Malachi 1:2
I have loved you, said the LORD. Yet you say, Wherein have you loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? said the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) I have lovedi.e., shown abundant proof of my love. The prophet goes on to show how God has shown so great proofs of His love.

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?—And would not one suppose from that fact they would have similar privileges? But not so.

I loved Jacob, (3) and I hated Esau . . .—The ethical reason for God’s love of Jacob and hatred of Esau is not touched upon here, nor is it necessary to the argument. It is God’s love for Israel that the prophet wishes to dwell on, and he mentions the hatred towards Esau merely for the sake of a strong contrast. The nations, Israel and Edom, are here referred to, not the individuals, Jacob and Esau. This passage receives a graphic illustration from the words of Psalm 137:7, composed after the return from the captivity: “Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof.” (On St. Paul’s application of the words of Malachi, see Notes on Romans 9:13.)

Laid his mountains . . . waste . . .—It is a somewhat disputed point to what historical fact this refers. But, on the whole, we may reasonably infer from Jeremiah 49:7; Jeremiah 49:17-21, compared with Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 25:21, that the subjugation of the Edomites by Nebuchadnezzar is here referred to.

Dragons.—Better, jackals. The LXX. and Gesenius render the word “habitations,” by comparison with a similarly sounding Arabic word.

1:1-5 All advantages, either as to outward circumstances, or spiritual privileges, come from the free love of God, who makes one to differ from another. All the evils sinners feel and fear, are the just recompence of their crimes, while all their hopes and comforts are from the unmerited mercy of the Lord. He chose his people that they might be holy. If we love him, it is because he has first loved us; yet we all are prone to undervalue the mercies of God, and to excuse our own offences.I have loved you, saith the Lord - What a volume of God's relations to us in two simple words, "I-have-loved you" . So would not God speak, unless He still loved. "I have loved and do love you," is the force of the words. When? And since when? In all eternity God loved; in all our past, God loved. Tokens of His love, past or present, in good or seeming ill, are but an effluence of that everlasting love. He, the Unchangeable, ever loved, as the apostle of love says 1 John 4:19, "we love Him, because He first loved us." The deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, the making them His Romans 9:4, "special people, the adoption, the covenant, the giving of the Law, the service of God and His promises," all the several mercies involved in these, the feeding with manna, the deliverance from their enemies whenever they returned to Him, their recent restoration, the gift of the prophets, were so many single pulses of God's everlasting love, uniform in itself, manifold in its manifestations. But it is more than a declaration of His everlasting love. "I have loved you;" God would say; with "a special love, a more than ordinary love, with greater tokens of love, than to others." So God brings to the penitent soul the thought of its ingratitude: I have loved "you:" I, you. And ye have said, "Wherein hast Thou loved us?" It is a characteristic of Malachi to exhibit in all its nakedness man's ingratitude. This is the one voice of all people's complaints, ignoring all God's past and present mercies, in view of the one thing which He withholds, though they dare not put it into words: "Wherein hast Thou loved us Psalm 78:11? Within a while they forgot His works, and the wonders that He had showed them Psalm 106:13 : they made haste, they forgot His works."

"Was not Esau Jacob's brother! saith the Lord: and I loved Jacob, and Esau have I hated." "While they were yet in their mother's womb, before any good or evil deserts of either, God said to their mother Genesis 25:23, The older shall serve the younger. The hatred was not a proper and formed hatred (for God could not hate Esau before he sinned) but only a lesser love," which, in comparison to the great love for Jacob, seemed as if it were not love. "So he says Genesis 29:31. The Lord saw that Leah was hated; where Jacob's neglect of Leah, and lesser love than for Rachel, is called 'hatred;' yet Jacob did not literally hate Leah, whom he loved and cared for as his wife." This greater love was shown in preferring the Jews to the Edomites, giving to the Jews His law, Church, temple, prophets, and subjecting Edom to them; and especially in the recent deliverance "He does not speak directly of predestination, but of pre-election, to temporal goods." God gave both nations alike over to the Chaldees for the punishment of their sins; but the Jews He brought back, Edom He left unrestored.

