Malachi 1:1
The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
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1-5. These verses are introductory to the whole prophecy. God had shown His love to Israel; Israel ought to have made a proper return, but, on the contrary, Israel had abused God’s loving-kindness.

(1) The burden.—See Notes on Isaiah 13:1; Jeremiah 23:33-40; Zechariah 9:1; Zechariah 12:1.

Malachi.—See Introduction.

Malachi 1:1-3. The burden of the Lord — The word burden is here, as often elsewhere, equivalent to prophecy; to Israel — To those of all the tribes that were returned from captivity. I have loved you, saith the Lord — That is, in a particular and extraordinary degree; not only as men, but above the rest of men, and above the other posterity, both of Abraham and Isaac. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? — That is, wherein does thy particular love to us appear? What proofs hast thou given of loving us in an extraordinary degree? Us, who have been captives, and have groaned under the miseries of captivity, and bondage all our days till of late? Is this a proof of thy love to us?

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord — Did not one father beget them, and one mother bear them? Yet I loved Jacob — Namely, more than Esau; I preferred him to the honour and privileges of the birthright, and this of free love. I loved his person and his posterity. Here God is introduced as answering the question, which, in the preceding clause, they are represented as asking, namely, wherein his particular regard to them appeared. But it must be well observed, that Jacob and Esau, as elsewhere Israel and Edom, are put to signify the whole posterity arising from these two persons, namely, the Israelites and Idumeans. And in asking, Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? God reminds them that the Idumeans, as they themselves very well knew, were descended from Abraham as well as they, and from a progenitor who was own brother to their progenitor Jacob. And I hated Esau — I loved not Esau’s posterity as I loved Jacob’s. By hating here is only meant, having a less degree of love, for in this sense the expression is frequently used. Thus, Genesis 29:31, Jacob’s loving Leah less than Rachel is termed hating her; and Luke 14:26, the loving father and mother, wife and children, less than we love Christ, is termed the hating of them. That this is the meaning of the expression hating, there, is evident from the parallel text, Matthew 10:37-38, where we read, He that loveth father or mother MORE than me, is not worthy of me, &c. From these, and other passages that might be produced, it is evident that the expression, hating, is frequently used to signify no more than loving in a less degree, or showing less regard or favour to one than another. Indeed, as it may be further added, it would be doing a high dishonour to the nature of God to suppose that the expression, as here applied to Jacob and Esau, is to be taken in the strict sense of the word hating. And laid his mountains and his heritage waste — In these words the Lord shows in what sense he had hated Esau, that is, his posterity; he had given him a lot inferior to that which he had conferred on Jacob. Idumea had been laid waste by the arms of Nebuchadnezzar, five years after the taking of Jerusalem; and whereas Jacob’s captivity, or that of the Israelites, were restored to their own land, and their cities rebuilt, Esau’s never were. For the dragons of the wilderness — Creatures which delight in desolate places, by which the utter desolation of Idumea is signified. The Hebrew word תנם, or תנות, here rendered dragons, signifies any large creature of the creeping kind, whether by land or sea. In this place it is taken for a great serpent, such as are commonly found in deserts and desolate places.

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.The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel - o "The word of the Lord is heavy, because it is called a burden, yet it hath something of consolation, because it is not 'against,' but to Israel. For it is one thing when we write to this or that person; another, when we write 'against' this or that person; the one being the part of friendship, the other, the open admission of enmity."

"By the hand of Malachi;" through him, as the instrument of God, deposited with him; as Paul speaks of 1 Corinthians 9:17; Titus 1:3, "the dispensation of the Gospel 2 Corinthians 5:19, the Lord of reconciliation; Galatians 2:7, the Gospel of the uncircumcision, being committed to him."

