MALACHI

Introduction and Chapters

Introduction
    The last prophetic book of the Old Testament is that of Malachi, and we normally assume that the person who wrote that book was someone named Malachi. However, there is still some mystery surrounding the author of that work. There are even some who argue that “Malachi” (a Hebrew word which means “my messenger”) is not a name, but a title. Indeed, the targum Jonathan not only assumes that Malachi was a title, but also gives us the name of the presumed author:

    מַטַל פִתגָמָא דַיוי עַל יִשרָאֵל בְיַד מַלאָכִי דיתקרי שמיה עזרא ספרא׃

    “The oracle of the word of Yahweh to Israel by the hand of my messenger, whose name is called Ezra the Scribe.” 1
    We are also not absolutely sure when the book was written, but most scholars would probably allow any date from the middle to the latter part of the 5th century B.C.
Introduction Footnotes
1. Targum Jonathan on Mal. 1:1. The translation is mine, but the Aramaic text is derived from the text presented on the website of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon project of Hebrew Union College: (http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/showtargum.php?bookname=26&chapter=01&verse=1&Peshitta=ON&Sam=)


Chapter 1

    1. The charge of the word of Yahweh to Israel as given to Malachi. 1
    2. I have loved you, said Yahweh, but you have said, How have you loved us? Was not Esau a brother to Jacob? says Yahweh, and I love Jacob.
    3. But I hated Esau, and I made his mountains a desolation, and his inheritance for the jackals of the desert.
    4. For should Edom say, We are beaten down, but we will return and we will build up the ruins? Thus says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts; they may build, but I will tear down, and they will call them the border of wickedness, and the people whom Yahweh has cursed forever.
    5. And your eyes will see, and you will say, Yahweh is great beyond the border of Israel.
    6. A son honors a father, and a servant his master. And if I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is the reverence due me? says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts to you, the priests who despise my name. And you have said, How have we despised your name?
    7. On my altar you offer defiled bread, but you say, How have we defiled you? By your saying, The table of Yahweh is despicable.
    8. And when you offer something blind as a sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer something lame or sick, is that not evil? If you offer it to your governor, will he be pleased with you, or will he respect you? says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    9. And now, entreat the favor of God that he will be gracious to us. This has been from your hand. Will he respect any of you? says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    10. Who indeed is among you who will shut the doors, so that you will not light a fire on my altar for nothing? I take no pleasure in you, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts, and I will not accept the meal offering from your hands.
    11. For from sun-up to sun-down my name is great among the nations, and everywhere incense is burnt and offered to my name; and a pure meal offering; for my name is great among the nations, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    12. But you profane it when you say, the table of the Lord 2 is despicable, and its fruit. Its food is contemptible.
    13. And you say, Behold, it is a hardship, and you sniffed at it, 3 says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts. And you brought that which was mutilated, 4 and the lame, and the sick, and if you bring a meal offering, will I accept it from your hand? says Yahweh.
    14. And cursed is the one who deceitful, and though there is an (unblemished) male in his flock, he vows and sacrifices one that is spoiled to the Lord. For I am the great king, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts, and my name is feared among the nations.
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1. Literally “in the hand of Malachi.” From this somewhat peculiar wording, as Rashi reports, there developed a Jewish tradition, expressed in a baraitha of the Mechilta, that there was a time when all the prophets stood on Mount Sinai and all the prophecies which they would eventually give were delivered to them there.
2. In verse 7 the expression was “the table of Yahweh,” but here it is “the table of the Lord.” Since these two are parallel, it may be evidence that at least as early as Malachi, the euphemism “Lord” was already being substituted for the divine name, “Yahweh.”
3. “sniffed” meaning in contempt.
4. Gazul means that which was torn away, and thus probably indicates some sort of animal which had already been attacked by some predator, and which was therefore already damaged. Animals brought as offerings were supposed to be perfect, as specified in Lev. 3:1 and elsewhere.
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Chapter 2

