Malachi 2:11
Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) For the same collocation of “Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem,” comp. Zechariah 1:19.

The holiness of the Lord.—That is, their own “holy nation” (Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; comp. Jeremiah 2:3).

Daughter of a strange godi.e., one who worships a strange god, and such they were forbidden to marry (Exodus 24:16; Deuteronomy 7:3; comp. 1Kings 11:2).

Malachi 2:11-13. Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved — As if he had said, “This sin,” says Lowth, “implies the profanation of God’s holy people, which he set apart for his own worship and service; a profanation of the temple, when the priests who officiated there were guilty of the same crime; (see Malachi 2:12;) and lastly, a profanation of that covenant God made with the Jews, Malachi 2:10; God hath expressed a tender regard for these three sorts of holiness, and threatened severe punishments to those that break the laws made to preserve them.” And hath married the daughter of a strange god — That is, one who worships a strange god. For as gods were called fathers by their worshippers, (Jeremiah 2:27,) therefore those who worshipped them might properly be called their children. The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this — Will take him away by death; the master and the scholar — Him that persuades and instructs others that these marriages are lawful, and him that follows such advice. The expression seems to comprehend both the priest and the people. The Hebrew is, he that wakes and he that answers. An instructer is described, (Isaiah 50:4,) as one that wakeneth the ear of his disciple. The meaning is, there shall be left neither any to teach nor any to learn. And him that offereth an offering — Although he should make great offerings, yet that would avail him nothing if he continued in his sin, and did not put away his strange wife. Perhaps this might be intended chiefly of the priests, many of whom were guilty of this crime. And this have ye done — Or, “This also you have done: you have covered the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with groanings; so that no respect is now had to your offering, nor is any thing accepted from your hand. The priests not only had married strange wives, but also had divorced those of their own country whom they had married; with whose tears the altar was imbued, when these wives offered up their sacrifices to God, entreating him to give their husbands a better mind; whom God heard so effectually, that he would not accept the sacrifices of their husbands on account of the tears and just complaints of their wives.” — Houbigant. The complaints of the distressed, if made known to God in prayer, will be heard, and redress granted.

2:10-17 Corrupt practices are the fruit of corrupt principles; and he who is false to his God, will not be true to his fellow mortals. In contempt of the marriage covenant, which God instituted, the Jews put away the wives they had of their own nation, probably to make room for strange wives. They made their lives bitter to them; yet, in the sight of others, they pretend to be tender of them. Consider she is thy wife; thy own; the nearest relation thou hast in the world. The wife is to be looked on, not as a servant, but as a companion to the husband. There is an oath of God between them, which is not to be trifled with. Man and wife should continue to their lives' end, in holy love and peace. Did not God make one, one Eve for one Adam? Yet God could have made another Eve. Wherefore did he make but one woman for one man? It was that the children might be made a seed to serve him. Husbands and wives must live in the fear of God, that their seed may be a godly seed. The God of Israel saith that he hateth putting away. Those who would be kept from sin, must take heed to their spirits, for there all sin begins. Men will find that their wrong conduct in their families springs from selfishness, which disregards the welfare and happiness of others, when opposed to their own passions and fancies. It is wearisome to God to hear people justify themselves in wicked practices. Those who think God can be a friend to sin, affront him, and deceive themselves. The scoffers said, Where is the God of judgement? but the day of the Lord will come.Treacherously has Judah dealt; an abomination is committed in Israel - The prophet, by the order of the words, emphasizes the "treachery" and the "abomination." This have they done; the very contrary to what was required of them as the people of God. He calls the remnant of Judah by the sacred name of the whole people, of whom they were the surviving representatives. The word "abomination" is a word belonging to the Hebrew, and is used especially of things offensive to, or separating from, Almighty God; idolatry, as the central dereliction of God, and involving offences against the laws of nature, but also all other sins, as adultery, which violate His most sacred laws and alienate from Him.

Hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which He loved - , in themselves, who had been separated and set apart by God to Himself as a Exodus 19:6. "holy nation. Jeremiah 2:3. Israel was holiness to the Lord." "The Lord is holy, perfect holiness; His name, holy; all things relating to Him, holy; His law, covenant and all His ordinances and institutions holy; Israel, His special people, an holy people; the temple and all things therein consecrated to Him, holy; Jerusalem, the city of the great God, holy; yea, the whole and of His inheritance, holy; so that whosoever doth not observe those due respects which to any of these belong, may be said to have profaned the holiness which He loved."