THE BOOK OF MALACHI Commentary by A. R. Faussett


Malachi forms the transition link between the two dispensations, the Old and the New, "the skirt and boundary of Christianity" [Tertullian], to which perhaps is due the abrupt earnestness which characterizes his prophecies. His very name is somewhat uncertain. Malachi is the name of an office, rather than a person, "My messenger," and as such is found in Mal 3:1. The Septuagint favors this view in Mal 1:1; translate, not "by Malachi," but "by the hand of His messenger" (compare Hag 1:13). Malachi is the last inspired messenger of the Old Testament, announcing the advent of the Great Messenger of the New Testament. The Chaldee paraphrase identifies him with Ezra wrongly, as Ezra is never called a prophet but a scribe, and Malachi never a scribe but a prophet. Still it hence appears that Malachi was by some old authorities not regarded as a proper name. The analogy of the headings of other prophets, however, favors the common view that Malachi is a proper name. As Haggai and Zechariah, the contemporary prophets, supported Joshua and Zerubbabel in the building of the temple, so he at a subsequent period supported the priest Ezra and the governor Nehemiah. Like that ruler, he presupposes the temple to have been already built (Mal 1:10; 3:1-10). Both alike censure the abuses still unreformed (Ne 13:5, 15-22, 23-30), the profane and mercenary character of the priests, the people's marriages contracted with foreigners, the non-payment of the tithes, and want of sympathy towards the poor on the part of the rich (Ne 6:7) implies that Nehemiah was supported by prophets in his work of reformation. The date thus will be about 420 B.C., or later. Both the periods after the captivity (that of Haggai and Zechariah, and that of Malachi) were marked by royal, priestly, and prophetic men at the head of God's people. The former period was that of the building of the temple; the latter, that of the restoration of the people and rebuilding of the city. It is characteristic of the people of God that the first period after the restoration was exclusively devoted to the rebuilding of the temple; the political restoration came secondarily. Only a colony of fifty thousand settled with Joshua and Zerubbabel in Palestine (Ezr 2:64). Even these became intermingled with the heathen around during the sixty years passed over by Ezra in silence (Ezr 9:6-15; Ne 1:3). Hence a second restoration was needed which should mould the national life into a Jewish form, re-establishing the holy law and the holy city—a work effected by Ezra and Nehemiah, with the aid of Malachi, in a period of about half a century, ending with the deaths of Malachi and Nehemiah in the last ten years of the fifth century B.C.; that is, the "seven weeks" (Da 9:25) put in the beginning of the "seventy" by themselves, to mark the fundamental difference between them, the last period of Old Testament revelation, and the period which followed without any revelation (the sixty-two weeks), preceding the final week standing out in unrivalled dignity by itself as the time of Messiah's appearing. The seventy weeks thus begin with the seventh year of Artaxerxes who allowed Ezra to go to Jerusalem, 457 B.C., in accordance with the commandment which then went forth from God. Ezra the priest performed the inner work of purifying the nation from heathenish elements and reintroducing the law; while Nehemiah did the outer work of rebuilding the city and restoring the national polity [Auberlen]. Vitringa makes the date of Malachi's prophecies to be about the second return of Nehemiah from Persia, not later than 424 B.C., the date of Artaxerxes' death (Ne 13:6). About this time Socrates was teaching the only approach to a pure morality which corrupt Athens ever knew. Moore distinguishes six portions: (1) Charge against Israel for insensibility to God's love, which so distinguished Israel above Edom (Mal 1:1-5). (2) The priests are reproved for neglect and profanation (Mal 1:6-2:9). (3) Mixed marriages, and the wrongs done to Jewish wives, are reproved (Mal 2:10-16). (4) Coming of Messiah and His forerunners (Mal 2:17-3:6). (5) Reproof for tithes withheld (Mal 3:7-12). (6) Contrast between the godly and the ungodly at the present time, and in the future judgment; exhortation, therefore, to return to the law (Mal 3:13-4:6).

The style is animated, but less grand, and the rhythm less marked, than in some of the older prophets.

The canonicity of the book is established by the references to it in the New Testament (Mt 11:10; 17:12; Mr 1:2; 9:11, 12; Lu 1:17; Ro 9:13).


Mal 1:1-14. God's Love: Israel's Ingratitude: THE Priests' Mercenary Spirit: A Gentile Spiritual Priesthood Shall Supersede Them.

1. burden—heavy sentence.

to Israel—represented now by the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with individuals of the ten tribes who had returned with the Jews from Babylon. So "Israel" is used, Ezr 7:10. Compare 2Ch 21:2, "Jehoshaphat king of Israel," where Judah, rather than the ten tribes, is regarded as the truest representative of Israel (compare 2Ch 12:6; 28:19).

Malachi—see [1192]Introduction. God sent no prophet after him till John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, in order to enflame His people with the more ardent desire for Him, the great antitype and fulfiller of prophecy.God by Malachi complaineth of Israel's ingratitude, Mal 1:1-5 and of the profane disrespect shown to God's worship, Mal 1:6-13. The curse of corrupt offerings; Mal 1:14.

The burden: see Zec 9:1 Nah 1:1. Usually it imports sad threats against those concerned in it, though sometimes it may be no more than the message of God.

Of the word of the Lord: the authority was Divine on which this prophet spake.

