MALACHI, BOOK OF.
The Book of Malachi is the last in the canon of the Old Testament Prophets. It has three chapters in the Masoretic text, while in the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Peshiṭta it has four. The King James Version also, following the latter versions, has four chapters. As in the books of Isaiah, Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes, the last verse in the Masoretic text is a repetition of the last verse but one. The style of the book is more prosaic than that of any of the other prophetical books; the parallelism met with in the others is here less pronounced, and the imagery often lacks force and beauty. The method of treatment is rather novel; it approaches the teaching method of the schools; Cornill speaks of it as "casuistic-dialectic." Thus the prophet first states his proposition; then he follows with remonstrances that might be raised by those he addresses; finally he reasserts his original thesis (comp. i. 2 et seq., 6 et seq.; ii. 13 et seq., 17; iii. 8, 13 et seq.). This form adds vividness to the argument. The book may be divided into three sections—(1) i. 1-ii. 9; (2) ii. 10-17; (3) iii. (A. V. iii. and iv.), the divisions given being those of the Masoretic text.Contents.
- Ch. i. 2-ii. 9 represent Yhwh as Ruler and loving Father. It opens with a tender allusion to the love shown by Yhwh to Judah in the past; yet Judah acted faithlessly, deserting its benefactor. Malachi then addresses himself to the priests, those who are to lead the people in the way of Yhwh. He castigates them for being derelict in their duty by offering on Yhwh's altars polluted bread and animals that have blemishes. By doing so they show that they despise Yhwh (i. 6-10). But Yhwh can do without their worship, for the time will come when the whole heathen world will worship Him (i. 11-14). If the priests will not heed the admonition, dire punishment will be visited upon them (ii. 1-8).
- Ch. ii. 10-17 speaks of Yhwh as the supreme God and Father of all, and inveighs against those who had left their Jewish wives and married heathen women.
- Ch. iii. (A. V. iii. and iv.) speaks of Yhwh as the righteous and final Judge. It begins with the announcement that the messenger of Yhwh will come to prepare the way for Him by purifying the social and religious life (1-4). Yhwh will call to judgment all those who have transgressed the moral law and have been lax in the observance of the ritual; He invites all who have gone astray to return to Him and receive His blessings (5-15). The faithful will be blessed, while those who persist in disobeying the law of God will be punished (16-21). The book closes with a final exhortation to the godly.
Malachi, as opposed to the other prophetical books, lays much stress upon ceremonial observance (i. 6 et seq., 13 et seq.; iii. 7 et seq., 22): the priest is
The conditions that existed under his predecessors Haggai and Zechariah seem to have existed at the time of Malachi. The Exile is a matter of the past; the Temple is built, and sacrifices are being offered (i. 10, iii. 1-10). Malachi describes most faithfully the temper of his generation. The people had strayed away from
Malachi is identified with Mordecai by R. Naḥman and with Ezra by Joshua b. Ḳarḥa (Meg. 15a). Jerome, in his preface to the commentary on Malachi, mentions that in his day the belief was current that Malachi was identical with Ezra ("Malachi Hebræi Esdram Existimant"). The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel to the words "By the hand of Malachi" (i. 1) gives the gloss "Whose name is called Ezra the scribe." According to Soṭah 48b, when Malachi died the Holy Spirit departed from Israel. According to R. H. 19b, he was one of the three prophets concerning whom there are certain traditions with regard to the fixing of the Jewish almanac. A tradition preserved in pseudo-Epiphanius ("De Vitis Proph.") relates that Malachi was of the tribe of Zebulun, and was born after the Captivity. According to the same apocryphal story he died young, and was buried in his own country with his fathers.—Critical View:
The name is not a "nomen proprium"; it is generally assumed to be an abbreviation of (="messenger of
- Boehme, in Stade's Zeitschrift, vii. 210 et seq.;
- Driver, Introduction: D. Knobel, Prophetismus der Hebräer, i. 386, Breslau, 1837;
- Bleek, Introduction to the Old Testament, 2d ed., i. 357;
- Cornill, Einleitung in das Alte Testament, pp. 205 et seq., Freiburg, 1896;
- Cornill, The Prophets of Israel, p. 158, Chicago, 1895.