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Conclusion of the Rebuke to the Priests
v. 1. And now, O ye priests, this commandment Is for you, they must be aware of the seriousness of the situation and accept the Lord's rebuke and threat accordingly.
v. 2. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay It to heart, if they persisted in their callousness over against His commands, to give glory unto My name, saith the Lord of hosts, by a worship in agreement with His commands, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings, His own gifts to them turning into the opposite and bringing harm upon them; yea, I have cursed them already because ye do not lay it to heart, presenting an indifferent front to the Lord's admonitions.
v. 3. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, rebuking that which had been sowed in the fields, thus reducing also the amounts which the priests received as tithes, and spread dung upon your faces, as an expression of His extreme contempt, even the dung of your solemn feasts, that of the sacrificial animals, which was ordinarily dumped outside of the city; and one shall take you away with it, treating them as though they were themselves dung, to be thrown out in disgraceful heaps.
v. 4. And ye shall know, by the token of this punishment, that I have sent this commandment unto you, this decree of punishment, which they thought they might so calmly disregard, that My covenant might be with Levi, all the priests, saith the Lord of hosts. The Lord's sentence of punishment upon all those who despised His worship was included in the original covenant with the members of the tribe of Levi.
v. 5. My covenant was with him of life and peace, with the promise of life and peace attached; and I gave them, namely, life, deliverance, and salvation, to him for the fear wherewith he feared Me, as a reward for this attitude, and was afraid before My name, Cf Numbers 25:12.
v. 6. The Law of Truth was in his mouth, so that everything which he did and taught was in agreement with the divine truth, and iniquity was not found in his lips, he was in no way guilty of perverseness in his ministry; he walked with Me in peace and equity, in a communion of peace, integrity, and righteousness, and did turn many away from iniquity, this being the praise which the Lord bestowed upon the members of the tribe of Levi.
v. 7. For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, preserving the right understanding of Jehovah among the people as a precious treasure, and they, the people, should seek the Law at his mouth, to be instructed in it; for he Is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. That is what the Lord found praiseworthy in the members of the tribe of Levi in the early days; that is as it should he.
v. 8. But ye, the present members of the tribe, are departed out of the way, leaving the path shown them by the Law of the Lord; ye have caused many to stumble at the Law, so that they became guilty of transgressing the Law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, that which their fathers had kept so faithfully, saith the Lord of hosts.
v. 9. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base, an object of contempt and loathing, before all the people, according as ye have not kept My ways, in the same degree as they had transgressed, but have been partial in the Law, in applying the Law to the conduct of the people. The conduct of the spiritual leaders of people is particularly reprehensible if it misleads others and plunges them into sin and guilt.
Against Divorces and Marriages With Heathen Wives
v. 10. Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? These questions, with the statement they contain, the prophet places at the head of his discussion, to remind the Jews that they were still, in a peculiar sense, the Lord's people and should keep themselves unspotted from the Gentiles. Why do we deal treacherously, faithlessly, every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? The action on the part of the people which the prophet found it necessary to censure was a violation of the relation sustained to Jehovah as a common Father and as the Author of the covenant which governed all their lives.
v. 11. Judah hath dealt treacherously, with a calm disregard of the covenant faithfulness, and an abomination is committed In Israel, throughout the nation, and in Jerusalem, the capital, which should have led in the observance of the Law; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which He loved, namely, the people as a body, whom the Lord had chosen as His holy people, and hath married the daughter of a strange god, by the fact that numerous members of the nation had entered into the marriage relationship with women addicted to idolatry, an act which was distinctly prohibited in the Law of God, Exodus 34:11; Deuteronomy 7:1-4.
v. 12. The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, since it was a profanation of the sacred position of the people, the master and the scholar, or "the watcher and the answerer,". out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts, so that there would be a complete extermination of all those who had transgressed.
v. 13. And this have ye done again, as the second transgression which the Lord found it necessary to rebuke, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, namely, by causing their divorced wives to come to the Sanctuary and there register their lament over the injustice received, insomuch that He, the God of the covenant, regardeth not the offering any more or receiveth it with good will at your hand, He wanted nothing of their worship while the conditions were such. "Their divorced wives repair to the altar of Jehovah, there to pour out their hearts before Him, to complain of the cruel treatment accorded them, and to seek His help. " (Lange. )
v. 14. Yet ye say, apparently surprised that the Lord should repudiate their prayers, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, every true marriage being entered into with His sanction and the Lord therefore being the witness for the rights of the wife, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously, in breaking the promised faith, the troth which had been plighted; yet Is she thy companion, the partner of her husband's joys and sorrows, and the wife of thy covenant, she with whom the husband had entered into the relation controlled by a mutual promise.
v. 15. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit, literally, "And not one acted so who still had a particle of reason," that is, this manner of acting was unknown among men of reason. Of course, the people might raise the objection, And wherefore one? What did Abraham do when he repudiated Hagar? But the prophet cuts off the objection short, That he might seek a godly seed. The object of Abraham in going in to Hagar was not to gratify the lust of the flesh, but he honestly thought that he might thus get the son whom God had promised him. Therefore, so the prophet concludes, take heed to your spirit, watching over themselves with the greatest care, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth, namely, by lightly dismissing her.
v. 16. For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away, Cf Deuteronomy 24:1; for one covereth violence with his garment, or, "iniquity covers his garment,". saith the Lord of hosts, so that it would cling to him forever; therefore take heed to your spirit that ye deal not treacherously. The same thought is found in the New Testament, not only in various sayings of Jesus concerning the sanctity of the marriage covenant, but also in the words of Peter regarding the living together of a man with his wife according to reason. Cf 1 Peter 3:7.
v. 17. Ye have wearied the Lord with your words, with their dissatisfied grumbling over recent events. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him? the same disobedient people again standing out in opposition to God, in resenting the rebuke of His prophet. When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delighteth in them, this being the statement of godless insolence in direct opposition to the rebuke of the prophet, or, Where is the God of judgment? The great mass of the people boldly declared that there was no foundation for the prophet's threat, that the talk of the coming Judgment was unfounded. Cf 2 Peter 3:4. Over against this question of doubt and unbelief the Lord places a very definite statement.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Malachi 2". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany