Malachi is primarily concerned about a lack of devotion and seriousness in Judah's Temple * worship and about a lack of fidelity in Judah's social relationships. The prophet * addresses these issues in a series of disputations, in which he often quotes his audience. He blames the Temple priesthood for its impure offerings ( 1.6–2.3 ) and improper teachings ( 2.4–9 ) and Judah's people for their meager contributions ( 3.6–12 ). Furthermore, he blames the people for a lack of faithfulness in family relations, in particular marriage ( 2.10–16 ), and in obligations to the poor and powerless ( 3.5 ). In his concern for social fidelity and justice, Malachi stands in the tradition of the pre-exilic prophets, such as Amos and Micah, who preached against injustice and the abuse of power. In his concern for proper worship in a sanctified temple, Malachi shares the concerns of other post-exilic prophets, such as Haggai and Zechariah. Malachi also expresses the post-exilic expectation of a great day of salvation when the righteous are restored and the wicked punished ( 4.1–3 ).
Since the book of Malachi contains no references to dates or to identifiable contemporary people or events, it is difficult to identify its precise social and historical setting. The mention of a governor ( 1.8; Hag 1.1 ) places it in the post-exilic period, together with Haggai and Zechariah which precede it, following the return to Judah of the Babylonian exiles. Because of a sense of disillusionment in Malachi's audience ( 1.2, 17 ) and a failure of leadership in the Temple and society ( 1.6–2.9 ), Malachi may have preached at a time later than Haggai and Zechariah (1–8), who initiated the reconstruction of the Temple and who had a positive view of Judah's new leadership.