Malachi 1:3
And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.And I made his mountains a waste, and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness - o

Malachi attests the first stage of fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (Joel 3:19, vol. i. pp. 214, 215), "Edom shall be a desolate wilderness." In temporal things, Esau's blessing was identical with Jacob's; "the fatness of the earth and of the dew of heaven from above;" and the rich soil on the terraces of its mountain-sides, though yielding nothing now except a wild beautiful vegetation, and its deep glens, attest what they once must have been, when artificially watered and cultivated. The first desolation must have been through Nebuchadnezzar , in his expedition against Egypt, when he subdued Moab and Ammon; and Edom lay in his way, as Jeremiah had foretold Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:21.

3. hated—not positively, but relatively; that is, did not choose him out to be the object of gratuitous favor, as I did Jacob (compare Lu 14:26, with Mt 10:37; Ge 29:30, 31; De 21:15, 16).

laid his mountains … waste—that is, his territory which was generally mountainous. Israel was, it is true, punished by the Chaldeans, but Edom has been utterly destroyed; namely, either by Nebuchadnezzar [Rosenmuller], or by the neighboring peoples, Egypt, Ammon, and Moab [Josephus, Antiquities, 10.9,7; Maurer], (Jer 49:18).

dragons—jackals [Moore] (compare Isa 34:13). Maurer translates, "Abodes of the wilderness," from an Arabic root "to stop," or "to abide." English Version is better.

I hated; I loved not Esau or his posterity as I loved Jacob and his posterity: this not loving, comparatively, is a hating, God showed not the same kindness to the twin brothers; the one was more enriched with the fruits of God’s love, and had cause to be thankful; the other had no cause to complain, for God did him no wrong.

Esau; containing his posterity with him; for though the hatred or lesser love began towards Esau’s person, yet the effects of it appeared more manifestly in Esau’s posterity.

His mountains and his heritage; Mount Seir with the neighbouring mountains given to Esau Deu 2:5 Joshua 24:4 for inheritance, as here it is said, and which he and his posterity did enjoy about one thousand two hundred years.

Waste, by Nebuchadnezzar’s arms five years after the sacking of Jerusalem, as foretold by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 35. The people were slain or captivated, or forced to lice from the sword of the enemy, their cities taken, plundered, and burnt. It is possible that they might meet with worse usage than the Jews met with herein; however, their state seems equal, and here is no token of unequal hatred; but what follows doth manifestly discover it, for whereas Jacob’s captivity returned, and their cities were rebuilt, Esau’s never were.

For the dragons; or jackals, or owls, for the word is so used and explained by some; or all these with dragons doleful creatures, which delight in desolate places; by which the utter desolation, and the perpetuity of the desolation, of Esau is signified. And I hated Esau,.... Or, "rejected" him, as the Targum; did not love him as Jacob: this was a negative, not positive hatred; it is true of him, personally considered; not only by taking away the birthright and blessing from him, which he despised; but by denying him his special grace, leaving him in his sins, and to his lusts, so that he became a profane person; shared not in the grace of God here, and had no part in the eternal inheritance with the saints in light; and likewise it is true of his posterity, as the following instances show:

and laid his mountains and his heritage waste; which, according to Grotius, was done by Nebuchadnezzar, five years after the captivity of the Jews, in fulfilment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 49:7 but this was done by the Nabatheans (n): Mount Seir was the famous mountain that Esau dwelt in, Genesis 36:8 there might be more in his country; or this might have many tops, and therefore called "mountains"; and to this account of the waste and desolate state of this country agrees what is at present related of it, by a late traveller (o) in those parts:

"if (says he) we leave Palestine and Egypt behind us, and pursue our physical observations into the land of Edom, we shall be presented with a variety of prospects, quite different from those we have lately met with in the land of Canaan, or in the field of Zoan; for we cannot here be entertained with pastures clothed with flocks, or with valleys standing thick with corn, or with brooks of water, or fountains, or depths that spring out of valleys and hills, Deuteronomy 8:7 here is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or pomegranates, Numbers 20:5 but the whole is an "evil place", a lonesome desolate wilderness; no otherwise diversified than by plains covered with sand, and by mountains made up of naked rocks and precipices, Malachi 1:3 neither is this country ever (unless sometimes at the equinoxes) refreshed with rain; but the few hardy vegetables it produces are stunted by a perpetual drought; and the nourishment which the dews contribute to them in the night, is sufficiently impaired by the powerful heat of the sun in the day:''

