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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Malachi 2



Verse 1

And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.

And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. The priests in particular are reproved, as their part was to have led the people aright, and reproved sin, whereas they encouraged and led them into sin. Ministers cannot sin or suffer alone. They drag down others with them if they fall (Moore).

Verse 2

If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.

If ye will not lay it to heart - my commands. There is no "it" in the Hebrew. The sense is to be supplied from the first clause, 'If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay to heart what ye hear'-namely, my commands.

I will even send a curse upon you - rather, as the Hebrew, 'the curse'-namely, that denounced in Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

And I will curse your blessings - I will turn the blessings you enjoy into curses (Psalms 106:15).

Yea, I have cursed them already - the Hebrew, I have cursed them severally [ 'aarowtiyhaa (Hebrew #779), in which the feminine suffix is taken distributively] - i:e., I have cursed each one of your blessings. Since the Hebrew verb is the same in tense as in the previous clause, Henderson translates, 'yea, I will curse them singly.' But the English version is consistent with the Hebrew, and is more forcible, being less of a tautology. [The w

Verse 3

Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.

Behold, I will corrupt your seed - "corrupt" [ go`eer (Hebrew #1605) 'et (Hebrew #854) hazera` (Hebrew #2233)], literally, 'rebuke,' answering to the opposite prophecy of blessing (Malachi 3:11). Instead of rebuking your seed, 'I will rebuke the devourer.' [To rebuke the seed is to forbid its growing. But Buxtorf, Drusius, and Tarnovius, remark that when gaa`ar (Hebrew #1605) has this sense (rebuke), it is construed with b

Verse 4

And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.

And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi - "ye shall know," by bitter experience of the consequences, that it was with this design I admonished you, in order "that my covenant with Levi might be" maintained - i:e., that it was for your own good (which would be ensured by your maintaining the Levitical command) I admonished you, that ye should return to your duty (Maurer). (Compare Malachi 2:5-6.) Malachi's function was that of a reformer, leading back the priests and people to the law (Malachi 4:4).

Verses 5-9

My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.

He describes the promises, and also the conditions of the covenant; Levi's observance of the conditions and the consequent reward (cf. Numbers 25:11-13, Phinehas' zeal); and, on the other hand, the violation of the conditions, and consequent punishment of the present priests.

My covenant was with him of life and peace - "life" here includes the perpetuity implied in Numbers 25:13, "He shall have ... the covenant of an everlasting priesthood." "Peace" is specified both here and there (Numbers 25:12, "Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace"). Hence, it seems that the reference here in Malachi is to that passage of Numbers.

And I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me. Maurer thus explains: the Hebrew is literally, 'My covenant was with him, life and peace (to be given him on my part), and I gave them to him: (and on his part) fear (i:e., reverence), and he did fear me,' etc. The former portion of the verse expresses the promise, and Yahweh's fulfillment of it; the latter, the condition, and Levi's steadfastness to it (Deuteronomy 33:8-9, "Of Levi he said ... They have ... kept thy covenant"). The Jewish priests self-deceivingly claimed the privileges of the covenant, while neglecting the conditions of it, as if God were bound by it to bless them, while they were free from all the obligation which it imposed to serve Him. The covenant is said to be not merely "of life and peace," but "life and peace" [ hachayiym (Hebrew #2416) w

Verse 10

Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? - why, seeing we all have one common origin, 'do we deal treacherously against one another,' especially in respect to the marriage relation (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6). "His brother" is a general expression, implying that all are "brethren" and sisters, as children of the same Father above, and thus includes the wives so injured. "We deal treacherously" by putting away our Jewish wives and taking foreign women to wife (cf. Malachi 2:14 and Malachi 2:11; Ezra 9:1-9); and so we violate "the covenant" made by Yahweh with "our fathers," by which it was ordained that we should be a people separated from the other peoples of the world (Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 20:24; Leviticus 20:26; Deuteronomy 7:3). While there is an ulterior reference to the common Fatherhood of God in relation to all mankind, the primary reference is here to His common Fatherhood in relation to all alike of the covenant-people Israel (in the more special sense as their God and Father peculiarly). To inter-marry with the pagan would defeat this purpose of Yahweh, who was the common Father of the Israelites, in a special sense in which He was not Father of the pagan. The "one Father" is Yahweh (Job 31:15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6). "Created us" implies not merely physical creation, but "created us" to be His special and chosen people. So "created" is elsewhere used (Psalms 102:18; Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 60:21; Ephesians 2:10). (Calvin.) How marked the contrast between the honour here done in the Word of God to the female sex, and the degradation to which Oriental females are generally subjected. Such a marked difference can only be accounted for by the fact that the Jews were under a direct divine guidance, such as the Gentiles did not enjoy.