2. I have loved you—above other men; nay, even above the other descendants of Abraham and Isaac. Such gratuitous love on My part called for love on yours. But the return ye make is sin and dishonor to Me. This which is to be supplied is left unexpressed, sorrow as it were breaking off the sentence [Menochius], (De 7:8; Ho 11:1).

Wherein hast thou loved us?—In painful contrast to the tearful tenderness of God's love stands their insolent challenge. The root of their sin was insensibility to God's love, and to their own wickedness. Having had prosperity taken from them, they imply they have no tokens of God's love; they look at what God had taken, not at what God had left. God's love is often least acknowledged where it is most manifested. We must not infer God does not love us because He afflicts us. Men, instead of referring their sufferings to their proper cause, their own sin, impiously accuse God of indifference to their welfare [Moore]. Thus Mal 1:1-4 form a fit introduction to the whole prophecy.

Was not Esau Jacob's brother?—and so, as far as dignity went, as much entitled to God's favor as Jacob. My adoption of Jacob, therefore, was altogether by gratuitous favor (Ro 9:13). So God has passed by our elder brethren, the angels who kept not their first estate, and yet He has provided salvation for man. The perpetual rejection of the fallen angels, like the perpetual desolations of Edom, attests God's severity to the lost, and goodness to those gratuitously saved. The sovereign eternal purpose of God is the only ground on which He bestows on one favors withheld from another. There are difficulties in referring salvation to the election of God, there are greater in referring it to the election of man [Moore]. Jehovah illustrates His condescension and patience in arguing the case with them.

I have loved you: God asserts his ancient love, that which he had in many generations past showed: I have, time out of mind, yea, from before the birth of your father Jacob, and in truth before Abraham was, designed more kindness to you than to others, and from the time of Jacob I have undeniably showed it. And this deserved, what I have not found from you, a love corresponding somewhat to mine; but instead of such love, some are ready to say they saw no such thing, or to dispute perversely in what it appeared.

You; both personally considered and relatively, as you were in your fathers and progenitors.

Saith the Lord: their ingratitude extorts this solemn protestation, they should readily have owned, and not put God to avow the love he had shown them.

Yet ye say; or, and you do querulously and with ignorance enough object to me, and put me on it to vindicate my love, and expose your ingratitude.

Wherein? or, for what? is there not some cause? did not Abraham’s love deserve a love for us his posterity? Most perverse pride!

Wherein hast thou loved us? who have been captives and groaned under the miseries of it all our days till of late; is this love to us? Since they are supposed thus to object, by cutting questions, God will give them answer:

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? had they not one and the same grandfather? was not Abraham as near to one as to the other? did not one father beget them, and one mother bear them? did they not lie together in the same womb? was there not as much of Abraham and Isaac in Esau as in Jacob? Or what of nature, consanguinity, and outward privilege was there in one more than in the other, whatever that was, Esau might claim, for he was the eldest. In Esau’s person his progeny is included, as appears next verse.

Yet I loved Jacob; the younger brother, and your father, O unthankful Jews! I preferred him to the birthright, and this of free love, before any merit could be dreamed of; I did love his person, and have loved his posterity, with an unparalleled love, and showed it to all.

I have loved you: God asserts his ancient love, that which he had in many generations past showed: I have, time out of mind, yea, from before the birth of your father Jacob, and in truth before Abraham was, designed more kindness to you than to others, and from the time of Jacob I have undeniably showed it. And this deserved, what I have not found from you, a love corresponding somewhat to mine; but instead of such love, some are ready to say they saw no such thing, or to dispute perversely in what it appeared.

You; both personally considered and relatively, as you were in your fathers and progenitors.

Saith the Lord: their ingratitude extorts this solemn protestation, they should readily have owned, and not put God to avow the love he had shown them.

Yet ye say; or, and you do querulously and with ignorance enough object to me, and put me on it to vindicate my love, and expose your ingratitude.

