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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
This chapter begins with showing the great and free favor which God had manifested to the Israelites, above what he had done to the Edomites, who are threatened with farther marks of the Divine displeasure; alluding, perhaps, to the calamities which they suffered from Judas Maccabeus and John Hyrcanus, (see 1 Maccabees 5:65, and Joseph Antiq. 13:9), Malachi 1:1-5. God then reproaches his people, and especially their priests, for their ungrateful returns to his distinguished goodness, Malachi 1:6. They are particularly charged with sacrificing the refuse of beasts, Malachi 1:7-9, for which God threatens to reject them, Malachi 1:10, and choose other nations who will show more reverence to his name and worship, Malachi 1:11-14.
1The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi - This prophet is undoubtedly the last of the Jewish prophets. He lived after Zechariah and Haggai; for we find that the temple, which was begun in their time, was standing complete in his. See Malachi 3:10. Some have thought that he was contemporary with Nehemiah; indeed, several have supposed that Malachi, is no other than Ezra under the feigned name of angel of the Lord, or my angel. John the Baptist was the link that connected Malachi with Christ. According to Abp. Usher he flourished b.c. 416, but the authorized version, which we have followed in the margin, states this event to have happened nineteen years later. Both the Hebrew language and poetry had declined in his days.
Israel - Here means the Jewish people in general.
2I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,
Was not Esau Jacob's brother? - Have I not shown a greater partiality to the Israelites than I have to the Edomites?
I loved Jacob - My love to Jacob has been proved by giving him greater privileges and a better inheritance than what I have given to Esau.
3And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
And I hated Esau - I have shown him less love; Genesis 29:30, Genesis 29:31. I comparatively hated him by giving him an inferior lot. And now, I have not only laid waste the dwelling-place of the Edomites, by the incursions of their enemies; but (Malachi 1:4) they shall remain the perpetual monuments of my vengeance. On the subject of loving Jacob and hating Esau, see the notes on Genesis 27 (note), and Romans 9:13 (note). Let it be remembered,
1. That there is not a word spoken here concerning the eternal state of either Jacob or Esau.
2. That what is spoken concerns merely their earthly possessions. And,
3. That it does not concern the two brothers at all, but the posterity of each.
4Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.
They shall build, but I will throw down - We have already seen enough of the wickedness of the Edomites to justify the utmost severity of Divine justice against them. The pulling down predicted here was by Judas Maccabeus; see 1 Maccabees 5:65; and by John Hyrcanus; see Joseph Antiq., lib. 13 c. 9. s. 1.
They shall call them, The border of wickedness - A wicked land. Among this people scarcely any trace of good could ever be noted.
5And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.
Your eyes - Ye Israelites shall see, in your succeeding generations, that: -
The Lord will be magnified - By his kindness in Israel, and his judgments beyond.
6A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
A son honoreth his father - I am your Father - where, then, is my honor? Where your filial obedience?
If I be a master, where is my fear? - The respect due to me.
7Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.
Ye offer polluted bread - The priests, probably to ingratiate themselves with the people, took the refuse beasts, etc., and offered them to God; and thus the sacrificial ordinances were rendered contemptible.
8And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.
Offer it now unto thy governor - פחת pechath, a word signifying a lieutenant, or viceroy, among the Chaldeans, Syrians, and Persians; for neither at this time, nor ever after, was there a king in Israel.
9And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.
Beseech God - There were evident marks of God's displeasure in the land, and it was occasioned by these pollutions through the priests. And now he exhorts them to pray to God that they may be pardoned: for, if this practice be persisted in, God will not accept any offering made by them.
10Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.
Who is - among you - From this we learn that there was not one sincere or honest priest among them. They were selfish and worldly; and so basely so, that not one of them would even kindle a fire on the hearth of the altar unless he were paid for it.
11For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.
From the rising of the sun - The total abolition of the Mosaic sacrifices, and the establishment of a spiritual worship over the whole earth, is here foretold. The incense of praise, and the pure offering of the Lamb without spot, and through him a holy, loving heart, shall be presented everywhere among the Gentiles; and the Jews and their mock offerings shall be rejected.
12But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.
Ye have profaned it - Ye have desecrated God's worship; is it any wonder that God should cast you off, and follow you with his judgments?
13Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.
Ye have snuffed at it - A metaphor taken from cattle which do not like their fodder. They blow strongly through their nose upon it; and after this neither they nor any other cattle will eat it.
Ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick - There had never been such abominations in the Divine worship before. What was of no worth in itself, and what could not be used by its owner, was brought to God's altar, and offered for sacrifice! Was not the punishment of these wretches less than their crimes?
14But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.
Cursed be the deceiver - Those who act thus, as they cannot elude God's notice, so neither shall they escape his curse.
And voweth, and sacrificeth - a corrupt thing - The history of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1, etc., is a complete comment on this. It was high time to break up this corrupt service; and after this time God does not appear to have paid any regard to it, for he sent them no other prophet.