Malachi 1:4
Whereas Edom said, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus said the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD has indignation for ever.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Whereas . . . saith.—Better, If Edom say.

We are impoverished.—Better, we are broken to pieces. Edom’s ineffectual attempts to restore itself will be looked on as proofs of God’s wrath against the nation on account of its wickedness, and will acquire for it the titles “border of wickedness,” “the people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.” “Border” means “confines,” “territory;” Latin, fines.

Keith, Evidence of Prophecy, pp. 309, 310, in reference to the literal fulfilment of this prophecy, writes as follows:—“In recording the invasion of Demetrius, about three hundred years before the Christian era, into the land of Edom, Diodorus describes the country as a desert, and the inhabitants as living without houses; nor does he mention any city in that region but Petra alone. Yet the names of some of the cities of Arabia Petræa, enumerated by Josephus, as existing at the time when the Romans invaded Palestine—the names of eighteen cities of Palestina Tertia, of which Petra was the capital, and the metropolitan see, in the times of the Lower Empire—and the towns laid down in D’Anville’s map, together with the subsisting ruins of towns in Edom, specified by Burckhardt, and also by Laborde, give proof that Edom, after having been impoverished, did return, and build the desolate places, even as ‘the ruined towns and places,’ still visible and named, show that though the desolate places were built again according to the prophecy, they have, as likewise foretold, been thrown down, and are ‘ruined places’ lying in utter desolation.”

Malachi 1:4-5. Edom saith, We are empoverished, [or, brought low,] but we will return and build the desolate places — This they accordingly did, as we learn from the history of those times; and undoubtedly thought to become a flourishing people again, and to continue so. But God had determined otherwise, as is here declared. Thus saith the Lord, They shall build, but I will throw down — This was accordingly done by God’s giving success, first to the arms of Judas Maccabæus, and afterward to those of Hyrcanus, by whom Edom was spoiled and laid waste again. And they shall call them, The border of wickedness — They shall be called, or accounted by others, a wicked nation, or a country of wicked men, and therefore deservedly laid waste. And ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified — Or, rather, Let the Lord be magnified; from the border of Israel — Namely, from that border which extended even to Idumea. 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.Whereas Edom saith - o.

We are impoverished - o, ידשׁשׁ.), or, more probably, "we were crushed." Either gives an adequate sense. Human self-confidence will admit anything, as to the past; nay, will even exaggerate past evil to itself, "Crush us how they may, we will arise and repair our losses." So Ephraim said of old Isaiah 9:9-10, "in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn-stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars." It is the one language of what calls itself, "indomitable;" in other words, "untameable," conquerors or every other gambler; "we will repair our losses." All is again staked and lost.

"They shall call them the border of wickedness." Formerly, it had its own proper name, "the border of Edom," as other countries Exodus 10:14, Exodus 10:19, "all the border of Egypt Deuteronomy 2:18, the border of Moab 1 Samuel 11:3, 1 Samuel 11:7; 1 Samuel 27:1; 1 Chronicles 21:12, the whole border of Israel 2 Chronicles 11:13, the border of Israel Judges 11:22, the whole border of the Amorite." Henceforth, it should be known no more by its own name; but as "the border of wickedness," where wickedness formerly dwelt, and, hence, the judgment of God and desolation from Him came upon it, "an accursed land." In a similar manner, Jeremiah says somewhat of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 22:8-9. Compare Deuteronomy 29:23-28.) "Many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say, every man to his neighbor, Wherfore hath the Lord done this unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them." Only Israel would retain its name, as it has; Edom should be blotted out wholly and forever.

4. Whereas—"But if" Edom say [Maurer]. Edom may strive as she may to recover herself, but it shall be in vain, for I doom her to perpetual desolation, whereas I restore Israel. This Jehovah states, to illustrate His gratuitous love to Israel, rather than to Edom.

border of wickedness—a region given over to the curse of reprobation [Calvin]. For a time Judea seemed as desolate as Idumea; but though the latter was once the highway of Eastern commerce, now the lonely rock-houses of Petra attest the fulfilment of the prophecy. It is still "the border of wickedness," being the resort of the marauding tribes of the desert. Judea's restoration, though delayed, is yet certain.

the Lord hath indignation—"the people of My curse" (Isa 34:5).