Though this country seems to have been originally more fruitful, and better cultivated, as may be concluded from Genesis 27:39 but is become so through the judgments of God upon it:

for the dragons of the wilderness; so called to distinguish them from sea dragons, or the dragon fish; such as whales and crocodiles, which are sometimes expressed by the same word here used, Genesis 1:21 and these land dragons are no other than serpents of an enormous size. In the Indies they used to be distinguished into three sorts; such as were found in the mountains; such as were bred in caves, or in the flat country; and such as were found in fens and marshes. The first is the largest of all, and are covered with scales as resplendent as polished gold; these have a kind of beard hanging from their lower jaw; their eyebrows large, and very exactly arched; their aspect the most frightful that can be imagined; and their cry loud and shrill; their crest of a bright yellow; and a protuberance on their heads of the colour of a burning coal. Those of the flat country differ from the former in nothing but having their scales of a silver colour, and in their frequenting rivers, to which the former never come. Those that live in marshes and fens are of a dark colour, approaching to a black, move slowly, have no crest, or any rising on their heads (p); these creatures commonly inhabit desert places. So Diodorus Siculus (q), speaking of Ethiopia, says, it is reported that various kinds of serpents, and of an incredible size, are seen near the desert, had in places inhabited by wild beasts; and Aelianus (r) describes the dragon as dwelling in woods, and living on poisonous herbs; and preferring a desolate place to cities, and the habitations of men; and when in Scripture it is predicted of countries and cities that they shall become desolate, it is usually observed, that they shall be the dwelling places of dragons, as in Isaiah 13:22 so here it is foretold that it should be the case of Edom, as it has been, and still continues to be, as appears from the above traveller (s); who, passing through some part of this country, says of it,

"vipers, especially in the wilderness of Sin, which might be very properly called "the inheritance of dragons", were very dangerous and troublesome; not only our camels, but the Arabs who attended them, running every moment the risk of being bitten;''

so that, according to the prediction, it is now a place for such creatures. A learned Jew (t) is of opinion, that not serpents, but jackals, are here meant, which are a sort of wild howling beasts, that live abroad in desolate places; See Gill on Micah 1:8 but whether they be the one, or the other, it makes for the same purpose, to denote what a desert place Edom would become; since it should be inhabited by such creatures to dwell in, which denotes the utter desolation made. So the Targum renders it, "into the wasteness of the desert"; or into a waste desert, where none but such sort of animals inhabit. The Septuagint and Syriac versions render it, "into the houses", or "cottages, of the desert": and now, though this was the case of Judea, that it was left desolate, yet it was but for a while; at the end of seventy years the Jews returned to their own land, and dwelt in it; but so did not the Edomites, as appears by the following words; which shows the regard God had to the posterity of Jacob, and not to the posterity of Esau.

(n) See Prideanx's Connexion, par. 2. B. 3. p. 199. (o) Dr. Shaw's Travels, p. 438. Ed. 2.((p) Harris's Voyages and Travels, vol. 1. p. 474. (q) Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 169. (r) De Animal. l. 6. c. 63. (s) Dr. Shaw Travels, p. 448. Ed. 2.((t) Tanchum apud Pocock in loc.

And I {c} hated Esau, {1} and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

(c) For besides this the signs of my hatred appeared even when he was made servant to his younger brother, being yet in his mother's belly, and also afterward in that he was put from his birthright. Yet even now before your eyes the signs of this are evident, in that his country lies waste, and he will never return to inhabit it.

(d) Whereas you my people, whom the enemy hated more than them, are by my grace and love towards you delivered; read Ro 9:13.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. for the dragons] Rather, jackals. The unusual form of the word here (fem. instead of masc. as elsewhere) has led many to render, dwellings (LXX. δώματα ἐρήμου; and Syr.). But the derivation and meaning are not satisfactory. Rather, with R.V., I made his mountains a desolation, and gave his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness. Unless indeed we neglect the accents and adopt a third rendering, which seems still better to preserve the parallelism, I made his mountains a desolation, and his heritage a wilderness for jackals.

