Malachi 1:12
But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) But ye have.—Better, but ye profane it—viz., “my name” (Malachi 1:11). The word “it” is said by Jewish tradition to be an euphemism for “me.” The present contemptuous conduct of God’s priests is contrasted with the prophesied reverence of heathen nations.

Fruit . . . meat, denote the same as “bread” of Malachi 1:7. They show that they think it contemptible by not taking the trouble to offer such things as are prescribed by the Law.

Malachi 1:12-13. But ye — O priests, and the people, by your example; have profaned it — Namely, my great name. You have used it as a common thing, and as of no importance or consideration. In that ye say — Namely, by your deportment; The table of the Lord is polluted — Not a sacred thing, or a thing to be revered; and the fruit thereof, his meat, is contemptible — Either the meat which fell to the priests’ share, or the portion which was laid upon the altar. They were neither pleased with that which the Lord reserved for himself, nor with that which he gave to them, but they found fault with both; the latter, in particular, they termed contemptible, a poor, sordid allowance, scarce fit for meaner persons and less service. Ye said also — To the sins before mentioned, the priests chiefly, and the people with them, added this also, that they openly complained of God’s service. Behold what a weariness — What a toil and drudgery is it to observe every point of the law! Ye have complained of the constant attendance upon my altar as a wearisome employment. And ye have snuffed — Have expressed your disgust, at it. And ye have brought that which was torn — Ye have brought into the temple, for victims, that which had been torn by wild beasts, &c. It was forbidden even to eat in common that which had been torn, Exodus 22:31, and therefore nothing could show higher contempt than to bring such things for offerings to God.

1:6-14 We may each charge upon ourselves what is here charged upon the priests. Our relation to God, as our Father and Master, strongly obliges us to fear and honour him. But they were so scornful that they derided reproof. Sinners ruin themselves by trying to baffle their convictions. Those who live in careless neglect of holy ordinances, who attend on them without reverence, and go from them under no concern, in effect say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. They despised God's name in what they did. It is evident that these understood not the meaning of the sacrifices, as shadowing forth the unblemished Lamb of God; they grudged the expense, thinking all thrown away which did not turn to their profit. If we worship God ignorantly, and without understanding, we bring the blind for sacrifice; if we do it carelessly, if we are cold, dull, and dead in it, we bring the sick; if we rest in the bodily exercise, and do not make heart-work of it, we bring the lame; and if we suffer vain thoughts and distractions to lodge within us, we bring the torn. And is not this evil? Is it not a great affront to God, and a great wrong and injury to our own souls? In order to the acceptance of our actions with God, it is not enough to do that which, for the matter of it, is good; but we must do it from a right principle, in a right manner, and for a right end. Our constant mercies from God, make worse our slothfulness and stubbornness, in our returns of duty to God. A spiritual worship shall be established. Incense shall be offered to God's name, which signifies prayer and praise. And it shall be a pure offering. When the hour came, in which the true worshippers worshipped the Father in Spirit and in truth, then this incense was offered, even this pure offering. We may rely on God's mercy for pardon as to the past, but not for indulgence to sin in future. If there be a willing mind, it will be accepted, though defective; but if any be a deceiver, devoting his best to Satan and to his lusts, he is under a curse. Men now, though in a different way, profane the name of the Lord, pollute his table, and show contempt for his worship.And ye have profaned - o (are habitually profaning it), in that ye say It was the daily result of their daily lives and acts. "It is probable that the priests did not use such words, but that by their very deeds, they proclaimed this aloud: as in the, 'The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.' For in that he is seen to be a despiser, though he say it not in words, yet, by their very deeds and by the crookedness of their lives, they all but cry out, There is no God. For they who live as though God beheld not, and do all things recklessly and unholily, by their own deeds and works deny God. So they who are not earnest to preserve to the holy altar the reverence becoming to it, by the very things which they do, say,

The table of the Lord is despised - Not the "table of showbread," since it is so called in reference to the sacrifice offered thereon. Ezekiel had probably so called the altar, which he saw in his vision of the new temple. Ezekiel 44:16. It is what was before called "the altar;" an altar, in regard to the sacrifices offered to God; a "table," in regard to the food of the sacrifice therefrom received. Both names, "altar" Matthew 5:23; Hebrews 13:10. and "table" 1 Corinthians 10:21. being received in the New Testament, both were received in the early Church. For each represented one side of the great eucharistic action, as it is a Sacrifice and a sacrament. But the title "altar" was the earliest.

