place a pure offering is offered unto my name.” The last clause explains why Jehovah is thus honored among the nations.

My name shall be great — For the significance of name of Jehovah see on Amos 2:7; Micah 4:5. The words used here are equivalent to “I in my manifestations am great.” What the prophet means to say is that the wonderful things which Jehovah has done (or will do) have been (or will be) so great and powerful that he is (or will be) recognized as the true God even among other nations, and as a result is receiving (or will receive) homage from them.

Malachi 1:11 has been and still is the subject of much discussion. The chief point of controversy is the question whether the verse points to the prophet’s present or future. The Hebrew, apart from the context, permits either translation. LXX. refers it to the present, so also a few of the early church fathers; A.V., A.R.V., and margin of English R.V. refer it to the future; English R.V. and margin A.R.V., to the present. Interpreted of the present, the translation is, “For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered unto my name, even a pure offering: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith Jehovah of hosts.” Until quite recently commentators were about equally divided, but the most recent writers are inclined toward interpreting the words of the present; and this seems to be the most natural interpretation in the light of the context, because (1) both Malachi 1:10 and Malachi 1:12 refer to the present, and in Malachi 1:12 at least the same grammatical construction is used as in Malachi 1:11; (2) the prophet’s argument requires this interpretation. That it is the present conduct of the Jews that he condemns is quite evident (Malachi 1:12), but in order to make the contrast effective he must place over against the present conduct of the Jews the present conduct of the nations.

But granting that Malachi 1:11 refers to the prophet’s present, what does it mean? Some have thought that the prophet has in mind the worship rendered by Jewish proselytes among the nations, or by Jews scattered among the nations. Neither interpretation is quite satisfactory, because (1) the number of proselytes technically so called must have been very small during the first half of the fifth century B.C., and the dispersion had not proceeded very far at that time. (2) Neither does justice to the prophet’s language, which seems to imply that members of foreign nations rendered in some way acceptable service to Jehovah. Against this interpretation that the prophet is thinking of foreigners, several objections have been raised: (1) “It would be unheard of that a prophet who holds such strict views of the law, and abominates foreign wives on account of their heathen deities as a pollution of the holy nation (Malachi 2:11-12), would apply the predicate pure to heathen offerings.” (2) This view “contradicts the definite assertion that the knowledge of the name of Jehovah forms the postulate of such service.” (3) The teaching of the New Testament is said to be explicit: “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20).

A New Testament statement cannot be used to prove what an Old Testament writer may or may not have written, for it is universally admitted that the coming of Jesus has resulted in religious thinking along new lines. But even the New Testament permits the interpretation suggested. Though Romans 1:19-20, and Acts 17:23 ff., do not express the identical thought, they move in the direction of the statement in Malachi when they assert that even nations other than Jews may do things acceptable to God.

The force or weakness of the second objection depends upon the interpretation of the expression name of Jehovah. As stated in other connections, it means practically Jehovah in manifestation (see on Amos 2:7; Micah 4:5). In the interpretation of the clause “my name is great among the nations” we may readily follow Keil, who, however, interprets Malachi 1:11 of the future. “And the name of God,” says he, “is only great among the Gentiles when Jehovah has proved himself to them a great God, so that they have discerned the greatness of the living God from his marvelous works and thus have learned to fear him.” That this will happen at some future time, and in some cases in the immediate future from the standpoint of the speakers, is taught in several passages in the Old Testament (for example, Zephaniah 2:11; Exodus 15:14-16; Psalms 46:9-11), but the Old Testament goes beyond this. There are several passages in the Old Testament which assert with an emphasis not surpassed in Malachi 1:11 that the nations have already “discerned the greatness of the living God from his marvelous works” and, in some cases at least, have “learned to fear him”; for example, Psalms 126:2, which is dated by many in the period of Malachi’s activity; the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, especially the decrees ascribed to the Persian kings, which deal with the period beginning with the return in 537 and end, generally speaking, with the second visit of Nehemiah, about 432, in the latter part of which period falls the activity of our prophet; also the Book of Daniel. The testimony of these passages is of value, whatever the date of the composition of the books, for there can be no doubt that from the very beginning the pious Jews attributed the permission to return from Babylon to the direct interference of Jehovah, a view which implies the belief in a recognition on the part of the Persian rulers of the greatness and supremacy of Jehovah (compare also Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 49:22). It is seen, then, that the second and the third objections find no support in Scripture.

