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(1) I will send.—Or, I send. It is the participle used as the prophetic present. (Comp. Note on Malachi 1:11.)
My messenger.—Heb., Malachi, my angel, or my messenger, with a play on the name of the prophet. In Malachi 2:7, he calls the priest the angel or messenger of the LORD. There can be little doubt that he is influenced in his choice of the term by his own personal name (see Introd.). This “messenger,” by the distinct reference to Isaiah 40:3, contained in the words, “and he shall prepare,” &c., is evidently the same as he whom [the deutero-] Isaiah prophetically heard crying, “In the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Moreover, from the nature of his mission, he is proved to be identical with the “Elijah” of Malachi 4:3. These words had their first, if not their perfect fulfilment in John the Baptist (Matthew 17:12).
The Lord.—This word “Lord” occurs eight times with the definite article, but always, except here, with the name of God following it: viz., Exodus 23:17, followed by “Jehovah;” Exodus 34:23, by “Jehovah, the God of Israel;” in Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 3:1; Isaiah 10:33; Isaiah 19:4, by “Jehovah Zebaoth;” and in Isaiah 10:16, by “the Lord of Zebaoth.” And here, as elsewhere, it must mean God Himself, because He is said to come “to his temple,” and because He is said to be He “whom ye seek:” i.e., “the God of judgment” (Malachi 2:17).
Even—i.e., “namely,” for so the Hebrew conjunction “and” is frequently used: e.g., Exodus 25:12; 1 Samuel 28:3.
The messenger (or angel) of the covenant.—This expression occurs only in this passage. Identified as He is here with “the Lord,” He can be no other than the Son of God, who was manifested in the flesh as the Messiah. In the word “covenant” there is, perhaps, some reference to the “new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31), but the meaning of the word must not be limited to this.
Delight in.—Rather, desire.
REBUKE OF INFIDELITY. THE ADVENT OF THE LORD FORETOLD (Malachi 2:17 to Malachi 3:18).
(17) A new section of the prophecy begins with this verse. The prophet now directs his reproofs against the people for their discontent and their want of faith in the promises of God, because the expected manifestation of God’s glory did not take place immediately. Because the doers of evil seem to flourish, the people say that God takes delight in them, “or” i.e., if this be not the case, “Where is the God of judgment?” that He does not interpose to punish them. (Comp. Psalms 73:0, &c.)
(2) This coming of the Lord to His temple acts as a crucial test (comp. Luke 2:35); the people ought, therefore, seriously to have considered how far they were prepared for that advent before they desired it so eagerly and impatiently.
(3) Sons of Levi.—Meaning especially the priests, the sons of Aaron, son of Amram, son of Kohath, son of Levi (Exodus 6:16-20); for judgment must begin at the house of God. (Comp. Jeremiah 25:29; Ezekiel 9:6; 1 Peter 4:17.)
In righteousness refers rather to the moral character of the offerer than to the nature of the sacrifices, as being such as were prescribed by the Law. This and the following verse do not, of course, imply that there are to be material sacrifices in Messianic times. The prophet speaks in such language as was suitable to the age in which he lived. (See Note on Malachi 1:11.)
(4) Days of old . . . former years.—Perhaps, if we must define the period, from the time of Moses to the first year of the reign of Solomon. But we cannot be certain on this point. It seems to be one of the characteristics of Malachi to be somewhat of a laudator temporis acti. (Comp. Malachi 2:5-7.)
(5) All these crimes were explicitly forbidden by the Law. Sorcery (Exodus 22:18), adultery (Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22), false-swearing (Leviticus 19:12), defrauding, or withholding of wages (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15), oppressing the widow and orphan (Exodus 22:22-24), doing injustice to a stranger (Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19). (Comp. also Zechariah 7:9-10; Zechariah 8:16-17.)
(6) For I am the Lord, I change not.—Better, For I Jehovah change not. Because it is the Eternal’s unchangeable will that the sons of Jacob, His chosen people, should not perish as a nation, He will purify them by the eradication of the wicked among them, that the remnant (the superior part; see Note on Malachi 2:15) may return to their allegiance. (Comp. Romans 11:0) Ewald renders the words: For I, the LORD, have not changed: hut ye sons of Jacob, have ye not altered? But the last verb does not mean “to alter;” and, moreover, the former translation is exactly in accordance with the wording of the prayer in Ezra 9:14-15.