Malachi: my messenger, (saith the Lord,) so the Hebrew sounds. My angel, as some, though they err who take him to be an angel conversing with Jews in the form of a man; but angel, taken in the grammatical sense, i.e. messenger, he was, and God's messenger, the last of the prophets sent to Israel before the great Prophet Messiah came. That he was Mordecai, or Ezra, as some conjecture without good ground, or who he was, of what tribe or family, the Scripture gives us no account, and we make no guess. His prophecy is of Divine authority, and so cited by three of the four evangelists, Mat 11:10 Mar 1:2 Luk 1:16; and by St. Paul, Rom 9:13.

The burden of the word of the Lord,.... By which is meant the prophecy of this book, so called, not because heavy, burdensome, and distressing, either for the prophet to carry, or the people to bear; for some part of it, which respects Christ, and his forerunner, was matter of joy to the people of God; but because it was a message sent by the Lord, and carried by the prophet to the people; See Gill on Zechariah 9:1, Zechariah 12:1 and this was not the word of man, but of God, a part of Scripture, by divine inspiration. The Syriac version is, "the vision of the words of the Lord": and the Arabic version, "the revelation of the word of the Lord"; and the Septuagint version, "the assumption of the word of the Lord"; it was what was revealed, made known, and delivered by the Lord to the prophet, and taken up by him, and carried to Israel, which was the general name of all the twelve tribes, when under one prince; but when the kingdom was divided, in Rehoboam's time, it was peculiar to the ten tribes, as Judah was to the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah; but after the return of these two from the Babylonish captivity, in which they were joined by some of the other tribes, it was given unto them as here:

by Malachi; or, "by the hand of Malachi" (m); he was the instrument the Lord made use of; the person whom he sent, and by whom he delivered the following prophecy.

(m) "in manu", V. L. Cocceius; "per manum", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator.

The {a} burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.

The Argument - This Prophet was one of the three who God raised up for the comfort of the Church after the captivity, and after him there was no one else until John the Baptist was sent, which was either a token of God's wrath, or an admonition that they should with more fervent desires look for the coming of the Messiah. He confirms the same doctrine, that the two former do: chiefly he reproves the priests for their covetousness, and because they served God after their own fantasies, and not according to the direction of his word. He also notes certain distinct sins, which were then among them, such as the marrying of idolatrous and many wives, murmurings against God, impatience, and things such as these. Nonetheless, for the comfort of the godly he declares that God would not forget his promise made to their fathers, but would send Christ his messenger, in whom the covenant would be accomplished, whose coming would be terrible to the wicked, and bring all consolation and joy to the godly.

(a) See Geneva Isa 13:1

Ch. Malachi 1:1. Title

1. burden] either burden, from its weighty character as a Divine announcement, or oracle as that which is ‘taken up’ (Exodus 20:17 : Numbers 23:18) by the speaker. See note on Zechariah 9:1 in this Series.

Malachi] See Introd. pp. 7–9.

