Malachi

Shortly after Haggai and Zechariah, this prophet intervenes to correct several evil customs within the community. Through Malachi, the Lord argues with those who call him to account, but who do not acknowledge his love.

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1An oracle. These are the words that Yahweh directed to Israel through Malachi.

2When Yahweh says, “I love you,” you reply, “How do you show that love?” So Yahweh asks you, 3“Was Esau not Jacob’s brother? Yet I loved Jacob and hated Esau. See how I left his mountains desolate and abandoned his land to the jackals of the desert. 4If Edom decides to rebuild its ruins, after having been destroyed, Yahweh of Hosts says: They may rebuild, but I will demolish. You will call them: ‘Accursed country’ and ‘Nation with which Yahweh is forever displeased.’ 5You will see this with your own eyes, then you will exclaim: The power of Yahweh goes beyond the borders of Israel.”

Where is your respect for me?

•6The son honors his father, the servant respects his master. Now if I am a father, where is the honor due to me? If I am your master, where is your respect for me? This is what Yahweh of Hosts wants you to know, priests who despise his name. But you will only ask: How have we despised your name?

7You present defiled foods on my altar, yet you say: How did we defile you? You think that my table does not deserve respect. 8When you bring a blind animal as a sacrifice, or when you present one that is lame or sick, are you not doing wrong? Go, present these to the governor; will he be pleased and receive you well?” says Yahweh of Hosts.

9So now, ask God that he may have mercy on us. But if it goes badly for us because of your sin, are you those who should entreat him? 10Who among you would close my doors that you may no longer come to kindle fire upon my altar in vain? I am not pleased with you, says Yahweh of Hosts, nor am I pleased with your offerings.

11See, from the rising of the sun to its setting, all the nations revere my Name and everywhere incense is offered to my Name as well as a pure offering. I am rightly esteemed among the nations, says Yahweh of Hosts. 12But you despise my Name when you say: “The Lord’s table is dirty and his food is good for nothing.” 13When you complain that you do not like this food you despise me, says Yahweh. You bring a stolen animal, lame or diseased, to offer to me in sacrifice. Do you think that I will accept it? 14Cursed be the cheater who, after promising me a bull from his herd, sacrifices a stunted animal. For I am a great King and my Name is respected through all the nations, says Yahweh of Hosts.

Warnings for the priests

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1This warning is also for you, priests. If you do not listen to it 2or concern yourself to glorify my Name, says Yahweh of Hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse even your blessings.

3I will curse you for none of you takes his ministry seriously. Right now, I am going to break your arm, throw dung in your face, the very dung of your animals, and sweep you away with them. 4And you will realize that it was I who threatened to put an end to my Covenant with Levi, your ancestor, says Yahweh.

5My Covenant with him spoke of life and peace, and I gave him these; it also spoke of respect and he respected me and reverenced my Name. 6His mouth taught the true doctrine and nothing evil came from his lips; he walked in accord with me, being peaceful and upright, and brought back many people from their wickedness. 7The lips of the priest speak of knowledge, and the Law must be found in his mouth, since he is the messenger of Yahweh of Hosts.

8But you, says Yahweh of Hosts, have strayed from my way, and moreover caused many to stumble because of your teaching. You have broken my Covenant with Levi. 9Therefore I let all the people despise you and consider you unworthy, because you do not follow my ways and you show partiality in your judgments.

10Do we not all have the same father? Has the same God not created all of us? Why, then, does each of us betray his brother, defiling the Covenant of our ancestors?

11Judah has been unfaithful, a grave sin has been committed in Israel and Jerusalem: the people of Judah have defiled the sacred inheritance of Yahweh by loving and marrying the daughters of a foreign god. 12Let whoever does this be cut off from the homeland of Jacob and let there be no one to defend him in the tribunal or present an offering for him to Yahweh.

Respect for marriage

13You also commit another offense. As Yahweh refuses to look at your offerings and does not take them into account, you come weeping and wailing and cover the altar with tears. 14And then you ask: “Why?”

It is because Yahweh has seen how you dealt with your first wife, the wife of your youth. You betrayed her although she was your companion with whom you made a covenant. 15Has God not made a single being and given him breath? And what does he seek but a family given by God? Do not betray, then, the wife of your youth.

16I hate divorce, says Yahweh, the God of Israel, and those who are actually covering their violence. Be very careful, and do not betray.

