Malachi 1:9
And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.
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(9) This verse is severely ironical. The word “God” is expressly used, rather than “the Lord,” as a contrast to the human “governor” mentioned above. The meaning is: “You know you dare not treat thus contemptuously your human governor, what hope then is there of such disrespectful conduct finding favour with God—the Judge of all the earth?”

That he will be gracious.—These words refer, perhaps, to the wording of the sacerdotal benediction (Numbers 6:24).

Unto us.—The prophet includes himself with the people, as Moses did (Exodus 34:9): “And pardon our iniquity and our sin;” and as, in fact, God Himself included Moses (Exodus 16:28): “And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments?”

This hath been by your means.—Better, by your means hath this been. “By your means” is emphatic by position. The meaning is: “By means of you (priests), who ought to have directed the people aright, has this disgraceful conduct been occasioned.” Or, perhaps, in view of Malachi 1:8, and the wording of Malachi 1:10, we should render the words thus: “From your hands is this [despicable offering] !” This being used contemptuously like Lat. istud. In either case the clause is parenthetical, so that “will he regard” must be taken in close connection with the preceding, “beseech God that he will be gracious unto us.”

Will he regard your persons?—Better, will he, on your account, show favour to any one? That is, can ye be deemed worthy intercessors, when these are the actions ye perform? The question is, of course, a practical negation. (Comp. Zechariah 4:10.)

Malachi 1:9-10. And now, I pray you, beseech God, &c. — And now I beseech you, (for you cannot deny that ye have done as I have said,) that you would supplicate God to pardon the nation in general, as well as yourselves, for what offences have been committed against his laws; for ye have been the principal cause of them, by the disregard you had for God’s service. Will he regard your persons? — This ought rather to be rendered, If, perhaps, he may regard your persons. Who among you would shut the doors for naught? — All those pretences which you make use of to excuse yourselves, for presenting unto God improper and worthless offerings, are quite vain, for it is plain that a general avarice prevails, and is practised among you; for even the officers, or ministers, whose duty it is to open and shut the doors of the temple, and to kindle fire on the altar, will not perform their office without making a gain of it, or receiving fees for it. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord — I cannot take pleasure in men so intent upon their own profit as ye are; and under the gospel I will put an end both to your priesthood and the sacrifices which you offer. This is implied in the next verse.

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 now entreat, I pray you, God o that He will be gracious unto you - This is not a call to repentance, for he assumes that God would not accept them. It is rather irony; "go now, seek the favor of God, as ye would not that of your governor." "From your hand," not from your fathers, not from aliens, "hath this been: will He accept persons from you?" The unusual construction seems to imply a difference of meaning; as if he would say, that it consisted not with the justice of God, that He should be an "accepter of persons," (which He declares that He is not) which yet He would be, were He to accept them, while acting thus. 9. now … beseech God that he will be gracious—Ironical. Think you that God will be persuaded by such polluted gifts to be gracious to you? Far from it.

this hath been by your means—literally, "hand." These contemptible offerings are your doing, as being the priests mediating between God and the people; and think you, will God pay any regard to you (compare Mal 1:8, 10)? "Accept thy person" ("face"), Mal 1:8, answers to "regard your persons," in this verse.

And now I, Malachi,

pray you, O priests, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us; intercede with God for this sinful people, among which (with the modesty that is usual among God’s saints) he rangeth himself; entreat they may find grace with God, and be pardoned.

This detestable contempt of God, his altar, and worship,

hath been by your means; you, O priests, have been great occasions of this, it is more your sin, though too much theirs; beg, then, that it may be forgiven, repent and pray, or you will not be regarded. Some think the whole verse to be an irony against those priests and their sacrifices.

And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us,.... These are the words of the prophet to the priests; and are spoken either seriously, exhorting them to that part of their office which lay in interceding for the people that God would be gracious to them, and forgive their sins; and the rather, inasmuch as they had been the means of their sin, and accessary to it, who ought to have reproved them for bringing such offerings, and should have refused to offer them for them; or otherwise, if they did not do this, they could not expect that God would accept their persons, and their offerings: or else ironically, now you have offered such sacrifices to the Lord, as the blind, the lame, and sick, go and intercede for the people; pray that their sins may be forgiven them, and that the curse may be removed from them, and see how you will succeed:

this hath been by your means; that such sacrifices were offered up; they indulged the people in such practices, and encouraged them; the fault was theirs; or this curse, as Kimchi explains it, from Malachi 1:14,

will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts; can you ever imagine that God will have any respect to your persons or prayers, when you have acted so vile a part, and been the cause of so much sin and evil? no, he will not, as is asserted in the following verse Malachi 1:10.

