Malachi 2:1
And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
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(1-9) The decree against the priests.

(1) Commandment.—Better, decree. (Comp. the use of the verb from which this substantive is derived in Nahum 1:14; Psalm 7:6; Psalm 42:8.)

Malachi 2:1-4. O ye priests, this commandment is for you — Or decree, rather, for properly speaking no commandment is here given to the priests, only punishment is denounced upon them if they did not repent. If ye will not hear, &c., to give glory unto my name — Which you have despised and dishonoured, by your irreverent performance of my service, Malachi 1:6. I will send a curse upon you — I will send poverty and affliction upon you, and you shall not prosper in any thing. And I will curse your blessings — I will turn your blessings into curses, or rather, remove your blessings and send curses and calamities in their stead; behold, I will corrupt your seed — The seed wherewith you sow your ground: I will cause it to rot so that it shall bring forth little or nothing. And spread dung upon your faces — I will make you as contemptible and vile as if some one had covered your faces with filth and dung. And one shall take you away with it — You shall be cast out of the temple as so many nuisances, only fit to be removed out of sight. And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you — By the punishment which will follow upon your neglecting to lay what hath been said to heart, and to give glory unto my name, as you are here enjoined: see Malachi 2:1-2. That my covenant might be with Levi —

That the covenant which I made with the tribe of Levi, that they should be mine, and employed in my service, might continue firm to their posterity. Some render the clause, Because my covenant was with Levi, for the breach of which you are accountable.

2:1-9 What is here said of the covenant of priesthood, is true of the covenant of grace made with all believers, as spiritual priests. It is a covenant of life and peace; it assures all believers of all happiness, both in this world and in that to come. It is an honour to God's servants to be employed as his messengers. The priest's lips should not keep knowledge from his people, but keep it for them. The people are all concerned to know the will of the Lord. We must not only consult the written word, but desire instruction and advice from God's messengers, in the affairs of our souls. Ministers must exert themselves to the utmost for the conversion of sinners; and even among those called Israelites, there are many to be turned from iniquity. Those ministers, and those only, are likely to turn men from sin, who preach sound doctrine, and live holy lives according to the Scripture. Many departed from this way; thus they misled the people. Such as walk with God in peace and righteousness, and turn others from sin, honour God; he will honour them, while those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed.And now this is My commandment unto you - , not a commandment, which He gave them, but a commandment in regard to them. As God said of old, upon obedience , "I will command My blessing unto you," so now He would command what should reach them, but a curse. "He returns from the people to the priests, as the fountain of the evil, whose carelessness about things sacred he had rebuked before. Let the priests of the new law hear this rebuke of God, and conceive it dictated to them by the Holy Spirit to hear, from whom God rightly requires greater holiness, and so will punish them more grievously, if careless or scandalous in their office." All Christians are, in some sense 1 Peter 2:9, "a royal, holy priesthood," over and above the special "Christian priesthood;" as the Jews, over and above the special priesthood of Aaron, were a Exodus 19:6, "kingdom of priests." What follows then belongs, in their degree, to them and their duties. CHAPTER 2

Mal 2:1-17. Reproof of the Priests for Violating the Covenant; and the People Also for Mixed Marriages and Unfaithfulness.

1. for you—The priests in particular are reproved, as their part was to have led the people aright, and reproved sin, whereas they encouraged and led them into sin. Ministers cannot sin or suffer alone. They drag down others with them if they fall [Moore].The priests are sharply reproved for profaning the covenant which was given them, Malachi 2:1-9; and the people for marrying strange wives, Malachi 2:10-12, and treacherously putting away their former ones, Malachi 2:13-16; and for impiety, Malachi 2:17.

This commandment; either this which he had already minded them of about the sacrifices, what ought to be offered and what refused; if the people brought defective sheep or oxen, they who were priests ought not to have admitted, they ought not to have offered them upon God’s altar: or this commandment he now brings from God to them, and which is contained in this chapter.

Is for you; by especial direction it is sent to you, and look to it that you obey it.

And now, O ye priests,.... That despised and profaned the name of the Lord; that suffered such corrupt and illegal sacrifices to be brought and offered up:

this commandment is for you: of giving glory to the name of God; of taking care of his worship; of teaching the people knowledge, and directing them in the way in which they should walk; as follows:

And now, O ye {a} priests, this commandment is for you.

(a) He speaks mainly to them, but under them he includes the people also.

Ch. Malachi 2:1-9. Threatened Punishment of the Priests

1. O ye priests] The discourse turns again in direct appeal to the priests. The exact order of the words is emphatic: And now, for you is this commandment, O priests.

this commandment] Some commentators would make “commandment” here mean purpose, or decree, and refer it to the punishment threatened in Malachi 2:2-4. There seems no reason, however, to depart here and in Malachi 2:4 from the usual meaning of the word. The passage (Malachi 2:2-4) is a commandment to reform, with threatened consequences if they disobey it.