It may be here a different profaneness of the priests. They connived at the sin of the people in sacrificing the maimed animals which they brought, and yet, since they had their food from the sacrifices, and such animals are likely to have been neglected and ill-conditioned, they may very probably have complained of the poverty of their lot, and despised the whole service. For the words used, "its produce, the eating thereof is contemptible" belong to their portion, not to what was consumed by fire. With this agrees their cry.

12. Renewal of the charge in Mal 1:7.

fruit … meat—the offerings of the people. The "fruit" is the produce of the altar, on which the priests subsisted. They did not literally say, The Lord's table is contemptible; but their acts virtually said so. They did not act so as to lead the people to reverence, and to offer their best to the Lord on it. The people were poor, and put off God with the worst offerings. The priests let them do so, for fear of offending the people, and so losing all gains from them.

But ye, O priests, principally and first; the people next, by their examples;

have profaned it; used it as a common thing, and valued it at a strange undervalue, as if neither excellent nor useful.

Ye say; by your deportment you say so; perhaps you do not say so in words, this were two impudent indeed.

The table of the Lord is polluted; not a sacred thing, or to be revered.

His meat; either the meat which fell to the priests’ share, and was for them to live upon, this they despised; or else the portion which did belong to God himself, and was laid upon the altar; they were neither pleased with that the Lord did reserve to himself, nor with that he gave to them, but they found fault with both.

Is contemptible; a poor, sordid allowance, scarce fit for meaner persons and less service.

But ye have profaned it,.... That is, the name of the Lord, which they are said to despise, Malachi 1:6 and pollute, Malachi 1:7 and is a reason why they and their offerings were rejected: and that they profaned the name of the Lord appears by this,

in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted: the same with "contemptible", Malachi 1:7 as Kimchi observes; See Gill on Malachi 1:7,

and the fruit thereof, even his meat is contemptible; the word for fruit (o) sometimes is used for speech, the fruit of the lips, Isaiah 57:19 and taken in this sense here, as it is by some, may be understood either of the word of God, which commanded such and such sacrifices to be offered up upon the altar, and was despised, so Abarbinel: or the word of the priests, who were continually saying that what was offered up on the altar was contemptible, even the food which they ate of; so Jarchi and Kimchi. "Fruit" and "meat" seem to signify one and the same thing, and design the fruit and meat of the altar; either that which belonged to the Lord, the fat and the blood, which were offered to him, and were reckoned contemptible; or that which fell to the share of the priests, which they thought mean and worthless. Cocceius interprets this of Christ the Branch of the Lord, and fruit of the earth, Isaiah 4:2 whose meat it was to do the will of him that sent him, and was despised and rejected by the Jews; and which was the reason of God's casting them off, and taking in the Gentiles.

(o) "et verbum ejus", Pagninus, Munster; "sermo ejus, vel eorum", Vatablus; so Ben Melech.

But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, {n} The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.

(n) Both the priests and the people were infected with this error, that they did not regard what was offered: for they thought that God was as well content with the lean, as with the fat. But in the meantime they did not show the obedience to God which he required, and so committed impiety, and also showed their contempt of God, and covetousness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. have profaned] Rather, profane, R.V. lit. are (habitually) profaning.

the table of the Lord &c.] The reference is to the maintenance of the priests by their share in the sacrifices. After allowing unworthy sacrifices to be offered (Malachi 1:8), they complained that their service at the altar was inadequately remunerated, and murmured at their allotted portion as “contemptible”. The expression, “the fruit thereof,” is very doubtful. The word occurs again (K’ri) Isaiah 57:19, but there the K’thibh is נוב. Probably it should be omitted here altogether. The mistake may have arisen from a scribe beginning to write וניב instead of ונבזה. Then he put dots over the first word וֹנֹיֹבֹ to denote that it was to be cancelled, but this was overlooked. Jerome explains it of the fire on the altar, taking also אכלו as a verb, ‘cum igne qui illud devorat,’ which of course is wrong. The LXX render it τὰ ἐπιτιθέμενα αὐτῷ.