Verse 1. - § 1. Heading and author. The burden (Zechariah 9:1; Zechariah 12:1; see note on Nahum 1:1). The word of the Lord is heavy and full of threats, but, as St. Jerome notes, it is also consolatory, because it is not "against" but to Israel. By this name the whole covenanted nation is designated, here, perhaps, with some idea of reminding the people of Jacob's faith and patience, and stimulating them to imitate their great ancestor. By Malachi; literally, by the hand of Malachi (comp. Jeremiah 37:2). That Malachi is the proper name of the prophet, and not a mere official designation, see the proof in the Introduction, § II. The LXX. renders, ἐν χειρὶ ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ, "by the hand of his angel," or" messenger," and some curious theories have been founded on this translation; e.g. that an angel was the real author of the book, or came and explained it to the people. A similar legend once obtained concerning Haggai, called" The Lord's Messenger" (Haggai 1:13). At the end of the verse the LXX. adds, "fix it in your hearts," which Jerome supposes to have been imported hither from Haggai 2:15. Malachi 1:1The first verse contains the heading (see the introduction), "The burden of the word of the Lord," as in Zechariah 9:1 and Zechariah 12:1. On massa' (burden), see Nahum 1:1. The prophet commences his address in Malachi 1:2, by showing the love for which Israel has to thank its God, in order that on the ground of this fact he may bring to the light the ingratitude of the people towards their God. Malachi 1:2. "I have loved you, saith Jehovah; and ye say, Wherein hast Thou loved us? Is not Esau a brother of Jacob? is the saying of Jehovah: and I loved Jacob, Malachi 1:3. And I hated Esau, and made his mountains a waste, and his inheritance for jackals of the desert. Malachi 1:4. If Edom says, We are dashed to pieces, but will build up the ruins again, thus saith Jehovah of hosts: They will build, but I will pull down: and men will call them territory of wickedness, and the people with whom Jehovah is angry for ever. Malachi 1:5. And your eyes will see it; and ye will say, Great is Jehovah over the border of Israel." These four verses form neither an independent address, nor merely the first member of the following address, but the introduction and foundation of the whole book. The love which God has shown to Israel ought to form the motive and model for the conduct of Israel towards its God. אהב denotes love in its expression or practical manifestation. The question asked by the people, "Wherein hast Thou shown us love?" may be explained from the peculiarities of Malachi's style, and is the turn he regularly gives to his address, by way of introducing the discussion of the matter in hand, so that we are not to see in it any intention to disclose the hypocrisy of the people. The prophet proves the love of Jehovah towards Israel, from the attitude of God towards Israel and towards Edom. Jacob and Esau, the tribe-fathers of both nations, were twin brothers. It would therefore have been supposed that the posterity of both the Israelites and the Edomites would be treated alike by God. But this is not the case. Even before their birth Jacob was the chosen one; and Esau or Edom was the inferior, who was to serve his brother (Genesis 25:23, cf. Romans 9:10-13). Accordingly Jacob became the heir of the promise, and Esau lost this blessing. This attitude on the part of God towards Jacob and Esau, and towards the nations springing from them, is described by Malachi in these words: I((Jehovah) have loved Jacob, and hated Esau. The verbs אהב, to love, and שׂנא, to hate, must not be weakened down into loving more and loving less, to avoid the danger of falling into the doctrine of predestination. שׂנא, to hate, is the opposite of love. And this meaning must be retained here; only we must bear in mind, that with God anything arbitrary is inconceivable, and that no explanation is given here of the reasons which determined the actions of God. Malachi does not expressly state in what the love of God to Jacob (i.e., Israel) showed itself; but this is indirectly indicated in what is stated concerning the hatred towards Edom. The complete desolation of the Edomitish territory is quoted as a proof of this hatred. Malachi 1:3 does not refer to the assignment of a barren land, as Rashi, Ewald, and Umbreit suppose, but to the devastation of the land, which was only utterly waste on the western mountains; whereas it was by no means barren on the eastern slopes and valleys (see at Genesis 27:39). Tannōth is a feminine plural form of tan equals tannı̄m (Micah 1:8; Isaiah 13:22, etc.), by which, according to the Syrio-Aramaean version, we are to understand the jackal. The meaning dwelling-places, which Gesenius and others have given to tannōth, after the lxx and Peshito, rests upon a very uncertain derivation (see Roediger at Ges. Thes. p. 1511). "For jackals of the desert:" i.e., as a dwelling-place for these beasts of the desert (see Isaiah 34:13). It is a disputed point when this devastation took place, and from what people it proceeded. Jahn, Hitzig, and Koehler are of opinion that it is only of the most recent date, because otherwise the Edomites would long ago have repaired the injury, which, according to Malachi 1:4, does not appear to have been done. Malachi 1:4, however, simply implies that the Edomites would not succeed in the attempt to repair the injury. On the other hand, Malachi 1:2, Malachi 1:3 evidently contain the thought, that whereas Jacob had recovered, in consequence of the love of Jehovah, from the blow which had fallen upon it (through the Chaldaeans), Esau's territory was still lying in ruins from the same blow, in consequence of Jehovah's hatred (Caspari, Obad. p. 143). It follows from this, that the devastation of Idumaea emanated from the Chaldaeans. On the other hand, the objection that the Edomites appear to have submitted voluntarily to the Babylonians, and to have formed an alliance with them, does not say much, since neither the one nor the other can be raised even into a position of probability; but, on the contrary, we may infer with the greatest probability from Jeremiah 49:7., as compared with Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:21, that the Edomites were also subjugated by Nebuchadnezzar. Maurer's assumption, that Idumaea was devastated by the Egyptians, Ammonites, and Moabites, against whom Nebuchadnezzar marched in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, is perfectly visionary. The threat in Malachi 1:4, that if Edom attempts to rebuild its ruins, the Lord will again destroy that which is built, is equivalent to a declaration that Edom will never recover its former prosperity and power. This was soon fulfilled, the independence of the Edomites being destroyed, and their land made an eternal desert, especially from the times of the Maccabees onwards. The construction of אדום as a feminine with תּאמר may be explained on the ground that the land is regarded as the mother of its inhabitants, and stands synecdochically for the population. Men will call them (להן, the Edomites) גּבוּל רשׁעה, territory, land of wickedness, - namely, inasmuch as they will look upon the permanent devastation, and the failure of every attempt on the part of the nation to rise up again, as a practical proof that the wrath of God is resting for ever upon both people and land on account of Edom's sins.
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