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Malachi: Chapter 2

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1And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse on you and I will curse your blessings; indeed I have already cursed them, a Cn: Heb for humankind has caused me to possess because you do not lay it to heart. 3I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and I will put you out of my presence. b Heb wounds between your hands

4Know, then, that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may hold, says the LORD of hosts. 5My covenant with him was a covenant of life and well‐being, which I gave him; this called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in integrity and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, 9and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction.

10Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors? 11Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob anyone who does this— any to witness c Heb my mountains or answer, or to bring an offering to the LORD of hosts.

13And this you do as well: You cover the LORD's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor at your hand. 14You ask, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was a witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15Did not one God make her? d Meaning of Heb uncertain Both flesh and spirit are his. e Cn: Heb there shall not be light And what does the one God f Compare Gk Syr Vg Tg: Meaning of Heb uncertain desire? Godly offspring. So look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. 16For I hate g Or tabernacles; Heb succoth divorce, says the LORD, the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.

17You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “All who do evil are good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Notes:

b Cn: Heb for humankind has caused me to possess

a Heb wounds between your hands

b Heb my mountains

c Meaning of Heb uncertain

d Cn: Heb there shall not be light

e Compare Gk Syr Vg Tg: Meaning of Heb uncertain

a Or tabernacles; Heb succoth

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

1.6–2.9 : The priests have been unfaithful to their covenant.

1.6 :

Ex 20.12 .

8 :

Blind or lame animals were unacceptable for sacrifice (Lev 1.3; 22.17–25; Deut 15.21 ).

9 :

The favor (lit. “face”) of God, that he may be gracious, there are echoes here of the classic priestly blessing of Num 6.24–26 .

10 :

Shut the temple doors to halt unacceptable worship; cf. Isa. 1.13; Am 5.21–24 .

11 :

Among the nations, this may refer to Jewish worship in the Diaspora or to worship by Gentiles (cf. Ps 102.15 ).

2.3 :

Ex 29.14; Nah 3.6 .

4 :

Levi was the priestly tribe (Num 3.45; 18.21–24; Deut 33.8–11 ). Covenant with Levi, Jer 33.21; Neh 13.29 .

5 :

Covenant of life and well‐being, Num 25.10–13 , where Heb “shalom” (here well‐being) is translated “peace.”

6–8 :

Instruction, Heb “torah.”

7 :

Lev 10.11; Deut 21.5 .

2.10–16 : The people have been unfaithful to each other.

On a literal level, this section concerns exogamous marriage (i.e., with outsiders) and divorce. It has also been read figuratively, that Judah has been faithless in its covenant with the LORD.

10 :

One father probably refers to the LORD (Deut 32.6 ), though Abraham (Isa 51.2 ) and Jacob ( 3.6 ) were also father figures (ancestors, lit. “fathers”). Covenant may refer to Sinai (Ex 19.5; Deut 4.13 ) or to Ezra 10.3 .

11 :

Abomination usually refers to idolatry (e.g., Isa 44.19 ). Daughter of a foreign god, a foreign woman. There are several biblical prohibitions of exogamous marriage (e.g., Gen 24.3–4; Deut 7.3–4 ), a special concern of the postexilic period (Ezra 9–10; Neh 13.23–29 ; contrast with the story of Ruth, a Moabite).

13–14 :

Since the LORD serves as a witness to human covenants including marriage (see Gen 31.50; Prov 2.17 ), divine sanctions were the consequences of faithless actions.

15 :

The text is difficult and the translation uncertain (see the translators' notes).

2.16 :

Though Mosaic law contains provision for divorce (Deut 24.1–4 ), the Bible generally considers marriage a sacred covenant (Gen 2.24; 31.50; Prov 2.17; Ezek 16.8; Hos 2.19; Mk 10.2–9; Eph 5.21–33 ).

2.17–3.5 : Judgment is coming.

The prophet addresses doubts about divine justice ( 2.17 ) by announcing that God's approach is imminent ( 3.1 ) and, perhaps, more than they have bargained for ( 3.5 ).

2.17 :

All who do evil, apparently, are reckoned as good, the people deduce, since these evildoers prosper (cf. Hab 1.13 ). God of justice, Gen 18.25; Isa 30.18 .

3.1 :

The identity of the messenger, one who announces the divine procession (Isa 40.3 ), is vague. Later in Malachi, the messenger is Elijah ( 4.5 ); in the New Testament, the messenger is identified as John the Baptist (Mt 11.10; Mk 1.2; Lk 1.17,76; 7.27 ). See 4.5n.

5 :

Contrast with Isa 40.1–3 , where the messenger announced news of comfort. The list of offenses is a common prophetic theme; see Isa 1.23; Jer 7.5–10; Ezek 22.7–13; Zech 7.9–10 .

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