Verse 12. - But ye have profaned it; ye profane God's Name. The prophet contrasts the negligence and profanity of the priests with the piety of the Gentile nations, which he foresees. The table of the Lord (see note on ver. 7). The fruit thereof, even his meat. The food and meat of the altar are the victims offered thereon. By their conduct the priests made both altar and offerings contemptible. Septuagint, Τὰ ἐπιτιθέμενα ἐξουδένωται βρώματα αὐτοῦ, "Its meats that are laid thereon are set at naught;" Vulgate, Quod superponitur contemptibile est, cum igne qui illud devorat. This is either a free paraphrase, or for "meat" Jerome must have read a participle, "eating," and taken "that which eats" the offering to be the fire which consumes it, as "lick up" (1 Kings 18:38). Others explain the Vulgate to mean that the priests complain of the scantiness and inferiority of the victims, the flesh of which formed their support. But as this was owing to their own neglect, they were not likely to make it a subject of complaint Malachi 1:12Malachi 1:10. "O that there were one among you, who would shut the doors, that ye might not light mine altar to no purpose! I have no pleasure in you, saith Jehovah of hosts, and sacrificial offering does not please me from your hand. Malachi 1:11. For from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is burned and sacrifice offered, and indeed a pure sacrifice to my name; for my name is great among the nations, saith Jehovah of hosts. Malachi 1:12. And ye desecrate it with your saying: the table of Jehovah, it is defiled, and its fruit - contemptible is its food. Malachi 1:13. And ye say: behold what a plague! and ye blow upon it, saith Jehovah of hosts, and ye bring hither what is robbed and the lame and the sick, and thus ye bring the sacrificial gift; shall I take pleasure in this from your hand? saith Jehovah." The construction מי בכם ויסגּר is to be explained in accordance with Job 19:23 : "Who is among you and he would shut," for "who is there who would shut?" and the question is to be taken as the expression of a wish, as in 2 Samuel 15:4; Psalm 4:7, etc.: "would that some one among you would shut!" The thought is sharpened by gam, which not only belongs to בּכם, but to the whole of the clause: "O that some one would shut," etc. The doors, the shutting of which is to be desired, are the folding doors of the inner court, in which the altar of burnt-offering stood; and the object of the wish is that the altar might no more be lighted up, not "by lights which burned by the side of the altar" (Ewald), but by the shining of the sacrificial fire which burned upon the altar. חנּם, in vain, i.e., without any object or use, for Jehovah had no pleasure in such priests or such worthless sacrifices. Minchâh here is not the meat-offering as distinguished from the slain-offering, but sacrifice generally, as in 1 Samuel 2:17; Isaiah 1:13; Zephaniah 3:10, etc. Such sacrifices God does not desire, for His name proves itself to be great among all the nations of the earth, so that pure sacrifices are offered to Him in every place. This is the simple connection between Malachi 1:10, Malachi 1:11, and one in perfect harmony with the words. Koehler's objection, that such a line of argument apparently presupposes that God needs sacrifices on the part of man for His own sake, and is only in a condition to despise the sacrifices of His nation when another nation offers Him better ones, has no force, because the expression "for His own sake," in the sense of "for His sustenance or to render the perpetuation of His being possible," with the conclusion drawn from it, is neither to be found in the words of the text, nor in the explanation referred to. God does indeed need no sacrifices for the maintenance of His existence, and He does not demand them for this purpose, but He demands them as signs of the dependence of men upon Him, or of the recognition on the part of men that they are indebted to God for life and every other blessing, and owe Him honour, praise, and thanksgiving in return. In this sense God needs sacrifices, because otherwise He would not be God to men on earth; and from this point of view the argument that God did not want to receive the reprehensible sacrifices of the Israelitish priests, because sacrifices were offered to Him by the nations of the earth in all places, and therefore His name was and remained great notwithstanding the desecration of it on the part of Israel, was a very proper one for attacking the delusion, that God needs sacrifices for His own sustenance; a delusion which the Israelitish priests, against whom Malachi was contending, really cherished, if not in thesi, at all events in praxi, when they thought any sacrificial animal good enough for God. Koehler's assumption, that Malachi 1:11 contains a subordinate parenthetical thought, and that the reason for the assertion in Malachi 1:10 is not given till Malachi 1:12, Malachi 1:13, is opposed to the structure of the sentences, since it necessitates the insertion of "although" after כּי in Malachi 1:11.