Wherein? or, for what? is there not some cause? did not Abraham’s love deserve a love for us his posterity? Most perverse pride!

Wherein hast thou loved us? who have been captives and groaned under the miseries of it all our days till of late; is this love to us? Since they are supposed thus to object, by cutting questions, God will give them answer:

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? had they not one and the same grandfather? was not Abraham as near to one as to the other? did not one father beget them, and one mother bear them? did they not lie together in the same womb? was there not as much of Abraham and Isaac in Esau as in Jacob? Or what of nature, consanguinity, and outward privilege was there in one more than in the other, whatever that was, Esau might claim, for he was the eldest. In Esau’s person his progeny is included, as appears next verse.

Yet I loved Jacob; the younger brother, and your father, O unthankful Jews! I preferred him to the birthright, and this of free love, before any merit could be dreamed of; I did love his person, and have loved his posterity, with an unparalleled love, and showed it to all. I have loved you, saith the Lord,.... Which appeared of old, by choosing them, above all people upon the face of the earth, to be his special and peculiar people; by bestowing peculiar favours and blessings upon them, both temporal and spiritual; by continuing them a people, through a variety of changes and revolutions; and by lately bringing them out of the Babylonish captivity, restoring their land unto them, and the pure worship of God among them:

Yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us? the Targum renders it, "and if ye should say"; and so Kimchi and Ben Melech; which intimates, that though they might not have expressed themselves in so many words, yet they seemed disposed to say so; they thought it, if they said it not; and therefore, to prevent such an objection, as well as to show their ingratitude, it is put in this form; and an instance of his love is demanded, which is very surprising, when they had so many; and shows great stupidity and unthankfulness. Abarbinel renders the words, "wherefore hast thou loved us?" that is, is there not a reason to be given for loving us? which he supposes was the love of Abraham to God; and therefore his love to them was not free, but by way of reward to Abraham's love; and consequently they were not so much obliged to him for it: to which is replied,

was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord; Jacob and Esau were brethren; they had one and the same father and mother, Isaac and Rebekah, and equally descended from Abraham; so that if one was loved for the sake of Abraham, as suggested, according to Abarbinel's sense, the other had an equal claim to it; they lay in the same womb together; they were twins; and if any could be thought to have the advantage by birth, Esau had it, being born first: but before they were born, and before they had done good or evil, what is afterwards said of them was in the heart of God towards them; which shows that the love of God to his people is free, sovereign, and distinguishing, Genesis 25:23,

yet I loved Jacob; personally considered; not only by giving him the temporal birthright and blessing, and the advantages arising from thence; but by choosing him to everlasting life, bestowing his grace upon him, revealing Christ unto him, and making him a partaker of eternal happiness; and also his posterity, as appears by the above instances mentioned; and likewise mystically considered, for all the elect, redeemed, and called, go by the name of Jacob and Israel in Scripture frequently; for what is here said of Jacob is true of all the individuals of God's people; for which purpose the apostle refers to this passage in Romans 9:13, to prove the sovereignty and distinction of the love of God in their election and salvation: and this is indeed a clear proof that the love of God to his people is entirely free from all motives and conditions in them, being before they had done either good or evil; and therefore did not arise from any goodness in them, nor from their love to him nor from any good works done by them: the choice of persons to everlasting life, the fruit of this love, is denied to be of works, and is ascribed to grace; it passed before any were wrought; and what are done by the best of men are the effects of it; and the persons chosen or passed by were in an equal state when both were done; which appears by this instance: and by which also it is manifest that the love of God to men is distinguishing; it is not alike to all men; there is a peculiar favour he bears to own people; which is evident by the choice of some, and not others; by the redemption of them out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation; by the effectual calling of them out of the world; by the application of the blessings of grace unto them; and by bestowing eternal life on them: and it may be further observed, that the objects of God's love have not always the knowledge of it; indeed they have no knowledge of it before conversion, which is the open time of love; and after conversion they have not always distinct and appropriating views of it; only when God is pleased to come and manifest it unto them.