17You annoy Yahweh with your discourses and you dare say: “How did we annoy him?” You annoy him whenever you say that Yahweh looks favorably on those who do evil, and lets everything go well with them, or when you ask: “Where is the God who does justice?”

I send my messenger to prepare the way

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•1Now I am sending my messenger ahead of me to clear the way; then suddenly the Lord for whom you long will enter the Sanctuary. The envoy of the Covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says Yahweh of Hosts. 2Who can bear the day of his coming and remain standing when he appears? For he will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching.

3He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. So Yahweh will have priests who will present the offering as it should be. 4Then Yahweh will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.

5When I will draw near to you to do justice I shall demand the immediate punishment of the sorcerers and the adulterers, of those who swear false oaths, who oppress the wage-earner, the widow and the orphan, who do not respect the rights of the foreigner. They do all this and have no fear of me, says Yahweh.

. 6I, Yahweh, have not changed in anything; just as you, children of Jacob, are always the same. 7Since the day of your ancestors you stray from my ordinances and do not practice them. Return to me and I will return to you, says Yahweh of Hosts. But you ask: “Why do we have to return?” 8Can a man deceive God? Yet you cheat me and moreover ask: “How did we cheat you?” I point out your sacred tributes and the tenth which is due to me.

9Cursed be you who cheat me! Cursed be all the nation! 10Turn over into the temple treasury the tenth part of all, that there may be food in my House. Then you may test me says Yahweh of Hosts, to see if I will not open the gates of heaven and bring blessed rain to you up to the last drop. 11I will rebuke the locusts that they may not devour your fields, and let not the vines wither in your land, says Yahweh. 12Then all the nations will congratulate you because your land will be the choicest.

13You say very harsh things about me, says Yahweh, and yet you say: “What harsh things did we say against you?” 14You say: “It is useless to serve God. There is no benefit in observing his commandments or in leading an austere life for his sake. Happy are the shameless! 15Those who do evil succeed in everything; though they provoke God, they remain unharmed.”

16Those were the very words of those who fear Yahweh. Yahweh listened and heard what they said. He ordered at once that the names of those who respect him and reverence his Name be written in a record.

17And he declared, “They will be mine on the day I have already set. Then I shall care for them as a father cares for his obedient son. 18And you will see the different fates of the good and the bad, those who obey God and those who disobey him.

19The day already comes, flaming  as a furnace. On that day all the proud and evildoers will be burned like straw in the fire. They will be left without branches or roots. 20On the other hand the sun of justice will shine upon you who respect my Name and bring health in its rays. You will come out leaping like fattened calves. 21You will trample on the evildoers and they will be like ashes scattered on your way when I do this, says Yahweh.

I will send Elijah soon

22Remember the law of my servant Moses, the laws and ordinances I gave him at Mount Horeb for the whole of Israel. 23I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the day of Yahweh comes, for it will be a great and terrible day. 24He will reconcile parents with their children, and the children with their parents, so that I may not have to curse this land when I come.”

FOOTNOTES:

•  1.6 The sin of those who offer their surplus to God. From the rising of the sun… (v. 11). Malachi observes that if the Jews are God’s people, they cannot avoid doing what other people do, who in their own way worship God sincerely even though they do not know his revelation.

–  The sin of the priests who do not know how to teach the Law which is their responsibility. If they do not commit themselves to educating the people of God about their obligations, God will not allow them to continue their external rituals.

– The sin of those who dismiss their wives. The Law and customs allowed divorce with specific guarantees for the wife. Malachi says what Jesus will teach with full authority in Matthew 19:1: the will of God regarding marriage is that the two remain together as one. The one who betrays his wife cannot encounter God.

• 3.1 Now I am sending my messenger. To those complaining that God does not reveal his justice nor reward sufficiently those who serve him, Malachi responds by declaring thatthe Lord will come soon. He announces the coming of a messenger of God who will be responsible for preparing the way for him, and that will be the sign of his coming soon.

Paragraphs 3:1-2 and 4:22-24 complement each other, and point to John the Baptist. The Gospel will recall them in Luke 1:17; 7:27; John 3:22. Also see Mark 9:11.

• 6. Then comes the discussion with those expecting material favors as a reward for their devotion; they wish to be rewarded for having done no evil. God agrees to dialogue with such believers, and through Malachi speaks to them in the only language they can understand: if they do good, one day they will see the Sun of justice and will jump around like calves trampling the wicked underfoot.

• 19. Verses 19-24 in Hebrew manuscript are chapter 4:1-6 in Greek manuscript.