It is must more difficult to decide the question whether Malachi 1:11 treats of what was already occurring at the time of the prophet himself, as Hitzig, Maurer, and Koehler suppose (after the lxx, Ephr., Theod. Mops., etc.), or of that which would take place in the future through the reception of the heathen into the kingdom of God in the place of Israel, which would be rejected for a time (Cyr., Theod., Jerome, Luther, Calvin, and others, down to Hengstenberg and Schmieder). Both of these explanations are admissible on grammatical grounds; for such passages as Genesis 15:14 and Joel 3:4 show very clearly that the participle is also used for the future. If we take the words as referring to the present, they can only mean that the heathen, with the worship and sacrifices which they offer to the gods, do worship, though ignorantly yet in the deepest sense, the true and living God (Koehler). But this thought is not even expressed by the Apostle Paul in so definite or general a form, either in Romans 1:19-20, where he teaches that the heathen can discern the invisible being of God from His works, or in Acts 17:23. in his address at Athens, where he infers from the inscription upon an altar, "to the unknown God," that the unknown God, whom the Athenians worshipped, is the true God who made heaven and earth. Still less is this thought contained in our verse. Malachi does not speak of an "unknown God," whom all nations from the rising to the setting of the sun, i.e., over all the earth, worshipped, but says that Jehovah's name is great among the nations of the whole earth. And the name of God is only great among the Gentiles, when Jehovah has proved Himself to them to be a great God, so that they have discerned the greatness of the living God from His marvellous works and thus have learned to fear Him (cf. Zephaniah 2:11; Psalm 46:9-11; Exodus 15:11, Exodus 15:14-16). This experience of the greatness of God forms the substratum for the offering of sacrifices in every place, since this offering is not mentioned merely as the consequence of the fact that the name of Jehovah is great among the nations; but in the clause before the last, "the latter is also expressly placed towards the former in the relation of cause to effect" (Koehler). The idea, therefore, that the statement, that incense is burned and sacrifice offered to the name of Jehovah in every place, refers to the sacrifices which the heathen offered to their gods, is quite inadmissible. At the time of Malachi the name of Jehovah was not great from the rising to the setting of the sun, nor were incense and sacrifice offered to Him in every place, and therefore even Hitzig looks upon the expression בּכל־מקום as "saying too much." Consequently we must understand the words prophetically as relating to that spread of the kingdom of God among all nations, with which the worship of the true God would commence "in every place." בּכל־מקום forms an antithesis to the one place, in the temple at Jerusalem, to which the worship of God was limited during the time of the old covenant (Deuteronomy 12:5-6). מקטר is not a partic. nominasc., incense, suffimentum, for this could not signify the burnt-offering or slain-offering as distinguished from the meat-offering (minchâh), but it is a partic. verbale, and denotes not the kindling of the sacrificial flesh upon the altar, but the kindling of the incense (suffitur); for otherwise מגּשׁ would necessarily stand before מקטר, since the presentation preceded the burning upon the altar. The two participles are connected together asyndetos and without any definite subject (see Ewald, 295, a). It is true that minchâh tehōrâh does actually belong to muggâsh as the subject, but it is attached by Vav explic. in the form of an explanatory apposition: offering is presented to my name, and indeed a sacrificial gift (minchâh covering every sacrifice, as in Malachi 1:10). The emphasis rests upon tehōrâh, pure, i.e., according to the requirements of the law, in contrast to sacrifices polluted by faulty animals, such as the priests of that day were accustomed to offer.

