Judah's unfaithfulness. This speech is either a criticism of idolatry,
by means of the metaphor
of unfaithfulness in marriage, or, more likely, a criticism of unfaithful marriage relationships themselves.
Judean men have been faithless by marrying foreign women, the daughter of a foreign god (v. 11
). The prohibition against marrying foreign women appears to stem from the concern that the husband will abandon worship of
Israel's God (Ex 34.16; 1 Kings 11.1–2
Judean men have also been faithless by divorcing their wives. While deuteronomic law provides stipulations for divorce (Deut 24.1–4
), this speech appears to be more critical of it.
Title. Malachi, meaning “my messenger” (see note a), is either the name of an individual or a title selected for the author of this prophetic collection on the basis of
Edom's ruins. For those who think their modest efforts at the reconstruction of Judah do not reflect God's presence or love, the uninhabited
ruins of their neighbor Edom are a stark reminder of God's real absence and anger.
Esau, Edom's ancestor, was the brother of Jacob, Israel's ancestor (Gen 25.21–34
God's destruction of Edom is viewed elsewhere as punishment for Edom's participation in the sacking of Jerusalem when it was
conquered by the Babylonians (Obadiah; Ps 137.7–8
The priests' sins. Making up a third of the entire book, this accusation singles out two priestly sins: making improper offerings (
) and giving improper instruction (
Priestly (Lev 1.3; 22.17–25
) and deuteronomic (Deut 15.19–23
) laws prohibit the sacrifice of blemished animals, Deuteronomy specifically forbidding the lame and blind.
Levi is the ancestor of Israel's priestly families (1 Chr 6.1–48
Priests were responsible for teaching and instruction. Micah also blames priests for abusing their teaching office (
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