And now, I pray you, {i} beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard {k} your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.

(i) He derides the priests who deceived the people in saying that they prayed for them, and shows that they were the occasion that these evils came upon the people.

(k) Will God consider your office and state, seeing you are so covetous and wicked?

9. beseech God] lit. stroke or smooth the face of God, i.e. propitiate or seek the favour of God. See Daniel 9:13; Psalm 45:12, and note on Zechariah 7:2.

It is not a call to repentance, but a challenge to put it to the proof whether, their conduct being such as it is (“this hath been by your means”), God will regard them in the discharge of their office as intercessors for the people.

this hath been] such irreverence as has been described above. Or if we follow the more exact marginal rendering both of A.V. and R.V., “This hath been,” i.e. such offerings have been received, “from your hand.”

regard your persons] Rather, accept any of your persons, R.V. Is there one of you whose person He will accept?

Verse 9. - Beseech God; literally, the face of God. This is not a serious call to repentance, but an ironical appeal. Come now and ask the favour of God with your polluted sacrifices; intercede, as is your duty, for the people; will he accept you? will he be gracious to the people for your sakes? This hath been by your means. These words form a parenthesis, implying that it was from the priests that the evil custom of offering blemished animals proceeded, and they were answerable for the consequences; that their intercessions were vain was the result of their transgressions in these matters. Others interpret, "The thing depends on you," i.e. whether God shows favour or not. Will he regard your persons? Will he show favour to any one because ye intercede for him? So it might be translated, Will he accept any because of you? Malachi 1:9The condemnation of that contempt of the Lord which the priests displayed by offering bad or blemished animals in sacrifices, commences with the following verse. Malachi 1:6. "A son honoureth the father, and a servant his master. And if I am a father, where is my honour? and if I am a master, where is my fear? saith Jehovah of hosts to you, ye priests who despise my name, and yet say, Wherein have we despised Thy name? Malachi 1:7. Ye who offer polluted bread upon my altar, and yet say, Wherewith have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of Jehovah, it is despised. V.8. And if ye offer what is blind for sacrifice, it is no wickedness; and if ye offer what is lame and diseased, it is no wickedness. Offer it, now, to thy governor: will he be gracious to thee, or accept thy person? saith Jehovah of hosts. Malachi 1:9. And now, supplicate the face of God, that He may have compassion upon us: of your hand has this occurred: will He look upon a person on your account? saith Jehovah of hosts." This reproof is simply directed against the priests, but it applies to the whole nation; for in the times after the captivity the priests formed the soul of the national life. In order to make an impression with his reproof, the prophet commences with a generally acknowledged truth, by which both priests and people could and ought to measure their attitude towards the Lord. The statement, that the son honours the father and the servant his master, is not to be taken as a moral demand. יכבּד is not jussive (Targ., Luth., etc.); for this would only weaken the prophet's argument. The imperfect expresses what generally occurs, individual exceptions which are sometimes met with being overlooked. Malachi does not even appeal to the law in Exodus 20:12, which enjoins upon children reverence towards their parents, and in which reverence on the part of a servant towards his master is also implied, but simply lays it down as a truth which no one will call in question. To this he appends the further truth, which will also be admitted without contradiction, that Jehovah is the Father and Lord of Israel. Jehovah is called the Father of Israel in the song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:6), inasmuch as He created and trained Israel to be His covenant nation; compare Isaiah 63:16, where Jehovah is called the Father of Israel as being its Redeemer (also Jeremiah 31:9 and Psalm 100:3). As Father, God is also Lord ('ădōnı̄m: plur. majest.) of the nation, which He has made His possession. But if He is a Father, the honour which a son owes to his father is due to Him; and if a Lord, the fear which a servant owes to his lord is also due to Him. The suffixes attached to כּבודי and מוראי are used in an objective sense, as in Genesis 9:2; Exodus 20:17, etc. In order now to say to the priests in the most striking manner that they do the opposite of this, the prophet calls them in his address despisers of the name of Jehovah, and fortifies this against their reply by proving that they exhibit this contempt in their performance of the altar service. With regard to the construction of the clauses in the last members of Malachi 1:6, and also in Malachi 1:7, the participle מגּישׁים is parallel to בּוזי שׁמי, and the reply of the priests to the charge brought against them is attached to these two participial clauses by "and ye say;" and the antithesis is exhibited more clearly by the choice of the finite tense, than it would have been by the continuation of the participle.

