Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
REPROOF OF THE
COVENANT; AND THE
1. for you--The priests in particular are reproved, as their part was
to have led the people aright, and reproved sin, whereas they encouraged
and led them into sin. Ministers cannot sin or suffer alone. They drag
down others with them if they fall [MOORE].
2. lay . . . to heart--My commands.
send a curse--rather, as Hebrew, "the curse"; namely, that
De 27:15-26; 28:15-68.
curse your blessings--turn the blessings you enjoy into curses
cursed them--Hebrew, them severally; that is, I have cursed
each one of your blessings.
3. corrupt, &c.--literally, "rebuke," answering to the opposite
prophecy of blessing
"I will rebuke the devourer." To rebuke the seed is to forbid
your--literally, "for you"; that is, to your hurt.
dung of . . . solemn feasts--The dung in the maw of
the victims sacrificed on the feast days; the maw was the perquisite of
which gives peculiar point to the threat here. You shall get the dung
of the maw as your perquisite, instead of the maw.
one shall take you away with it--that is, ye shall be taken away with
it; it shall cleave to you wherever ye go
[MOORE]. Dung shall be thrown
on your faces, and ye shall be taken away as dung would be,
dung-begrimed as ye shall be
Jer 16:4; 22:19).
4. ye shall know--by bitter experience of consequences, that it was
with this design I admonished you, in order "that My covenant with Levi
might be" maintained; that is, that it was for your own good (which
would be ensured by your maintaining the Levitical command) I admonished
you, that ye should return to your duty
Mal 2:5, 6).
Malachi's function was that of a reformer, leading back the priests and
people to the law
5-9. He describes the promises, and also the conditions of the
covenant; Levi's observance of the conditions and reward (compare
Phinehas' zeal); and on the other hand the violation of the conditions,
and consequent punishment of the present priests. "Life" here includes
the perpetuity implied in
"everlasting priesthood." "Peace" is specified both here and
there. MAURER thus explains it; the Hebrew
is, literally, "My covenant was with him, life and peace
(to be given him on My part), and I gave them to him: (and on his part)
fear (that is, reverence), and he did fear Me," &c. The former portion
of the verse expresses the promise, and Jehovah's fulfilment of
it; the latter, the condition, and Levi's steadfastness to it
(De 33:8, 9).
The Jewish priests self-deceivingly claimed the privileges of the
covenant, while neglecting the conditions of it, as if God were bound
by it to bless them, while they were free from all the obligation which
it imposed to serve Him. The covenant is said to be not merely
"of life and peace," but "life and peace"; for the keeping of
God's law is its own reward
6. law of truth was in his mouth--He taught the people the truths of
the law in all its fulness
The priest was the ordinary expounder of the law; the prophets were so
only on special occasions.
iniquity . . . not found--no injustice in his judicial functions
(De 17:8, 9; 19:17).
walked with me--by faith and obedience
in peace--namely, the "peace" which was the fruit of obeying the
Peace with God, man, and one's own conscience, is the result of
"walking with God" (compare
turn may . . . from iniquity--both by positive precept and by tacit
example "walking with God"
7. In doing so
he did his duty as a priest, "for," &c.
knowledge--of the law, its doctrines, and positive and negative
(Le 10:10, 11;
the law--that is, its true sense.
messenger of . . . Lord--the interpreter of His will;
compare as to the prophets,
So ministers are called "ambassadors of Christ"
and the bishops of the seven churches in Revelation, "angels" or
(Re 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14;
8. out of the way--that is, from the covenant.
caused many to stumble--By scandalous example, the worse inasmuch as
the people look up to you as ministers of religion
at the law--that is, in respect to the observances of the law.
corrupted . . . covenant--made it of none effect, by not fulfilling
its conditions, and so forfeiting its promises
9. Because ye do not keep the condition of the covenant, I will not
fulfil the promise.
partial in the law--having respect to persons rather than to truth
in the interpretation and administration of the law
10-16. Reproof of those who contracted marriages with foreigners and
repudiated their Jewish wives.
10. Have we not all one father?--Why, seeing we all have one
common origin, "do we deal treacherously against one another"
("His brother" being a general expression implying that all are
"brethren" and sisters as children of the same Father above
and so including the wives so injured)? namely, by putting away
our Jewish wives, and taking foreign women to wife (compare
and Mal 2:11;
and so violating "the covenant" made by Jehovah with "our fathers," by
which it was ordained that we should be a people separated from the
other peoples of the world
Le 20:24, 26;
To intermarry with the heathen would defeat this purpose of Jehovah,
who was the common Father of the Israelites in a peculiar sense in
which He was not Father of the heathen. The "one Father" is Jehovah
"Created us": not merely physical creation, but "created us" to be His
peculiar and chosen people
Isa 43:1; 45:8; 60:21;
[CALVIN]. How marked the contrast between the
honor here done to the female sex, and the degradation to which
Oriental women are generally subjected!