There remains the first objection, that the idea of Malachi calling the heathen offerings pure is absurd and “unheard of.” Is this statement true? (1) A recognition of the presence of Jehovah worship among the nations does not necessarily exclude opposition to marriage alliances with those who have not yet come to serve Jehovah properly. In Hebrew as in English the term everywhere does not include every individual or community, or even every nation. The prophet says “among the nations.” (2) The opposition to mixed marriages, like the hostility toward the Samaritans in the days of Jesus, was based upon racial as well as upon religious feelings; therefore the prophet might recognize the presence of true worship among the surrounding nations and yet, because of this racial prejudice, be opposed to alliances with these very nations. It would not be difficult to find analogies even in the twentieth century A.D. (3) With few exceptions the development of the religious thought of Israel, at least from the eighth century onward, proceeded in the direction of the statement of Malachi. Amos recognized that the nations possessed a certain amount of moral and religious light, and he condemned them for not living up to it (Malachi 1:3 to Malachi 2:3; compare Malachi 3:9-10); Isaiah condemned the Assyrians for disregarding the commission of Jehovah (Isaiah 10:5-7); but all this implies the possibility of rendering acceptable service to Jehovah. Aside from these implications the statements in later books (for example, Daniel 4:34 ff; Daniel 6:25 ff.; compare Jonah 1:14-16) must not be overlooked. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah also imply the belief in a recognition of Jehovah as the true God by the Persian kings and a desire to serve him in a proper manner. These allusions, though not expressing the thought exactly as it is expressed in Malachi 1:11, certainly make it possible to think of Malachi as believing that in his days an acceptable worship was rendered to Jehovah among the nations of the earth. (4) Sacrificial terms came to be used in Israel in a metaphorical sense of acts and expressions of devotion other than the literal offering of sacrifice (Psalms 51:17). The terms of Malachi 1:11 might be understood in this wider sense, though in addressing the Jews the prophet would use the same terms primarily in a literal sense. If so, the thought of Malachi 1:11 would be that people in every clime, even without the special revelation granted to the Jews, had come to recognize Jehovah as the true God as a result of his mighty works for Israel, and that at the time of the prophet they were rendering to him a purer service than the Jews, whom alone Jehovah had known among all the families of the earth (Amos 3:2).

This does not mean, however, that the prophet recognized the presence of monotheism in the heathen religions, or that he regarded all the sacrifices that were offered to different deities as offered in reality, though perhaps unconsciously, to the one true God. The true view, it seems to the present writer, is expressed by Schultz in these words: “The prophet is pointing out, in contrast to the selfishness and petty avarice of the inhabitants of the Holy Land in regard to sacrifices, that far more valuable sacrifices are being offered all round about to the Great God who is proving himself more and more the God of the nations.” Though, as stated above, we cannot speak here of proselytes in the technical sense of that term, the observation by the Jews of this turning to Jehovah among the nations would create and encourage a spirit of proselyting.

Malachi 1:12 is a repetition of the rebuke in Malachi 1:7. In sharp contrast to the honor which Jehovah receives among the nations stand the contempt and insult he suffers from his own people.

But ye — Who have enjoyed special privileges and advantages.

Have profaned it — That is, the name of Jehovah (see on Amos 2:7; Micah 4:5). Better, R.V., “ye profane it,” continually. The same idea is expressed by despise (Malachi 1:6) and pollute (Malachi 1:7). The rest of Malachi 1:12 indicates how they profane the name of Jehovah.

In that ye say — By their actions more than by their words.

The table of Jehovah is polluted — Literally, the table of Jehovah, polluted is it. Polluted here is identical in meaning with contemptible in Malachi 1:7. They consider anything good enough for the table, that is, for the altar of Jehovah.

The fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible — Literally, the fruit thereof, contemptible is its eating. Fruit is that which is laid upon the altar, the sacrifice or offering. The clause, when interpreted naturally, expresses the thought that the portion of the sacrifices belonging to the priests is not considered good enough to serve them as food and is therefore despised. If the sacrificial animals were as poor and diseased as the prophet points out, such thought does not appear strange; and yet some take exception to this interpretation on the ground that “If the flesh… had been too bad for food in their estimation, they would not have admitted such animals or offered them in sacrifice.” Those who take this latter view consider “his eating” equivalent to its meat or food (R.V.), in apposition to “the fruit thereof.” Its food would then be the sacrifices placed upon the altar, which would be the food of Jehovah (Malachi 1:7), therefore A.V. “his meat.” The Hebrew does not favor this interpretation, and if the present text is correct the first view is preferable. It is not impossible, however, that the word translated his fruit — a peculiar designation for sacrifice — has arisen through dittography, and that the original read simply “and contemptible is his food,” that is, the food of Jehovah (see on Malachi 1:7). If the word is omitted the thought of the two clauses of Malachi 1:12 becomes practically identical. Altar and sacrifice they esteem lightly, and they consider anything good enough to be offered to Jehovah. Malachi 2:13


Verse 13

Malachi 1:13 continues the thought of Malachi 1:12. Their faithlessness and corruption is seen in their attitude toward the entire sacrificial service. The tenses should be translated, with R.V., as present tenses, for the prophet condemns present sacrifices.

What a weariness is it! — Not the eating of their portion of the sacrificial meat, but the priestly office and the service at the sanctuary. It they consider a trouble and a burden instead of an honor and a privilege, as they should.

Ye have snuffed at it — At the service or table of Jehovah. An expression of contempt. Here is found one of the emendations of the scribes (see on Habakkuk 1:12); and following the Masoretic suggestion that at it is a change from an original at me, some commentators read “ye have snuffed at me,” but the thought remains essentially the same. The contempt finds expression in the offering of unfit animals as sacrifices.

Torn — Better, R.V., “taken by violence”; that is, something stolen. They were too selfish to give of their own (Compare 2 Samuel 12:1 ff.), and when they did give of their own they gave only what was of no use to them. An additional thought may be implied, namely, that by giving stolen goods to Jehovah they would make him a participant in the crime, and thus make it impossible for him to punish them. Some scholars, following Malachi 1:8, read “blind.”

Lame,… sick — See on Malachi 1:8. The rebuke closes with a question similar to the one in Malachi 1:8.

Should I accept this of your hand? — Simply because you are priests. He cannot do this. Sacrifice of this sort is an abomination to him (compare Amos 5:21-24; Isaiah 1:10-15).


Verse 14

14. To the specific condemnation of the priests is added a curse upon all Israelites whose worship is insincere.

The deceiver — One who seeks to deceive Jehovah in the manner described in the succeeding clauses. Keil sees here two kinds of deception: (1) when according to the law a male animal should have been sacrificed, and the person offering the sacrifice substituted a female, that is, one of less value, under the pretense that he did not have a male; (2) when one made a vow that demanded a perfect sacrifice, but offered one that was faulty and therefore unfit. To get this distinction from the present text requires considerable stretching of the Hebrew as well as of the imagination. Was there any occasion on which a diseased animal could be vowed? It is better, therefore, to understand the words of only one kind of deception. The thought becomes clearer if, following LXX., the pronominal suffix is added to the verb voweth, “who hath in his flock a male and voweth it, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a blemished thing.”

Voweth — Only perfect animals could be offered in fulfillment of a vow (Leviticus 22:21).

A corrupt thing — R.V., “blemished.” Instead of the perfect animal, which, though vowed, he retains in the flock. Such hypocrisy the great and terrible God of the universe cannot endure (compare Isaiah 1:13).

A great King — Over all the earth. As such he has the right to demand the best.

My name — See on Malachi 1:6, and references there.

Is dreadful among the heathen — R.V., “terrible among the Gentiles” (see on Zephaniah 2:11); but here the word seems to be used rather in the sense of “is feared” — held in reverence. Jehovah who is reverenced even among the nations (Malachi 1:11), cannot, in justice to himself and to the nations, permit himself to be treated with contempt by his own people.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Malachi 1:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/malachi-1.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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