Malachi 1:7 is not an answer to the question of the priests, "Wherein have we despised Thy name?" for the answer could not be given in the participle; but though the clause commencing with maggı̄shı̄m does explain the previous rebuke, viz., that they despise the name of Jehovah, and will not even admit that this is true, it is not in the form of an answer to the reply of the opponents, but by a simple reference to the conduct of the priests. The answer is appended by בּאמרכם in Malachi 1:7 to the reply made to this charge also; and this answer is explained in Malachi 1:8 by an allusion to the nature of the sacrificial animals, without being followed by a fresh reply on the part of the priests, because this fact cannot be denied. The contempt on the part of the priests of the name of Jehovah, i.e., of the glory in which God manifested Himself in Israel, was seen in the fact that they offered polluted bread upon the altar of Jehovah. Lechem, bread or food, does not refer to the shew-bread, for that was not offered upon the altar, but is the sacrificial flesh, which is called in Leviticus 21:6, Leviticus 21:8, Leviticus 21:17, the food (lechem) of God (on the application of this epithet to the sacrifices, see the remarks in our comm. on Leviticus 3:11, Leviticus 3:16). The prophet calls this food מגאל, polluted, blemished, not so much with reference to the fact, that the priests offered the sacrifices in a hypocritical or impure state of mind (Ewald), as because, according to Malachi 1:8, the sacrificial animals were affected with blemishes (mūm), or had something corrupt (moshchâth) about them (Leviticus 22:20-25). The reply, "Wherewith have we defiled Thee?" is to be explained from the idea that either touching or eating anything unclean would defile a person. In this sense they regard the offering of defiled food to God as defiling God Himself. The prophet answers: In that ye represent the table of Jehovah as something contemptible. The table of Jehovah is the altar, upon which the sacrifices (i.e., the food of God) were laid. נבזה has the force of an adjective here: contemptible. They represent the altar as contemptible not so much in words or speeches, as in their practice, viz., by offering up bad, despicable sacrificial animals, which had blemishes, being either blind, lame, or diseased, and which were unfit for sacrifices on account of these blemishes, according to the law in Leviticus 22:20. Thus they violated both reverence for the altar and also reverence for Jehovah. The words אין רע are not to be taken as a question, but are used by the prophet in the sense of the priests, and thus assume the form of bitter irony. רע, bad, evil, as a calumniation of Jehovah. In order to disclose to them their wrong in the most striking manner, the prophet asks them whether the governor (פּחה: see at Haggai 1:1) would accept such presents; and then in Malachi 1:9 draws this conclusion, that God also would not hear the prayers of the priests for the people. He clothes this conclusion in the form of a challenge to supplicate the face of Jehovah (חלּה פני: see at Zechariah 7:2), that God would have compassion upon the nation; but at the same time he intimates by the question, whether God would take any notice of this, that under the existing circumstances such intercession would be fruitless. פּני אל is selected in the place of פּני יהוה, to lay the greater emphasis upon the antithesis between God and man (the governor). If the governor would not accept worthless gifts graciously, how could they expect a gracious answer to their prayers from God when they offered such gifts to Him? The suffix in יחנּנוּ refers to the people, in which the prophet includes himself. The clause "from your hand has זאת (this: viz., the offering of such reprehensible sacrifices) proceeded" (cf. Isaiah 50:11), is inserted between the summons to pray to God and the intimation of the certain failure of such intercession, to give still further prominence to the unlawfulness of such an act. The question הישּׂא וגו is appended to the principal clause חלּוּ־נא , and מכּם פּנים does not stand for פּניכם: will He lift up your face, i.e., show you favour? but מכּם is causal, "on your account" (Koehler): "will He regard a person, that is to say, will He show favour to any one, on your account, viz., because ye pray to Him for compassion, when these are the actions ye perform?" The view of Jerome, Grotius, and Hitzig, that the challenge to seek the face of God is an earnest call to repentance or to penitential prayer, is at variance with the context. What follows, for example, is opposed to this, where the prophet says it would be better if the temple were closed, since God does not need sacrifices.

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