(Note: In Malachi 1:11 the Romish Church finds a biblical foundation for its doctrine of the bloodless sacrifice of the New Testament, i.e., the holy sacrifice of the mass (see Canones et decreta concil. Trident. sess. 22), understanding by minchâh the meat-offering as distinguished from the bloody sacrifices. But even if there were any ground for this explanation of the word, which there is not, it would furnish no support to the sacrifice of the mass, since apart from the fact that the sacrifice of the mass has a totally different meaning from the meat-offering of the Old Testament, the literal interpretation of the word is precluded by the parallel "burning incense" or "frankincense." If burning incense was a symbol of prayer, as even Reincke admits, the "sacrificial offering" can only have denoted the spiritual surrender of a man to God (Romans 12:1).)

In the allusion to the worship, which would be paid by all nations to the name of the Lord, there is an intimation that the kingdom of God will be taken from the Jews who despise the Lord, and given to the heathen who seek God. This intimation forms the basis for the curse pronounced in Malachi 1:14 upon the despisers of God, and shows "that the kingdom of God will not perish, when the Lord comes and smites the land with the curse (Malachi 4:6), but that this apparent death is the way to true life" (Hengstenberg).

To this allusion to the attitude which the heathen will assume towards Jehovah when He reveals His name to them, the prophet appends as an antithesis in Malachi 1:12, Malachi 1:13 a repetition of the reproof, that the priests of Israel desecrate the name of the Lord by that contempt of His name, which they display by offering faulty animals in sacrifice. Malachi 1:12 is only a repetition of the rebuke in v.7. חלּל is really equivalent to בּזה שׁם and גּאל in Malachi 1:6 and Malachi 1:7, and מגאל to נבזה in Malachi 1:7, which occurs in the last clause of Malachi 1:12 as synonymous with it. The additional words וניבו וגו serve to strengthen the opinion expressed by the priests concerning the table of the Lord. ניבו is placed at the head absolutely, and is substantially resumed in אכלו. ניב, proventus, produce, income; the suffix refers to shulchan Yehōvâh (the table of the Lord). The revenue of the table of the Lord, i.e., of the altar, consisted of the sacrifices offered upon it, which are also called its food. The assumption is an erroneous one, that the sentence contains any such thought as the following: "The revenue drawn by the priests from the altar, i.e., the sacrificial flesh which fell to their share, was contemptible;" according to which the priests would be represented as declaring, that they themselves could not eat the flesh of the sacrifices offered without disgust; for they could not possibly speak in this way, since it was they themselves who admitted the faulty animals. If the flesh of blind, lame, or diseased animals had been too bad for food in their estimation, they would not have admitted such animals or offered them in sacrifice (Koehler). Even in Malachi 1:13 this thought is not implied. מתּלאה is a contraction of מה־תּלאה (cf. Ges. 20, 2, a): What a weariness it is! The object, which the priests declare to be a burdensome and troublesome affair, can only be inferred from the following expression, vehippachtem 'ōthō. Hippēăch signifies here to blow away, like הפיח ב in Psalm 10:5, which is radically connected with it, i.e., to treat contemptuously. The suffix אותו does not refer to אכלו, but to שׁלחן יי. The table of Jehovah (i.e., the altar) they treat contemptuously. Consequently the service at the altar is a burden or a trouble to them, whereas this service ought to be regarded as an honour and a privilege. Jerome thinks that instead of אותו, we might read אותי, which is found in a good number of codices; and according to the Masora, אותו has found its way into the text as Tikkune Sopherim (compare the remarks at Habakkuk 1:12 on the Tikkune Sopherim). But in this case also the reading in the text is evidently original and correct. They manifest their contempt of the altar by offering in sacrifice that which has been stolen, etc. (cf. Malachi 1:8). The first הבאתם is to be understood as referring to the bringing of the animals upon the altar; and והבאתם את־המּנחה is to be interpreted thus: "And having brought such worthless animals to the slaughter, ye then offer the sacrificial gift." There is indeed no express prohibition in the law against offering gâzūl, or that which has been stolen; but it was shut out from the class of admissible sacrifices by the simple fact, that robbery was to be visited with punishment as a crime. The reproof closes with the question, which is repeated from Malachi 1:8 (cf. Malachi 1:10), whether God can accept such sacrifices with pleasure. The prophet then utters the curse in the name of God upon all who offer bad and unsuitable sacrifices.

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