I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, {b} Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,

(b) Which declares their great ingratitude that did not acknowledge this love, which was so evident, in that he chose Abraham from out of all the world, and next chose Jacob the younger brother from whom they came, and left Esau the elder.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. I have loved you] I have loved you with an everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3) and unchangeable (Romans 11:29) love. This is the keynote of all that follows. On this rests Jehovah’s claim to the filial honour and reverential fear which had been withheld from Him (Malachi 1:6); on this the patient forbearance of the present (Malachi 3:6), and the bright promise of the future (Malachi 4:2). This is the light that casts the dark shadow of the people’s ingratitude across the prophet’s page, and that shines through and beyond the darkness, unquenched and unquenchable.

Wherein] These short pointed questions are a characteristic of Malachi’s style, and lend great force to it. See Introd. p. 11.

I loved Jacob] The proof of this is contained in the implied contrast which follows, Comp. Genesis 25:23; Romans 9:10-13.

Ch. Malachi 1:2-5. Introductory Appeal

These verses form an exordium to the whole Book. The ungrateful disposition of the people and the unchanging love of God are in view in all that follows.Verse 2-5. - § 2. The prophet declares God's special love for Israel Verse 2. - I have loved you. The prophet, desiring to bring home to the people their ingratitude, lays down his thesis; then, in his characteristic manner, repeats the objection of the sceptics in an interrogatory form, and refutes it by plain argument. God had shown his love for Israel by electing them to be his people, and by his treatment of them during the whole course of their history. Wherein hast thou loved us! This was the inward feeling of the people at this time. They doubted God's love and faithfulness. Events had not turned out as they expected. They had, indeed, returned from captivity, and the temple was rebuilt; but none of the splendid things announced by the prophets had come to pass. They were not great and victorious; Messiah had not appeared. Therefore they repined and murmured: they were ungrateful for past favours, and questioned God's power and providence. Was not Esau Jacob's brother? God refutes their unjust charge by referring them to a palpable fact, viz. the different fate of the descendants of the twin brothers, Esau and Jacob. How miserable the destiny of the Edomites! how comparatively fortunate the condition of the Israelites! Yet I loved Jacob. A further and still clearer explanation of the angel's answer (Zechariah 4:6 and Zechariah 4:7) is given in the words of Jehovah which follow in Zechariah 4:8-10. Zechariah 4:8. "And the word of Jehovah came to me thus: Zechariah 4:9. The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it; and thou wilt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me to you. Zechariah 4:10. For who despiseth the day of small things? and they joyfully behold the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, those seven: the eyes of Jehovah, they sweep through the whole earth." This word of God is not addressed to the prophet through the angelus interpres, but comes direct from Jehovah, though, as Zechariah 4:9 clearly shows when compared with Zechariah 2:9 and Zechariah 2:11, through the Maleach Jehovah. Although the words "the hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house" unquestionably refer primarily to the building of the earthly temple, and announce the finishing of that building by Zerubbabel, yet the apodosis commencing with "and thou shalt know" shows that the sense is not thereby exhausted, but rather that the building is simply mentioned here as a type of the spiritual temple (as in Zechariah 7:12-13), and that the completion of the typical temple simply furnishes a pledge of the completion of the true temple. For it was not by the finishing of the earthly building, but solely by the carrying out of the kingdom of God which this shadowed forth, that Judah could discern that the angel of Jehovah had been sent to it. This is also apparent from the reason assigned for this promise in Zechariah 4:10, the meaning of which has been explained in very different ways. Many take ושׂמחוּ וגו as an apodosis, and connect it with כּי מי בז as the protasis: "for whoever despises the day of small things, they shall see with joy," etc. (lxx, Chald., Pesh., Vulg., Luther., Calv., and others); but מי can hardly be taken as an indefinite pronoun, inasmuch as the introduction of the apodosis by Vav would be unsuitable, and it has hitherto been impossible to find a single well-established example of the indefinite מי followed by a perfect with Vav consec. And the idea that vesâmechū is a circumstantial clause, in the sense of "whereas they see with joy" (Hitzig, Koehler), is equally untenable, for in a circumstantial clause the verb never stands at the head, but always the subject; and this is so essential, that if the subject of the minor (or circumstantial) clause is a noun which has already been mentioned in a major clause, either the noun itself, or at any rate its pronoun, must be repeated (Ewald, 341, a), because this is the only thing by which the clause can be recognised as a circumstantial clause. We must therefore take מי as an interrogative pronoun: Who has ever despised the day of the small things? and understand the question in the sense of a negation, "No one has ever despised," etc. The perfect baz with the syllable sharpened, for bâz, from būz (like tach for tâch in Isaiah 44:18; cf. Ges. 72, Anm. 8), expresses a truth of experience resting upon facts. The words contain a perfect truth, if we only take them in the sense in which they were actually intended, - namely, that no one who hopes to accomplish, or does accomplish, anything great, despises the day of the small things. Yōm qetannōth, a day on which only small things occur (cf. Numbers 22:18). This does not merely mean the day on which the foundation-stone of the temple was first laid, and the building itself was still in the stage of its small beginnings, according to which the time when the temple was built up again in full splendour would be the day of great things (Koehler and others). For the time when Zerubbabel's temple was finished - namely, the sixth year of Darius - was just as miserable as that in which the foundation was laid, and the building that had been suspended was resumed once more. The whole period from Darius to the coming of the Messiah, who will be the first to accomplish great things, is a day of small things, as being a period in which everything that was done for the building of the kingdom of God seemed but small, and in comparison with the work of the Messiah really was small, although it contained within itself the germs of the greatest things.