11. dealt treacherously--namely, in respect to the Jewish wives who
were put away
Mal 2:10, 15, 16).
profaned the holiness of . . . Lord--by ill-treating
the Israelites (namely, the wives), who were set apart as a people
holy unto the Lord: "the holy seed"
Or, "the holiness of the Lord" means His holy ordinance and covenant
But "which He loved," seems to refer to the holy people, Israel,
whom God so gratuitously loved
without merit on their part
(Ezr 9:1, 2; 10:2;
daughter of a strange god--women worshipping idols: as the
worshipper in Scripture is regarded in the relation of a child to a
12. master and . . . scholar--literally, "him that
watcheth and him that answereth." So "wakeneth" is used of the
teacher or "master"
masters are watchful in guarding their scholars. The reference
is to the priests, who ought to have taught the people piety, but who
led them into evil. "Him that answereth" is the scholar who has
to answer the questions of his teacher
[GROTIUS]. The Arabs have a proverb, "None calling
and none answering," that is, there being not one alive. So
GESENIUS explains it of the Levite watches in the
one watchman calling and another answering. But the
scholar is rather the people, the pupils of the priests "in
doing this," namely, forming unions with foreign wives. "Out of the
tabernacles of Jacob" proves it is not the priests alone. God will
spare neither priests nor people who act so.
him that offereth--His offerings will not avail to shield him from the
penalty of his sin in repudiating his Jewish wife and taking a foreign
13. done again--"a second time": an aggravation of your offense
in that it is a relapse into the sin already checked once under Ezra
[HENDERSON]. Or, "the second time" means this:
Your first sin was your blemished offerings to the Lord: now "again" is
added your sin towards your wives [CALVIN].
covering . . . altar . . . with tears--shed by your unoffending wives,
repudiated by you that ye might take foreign wives.
CALVIN makes the
"tears" to be those of all the people on perceiving their sacrifices to
be sternly rejected by God.
14. Wherefore?--Why does God reject our offerings?
Lord . . . witness between thee and . . . wife--(so
Ge 31:49, 50).
of thy youth--The Jews still marry very young, the husband often being
but thirteen years of age, the wife younger
wife of thy covenant--not merely joined to thee by the marriage
covenant generally, but by the covenant between God and Israel, the
covenant-people, whereby a sin against a wife, a daughter of Israel, is
a sin against God [MOORE].
Marriage also is called "the covenant of God"
and to it the reference may be
15. MAURER and
HENGSTENBERG explain the verse thus: The Jews had
defended their conduct by the precedent of Abraham, who had taken Hagar
to the injury of Sarah, his lawful wife; to this Malachi says now, "No
one (ever) did so in whom there was a residue of intelligence
(discriminating between good and evil); and what did the one
(Abraham, to whom you appeal for support) do, seeking a godly seed?" His object
(namely, not to gratify passion, but to obtain the seed promised by God)
makes the case wholly inapplicable to defend your position.
FAIRBAIRN) better explains, in accordance with
"Did not He make (us Israelites) one? Yet He had the residue of the
Spirit (that is, His isolating us from other nations was not because
there was no residue of the Spirit left for the rest of the world). And
wherefore (that is, why then did He thus isolate us as) the one
(people; the Hebrew is 'the one')? In order that He might
seek a godly seed"; that is, that He might have "a seed of God," a
nation the repository of the covenant, and the stock of the Messiah,
and the witness for the one God amidst the surrounding polytheisms.
Marriage with foreign women, and repudiation of the wives wedded in the
Jewish covenant, utterly set aside this divine purpose. CALVIN thinks "the one" to refer to the conjugal one body
formed by the original pair
God might have joined many wives as one with the one husband, for He
had no lack of spiritual being to impart to others besides Eve; the
design of the restriction was to secure a pious offspring: but compare
Note, see on
One object of the marriage relation is to raise a seed for God and for
16. putting away--that is, divorce.
for one covereth violence with . . .
garment--MAURER translates, "And
(Jehovah hateth him who) covereth his garment
(that is, his wife, in
Arabic idiom; compare
'He is to thee a covering of thy eyes'; the husband was so to
the wife, and the wife to the husband; also
with injury." The Hebrew favors "garment," being accusative of
the thing covered. Compare with English Version,
"violence covereth them as a garment." Their "violence" is the putting
away of their wives; the "garment" with which they try to cover it is
the plea of Moses' permission
17. wearied . . . Lord--
This verse forms the transition to
&c. The Jewish skeptics of that day said virtually, God delighteth in
evil-doers (inferring this from the prosperity of the surrounding
heathen, while they, the Jews, were comparatively not prosperous:
forgetting that their attendance to minor and external duties did not
make up for their neglect of the weightier duties of the law; for
example, the duty they owed their wives, just previously discussed); or
(if not) Where (is the proof that He is) the God of judgment? To this
is, "The Lord whom ye seek, and whom as messenger of the covenant (that
is, divine ratifier of God's covenant with Israel) ye delight in
(thinking He will restore Israel to its proper place as first of the
nations), shall suddenly come," not as a Restorer of Israel temporally,
but as a consuming Judge against Jerusalem
(Am 5:18, 19, 20).
The "suddenly" implies the unpreparedness of the Jews, who, to the last
of the siege, were expecting a temporal deliverer, whereas a
destructive judgment was about to destroy them. So skepticism shall be
rife before Christ's second coming. He shall suddenly and unexpectedly
come then also as a consuming Judge to unbelievers
(2Pe 3:3, 4).
Then, too, they shall affect to seek His coming, while really denying
Eze 12:22, 27).