The desolation of Edom here referred to was in all probability caused by Nebuchadnezzar, in fulfilment of the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:17-22. Comp. Jeremiah 27:3-6). See Obadiah, Introd. pp. 20, 22, in this Series.Verse 3. - And I hated Esau. St. Paul quotes these words (Romans 9:13) in order to illustrate his position, "that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." Even before his birth Jacob was the chosen one, and Esau, the elder, was to serve the younger. This mystery of Divine election has seemed to some to be stated so harshly that they have thought that the words of the text need to be softened, or to be modified by their explanation. Thus they give the glosses, "I have preferred Jacob to Esau;" "I have loved Esau less than Jacob;" or they have limited the terms "love" end "hatred" to the bestowing or withholding of temporal blessings; or they have affirmed that Esau was hated because God foresaw his unworthiness, and Jacob was beloved owing to his foreseen piety and faithfulness. The whole question is discussed by Augustine, 'De Div. Quint. ad Simplic.,' 1:18 (11:433). He ends by saying, "Deus odit impietatem: in aliis etiam punit per damnationem, in aliis adimit per justificationem." But Malachi is not speaking of the predestination of the one brother and the reprobation of the other; he is contrasting the histories of the two peoples represented by them; as Jerome puts it, "In Jacob vos dilexi, in Esau Idumaeos odio habui." Both nations sinned; both are punished; but Israel by God's free mercy was forgiven and restored, while Edom was left in the misery which it had brought upon itself by its own iniquity. Thus is proved God's love for the Israelites (Knabenbauer). That it is of the two nations that the prophet speaks, rather than of the two brothers, is seen by what follows. Laid his mountains... waste. While the Israelites were repeopling and cultivating their land, and their cities were rising from their ruins, and the temple and the capital were rebuilt, Edom, which had suffered at the hand of the same enemies, had never recovered from the blow, and still lay a scene of desolation and ruin. It seems that Nebuchadnezzar attacked and conquered Edom some few years after he had taken Jerusalem. This event happened during one of his expeditions against Egypt, one of which took place in the thirty-seventh year of his reign, as we learn from a record lately deciphered (see 'Transact. of Soc. of Bibl. Archaeology,' 7:210, etc.). (For Edom and its history, see the Introduction to Obadiah.) Dragons; rather, jackals (Micah 1:8); Septuagint, εἰς δώματα ἐρήμου, "for habitations of the desert;" Vulgate, dracones deserti, whence the Authorized Version. This gave to the prophet a general explanation of the meaning of the vision; for the angel had told him that the house (or kingdom) of God would be built and finished by the Spirit of Jehovah, and the church of the Lord would accomplish its mission, to shine brightly as a candlestick. But there is one point in the vision that is not yet quite clear to him, and he therefore asks for an explanation in Zechariah 4:11-14. Zechariah 4:11. "And I answered and said to him, What are these two olive-trees on the right of the candlestick, and on the left? Zechariah 4:12. And I answered the second time, and said to him, What are the two branches (ears) of the olive-trees which are at the hand of the two golden spouts, which pour the gold out of themselves? Zechariah 4:13. And he spake to me thus: Knowest thou not what these are? and I said, No, my lord. Zechariah 4:14. Then said he, These are the two oil-children, which stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The meaning of the olive-trees on the right and left sides of the candlestick (‛al, over, because the olive-trees rose above the candlestick on the two sides) is not quite obvious to the prophet. He asks about this in Zechariah 4:11; at the same time, recognising the fact that their meaning is bound up with the two shibbălē hazzēthı̄m, he does not wait for an answer, but gives greater precision to his question, by asking the meaning of these two branches of the olive-trees. On שׁתּי the Masora observes, that the dagesh forte conjunct., which is generally found after the interrogative pronoun mâh, is wanting in the שׁ, and was probably omitted, simply because the שׁ has not a full vowel, but a sheva, whilst the ת which follows has also a dagesh. These branches of the olive-trees were beyad, "at the hand of" (i.e., close by, as in Job 15:23) the two golden tsanterōth, which poured the gold from above into the gullâh of the candlestick. Tsanterōth (ἁπ. λεγ.) is supposed by Aben Ezra and others to stand for oil-presses; but there is no further ground for this than the conjecture that the olive-trees could only supply the candlestick with oil when the olives were pressed. The older translators render the word by spouts or "channels" (lxx μυξωτήρες, Vulg. rostra, Pesh. noses). It is probably related in meaning to tsinnōr, channel or waterfall, and to be derived from tsâmar, to rush: hence spouts into which the branches of the olive-trees emptied the oil of the olives, so that it poured with a rush out of them into the oil vessel. The latter is obviously implied in the words hammerı̄qı̄m, etc., which empty out the gold from above themselves, i.e., the gold which comes to them from above. Hazzâbâbh, the gold which the tsanterōth empty out, is supposed by most commentators to signify the golden-coloured oil. Hofmann (Weiss. u. Erf. i.-344-5) and Kliefoth, on the contrary, understand by it real gold, which flowed out of the spouts into the candlestick, so that the latter was thereby perpetually renewed. But as the candlestick is not now for the first time in process of formation, but is represented in the vision as perfectly finished, and as the gold comes from the branches of the olive-trees, it is impossible to think of anything else than the oil which shines like gold. Accordingly the oil (yitsâr, lit., shining) is called zâhâbh, as being, as it were, liquid gold. Hence arises the play upon words: the spouts are of gold, and they pour gold from above themselves into the candlestick (Hitzig and Koehler).