Malachi scolds the priests and those who have taken gentile wives

    1. And now, this commandment is to you, Oh priests!
    2. If you do not listen, and if you do not pay careful attention, to give glory to my name, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts, then I will send the curse among you, and I will curse your blessings, and I have already cursed (them) because you do not take it to heart.
    3. Behold, I am rebuking your seed, and I will scatter offal 1 upon your faces, the offal of your festivals, and it will carry you away. 2
    4. And you will know that I have sent you this commandment, so that my covenant will be with Levi, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    5. My covenant with him was life and peace, and I gave them to him (because of his) reverence, and (because) he feared me, and he was in awe of my name.
    6. The true gospel 3 was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. In peace and in uprightness he has walked with me, and he turned many from iniquity.
    7. For the lips of a priest preserve knowledge and instruction; they will be sought from his mouth, for he is a messenger of Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    8. But you turned aside from the way. You caused many to stumble in the gospel. You corrupted the covenant of the Levites, 4 says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    9. And now I have also made you despicable and low to all the people because you are not keeping my ways, and you show partiality in the gospel.
    10. Do we not all have one father? Did not one God create us? Why do we deal deceitfully, each man with his brother, to profane the covenant of our fathers?
    11. Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned the holiness of Yahweh, because he loved and married the daughter of a foreign god.
    12. Yahweh will cut off the man who does this, the witness 5 and the one who answers, from the tents of Jacob, and from those who bring meal offerings 6 to Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    13. And you do this second thing, 7 (thereby) covering the altar of Yahweh with tears, weeping, and groaning, to the extent that he does not turn to the meal offering, or take anything willingly from your hand.
    14. And you say, Why? Because Yahweh has borne witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you dealt treacherously, and she is your companion and the wife of your covenant. 8
    15. And did he not make (them) a unit (to which) the remaining spirits would belong? 9 And what does that unit 10 seek from God (but) progeny? So you should take heed on peril of your lives 11 and not deal treacherously with the wife of your youth.
    16. For I hate divorce, 12 says Yahweh, the God of Israel, for there is injustice upon his clothing, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts, and you should take heed on peril of your lives and not deal treacherously (with the wife of your youth). 13
    17. You have wearied Yahweh with your words, and you say, How have wearied (him)? By saying, Every evildoer is good in the sight of Yahweh, and he delights in them! Or, Where is the God of judgment?
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1. Offal refers to the internal organs and entrails of a slaughtered animal. Hence, then they sacrifice animals for their festivals, the Lord will see that some of the internal material is splashed on their faces.
2. “It will carry you away . .” This does not make any sense, and it appears to be corrupted text, See the footnotes of the BHS for a suggested emendation, as well as the LXX and the Peshitta. I did not use any of those variations here because none of them seemed to make any sense to me.
3. Torat emet could also be translated as “instruction of truth.” But since “gospel” in LDS parlance refers to divine instruction, “instruction of truth” and “true gospel” ultimately mean the same thing.
4. Nehemiah 13:29 speaks of the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.
5. As written in the MT, this verse is perplexing and probably corrupted. This particular Hebrew word in the MT is “one who is awake,” which does not make much sense. There is a suggestion in the footnotes of the BHS to emend it to “witness.” The two words look very much alike in Hebrew and might easily have been confused by some ancient copyist (ער as opposed to עד).
6. This reading is also based on a suggested emendation in the footnotes of the BHS, changing ומגיש to וממגישי, because the wording in the MT did not make much sense.
7. i.e. a second transgression, in addition to the first transgression of marrying gentile women.
8. Rashi explains that the first transgression was that unmarried men married gentile women. But the second transgression, which was worse, was that married Israelite men took additional wives from the gentile population, because when they returned from the Babylonian exile, the Jewish women were very gaunt and unattractive, so some of the men put them aside and ignored them, making the new gentile wife the primary wife.
9. Or “. . . make them one.” See Gen. 2:24.
10. Meaning the husband and wife couple.
11. For this interpretation see BDB sub שמר Niph.
12. Literally “sending away.”
13. It appears that the original text must have included this last phrase, as it seems to be a repetition of the admonition given in verse 15. See footnote in BHS.
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Chapter 3

The Lord will come suddenly to his temple. The blessings of tithing.

    1. Behold, I am sending my angel, and he will prepare the way before me, and the Lord, whom you seek, will come suddenly to his temple; and the angel of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    2. And who can endure the day of his coming? And who will stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.
    3. And he will sit (like) a refiner and (like) one who purifies silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi. And he will refine them like gold, and like silver; and they will be offering up a tribute to Yahweh in righteousness.
    4. And the offering of Judah and of Jerusalem will be pleasing to Yahweh as in ancient days, and as in former years.
    5. And I will approach you for judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against those who swear falsely, and against those who withhold the wages of the hireling, of the widow or of the orphan, and those who turn away the stranger, and who do not fear me, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    6. For I, Yahweh, have not changed, and you, Oh sons of Jacob, have not perished.
    7. From the days of your fathers you have turned away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me and I will return to you, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts. But you say, How will we return?
    8. Will a man rob God? For you rob me, but you say, How have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. 1
    9. You are cursed with a curse, yet you are robbing me, the whole nation!
    10. Bring all the tithes into the treasury, and there will be food in my house; and test me with that now, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts, (to see) whether I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and I will pour out for you a blessing which cannot be contained.
    11. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake, and he will not destroy the fruits of your land, nor will your vines cast (their fruit) in the field (prematurely), says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    12. And all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a desirable land, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    13. Your words have been strong against me, says Yahweh, but you say, What have we spoken to each other 2 concerning you?
    14. You have said, It is futile to serve God; and what profit is there when we have kept his charge, or when we have walked like mourners before Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts?
    15. And now we call the rebellious blessed. Even the evil-doers are built up. They have even tested God and have escaped.
    16. Then those who feared Yahweh spoke to one another, each man to his neighbor, and Yahweh listened and heard it. And a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared Yahweh, and for those who valued his name.
    17. And they will be mine, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts, for the day that I make a peculiar treasure. 3 And I will have compassion on them, as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.
    18. And you will return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God, and him who has not served him.
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1. The word for “offerings” here is terumah, which also has a special use as noted in Nu. 18:26-29, where it is called the “heave offering” in the KJV, and refers to the special tithe laid on the Levites. Since Malachi seems to be especially focused on the priests and Levites as regards their temple assignments, he may well have this particular Levitical obligation in mind here.
2. “. . .spoken to each other. . .” The niph’al form of this verb gives it a reciprocal sense, which is not rendered in the KJV.
3. “Peculiar treasure” cf. Ps. 135:4.
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Chapter 4

Elijah to return before the great and dreadful day of Yahweh

    1. For behold, the day is coming that burns like an oven, and all the rebellious and all the evil-doers will become stubble, and the day that is coming will burn them, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts, so that it will leave to them neither root nor branch. 1
    2. And the sun of righteousness will rise up, to you who fear my name, with healing in its wings, and you will go forth and spring about like fatted calves.
    3. And you will crush the wicked, for they will be like ash under the soles of your feet on the day that I will prepare, says Yahweh of the Heavenly Hosts.
    4. Remember the instruction of Moses, my servant, whom I commanded in Horeb, concerning all of Israel, with ordinances and laws.
    5. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh.
    6. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a ban. 2
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1. Note that chapter 4:1-6 of the English version corresponds to chapter 3:19-24 of the MT.
2. The word here is herem, which is literally a ban. In the KJV it is translated as “curse,” but that is not accurate. The herem is something which has been cut off completely, and the word therefore implies total destruction.
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