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Mal 2:1-17. REPROOF OF THE PRIESTS FOR VIOLATING THE COVENANT; AND THE PEOPLE ALSO FOR MIXED MARRIAGES AND UNFAITHFULNESS.
1. 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].
2. lay . . . to heart--My commands.
3. corrupt, &c.--literally, "rebuke," answering to the opposite
prophecy of blessing
"I will rebuke the devourer." To rebuke the seed is to forbid
4. ye shall know--by bitter experience of consequences, that it was with this design I admonished you, in order "that My covenant with Levi might be" maintained; that is, 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 Mal 2:5, 6). Malachi's function was that of a reformer, leading back the priests and people to the law (Mal 4:4).
5-9. He describes the promises, and also the conditions of the covenant; Levi's observance of the conditions and reward (compare Nu 25:11-13, Phinehas' zeal); and on the other hand the violation of the conditions, and consequent punishment of the present priests. "Life" here includes the perpetuity implied in Nu 25:13, "everlasting priesthood." "Peace" is specified both here and there. MAURER thus explains it; 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 (that is, reverence), and he did fear Me," &c. The former portion of the verse expresses the promise, and Jehovah's fulfilment of it; the latter, the condition, and Levi's steadfastness to it (De 33:8, 9). 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"; for the keeping of God's law is its own reward (Ps 19:11).
6. law of truth was in his mouth--He taught the people the truths of
the law in all its fulness
The priest was the ordinary expounder of the law; the prophets were so
only on special occasions.
7. In doing so
he did his duty as a priest, "for," &c.
8. out of the way--that is, from the covenant.
9. Because ye do not keep the condition of the covenant, I will not
fulfil the promise.
10-16. Reproof of those who contracted marriages with foreigners and
repudiated their Jewish wives.
11. dealt treacherously--namely, in respect to the Jewish wives who
were put away
Mal 2:10, 15, 16).
12. master and . . . scholar--literally, "him that
watcheth and him that answereth." So "wakeneth" is used of the
teacher or "master"
masters are watchful in guarding their scholars. The reference
is to the priests, who ought to have taught the people piety, but who
led them into evil. "Him that answereth" is the scholar who has
to answer the questions of his teacher
[GROTIUS]. The Arabs have a proverb, "None calling
and none answering," that is, there being not one alive. So
GESENIUS explains it of the Levite watches in the
one watchman calling and another answering. But the
scholar is rather the people, the pupils of the priests "in
doing this," namely, forming unions with foreign wives. "Out of the
tabernacles of Jacob" proves it is not the priests alone. God will
spare neither priests nor people who act so.
13. done again--"a second time": an aggravation of your offense
in that it is a relapse into the sin already checked once under Ezra
[HENDERSON]. Or, "the second time" means this:
Your first sin was your blemished offerings to the Lord: now "again" is
added your sin towards your wives [CALVIN].
14. Wherefore?--Why does God reject our offerings?
15. 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 Mal 2:10, "Did not He make (us Israelites) one? Yet He had the residue of the Spirit (that is, 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 (that is, why then did He thus isolate us as) the one (people; the Hebrew is 'the one')? In order that He might seek a godly seed"; that is, 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 (Ge 2:24). God might have joined many wives as one with the one husband, for He had no lack of spiritual being to impart to others besides GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH