Malachi in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

3. Contents: The book, in the main, is composed of two extended polemics against the priests (Mal 1:6 through 2:9) and the people (Mal 2:10 through 4:3), opening with a clear, sharp statement of the prophet's chief thesis that Yahweh still loves Israel (Mal 1:2-5), and closing with an exhortation to remember the Law of Moses (Mal 4:4-6). After the title or superscription (Mal 1:1) the prophecy falls naturally into seven divisions: (1) Malachi 1:2-5, in which Malachi shows that Yahweh still loves Israel because their lot stands in such marked contrast to Edom's. They were temporarily disciplined; Edom was forever punished. (2) Malachi 1:6 through 2:9, a denunciation of the priests, the Levites, who have become neglectful of their sacerdotal office, indifferent to the Law, and unmindful of their covenant relationship to Yahweh. (3) Malachi 2:10-16, against idolatry and divorce. Some interpret this section metaphorically of Judah as having abandoned the religion of his youth (2:11). But idolatry and divorce were closely related. The people are obviously rebuked for literally putting away their own Jewish wives in order to contract marriage with foreigners (2:15). Such marriages, the prophet declares, are not only a form of idolatry (2:11), but a violation of Yahweh's intention to preserve to Himself a "godly seed" (2:15). (4) Malachi 2:17 through 3:6, an announcement of coming judgment. Men are beginning to doubt whether there is longer a God of justice (2:17). Malachi replies that the Lord whom the people seek will suddenly come, both to purify the sons of Levi and to purge the land of sinners in general. The nation, however, will not be utterly consumed (3:6). (5) Malachi 3:7-12, in which the prophet pauses to give another concrete example of the people's sins: they have failed to pay their tithes and other dues. Accordingly, drought, locusts, and famine have ensued. Let these be paid and the nation will again prosper, and their land will become "a delightsome land." (6) Malachi 3:13 through 4:3, a second section addressed to the doubters of the prophet's age. In 2:17, they had said, "Where is the God of justice?" They now murmur: "It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his charge?" The wicked and the good alike prosper (3:14,15). But, the prophet replies, Yahweh knows them that are His, and a book of remembrance is being kept; for a day of judgment is coming when the good and the evil will be distinguished; those who work iniquity will be exterminated, while those who do righteously will triumph. (7) Malachi 4:4-6, a concluding exhortation to obey the Mosaic Law; with a promise that Elijah the prophet will first come to avert, if possible, the threatened judgment by reconciling the hearts of the nation to one another, i.e. to reconcile the ideals of the old to those of the young, and vice versa...

Read More