Malachi 1:13
Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.
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(13) Said.—Better, say.

And ye have snuffed at it.—Better, and ye puff at it—that is, treat it with contempt, “pooh-pooh it,” as we say. The service of the Temple, which they ought to have regarded as their highest privilege and pleasure, they look on as burdensome and contemptible. For “brought,” read bring.

Torn.—The word Gâzûl elsewhere means “stolen” (Deuteronomy 28:31), or “robbed “—i.e., “spoiled” (Deuteronomy 28:29). It is perhaps not impossible that it may here be a later word for trêphâh, “torn” (comp. the cogn. Arabic ajzal, “galled on the back”), but it is not so used in post-Biblical Jewish writings. On the contrary, Rabbinic tradition uses our word when expressly mentioning that which is stolen as unfit to be offered as a burnt offering—e.g., the Sifrā, (Vayyikrā, Perek 6, Parashta 5, ed. Weis 7b), commenting on the words of Leviticus 1:10, says: “ ‘From the flock,’ and ‘from the sheep,’ and ‘from the goats:’ These words are limitations—viz., to exclude the sick (comp. also Malachi 1:8), and the aged, and that which has been dedicated in thought to an idol, and that which is defiled with its own filth; ‘its offering’ [English Version, his offering, comp. Note on Zechariah 4:2], to exclude that which is stolen.” (See also Talmud Babli, Baba Kamma 66b.) The English Version has the same in view in its rendering of Isaiah 61:8, where it has the authority of Talmud Babli, Sukkah 30a, and of Jerome and Luther. Perhaps the reason why people were inclined to offer a stolen animal may be, that it might very likely have a mark on it, which would render it impossible for the thief to offer it for sale, and so realise money on it, for fear of detection; so then he makes a virtue of a necessity, and brings as an offering to God that which he could not otherwise dispose of.

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.What a weariness! - What an onerous service it is! The service of God is its own reward. If not, it becomes a greater toil, with less reward from this earth, than the things of this earth. Our only choice is between love and weariness.

And ye have snuffed - (puffed) at it , i. e., at the altar; as a thing contemptible. "Ye, have brought that which was taken by violence." In despising any positive law of God, they despised the lawgiver; and so, from contempt of the ceremonial law, they went on to break the moral law. It were indeed a mockery of God, to break a law whereby He bound man to man, and therefrom to seek to appease Himself. Yet in rough times, people, even in Christianity, have made their account with their souls, by giving to the poor a portion of what they had taken from the rich. "God," it was said to such an one, "rejects the gifts obtained by violence and robbery. He loves mercy, justice and humanity, and by the lovers of these only will He be worshiped." (Ecclesiasticus 34:18-20.) "He that sacrificeth of a thing wrongfully gotten, his offering is ridiculous, and the gifts of unjust men are not accepted. The Most High is not pleased with the offerings of the wicked, neither is He pacified for sin by the multitude of sacrifices. Whoso bringeth an offering of the goods of the poor doeth as one that killeth the son before the father's eyes."

13. what a weariness is it!—Ye regard God's service as irksome, and therefore try to get it over by presenting the most worthless offerings. Compare Mic 6:3, where God challenges His people to show wherein is the "weariness" or hardship of His service. Also Isa 43:22-24, wherein He shows that it is they who have "wearied" Him, not He who has wearied them.

snuffed at—despised.

it—the table of the Lord, and the meat on it (Mal 1:12).

torn—namely, by beasts, which it was not lawful to eat, much less to offer (Ex 22:31).

thus … offering—Hebrew, mincha; the unbloody offering of flour, &c. Though this may have been of ordinary ingredients, yet the sacrifices of blemished animals accompanying it rendered it unacceptable.

Ye said also; to those 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 about ordering ourselves and the sacrifices!

Ye have snuffed at it, in token of discontent, and that you thought it was all needless labour; would not examine your sacrifices as you should.

Ye brought that which was torn, & c.: for want of value for the ordinance, and patience in examining whether the sacrifice were perfect and according to law, you priests accepted and offered the torn, and blind, &c., which are expressly forbidden to be made sacrifices: see Malachi 1:8.

Thus ye brought an offering; with such minds, snuffing at my service, and with such sacrifices, unfit for mine altar, have they wearied themselves somewhat, but their God more.

Should I accept this of your hands? saith the Lord, i.e. it is not at all fit to be accepted, nor will our God receive it.

Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it?.... These are either the words of the priests, saying what a wearisome and fatiguing business the temple service was to them, for which they thought they were poorly paid; such as slaying the sacrifices; removing the ashes from the altar; putting the wood in order; kindling the fire, and laying the sacrifice on it: or of the people that brought the sacrifice, who, when they brought a lamb upon their shoulders, and laid it down, said, how weary are we with bringing it, suggesting it was so fat and fleshy; so Kimchi and Abarbinel, to which sense the Targum seems to agree; which paraphrases it,

"but if ye say, lo, what we have brought is from our labour;''

and so the Syriac version, "and ye say, this is from our labour"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "and ye say, lo, from labour"; and the Septuagint version, "and ye say, these are from affliction"; meaning that what they brought was with great toil and labour, out of great poverty, misery, and affliction:

and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; or, "blown it" (p); filled it with wind, that it might seem fat and fleshy, when it was poor and lean; so Abarbinel and Abendana: or ye have puffed, and panted, and blown, as persons weary with bringing such a heavy lamb, when it was so poor and light, that, if it was blown at, it would fall to the ground; so R. Joseph Kimchi: or ye have puffed at it, thrown it upon the ground by way of contempt; so David Kimchi: or, "ye have grieved him" (q); the owner of the lamb, from whom they stole it; which sense is mentioned by Kimchi and Ben Melech; taking the word rendered "torn", in the next clause, for that which was "stolen". Jarchi says this is one of the eighteen words corrected by the scribes; and that instead of "it", it should be read "me": and the whole rendered, "and ye have grieved me"; the Lord, by bringing such sacrifices, and complaining of weariness, and by their hypocrisy and deceitfulness. Cocceius renders the words, "ye have made him to expire"; meaning the Messiah, whom the Jews put to death:

and ye have brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; See Gill on Malachi 1:8 and if the first word is rendered "stolen", as it may, this offering was an abomination to the Lord, Isaiah 61:8,

thus ye brought an offering; such an one as it was: or a "minchah", a meat offering, along with these abominable ones:

should I accept this of your hands? saith the Lord; which, when offered to a civil governor, would not be acceptable, Malachi 1:8 and when contrary to the express law of God.

(p) "et efflastis illam", Montanus; "anheli isto estis", Tigurine version; "exsufflare possetis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, "difflatis", Drusius; "sufflavistis illud", Burkius. (q) "Et contristastis illum"; so some in Vatablus.

Ye said also, Behold, what a {o} weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.

(o) The priests and people were both weary with serving God, and did not regard what manner of sacrifice and service they gave to God: for that which was least profitable, was thought good enough for the Lord.

13. what a weariness is it!] i.e. the service of the Sanctuary.

torn] Rather, taken by violence. R.V.

ye brought an offering] Rather, ye bring the offering, R.V. The reference is perhaps to “the (stated, public) offerings,” which the priests provided out of the Temple funds entrusted to them (Nehemiah 10:32-33). Comp. “the offering of Judah and Jerusalem,” Malachi 3:4. By purchasing cheap and unworthy animals they would increase their own portion of the fund. But Malachi 1:12; Malachi 1:14 make it clear that similar abuses were tolerated in the private sacrifices of individuals.

Verse 13. - What a weariness is it! The reference is to the table of the Lord. Despising the altar, and performing their duties without heart or faith, the priests found the services an intolerable burden. Vulgate, ecce de labore, which seems to be an excuse of the people, urging that they offer such things as their toil and poverty allow. Septuagint, ταῦτα ἐκ κακοπαθείας ἐστί, which has much the same meaning. The present Hebrew text is represented by the Authorized Version. Ye have snuffed at it; i.e. at the altar. The phrase expresses contempt. "It" has been supposed to be a "scribes' correction" for "me." The Septuagint and Syriac give, "I snorted at them." That which was torn; rather, that which was taken by violence - that which was stolen or unjustly taken. Septuagint, ἁρπάγματα: Ecclus. 34:18 (31:21), "He that sacrificeth of a thing wrongfully gotten, his offering is ridiculous (μεμωκημένη)" Lame... sick (see Leviticus 22:19-25). Thus ye brought an (bring the) offering (minchah). Subject to analogous defects is even your meat offering, the accessory to other sacrifices, and therefore it is unacceptable. Malachi 1:13Malachi 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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