The following perfects, ושׂמחוּ וראוּ, have Vav consec., and express the consequence, though not "the necessary consequence, of their having despised the day of small beginnings," as Koehler imagines, who for that reason properly rejects this view, but the consequence which will ensue if the day of small things is not despised. The fact that the clause beginning with vesâmechū is attached to the first clause of the verse in the form of a consequence, may be very simply explained on the ground that the question "who hath despised," with its negative answer, contains an admonition to the people and their rulers not to despise the small beginnings. If they lay this admonition to heart, the seven eyes of God will see with delight the plumb-lead in the hand of Zerubbabel. In the combination ושׂמחוּ וראוּ the verb sâmechū takes the place of an adverb (Ges. 142, 3, a). אבן הבּדיל is not a stone filled up with lead, but an 'ebhen which is lead, i.e., the plumb-lead or plummet. A plummet in the hand is a sign of being engaged in the work of building, or of superintending the erection of a building. The meaning of the clause is therefore, "Then will the seven eyes of Jehovah look with joy, or with satisfaction, upon the execution," not, however, in the sense of "They will find their pleasure in this restored temple, and look upon it with protecting care" (Kliefoth); for if this were the meaning, the introduction of the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel would be a very superfluous addition. Zerubbabel is still simply the type of the future Zerubbabel - namely, the Messiah - who will build the true temple of God; and the meaning is the following: Then will the seven eyes of God help to carry out this building. שׁבעה אלּה cannot be grammatically joined to עיני יהוה in the sense of "these seven eyes," as the position of 'ēlleh (these) between the numeral and the noun precludes this; but עיני יהוה is an explanatory apposition to שׁבעה אלּה: "those (well-known) seven, (viz.) the eyes of Jehovah." The reference is to the seven eyes mentioned in the previous vision, which are directed upon a stone. These, according to Zechariah 3:9, are the sevenfold radiations or operations of the Spirit of the Lord. Of these the angel of the Lord says still further here: They sweep through the whole earth, i.e., their influence stretches over all the earth. These words also receive their full significance only on the supposition that the angel of Jehovah is speaking of the Messianic building of the house or kingdom of God. For the eyes of Jehovah would not need to sweep through the whole earth, in order to see whatever could stand in the way and hinder the erection of Zerubbabel's temple, but simply to watch over the opponents of Judah in the immediate neighbourhood and the rule of Darius.

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