Verse 11

Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.

Judah hath dealt treacherously - namely, in respect to the Jewish wives who were put away (Malachi 2:14; also Malachi 2:10; Malachi 2:15-16).

For Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved - by ill-treating the Israelites (namely, the wives), who were set apart as a people holy unto the Lord. "The holiness of the Lord" means "the holy seed" (Ezra 9:2 : cf. Jeremiah 2:3, "Israel was holiness unto the Lord"). Or, "the holiness of the Lord" means His Holy ordinance and covenant, forbidding marriages with the pagan (Deuteronomy 7:3). But "which he loved" seems rather to refer to the holy people Israel, whom God so gratuitously loved (Malachi 1:2), without merit on their part (Psalms 47:4). Therefore the former explanation is preferable.

And hath married the daughter of a strange god - (Ezra 9:1-2; Ezra 10:2 ; Nehemiah 13:23, etc.)

The daughter of a strange god - i:e., women worshipping idols: as the worshipper in Scripture is regarded in the relation of a child to a father (Jeremiah 2:27, "Saying to a stock, Thou art my father"). The Jews, as Nehemiah found on his return to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 13:6), had "married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab."

Verse 12

The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.

The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar , [ `eer (Hebrew #5782) w

Verse 13

And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.

And this have ye done again , [ sheeniyt (Hebrew #8145)] - 'a second time:' an aggravation of your offence (Nehemiah 13:23-30), in that it is a relapse into the sin already checked once under Ezra (Ezra 9:1-10). (Henderson.) Or, "again" - `a second time'-means this: your first sin was your blemished offerings to the Lord; now "again" is added your sin toward your wives (Calvin). I prefer the former view. Malachi supported Nehemiah in his second reformation of the people, after the former work of reformation had been undone during his absence at the court of Persia (Nehemiah 13:5-6).

Covering the altar of the Lord with tears - shed by your unoffending wives, repudiated by you that ye might take foreign wives. Calvin makes the tears to be those of all the people, on perceiving their sacrifices to be sternly rejected by God. I prefer the former view.

Verse 14

Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

Yet ye say, Wherefore? - why does God reject our offerings?

Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife - (so Genesis 31:49-50).

Of the youth. The Jews still marry very young, the husband often being but thirteen years of age, the wife younger (Proverbs 5:18; Isaiah 54:6).

Yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant - not merely joined to thee by the marriage-covenant generally, but by the covenant between God and Israel, the covenant-people, whereby a sin against a wife, a daughter of Israel, is a sin against God (Moore). Marriage also is called "the covenant of God" (Proverbs 2:17), and to it the reference here may be (cf. Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6; 1 Corinthians 7:10).

Verse 15

And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. Maurer and Hengstenberg explain the verse thus: The Jews had defended their conduct by the precedent of Abraham, who had taken Hagar, to the injury of Sarah, his lawful wife. To this Malachi says now, 'No one (ever) did so in whom there was a residue of intelligence (discriminating between good and evil): and what did the one (Abraham, to whom you appeal for support) do, seeking a godly seed?' His object (namely, not to gratify passion, but to obtain the seed promised by God) makes the case wholly inapplicable to defend your position. Moore (from Fairbairn) better explains, in accordance with Malachi 2:10, 'Did not He make (us, Israelites) one?' Yet He had the residue of the Spirit (i:e., His isolating us from other nations was not because there was no residue of the Spirit left for the rest of the world).

And wherefore (i:e., why then did He thus isolate us as) the one (people)? The Hebrew [ haa'echaad (Hebrew #259)] is 'THE one.' In order that He might seek "a godly seed" - i:e., that He might have 'a seed of God,' a nation the repository of the covenant, and the stock of the Messiah, and the witness for the one God amidst the surrounding polytheisms. Marriage with foreign women, and repudiation of the wives wedded in the Jewish covenant, utterly set aside this divine purpose. Calvin thinks 'the one' to refer to the conjugal one body formed by the original pair, (Gen