The angel having expressed his astonishment at the prophet's ignorance, as he does in Zechariah 4:5, gives this answer: These (the two bushes of the olive-tree, for which the olive-trees stood there) are the two benē yitshâr, sons of oil, i.e., endowed or supplied with oil (cf. Isaiah 5:1), which stand by the Lord of the whole earth, namely as His servants (on ‛âmad ‛al, denoting the standing posture of a servant, who rises above his master when seated, see 1 Kings 22:19, also Isaiah 6:2). The two children of oil cannot be the Jews and Gentiles (Cyril), or Israel and the Gentile world in their fruitful branches, i.e., their believing members (Kliefoth), because the candlestick is the symbol of the church of the Lord, consisting of the believers in Israel and also in the Gentile world. This is just as clear as the distinction between the olive-trees and the candlestick, to which they conduct the oil. Others think of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (J. D. Mich., Hofm., Baumg., etc.); but although there is no force in Koehler's objection, that in that case there would be a double order of prophets in Israel, since two prophets, both influenced by the Spirit of God, would not imply a double order of prophets, this explanation is decidedly precluded by the fact that two mortal men could not convey to the church for all ages the oil of the Spirit of God. The two sons of oil can only be the two media, anointed with oil, through whom the spiritual and gracious gifts of God were conveyed to the church of the Lord, namely, the existing representatives of the priesthood and the regal government, who were at that time Joshua the high priest and the prince Zerubbabel. These stand by the Lord of the whole earth, as the divinely appointed instruments through whom the Lord causes His Spirit to flow into His congregation. Israel had indeed possessed both these instruments from the time of its first adoption as the people of Jehovah, and both were consecrated to their office by anointing. So far the fact that the olive-trees stand by the side of the candlestick does not appear to indicate anything that the prophet could not have interpreted for himself; and hence the astonishment expressed in the question of the angel in Zechariah 4:13. Moreover, the vision was not intended to represent an entirely new order of things, but simply to show the completion of that which was already contained and typified in the old covenant. The seven-armed candlestick was nothing new in itself. All that was new in the candlestick seen by Zechariah was the apparatus through which it was supplied with oil that it might give light, namely, the connection between the candlestick and the two olive-trees, whose branches bore olives like bunches of ears, to supply it abundantly with oil, which was conveyed to each of its seven lamps through seven pipes. The candlestick of the tabernacle had to be supplied every day with the necessary oil by the hands of the priests. This oil the congregation had to present; and to this end the Lord had to bestow His blessing, that the fruits of the land might be made to prosper, so that the olive-tree should bear its olives, and yield a supply of oil. But this blessing was withdrawn from the nation when it fell away from its God (cf. Joel 1:10). If, then, the candlestick had two olive-trees by its side, yielding oil in such copious abundance, that every one of the seven lamps received its supply through seven pipes, it could never fail to have sufficient oil for a full and brilliant light. This was what was new in the visionary candlestick; and the meaning was this, that the Lord would in future bestow upon His congregation the organs of His Spirit, and maintain them in such direct connection with it, that it would be able to let its light shine with sevenfold brilliancy.

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