We are impoverished: here the prophet introduceth Edom reflecting on its present low condition, and taking up resolutions of bettering their condition: We are now, as the Jews were five years before, exceedingly spoiled by Nebuchadnezzar, who hath rifled our houses, burnt our cities, and captivated our citizens.

We will return; this speaks their insolence: or shall; this speaks their hopes of such a return as Jacob’s posterity had after seventy years.

Build the desolate places; repair their cities, as Jerusalem was repaired by the returned captivity. They may do so for a while, but, saith God, I will throw it down; as he did in the times of the Maccabees.

They shall call them, The border of wickedness; they will be by their flagitious lives, after they a little recover themselves, a most wicked people, and so notorious that all their neighbours shall brand them for it, and presage a curse will follow them.

The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever; they will so highly provoke God, that his indignation will be kindled against them, and will burn for ever. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished,.... Or the Idumeans, as the Targum; the posterity of Esau, who acknowledge themselves greatly reduced by the desolations made in their country, cities, towns, and houses, being plundered of all their valuable things. Kimchi interprets it, if the congregation of Edom should say, though we are become poor and low, and our land is laid waste:

but we will return; being now become rich, as the Targum adds; that is, as Jarchi explains it, with the spoils of Jerusalem:

and build the desolate places: as Israel did, as Kimchi observes, when they returned from their captivity; and so the Edomites hoped to do the same:

thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; they attempted to build again their cities and towns, but could not succeed, God was against them:

and they shall call them; or, "they shall be called" (u); this shall be the name they, shall go by among men, by way of proverb and reproach:

The border of wickedness; a wicked kingdom and nation, from one end to the other; this shall be said of them, as the reason of their utter and perpetual desolation:

and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever; not for seventy years only, as against the Jews, Zechariah 1:12, but forever; and these are now no more a people; they are utterly extinct; their name and nation are lost; there is not the least appearance of them; when the Jews, though they are scattered about in the world, yet they are still a people, and distinct from all others.

(u) "et vocabuntur", V. L. Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Grotius.

Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. impoverished] Rather (with R.V. text, and so in Jeremiah 5:17), beaten down. “So Ephraim said of old ‘in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.’ Isaiah 9:9-10.” Pusey.

return and build] This rendering is retained in R.V., but as there is no evidence that Edom was carried away captive ‘return and build’ is, probably, according to a well-known Heb. idiom =‘rebuild.’ (Comp. Ezekiel 26:8; Ezekiel 26:12-14.) This Israel ‘loved’ of God had done, but Esau ‘hated’ of Him should not do.

border] i.e. land, or territory, as in Malachi 1:5 below. It is frequently rendered coasts, in A.V., e.g. 1 Samuel 11:3; 1 Samuel 11:7.

for ever] For the subsequent history of Edom, as fulfilling this prediction, see reference to Obadiah in note on Malachi 1:3 above.Verse 4. - Whereas; rather, if, or although; Vulgate, quod si. If Edom were to attempt to repair its desolation, the Lord would not permit it - a striking contrast to the national restoration of Israel. We are impoverished; or, as the Revised Version, we are beaten; Septuagint, ἡ Ἰδουμαία κατέστραπται, "Idumea has been overthrown." Vulgate, destructl sumus. The desolate places; Vulgate, quae destructa sunt, places once in habited and now deserted. Compare the boast of the Ephraimites (Isaiah 9:9, 10). I win throw down. Edom never recovered its power; it became the prey of the Per starts, the Nabatheans, the Jews under the Maccabees, the Macedonians, the Romans; and finally the Mohammedan conquest effected its utter ruin. They (men) shall call them, The border of wickedness. Edom shall be called, "The territory of iniquity," its miserable condition attesting the wicked ness of the inhabitants thus punished by Divine justice. Hath indignation; Septuagint, παρατέτακται, "hath" been set in battle array;" St. Jerome, "My anger is proved by their enduring desolation; and in contrast to the evils experienced by your brother, ye shall experience the goodness of God towards you." 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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