Verses 1-4. - § 4. For these derelictions of duty the priests are threatened with punishment. Verse 1. - This commandment. The threat or announcement is called a commandment, because God ordains it and imposes its execution on certain instruments. (For the expression, camp. Leviticus 25:21.) The threat is contained in vers. 2, 3. Malachi 2:1The rebuke administered to the priests for their wicked doings is followed by an announcement of the punishment which they will bring upon themselves in case they should not observe the admonition, or render to the Lord the reverence due to His name when discharging the duties of their office. Malachi 2:1. "And now, ye priests, this commandment comes to you. Malachi 2:2. If ye do not hear and lay it to heart, to give glory to my name, saith Jehovah of hosts, I send against you the curse and curse your blessings, yea I have cursed them, because ye will not lay it to heart. Malachi 2:3. Behold I rebuke your arm, and scatter dung upon your face, the dung of your feasts, and they will carry you away to it. Malachi 2:4. And ye will perceive that I have sent this commandment to you, that it may be my covenant with Levi, saith Jehovah of hosts." Malachi 2:1. introduces the threat; this is called mitsvâh, a command, not as a commission which the prophet received, for the speaker is not the prophet, but Jehovah Himself; nor as "instruction, admonition, or warning," for mitsvâh has no such meaning. Mitsvâh is rather to be explained from tsivvâh in Nahum 1:14. The term command is applied to that which the Lord has resolved to bring upon a person, inasmuch as the execution or accomplishment is effected by earthly instruments by virtue of a divine command.

The reference is to the threat of punishment which follows in Malachi 2:2 and Malachi 2:3, but which is only to be carried out in case the priests do not hear and lay to heart, namely, the warning which the Lord has addressed to them through Malachi (Malachi 1:6-13), and sanctify His name by their service. If they shall not do this, God will send the curse against them, and that in two ways. In the first place He will curse their blessings; in fact, He has already done so. Berâkhōth, blessings, are obviously not the revenues of the priests, tithes, atonement-money, and portions of the sacrifices (L. de Dieu, Ros., Hitzig), but the blessings pronounced by the priests upon the people by virtue of their office. These God will curse, i.e., He will make them ineffective, or turn them into the very opposite. וגם ארותיה is not a simple, emphatic repetition, but ארותי is a perfect, which affirms that the curse has already taken effect. The emphatic vegam, and also, and indeed, also requires this. The suffix ה attached to ארותי is to be taken distributively: "each particular blessing." In the second place God will rebuke את־הזּרע, i.e., the seed. But since the priests did not practise agriculture, it is impossible to see how rebuking the seed, i.e., causing a failure of the corps, could be a punishment peculiar to the priests. We must therefore follow the lxx, Aquila, Vulg., Ewald, and others, and adopt the pointing הזּרע, i.e., the arm. Rebuking the arm does not mean exactly "laming the arm," nor manifesting His displeasure in any way against the arm, which the priests raised to bless (Koehler). For it was not the arm but the hand that was raised to bless (Leviticus 9:22; Luke 24:50), and rebuking signifies something more than the manifestation of displeasure. It is with the arm that a man performs his business or the duties of his calling; and rebuking the arm, therefore, signifies the neutralizing of the official duties performed at the altar and in the sanctuary. Moreover, God will also deliver them up to the most contemptuous treatment, by scattering dung in their faces, namely, the dung of their feasts. Chaggı̄m, feasts, is used metonymically for festal sacrifices, or the sacrificial animals slain at the festivals (cf. Psalm 118:27). The dung of the sacrificial animals was to be carried away to an unclean place outside the camp and burned there, in the case of the sin-offerings, upon an ash-heap (Leviticus 4:12; Leviticus 16:27; Exodus 29:14). Scattering dung in the face was a sign and figurative description of the most ignominious treatment. Through the expression "dung of your festal sacrifices," the festal sacrifices offered by these priests are described as being themselves dung; and the thought is this: the contempt of the Lord, which they show by offering blind or lame animals, or such as are blemished in other ways, He will repay to them by giving them up to the greatest ignominy. The threat is strengthened by the clause ונשׂא אתכם אליו, which has been interpreted, however, in different ways. The Vulgate, Luther ("and shall remain sticking to you"), Calvin, and others take peresh as the subject to נשׂא: "the dung will draw the priests to itself, so that they will also become dung." But נשׂא has no such meaning; we must therefore leave the subject indefinite: they (man) will carry you away, or sweep you away to it, i.e., treat you as dung. When they should be treated in this ignominious manner, then would they perceive that the threatening had come from the Lord. "This commandment (mitsvâh) is the mitsvâh mentioned in Malachi 2:1. The infinitive clause which follows announces the purpose of God, in causing this threat to come to pass. But the explanation of these words is a disputed point, since we may either take berı̄thı̄ (my covenant) as the subject, or supply hammitsvâh (the commandment) from the previous clause. In the first case ("that my covenant may be with Levi") the meaning could only be, that the covenant with Levi may continue. But although hâyâh does indeed mean to exist, it does not mean to continue, or be maintained. We must therefore take hammitsvâh as the subject, as Luther, Calvin, and others have done ("that it, viz., my purpose, may be my covenant with Levi"). Koehler adopts this, and has explained it correctly thus: "They will perceive that just as Jehovah has hitherto regulated His conduct towards Levi by the terms of His covenant, which was made with it at the time of its departure from Egypt, so will He henceforth let it be regulated by the terms of the decree of punishment which He has resolved upon now, so that this decree of punishment takes the place, as it were, of the earlier covenant." Lēvı̄ is the tribe of Levi, which culminated in the priesthood. The attitude of God towards the priests is called a covenant, inasmuch as God placed them in a special relation to Himself by choosing them for the service of the sanctuary, which not only secured to them rights and promises, but imposed duties upon them, on the fulfilment of which the reception of the gifts of divine grace depended (vid., Deuteronomy 10:8-9; Deuteronomy 33:8-10; Numbers 18:1., Numbers 25:10.).

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