The Book of Malachi

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The Book of Malachi

  • Author: Malachi
  • Place Written: Jerusalem
  • When Written: c. 440 B.C.E.


A pronouncement: The word of Jehovah to Israel through Malachi.[1]

Jehovah’s Love for Israel

“I have loved you,” says Jehovah. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?”[2] declares Jehovah. “Yet I have loved Jacob; but Esau I have hated. I have made his mountains a desolation, and gave his inheritance to the jackals of the wilderness.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” Jehovah of armies[3] says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and men will be called a territory of wickedness and ‘the people with whom Jehovah is angry forever.’” Your own eyes will see it, and you will say, “May Jehovah be magnified beyond the border of Israel!”

Priests Presenting Inferior Sacrifices

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says Jehovah of armies[4] to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ You are presenting defiled bread[5] upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled you?’ In that you say, ‘The table of Jehovah is to be despised.’ When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says Jehovah of armies. “And now entreat the favor of God, that he may show us favor. With such offerings from your own hand, will he receive any of you with favor?” says Jehovah of armies. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says Jehovah of armies, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place, incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says Jehovah of armies. 12 “But you are profaning it[6] by saying, ‘The table of Jehovah[7] is polluted, and its fruit, its food, is to be despised.’ 13 You also say, ‘Look, how tiresome!’ and you sniff scornfully at it,” says Jehovah of armies. “And you bring stolen, lame, and sick animals.[8] Yes, you bring such things as a gift! Should I accept it from your hand?” says Jehovah. 14 “Cursed is the cunning one who has a male in his flock, but he makes a vow and sacrifices a blemished one to Jehovah. For I am a great King,” says Jehovah of armies, “and my name will be feared among the nations.”


Priests’ Failure to Instruct the People, Rebuked by Jehovah

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says Jehovah of armies, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them because you do not lay it to heart. Look, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you will be taken away with it. Then you will know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi[9] may stand, says Jehovah of armies. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear,[10] and he feared me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from error.[11] For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies. But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says Jehovah of armies. “So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping my ways but are showing partiality in the instruction.

People Guilty of Unjust Divorcing

10 “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why then do we deal treacherously[12] each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and a detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of Jehovah, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.[13] 12 Jehovah will cut off from the tents of Jacob any man who does this, one who is awake and one who answers, though he presents a gift offering to Jehovah of armies.”

13 This is another thing you do: you are covering Jehovah’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning, because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 And you say, “For what reason?” Because Jehovah has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 But there was one who did not do it, who has a remnant of the spirit. And what was that one seeking? The seed[14] of God. So guard yourselves as to your spirit, and do not deal treacherously with the wife of your youth. 16 For I hate[15] divorce,”[16] says Jehovah the God of Israel, “and the one who covers his garment with violence,” says Jehovah of armies. “And guard yourselves as to your spirit, and you must not deal treacherously.

The Messenger of Jehovah

17 You have wearied Jehovah with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of Jehovah, and he delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”


The True Lord Comes to Cleanse His Temple

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare a way before me.[17] And suddenly the true Lord, whom you are seeking, will come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant will come, in whom you take delight. Look, he will certainly come,” says Jehovah of armies. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like the fire of a refiner and like the soap of laundrymen.[18] He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver,[19] and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will present offerings in righteousness to Jehovah. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Jehovah as in the days of old and as in former years.

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers,[20] against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the foreigner,[21] and do not fear me, says Jehovah of armies.

Encouragement to Return to Jehovah

“For I, Jehovah, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says Jehovah of armies. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will a human dare to rob God? Yet you are robbing me! And you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In the tenth parts[22] and the offerings You are cursed with a curse,[23] for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring all the tenth parts[24] into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says Jehovah of armies,[25] if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is nothing lacking. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field will not fail to bear, says Jehovah of armies. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says Jehovah of armies.

The Righteous and the Wicked

13 “Your words have been strong[26] against me, says Jehovah. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before Jehovah of armies? 15 So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up, but they also test God and they escape.’”

The Book of Remembrance

16 Then those who feared Jehovah spoke to one another, and Jehovah gave attention and heard, and a book of remembrance[27] was written before him for those who fear Jehovah and for those thinking on[28] his name. 17 “And they will be mine,” says Jehovah of armies, “on the day when I prepare a treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you will distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.


The Coming of Elijah before Jehovah’s Day

4 [29]“For look, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant and every doer of wickedness will be chaff. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze,” says Jehovah of armies, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings;[30] you shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act,” says Jehovah of armies.[31]

Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and judgment decisions which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.[32]

“Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of Jehovah comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to the sons, and the hearts of the sons to their fathers; so that I will not come and strike the land, devoting it to destruction.”

