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Introduction and God’s Election of Israel

This is an oracle,[a] the Lord’s message to Israel through Malachi:[b]

“I have shown love to you,” says the Lord, but you say, “How have you shown love to us?”

“Esau was Jacob’s brother,” the Lord explains, “yet I chose Jacob and rejected Esau.[c] I turned Esau’s[d] mountains into a deserted wasteland[e] and gave his territory[f] to the wild jackals.”[g]

Edom[h] says, “Though we are devastated, we will once again build the ruined places.” So the Lord of Heaven’s Armies[i] responds, “They indeed may build, but I will overthrow. They will be known as[j] the land of evil, the people with whom the Lord is permanently displeased. Your eyes will see it, and then you will say, ‘May the Lord be magnified[k] even beyond the border of Israel!’”

The Sacrilege of Priestly Service

“A son naturally honors his father and a slave respects[l] his master. If I am your[m] father, where is my honor? If I am your master, where is my respect? The Lord of Heaven’s Armies asks you this, you priests who make light of my name! But you reply, ‘How have we made light of your name?’ You are offering improper sacrifices on my altar, yet you ask, ‘How have we offended you?’ By treating the table[n] of the Lord as if it is of no importance. For when you offer blind animals as a sacrifice, is that not wrong? And when you offer the lame and sick,[o] is that not wrong as well? Indeed, try offering them[p] to your governor! Will he be pleased with you[q] or show you favor?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But now plead for God’s favor[r] that he might be gracious to us.”[s] “With this kind of offering in your hands, how can he be pleased with you?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

10 “I wish that one of you would close the temple doors,[t] so that you no longer would light useless fires on my altar. I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will no longer accept an offering from you. 11 For from the east to the west my name will be great among the nations. Incense and pure offerings will be offered in my name everywhere, for my name will be great among the nations,”[u] says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “But you are profaning it by saying that the table of the Lord is common and its offerings[v] despicable. 13 You also say, ‘How tiresome it is.’ You turn up your nose at it,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and instead bring what is stolen, lame, or sick. You bring these things for an offering! Should I accept this from you?”[w] asks the Lord. 14 “There will be harsh condemnation for the hypocrite who has a valuable male animal in his flock but vows and sacrifices something inferior to the Lord. For I am a great king,”[x] says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is awesome among the nations.”

Footnotes

  1. Malachi 1:1 tn The Hebrew term מַשָּׂא (massaʾ, “pronouncement”) is derived from the root נָשָׂא (nasaʾ, “to lift”) and probably connected to the phrase “to raise one’s voice” (HALOT 639 s.v. II מַשָּׂא), that is, the message that was raised or called out. See the note at Isa 13:1. The form may be absolute or construct. If absolute, the term stands alone (so NAB, NRSV), if construct it would be joined with what follows, “the burden [or “revelation”] of” (so KJV, NASB, ESV). Since the following phrase is a synonym, it is likely absolute, in apposition to “the Lord’s message.”
  2. Malachi 1:1 tn There is some question as to whether מַלְאָכִי (malʾakhi) should be understood as a personal name (so almost all English versions) or as simply “my messenger” (the literal meaning of the Hebrew). Despite the fact that the word should be understood in the latter sense in 3:1 (where, however, it refers to a different person), to understand it that way here would result in the book being of anonymous authorship, a situation anomalous among all the prophetic literature of the OT.
  3. Malachi 1:3 tn Heb “and I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated.” The context indicates this is technical covenant vocabulary in which “love” and “hate” are synonymous with “choose” and “reject” respectively (see Deut 7:8; Jer 31:3; Hos 3:1; 9:15; 11:1).
  4. Malachi 1:3 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  5. Malachi 1:3 tn Heb “I set his mountains as a desolation.”
  6. Malachi 1:3 tn Or “inheritance” (so NIV, NLT).
  7. Malachi 1:3 tn Heb “jackals of the wilderness.”
  8. Malachi 1:4 sn Edom, a “brother” nation to Israel, became almost paradigmatic of hostility toward Israel and God (see Num 20:14-21; Deut 2:8; Jer 49:7-22; Ezek 25:12-14; Amos 1:11-12; Obad 10-12).
  9. Malachi 1:4 sn The epithet Lord of Heaven’s Armies occurs frequently as a divine title throughout Malachi (24 times total). This name (יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, yehvah tsevaʾot), traditionally translated “Lord of hosts” (so KJV, NAB, NASB; cf. NIV NLT “Lord Almighty”; NCV, CEV “Lord All-Powerful”), emphasizes the majestic sovereignty of the Lord, an especially important concept in the postexilic world of great human empires and rulers. For a thorough study of the divine title, see T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 123-57.
  10. Malachi 1:4 tn Heb “and they will call them.” The third person plural subject is indefinite; one could translate, “and people will call them.”
  11. Malachi 1:5 tn Or “Great is the Lord” (so NAB; similar NIV, NRSV).
  12. Malachi 1:6 tn The verb “respects” is not in the Hebrew text but is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. It is understood by ellipsis (see “honors” in the preceding line).
  13. Malachi 1:6 tn The pronoun “your” is supplied in the translation for clarification (also a second time before “master” later in this verse).
  14. Malachi 1:7 sn The word table, here a synonym for “altar,” has overtones of covenant imagery in which a feast shared by the covenant partners was an important element (see Exod 24:11). It also draws attention to the analogy of sitting down at a common meal with the governor (v. 8).
  15. Malachi 1:8 sn Offerings of animals that were lame or sick were strictly forbidden by the Mosaic law (see Deut 15:21).
  16. Malachi 1:8 tn Heb “it” (so NAB, NASB). Contemporary English more naturally uses a plural pronoun to agree with “the lame and sick” in the previous question (cf. NIV, NCV).
  17. Malachi 1:8 tc The LXX and Vulgate read “with it” (which in Hebrew would be הֲיִרְצֵהוּ, hayirtsehu, a reading followed by NAB) rather than “with you” of the MT (הֲיִרְצְךָ, hayirtsekha). The MT (followed here by most English versions) is to be preferred because of the parallel with the following phrase פָנֶיךָ (fanekha, “receive you,” which the present translation renders as “show you favor”).
  18. Malachi 1:9 tn Heb “seek the face of God.”
  19. Malachi 1:9 tn After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav conjunction indicates purpose (cf. NASB, NRSV).
  20. Malachi 1:10 sn The rhetorical language suggests that as long as the priesthood and people remain disobedient, the temple doors may as well be closed because God is not “at home” to receive them or their worship there.
  21. Malachi 1:11 sn My name will be great among the nations. In what is clearly a strongly ironic shift of thought, the Lord contrasts the unbelief and virtual paganism of the postexilic community with the conversion and obedience of the nations that will one day worship the God of Israel.
  22. Malachi 1:12 tn Heb “fruit.” The following word “food” in the Hebrew text (אָכְלוֹ, ʾokhlo) appears to be an explanatory gloss to clarify the meaning of the rare word נִיב (niv, “fruit”; see Isa 57:19 Qere; נוֹב, nov, “fruit,” in Kethib). Cf. ASV “the fruit thereof, even its food.” In this cultic context the reference is to the offerings on the altar.
  23. Malachi 1:13 tn Heb “from your hand,” a metonymy of part (the hand) for whole (the person).
  24. Malachi 1:14 sn The epithet great king was used to describe the Hittite rulers on their covenant documents and so, in the covenant ideology of Malachi, is an apt description of the Lord.

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