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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Malachi - Introduction

After the return of the Judeans from the Exile in Babylon and the rebuilding of the temple was completed (see Introduction to Haggai ), Judah, subject to the Persians, was without political defense, a royal dynasty, and other marks of a nation. Yet to live as the LORD's people, it was necessary to formulate laws to govern both civil and religious conduct, as permitted by the Persians. The book of Malachi reflects aspects of the problems and hardships that arose about 500-450 B.C.E.

Malachi (see 1.1 n. ) delivers his message in a rather systematic regular form. First he gives a declaration from the LORD, then he proposes a question from his audience; he answers the question in the name of the LORD. The statement criticizes the behavior of people or priests, while the answer to a question contains both judgment and promise. In his view, Judah must live by the Law to maintain the people's purity and devotion to the LORD. The final day of the LORD will separate good from bad. Indeed, the issue of determining what are good and bad acts and who are good and bad persons, dominates the latest stage of Old Testament religion. At the same time that this stage fostered a confining legalism, it also fostered a religious devotion of great power and purity.

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