[1] MT AT SYR VG “Malachi” LXX “his messenger (angel)”

[2] Twin brothers born to Isaac and Rebekah

[3] Jehovah of armies: (Heb. jhvh tsaba) literally means an army of soldiers, or military forces (Gen. 21:22; Deut. 20:9). It can also be used figuratively, “the sun and the moon and the stars, all the armies of heaven.” (Deut. 4:19) In the plural form, it is also used of the Israelites forces as well. (Ex. 6:26; 7:4; Num. 33:1; Psa. 44:9) However, the “armies” in the expression “Jehovah of armies” is a reference to the angelic forces primarily, if not exclusively. This expression “Jehovah of armies” is used 24 times in the mere 4 chapters of Malachi.

[4] See 1:4 fn.

[5] Or food

[6]  AT LXX SYR VG “it” The Sopherim changed the text altering the original reading “me” to read “him,” or, “it.”

[7] This is one of the 134 scribal changes from יהוה [JHVH] to אדני [Adonai]. The earliest MSS have the Tetragrammaton.

[8] Defective animals were brought to the altar by the priests who had no regard for their sacrificial duties.

[9] MT AT SYR VG “Levi” LXX “the Levites”

[10] That is, respect, reverence

[11] Error: (עָווֹן avon) The Hebrew word avon essentially relates to erring, acting illegally or wrongly. This aspect of sin refers to committing a perverseness, wrongness, lawlessness, law breaking, which can also include the rejection of the sovereignty of God. It also focuses on the liability or guilt of one’s wicked, wrongful act. This error may be deliberate or accidental; either willful deviation of what is right or unknowingly making a mistake. (Lev. 4:13-35; 5:1-6, 14-19; Num. 15:22-29; Ps 19:12-13) Of course, if it is intentional; then, the consequence is far more serious. (Num. 15:30-31) Error is in opposition to the truth, and those willfully sinning corrupt the truth, a course that only brings forth flagrant sin. (Isa 5:18-23) We can be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Ex 9:27, 34-35; Heb. 3:13-15.

[12] That is, Why then are we unfaithful

[13] The men of Judah (divorcing the wives of their youth) have taken foreign wives, who remained devoted to their idols, bringing the Jews into the families of foreign gods, leading to idolatry, which was condemned by both Ezra and Nehemiah.

[14] That is, offspring

[15] Lit he hates

[16] Lit sending away

[17] John the Baptizer was the ‘messenger who cleared up or prepared the way.’ (Matt. 11:10-11)

[18] One who in Bible times washed used clothing, removing impurities and unclean elements.

[19] Jehovah’s fiery examination of “the sons of Levi” by the messenger of the covenant produces their cleansing.

[20] These ones were specialists in spells and incantations.

[21] Or aliens, strangers, sojourners

[22] That is, tithes

[23] The Sopherim changed the text, altering the original reading “you are cursing [me]” to read “you are cursed,” trying to show respect for God.

[24] That is, the full tithe. The Mosaic Law was eliminated by Jesus’ death, so monetary tithing is no longer a requirement. However, tithing has a figurative meaning. (Eph. 2:15) It does not symbolize the giving of our all. While the tenth part was brought every year, Christians now bring their all to the Father only once, when they dedicate themselves to him and symbolize their dedication by being water in water. It is whatever our situations allow, and our heart motivates us to use. The offerings we bring to the Father can be time, energy, and resources used in our carrying out the will of the Father, which would include attending Christian meetings, visiting sick ones and the elderly believers, and offering whatever financial support our heart moves us to give to God.

[25] Jehovah of armies: (Heb. jhvh tsaba) literally means an army of soldiers, or military forces (Gen. 21:22; Deut. 20:9). It can also be used figuratively, “the sun and the moon and the stars, all the armies of heaven.” (Deut. 4:19) In the plural form, it is also used of the Israelites forces as well. (Ex. 6:26; 7:4; Num. 33:1; Psa. 44:9) However, the “armies” in the expression “Jehovah of armies” is a reference to the angelic forces primarily, if not exclusively.

[26] That is, hard or harsh

[27] That book of remembrance is a record of all those who have served the Father in integrity. The Hebrew word for “remembrance” (zik·kā·rôn) involves more than just the action of calling something to mind. It can also indicate doing something about what is remembered. The Father will never forget his faithful servants.

[28] That is, meditating on

[29] AT SYR VG begin chap. 4 here; MT LXX this is 3:19, and chapter 3 continues to the end of the book.

[30] “The sun of righteousness” is Jesus Christ, who shines out upon those who reverentially fear the Father’s name, and they enjoy the Father’s approval. (John 8:12) For them, there is also a “healing in its wings,” which refers to spiritual healing now and complete physical, mental, and emotional healing upon their resurrection at Jesus’ second coming.

[31] Jehovah of armies: (Heb. jhvh tsaba) literally means an army of soldiers, or military forces (Gen. 21:22; Deut. 20:9). It can also be used figuratively, “the sun and the moon and the stars, all the armies of heaven.” (Deut. 4:19) In the plural form, it is also used of the Israelites forces as well. (Ex. 6:26; 7:4; Num. 33:1; Psa. 44:9) However, the “armies” in the expression “Jehovah of armies” is a reference to the angelic forces primarily, if not exclusively.

[32] LXX moves vs 4 after vs 6, in an effort to make the prophecy end with hope.

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