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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

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Mal´achi, the last of the Minor Prophets, and consequently the latest writer in the canon of the Old Testament. Nothing is known of his person or history. It appears that he lived after Zechariah, since in his time the second temple was already built (); and it is probable that he was contemporary with Nehemiah (comp. , with , and , with ).

The name Malachi means, as some understand it, my angel; but it seems more correct to regard it as a contracted form of angel of Jehovah. As the word translated 'angel' means also a 'messenger,' angels being, in fact, the messengers of God; and as the prophets are often styled angels or messengers of Jehovah, it is supposed that 'Malachi' is merely a general title descriptive of this character, and not a proper name. It has very generally been supposed that this prophet is the same with Ezra, but the weight of authority is decidedly in favor of his separate existence.

Although it is well agreed that Malachi was the last of the prophets, the date of his prophecy has been variously determined. Usher makes him contemporary with Nehemiah, in B.C. 416, and the general opinion that this prophet was contemporary with, or immediately followed, Nehemiah, makes most of the proposed alternatives range within a few years of that date. He censures the same offences which excited the indignation of Nehemiah, and which that governor had not been able entirely to reform. Speaking of God's greater kindness to the Israelites than to the Edomites, he begins with declaiming against the priests for their profane and mercenary conduct, and against the people for their multiplied divorces and intermarriages with idolatrous nation; he threatens them with punishment and rejection, declaring that God would 'make his name great among the Gentiles' (), for that he was wearied with the impiety of Israel (Malachi 1, 2). From this the prophet takes occasion solemnly to proclaim that the Lord whom they sought should suddenly come to His temple, preceded by that messenger who, like a harbinger, should prepare His way; that the Lord when He should appear would purify the sons of Levi from their unrighteousness, and refine them as metal from the dross (); that then 'the offering of Judah,' the spiritual sacrifice of the heart, 'Should be pleasant to the Lord,' as was that of the patriarchs and their uncorrupted ancestors (); and that the Lord would quickly exterminate the corruptions and adulteries which prevailed. The prophet then proceeds with an earnest exhortation to repentance; promising high rewards and remembrance to the righteous in that last day when the Lord shall make up his peculiar treasures, and finally establish a distinction of doom and condition between the righteous and the wicked (). Malachi then concludes with an impressive assurance of approaching salvation to those who feared God's name from that 'sun of righteousness,' who should arise with healing in his wings, and render them triumphant; enjoining in the solemn close of his exhortation, when uttering as it were the last admonition of the Jewish prophets, an observance of the law of Moses, till the advent of Elijah the prophet (, or John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elias,; ), who before the coming of that 'great and dreadful day of the Lord, should turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers' (Malachi 4). Thus Malachi sealed up the volume of prophecy with the description of that personage at whose appearance the evangelists begin their gospel history.

The claim of the book of Malachi to its place in the canon of the Old Testament has never been disputed; and its authority is established by the references to it in the New Testament (;;;;; ).

The manner of Malachi offers few, if any, distinguishing characteristics. The style, rhythm, and imagery of his writings are substantially those of the old prophets, but they possess no remarkable vigor or beauty. This is accounted for by his living during that decline of Hebrew poetry, which we trace more or less in all the sacred writings posterior to the Captivity.





Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Malachi'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​m/malachi.html.
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