Malachi in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
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
(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