(7) Even from . . . fathers.—Throughout the whole course of their history they had been a people (Exodus 32:9, &c.); and now, when exhorted to repent, they ask in feigned innocence:—
Wherein shall we return? . . . Return unto me . . . unto you.—Comp. Zechariah 1:3.
(8) Robbed me.—Because the tithes are said to be offered to Jehovah, and then He gives them to the Levites in place of an inheritance (Numbers 18:24).
In tithes and offerings.—See Notes on Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:12; Numbers 18:21-24; Deuteronomy 18:4; Leviticus 3:1-17; Leviticus 7:11-21; Leviticus 7:28-36.
(9) Comp. Malachi 2:2; Malachi 3:11.
(10) The emphasis is on the word “all.”
Storehouse.—From the time of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:11) there were at the Sanctuary special storehouses built for this purpose; so, too, in the second Temple (Nehemiah 10:38-39; Nehemiah 12:44; Nehemiah 13:12-13).
Meat—i.e., food for the priests and Levites.
Open you . . .—According to the promise of Deuteronomy 11:13-15, &c. For a practical commentary on this verse, see 2 Chronicles 31:10. “And Azariah, the chief priest of the house of Zadok, answered Hezekiah and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty; for the Lord hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.”
There shall not be room enough . . .—This rendering gives the correct meaning of the words (Compare an expression of similar import in Zechariah 10:10.) We cannot agree with the rendering of Gesenius, “until my abundance be exhausted,” as equivalent to “for ever.”
(11) For your sakes.—The same word as in Malachi 2:3 : here in a good sense, there in a bad.
The devourer—i.e., the locust, &c.
Rebuke.—Better, corrupt. The same word is used as in Malachi 2:3, but in a different construction. (With this verse comp. Haggai 1:6-11.)
(12) Comp. Zechariah 7:14; Zechariah 8:13-23; also Isaiah 62:4; Daniel 11:16.
(13) Your words . . . against me.—Better, your words put a constraint on me: viz., to prove myself to you to be “the God of judgment.”
Spoken.—Or rather, conversed together. (Comp. Malachi 3:16.) They seem to have been in the habit of conversing together, and comparing the promises of God towards them with the then state of affairs. God had promised that they should be a proverb among the nations for blessedness; but, say they, seeing that things are as they are, “we [feel more inclined to] call the proud happy [or blessed].” (See further in Note on Malachi 3:15.)
(14) Mournfully—i.e., with all outward signs of fasting. (Comp. Matthew 6:16.) The fasting referred to is not that of the Day of Atonement, but of voluntary fasts. We see here, in already a somewhat developed form, that disposition to attribute merit to observances of outward forms of religion for their own sake, without regard to the secret attitude of the heart, which reached such a pitch among the majority of the Jews in the time of our Lord, and especially among the Pharisees.
(15) And now means and so, consequently. In this verse the prophet gives the words of the murmurers. (See Note on Malachi 3:13.) The statements of Malachi 3:13 show that they were of a very different character from such faithful servants of Jehovah as were at times sorely tempted against their will to waver in their faith. We may observe here the seeds of sceptical Sadduceism, as in Malachi 3:14 of hypocritical Phariseism. (Comp. Psalms 37, 73, and the Books of Job and Eccl.)
Proud . . . they that work wickedness—i.e., the heathen, who do not profess to serve Jehovah. (Comp. Isaiah 13:11.)
Proud is a common Biblical expression for presumptuous sinners; the same word is also used for ‘presumptuous sins (Psalms 19:13).
Tempt.—The same word is used which in Malachi 3:10 is translated “prove.” The difference in the two cases consists in the different nature of the actions. In Malachi 3:10 the Jews are exhorted to obey the Law faithfully, and prove whether God would not (i.e., experience that God certainly would) perform His part in the covenant. In Malachi 3:15 the heathen, by their pride and wickedness, tempt God to judgment.
(16) Then shall ye . . . between.—Better, Then shall ye again perceive the difference between. For the construction, comp. Zechariah 4:1. As in former cases God had made this difference manifest, so He would again. Compare, for instance, the difference between the case of the Egyptians and of the Israelites in the matter of the miraculous darkness (Exodus 10:23).
(17) And they shall be . . . my jewels.—Better, And they shall be to me, saith the Lord of hosts, a special possession, on the day that I am about to make. “Special possession” (Exodus 19:5).
Day . . . make.—The same expression occurs in Malachi 4:3. (Comp. Psalms 118:24.)
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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Malachi 3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26