2.) God might have joined many wives as one with the one husband, because He had no lack of spiritual being to impart to others besides Eve; the design of the restriction was to secure a pious offspring: but cf. note, Malachi 2:10, where it is shown that the common Fatherhood of God meant in this chapter relates not so much to all mankind in general, as being made by the same God, as it does to all of Israel in particular, as the covenant-people of God (Isaiah 63:16). One object of the marriage-relation is to raise a seed for God and for eternity. This object was especially contemplated in the election of the covenant-people to carry out the design of God, by raising a godly seed in holy marriage of one Israelite man to one Israelite woman. Malachi 2:16 confirms this view, because God is there called, not the God of all men, but "the God OF ISRAEL." Moore's explanation, moreover, gives the most probable meaning to the phrase, "the residue of the Spirit." There remained with God an inexhaustible fullness of spiritual blessing for other nations; but that was to be poured on them through God's first choosing out one godly seed to be the repository of the coming blessing against the time when, in Messiah, of the seed of Israel, all nations should be blessed (Genesis 12:3).

Verse 16

For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away - i:e., divorce.

For one covereth violence with his garment. Maurer translates, 'and (Yahweh hateth him who) covereth his garment (i:e., his wife, in the Arabic idiom: cf. Genesis 20:16, "He is to thee a covering of thy eyes;" the husband was so to the wife, and the wife to the husband; Ruth 3:9; Ezekiel 16:8) with injury.' In the English version, their "violence" is the putting away of their wives: the "garment" with which they try to cover it is the plea of Moses' permission (Deuteronomy 24:1; cf. Matthew 19:6-9), which, on the Saviour's authority, declares that Moses suffered this putting away of their wives only because of the hardness of their hearts; but from the beginning it was not so. It was a penal permission, injurious to those whose carnality required it; not a gracious blessing, designed for the spiritually-minded, who would act on the higher law originally established in Paradise. Their plea of self-excuse, "Wherein have we wearied Him?" (Malachi 2:17), is an illustration of the garment or cloak with which they covered their sin (Isaiah 30:1; Proverbs 28:13). But instead of succeeding in covering their violence, their "violence shall cover them as a garment," utterly overwhelming them (Psalms 73:6). I prefer the view of Ludovicus de Dieu. The Hebrew [ kicaah (Hebrew #3680) chaamaac (Hebrew #2555) `al (Hebrew #5920) l

Verse 17

Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

Ye have wearied the Lord with your words - (Isaiah 43:24).

Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Everyone that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? This verse forms the transition to Malachi 3:1, "The Lord shall suddenly come," etc. The Jewish sceptics of that day said virtually God delighteth in evil doers (inferring this from the prosperity of the surrounding pagan, while they, the Jews, were comparatively not prosperous: forgetting that their attendance to minor and external duties did not make up for their neglect of the weightier duties of the law-e.g., the duty they owed their wives, just before handled); or (if not), Where (is the proof that He is) the God of judgment? To this the reply (Malachi 3:1) is, "The Lord whom ye seek," and whom, as "messenger of the covenant (i:e., divine ratifier of God's covenant with Israel), ye delight in (thinking He will restore Israel to its proper place as first of the nations), shall suddenly come," not as a Restorer of Israel temporally, but as a consuming Judge against Jerusalem. You, who "desire the day of the Lord," shall find it a very different one in its relation to you from, what you expect it. It shall not bring you the "delight" that you expect, but "woe" and "darkness" (Amos 5:18-20). The "suddenly" implies the unpreparedness of the Jews, who, to the last of the siege, were expecting a temporal deliverer, whereas a destructive judgment was about to destroy them. So scepticism shall be rife before Christ's second coming. He shall suddenly and unexpectedly come then also as a consuming Judge to unbelievers (2 Peter 3:3-4). Then, too, they shall affect to seek His coming, while really doubting, sneering at the prophecies about it, and virtually denying it (Isaiah 5:19; Jeremiah 17:15; Ezekiel 12:22; Ezekiel 12:27).


(1) If ministers do "not lay it to heart," as the chief aim of the ministry, "to give glory unto the name of the Lord" (Malachi 2:2), they convert each one of their very "blessings" into a curse, and entail ruin on their flocks, and a double retribution of woe to themselves.

(2) They who have had no shame in sinning shall be loaded with shame and suffering. Their past gains shall prove the source of their bitterest pains; and, though once they were among the honourable of the earth, they shall be swept away as the "dung" of the earth (Malachi 2:3).

(3) Those who will not be taught by the gracious Word of God, too late, "shall know," by bitter experience, that God's past warnings were designed to bring them happiness, and to save them from misery (Malachi 2:4).

