Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. burden--heavy sentence.
to Israel--represented now by the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin,
with individuals of the ten tribes who had returned with the Jews from
Babylon. So "Israel" is used,
"Jehoshaphat king of Israel," where Judah, rather than the ten
tribes, is regarded as the truest representative of Israel (compare
2Ch 12:6; 28:19).
God sent no prophet after him till John the Baptist, the forerunner of
Christ, in order to enflame His people with the more ardent desire for
Him, the great antitype and fulfiller of prophecy.
2. I have loved you--above other men; nay, even above the other
descendants of Abraham and Isaac. Such gratuitous love on My part
called for love on yours. But the return ye make is sin and dishonor to
Me. This which is to be supplied is left unexpressed, sorrow as it were
breaking off the sentence
Wherein hast thou loved us?--In painful contrast to the tearful
tenderness of God's love stands their insolent challenge. The root of
their sin was insensibility to God's love, and to their own
wickedness. Having had prosperity taken from them, they imply they have
no tokens of God's love; they look at what God had taken, not at what
God had left. God's love is often least acknowledged where it is most
manifested. We must not infer God does not love us because He afflicts
us. Men, instead of referring their sufferings to their proper cause,
their own sin, impiously accuse God of indifference to their welfare
form a fit introduction to the whole prophecy.
Was not Esau Jacob's brother?--and so, as far as dignity went, as much
entitled to God's favor as Jacob. My adoption of Jacob, therefore, was
altogether by gratuitous favor
So God has passed by our
elder brethren, the angels who kept not their first estate, and yet He
has provided salvation for man. The perpetual rejection of the fallen
angels, like the perpetual desolations of Edom, attests God's severity
to the lost, and goodness to those gratuitously saved. The sovereign
eternal purpose of God is the only ground on which He bestows on one
favors withheld from another. There are difficulties in referring
salvation to the election of God, there are greater in referring it to
the election of man [MOORE].
Jehovah illustrates His condescension and
patience in arguing the case with them.
3. hated--not positively, but relatively; that is, did not choose
him out to be the object of gratuitous favor, as I did Jacob (compare
with Mt 10:37;
Ge 29:30, 31;
De 21:15, 16).
laid his mountains . . . waste--that is, his territory which was
generally mountainous. Israel was, it is true, punished by the
Chaldeans, but Edom has been utterly destroyed; namely, either by
Nebuchadnezzar [ROSENMULLER], or by the neighboring peoples, Egypt,
Ammon, and Moab [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 10.9,7;
dragons--jackals [MOORE] (compare
MAURER translates, "Abodes of the
wilderness," from an Arabic root "to stop," or "to
abide." English Version is better.
4. Whereas--"But if" Edom say
[MAURER]. Edom may strive as she
may to recover herself, but it shall be in vain, for I doom her to
perpetual desolation, whereas I restore Israel. This Jehovah states, to
illustrate His gratuitous love to Israel, rather than to Edom.
border of wickedness--a region given over to the curse of reprobation
[CALVIN]. For a time Judea seemed as desolate as Idumea; but though the
latter was once the highway of Eastern commerce, now the lonely
rock-houses of Petra attest the fulfilment of the prophecy. It is still
"the border of wickedness," being the resort of the marauding tribes of
the desert. Judea's restoration, though delayed, is yet certain.
the Lord hath indignation--"the people of My curse"
5. from the border of Israel--Ye, restored to your own "borders" in
Israel, "from" them shall raise your voices to "magnify the Lord,"
acknowledging that Jehovah has shown to you a gratuitous favor not shown
to Edom, and so ought to be especially "magnified from the borders of
6. Turning from the people to the priests, Jehovah asks, whereas His
love to the people was so great, where was their love towards Him? If
the priests, as they profess, regard Him as their Father
and Master, let them show the reality of their profession by love
and reverential fear
He addresses the priests because they ought to be leaders in piety to
the rest of the people, whereas they are foremost in "despising His
Wherein have we despised, &c.--The same captious spirit of
self-satisfied insensibility as prompted their question
"Wherein hast Thou loved us?" They are blind alike to God's love and
their own guilt.
