In Hebrew, ‘my messenger’; the title given to the last book of the OT, taken from the words in 3: 1. The book itself is anonymous. Its date of composition is estimated at about 450 BCE, after the restoration of the Temple (515 BCE) but before the reforms of Nehemiah (445 BCE) and Ezra. Did not God love his own people (1: 2)? Why, he had permitted suffering to be inflicted on Edom, the descendants of that brother of Jacob (ancestor of the Israelites) whom he hated. Not that Judah will escape a just punishment for evil deeds (3: 5), for the author was closely connected with the Temple and its rituals, and he deplores a lack of reverence (1: 14) in the performance of sacrifices (1: 8) and payment of tithes (3: 8). The priests have so signally failed that God has withdrawn his favour from the people of the covenant (2: 2). The people have been equally faithless and given to offering in sacrifice animals that were feeble or defective (1: 13), and those who succeeded in riding out the economic depression were oppressing the helpless (3: 5). There was a remedy: return to the Lord (3: 7). Then there will be abundant blessings (3: 10) for God-fearers, but evildoers will be destroyed (3: 13–4: 3). The day of judgement will be preceded by the advent of the prophet Elijah (4: 5), so that the last three verses of the OT are taken up in the NT by the accounts of John the Baptist (Mark 1: 2 and Matt. 17: 12).