(4) The covenant made with Christians, who are spiritually "priests unto God" (Revelation 1:6), is essentially the same as that which God established with Levi. It is a covenant of grace whereby God freely gives, in Christ, "life and peace," (Malachi 2:5). On the other hand, God requires on man's part reverent "fear," faith, and obedience. Levi accepted and regarded the covenant, and so experienced the faithfulness of God to His gracious promises (Malachi 2:5). So shall we also know by blessed experience the grace and love of God, if only "the law of truth" be in our mouth, as it was in the mouth of Levi (Malachi 2:6). Though it cannot be said of the children of God, They have no sin, it will be said of them at the last judgment, "In their mouth was found no guile" (Revelation 14:5). God Himself shall testify of the believer, as He did of Levi and of Enoch, "He walked with me in peace and equity."

(5) Those ministers alone are likely to "turn many away from iniquity" who are themselves walking in peace with (5) Those ministers alone are likely to "turn many away from iniquity" who are themselves walking in peace with God through Christ, and in equity and uprightness before God. A consistent and sincere walk powerfully seconds the minister's exhortations to his people.

(6) The office of a minister is the highest of all earthly functions; for he is designed to be the setter forth of the perfect "law" of God to his fellow-men, so that his flock should look to him for spiritual pasture, and reverence his office as being no less than that of "the messenger of the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 2:7).

(7) But just in proportion as his office is the noblest on earth, is the guilt aggravated of those who are a disgrace to it, by "departing out of the way," instead of "departing from all iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19). An ordinary Christian's inconsistences may prove a stumblingblock to one or two, a minister's corruptions of the covenant "cause many to stumble." Therefore the unfaithful minister's punishment shall be proportionally heavy. As unfaithful ministers have dishonoured God, so God will dishonour them "before all" (Malachi 2:9). As the have "accepted the persons" of men, with unjust partiality, so God will reject their persons in His all-just judgment.

(8) The common Fatherhood of God in relation to all the members of His visible Church, not only by the right of creation, but also and especially by the right of redemption, is the strongest tie to unite us in the discharge of our mutual obligations to one another (Malachi 2:10). To "deal treacherously against our brethren" is therefore to deal treacherously against our common God and Father (Malachi 2:10). They who violate the marriage-covenant, by separating from, or by acting unfaithfully to, their one lawful wife, "profane the holiness of God," and transgress against the common Church of God, which He so gratuitously hath "loved" (Malachi 2:11). Shame and a curse shall be on him that "taketh the members of Christ, and maketh them the members of an harlot," becoming "joined" as "one body" (1 Corinthians 7:16) to "the daughter" of fornication. "The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this" (Malachi 2:12). No offerings or religious services will save either minister or people who sin thus presumptuously, from the awful penalty. The tears of those who are wronged plead with God that He should "not accept with good will the offering" of the wrong doers (Malachi 2:13). The cries of the oppressed are louder in the ears of God than the prayers of the oppressors.

(9) God is a witness to every marriage, and will avenge every violation of that covenant upon the transgressors (Malachi 2:14).

(10) The design of the marriage-law of one man's union with one woman is that God might thereby have a "godly seed" (Malachi 2:15) to serve Him. Where the marriage-relation is made light of (as, alas! is the tendency, not only of individuals privately, but of the legislature in their public capacity), the design of God is proportionally set aside, to the great injury of the Church, and of the nation, and of society, and to the dishonour of God.

(11) It is vain to try to "cover" from God's cognizance of "violence" and wrong: He will tear off the "garment" of dissimulation. Therefore, let all "take heed to their spirit," for all sin begins there. If we would retain the good Spirit of God, who dwells in His elect people, we must take heed diligently to shun all "filthiness of the flesh and spirit" (2 Corinthians 7:1).

(12) Men "weary the Lord" when they justify themselves in sin (Malachi 2:17). Such self-justifiers are often those who arraign the justice of God. Instead of discerning their chastisements to be the just and merciful consequences of their sins, from which God would have them to flee in time, they assert that their own trials, and the prosperity of many around them, whom they consider worse than themselves, are proofs that God is indifferent to, or even delights in, evil doers. It is to he the characteristic especially of the last days, that men shall say, "Where is the God of judgment?" (Malachi 2:17.) May we be found loyal to our King in His visible absence, that so we may be owned as His when He shall come in personal and manifested glory as the Almighty Judge!


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Malachi 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

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