7. ye offer, &c.--God's answer to their challenge
"Wherein have we despised?"
polluted bread--namely, blemished sacrifices
(Mal 1:8, 13, 14;
So "the bread of thy God" is used for "sacrifices to God"
polluted thee--that is, offered to thee "polluted bread."
table of the Lord--that is, the altar
(not the table of showbread). Just as the sacrificial flesh is
(Mal 1:12, 13).
Ye sanction the niggardly and blemished offerings of the people on the
altar, to gain favor with them. Darius, and probably his successors,
had liberally supplied them with victims for sacrifice, yet they
presented none but the worst. A cheap religion, costing little, is
rejected by God, and so is worth nothing. It costs more than it is
worth, for it is worth nothing, and so proves really dear. God despises
not the widow's mite, but he does despise the miser's mite [MOORE].
8. Your earthly ruler would feel insulted, if offered by you the
offering with which ye put off God (see
Le 22:22, 24).
is it not evil?--MAURER
translates, "There is no evil," in your
opinion, in such an offering; it is quite good enough for such a
9. now . . . beseech God that he will be gracious--Ironical. Think
you that God will be persuaded by such polluted gifts to be gracious to
you? Far from it.
this hath been by your means--literally, "hand." These contemptible
offerings are your doing, as being the priests mediating between God and
the people; and think you, will God pay any regard to you
Mal 1:8, 10)?
"Accept thy person" ("face"),
answers to "regard your persons," in this verse.
10. Who . . . for naught--Not one even of the least
priestly functions (as shutting the doors, or kindling a fire on the
altar) would ye exercise without pay, therefore ye ought to fulfil them
DRUSIUS and MAURER translate,
"Would that there were absolutely some one of you who would shut the
doors of the temple (that is, of the inner court, in which was the
altar of burnt offerings), and that ye would not kindle fire on My
altar in vain!" Better no sacrifices than vain ones
It was the duty of some of the priests to stand at the doors of the
court of the altar of burnt offerings, and to have excluded blemished
11. For--Since ye Jewish priests and people "despise My name"
I shall find others who will magnify it
Do not think I shall have no worshippers because I have not you; for
from the east to the west My name shall be great among the Gentiles
(Isa 66:19, 20),
those very peoples whom ye look down upon as abominable.
pure offering--not "the blind, the lame, and the sick," such as ye
"In every place," implies the catholicity of the Christian Church
(Joh 4:21, 23;
The "incense" is figurative of prayers
"Sacrifice" is used metaphorically
Heb 13:10, 15, 16;
1Pe 2:5, 12).
In this sense the reference to the Lord's Supper, maintained by many of
the fathers, may be admitted; it, like prayer, is a spiritual offering,
accepted through the literal offering of the "Lamb without blemish,"
once for all slain.
12. Renewal of the charge in
fruit . . . meat--the offerings of the people. The "fruit" is the
produce of the altar, on which the priests subsisted. They did not
literally say, The Lord's table is contemptible; but their acts virtually said so. They did not act so as to lead the people to
reverence, and to offer their best to the Lord on it. The people were
poor, and put off God with the worst offerings. The priests let them do
so, for fear of offending the people, and so losing all gains from them.
13. what a weariness is it!--Ye regard God's service as irksome, and
therefore try to get it over by presenting the most worthless offerings.
where God challenges His people to show wherein is the "weariness" or
hardship of His service. Also
wherein He shows that it is they who have "wearied" Him, not He who has
it--the table of the Lord, and the meat on it
torn--namely, by beasts, which it was not lawful to eat, much less
thus . . . offering--Hebrew, mincha; the unbloody offering of
flour, &c. Though this may have been of ordinary ingredients, yet the
sacrifices of blemished animals accompanying it rendered it
14. deceiver--hypocrite. Not poverty,
but avarice was the cause of their mean offerings.
male--required by law
(Le 1:3, 10).
my name . . . dreadful among . . . heathen--Even the heathen dread Me
because of My judgments; what a reproach this is
to you, My people, who fear Me not
Also it may be translated, "shall be feared among," &c.
agreeing with the prophecy of the call of the Gentiles