Unlawful marriages and unlawful lusts were in themselves a special profanation of that holiness. The high priest was to Leviticus 21:14-15, "take a virgin of his own people to wife, and not to profane his seed among the people." The priests who "married stranqe wives, defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood" Nehemiah 13:29. The marriage with idolatresses brought, as one consequence, the profanation by their idolatries. The prohibition is an anticipation of the fuller revelation in the Gospel, that 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and so, that "sins against the body" are profanations of the temple of God. "As those who acknowledge, worship and serve the true God are called His Deuteronomy 32:19; 2 Corinthians 6:18 sons and daughters, so they that worshiped any strange god are, by like reason, here called the daughters of that god. Hence, the Jews say, 'He that marrieth a pagan woman is, as if he made himself son-in-law to an idol. '"

Hath married the daughter of a strange god - And so he came into closest relation with idols and with devils.

11. dealt treacherously—namely, in respect to the Jewish wives who were put away (Mal 2:14; also Mal 2:10, 15, 16).

profaned the holiness of … Lord—by ill-treating the Israelites (namely, the wives), who were set apart as a people holy unto the Lord: "the holy seed" (Ezr 9:2; compare Jer 2:3). Or, "the holiness of the Lord" means His holy ordinance and covenant (De 7:3). But "which He loved," seems to refer to the holy people, Israel, whom God so gratuitously loved (Mal 1:2), without merit on their part (Ps 47:4).

married, &c.—(Ezr 9:1, 2; 10:2; Ne 13:23, &c.).

daughter of a strange god—women worshipping idols: as the worshipper in Scripture is regarded in the relation of a child to a father (Jer 2:27).

Judah: though Judah only is named, yet the rest of the returned captives are included.

Dealt treacherously: see Malachi 2:10.

An abomination; such treachery is a very abominable thing, God and all good men abhor it, and yet here it is committed in Israel, who are God’s peculiar people, and above others should have been holy.

And in Jerusalem; under the eye of the governors, the high priest and sanhedrim, nay, under the eye of God, who dwelt at Jerusalem; this could not but greatly provoke God.

Profaned the holiness of the Lord: profanely violated the necessary cautionary law of marriage, confining Israel to marry within themselves, and not to endanger themselves and religion by joining affinity with idolaters, who would draw them and their children from the holy law, worship, and temple of God, which are the holiness that he loved.

Which he loved; which he, i.e. Judah, once loved; so it was apostacy in Judah. Or which he, i.e. the Lord, loved above all; so it is a neglect of a main duty, it is slighting what God so greatly loved.

And hath married the daughter of a strange god: Ezra 9:1 10:2, mentions what nations they were whose daughters were by these Jews taken for wives, they were idolatrous nations, and the women were idolatresses when the Jews did marry them. This was bad; but these Jews had wives before, and they cast them off, or else took in these strangers and despised their former wives: this is the treachery and abomination that is here committed.

Judah hath dealt treacherously,.... Not only every man against his brother, by being partial in the law; or against the women of their nation, by marrying others; or against their wives, by putting them away; but against Christ the Son of God by betraying and delivering him up into the hands of the Gentiles, to be mocked, and scourged, and crucified:

and an abomination is committed in Israel, and in Jerusalem; which was the taking of the true Messiah with wicked hands, condemning him and putting him to death, even the shameful and accursed death of the cross; which was done in the land of Israel, and in and near the city of Jerusalem:

for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord, which he loved; Christ, who is the Lord's Holy One, holiness itself, the most holy, and holiness to the Lord for his people; and who is his dear Son, the Son of his love, whom he loved from everlasting, continued to love in time amidst all his meanness, sorrows, and sufferings, and will love for evermore; him the Jews profaned by blaspheming him, falsely accusing him, and condemning him; by spitting upon him, buffeting, scourging, and crucifying him: some interpret this "holiness" of the soul of Judah, which was holy before the Lord, and loved, as the Targum; so Jarchi of Judah himself, or Israel, who was holiness to the Lord; and others of the holy place, the sanctuary, and all holy things belonging thereto; and others of the holy state of marriage, since it follows:

and hath married the daughter of a strange god; which the Targum paraphrases thus,

"and they were pleased to take to them wives, the daughters of the people;''

the Gentiles, such as Moabites, Ammonites, and the like: and this sense is followed by most interpreters, though the phrase seems rather to be expressive of idolatry; and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions interpret it of their being intent upon, and serving, strange gods; and as the Jews rejected the Son of God, and his word, ordinances, and worship, they had not the true God, nor did they worship him, but became guilty of idolatry; and besides, as they rejected the King Messiah from being their King, so they declared they had no king but Caesar, an idolatrous emperor, and joined with the idolatrous Gentiles in putting Christ to death, John 19:12.

Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the {p} daughter of a strange god.

(p) They have united themselves in marriage with those that are of another religion.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. the holiness of the Lord] Comp. Leviticus 11:44; 1 Thessalonians 4:7. This is better than sanctuary of the Lord, R.V. margin. Comp. τὰ ἅγια, LXX.

which he loved] In like manner Almighty God is said to love righteousness and judgment. Psalm 11:7; Psalm 33:5; Isaiah 61:8.

the daughter of a strange god] “As those who acknowledge, worship and serve the true God are called His sons and daughters (Deuteronomy 32:19), so they that worshipped any strange god are, by like reason, here called the daughters of that god. Hence the Jews say, ‘He that marrieth a heathen woman is as if he made himself son-in-law to an idol’.” Pocock.

Verse 11. - Judah, the whole nation, is guilty of this crime, has broken her promised faith. The special sin, mixed marriages, is named at the end of the verse. In Israel and in Jerusalem. The mention of Israel, the sacred covenant name, is meant to make the contrast between profession and practice more marked. But some critics would here cancel the word "Israel," as being a clerical error (see note, Zechariah 1:19). Jerusalem is named as the centre of the theocracy, which gave its tone to the-people. For Judah hath profaned the holiness (sanctuary) of the Lord, which he loved (loveth); Septuagint, Ἐβεβήλωσεν Ἰούδας τὰ ἅγια Κυρίου ἐν οῖς ἠγάπησε, "Judah profaned the holy things of the Lord in which he delighted." Many consider that by the "sanctuary" is meant the temple, into which these heathen wives had penetrated, either led by curiosity or introduced by their profane husbands. But we have no knowledge that this was the case. It is better to take "the sanctuary," or that which is holy unto the Lord, to be the chosen nation itself, the community beloved by God, which was holy by election and profession, even as Christians are commonly called saints in the Epistles. (For the term as applied to the Israelites, see Exodus 19:6; Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2; comp. Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 13:29.) The daughter of a strange god. A woman who is an idolatress, who adhered to a foreign deity (Jeremiah 2:27), as the Israelites are called "sons of Jehovah," as joined to him in communion (Deuteronomy 14:1; Proverbs 14:26). The LXX. omits the point of the charge, rendering, καὶ ἐπετήδευσεν εἰς θεοὺς ἀλλοτρίους, "and followed after strange gods." Malachi 2:11Malachi 2:10. "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? wherefore are we treacherous one towards another, to desecrate the covenant of our fathers? Malachi 2:11. Judah acts treacherously, and abomination has taken place in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has desecrated the sanctuary of Jehovah, which He loves, and marries the daughter of a strange god. Malachi 2:12. Jehovah will cut off, to the man that doeth this, wakers and answerers out of the tents of Jacob, and him that offereth sacrifices to Jehovah of hosts." Malachi adopts the same course here as in the previous rebuke, and commences with a general clause, from which the wrongfulness of marriages with heathen women and of frivolous divorces necessarily followed. The one father, whom all have, is neither Adam, the progenitor of all men, nor Abraham, the father of the Israelitish nation, but Jehovah, who calls Himself the Father of the nation in Malachi 1:6. God is the Father of Israel as its Creator; not, however, in the general sense, according to which He made Israel the people of His possession. By the two clauses placed at the head, Malachi intends not so much to lay emphasis upon the common descent of all the Israelites, by virtue of which they form one united family in contrast with the heathen, as to say that all the Israelites are children of God, and as such spiritual brethren and sisters. Consequently every violation of the fraternal relation, such as that of which the Israelite was guilty who married a heathen woman, or put away an Israelitish wife, was also an offence against God, a desecration of His covenant. The idea that the expression "one father" refers to Abraham as the ancestor of the nation (Jerome, Calvin, and others), is precluded by the fact, that not only the Israelites, but also the Ishmaelites and Edomites were descended from Abraham; and there is no ground whatever for thinking of Jacob, because, although he had indeed given his name to Israel, he is never singled out as its ancestor. Nibhgad is the first pers. plur. imperf. kal, notwithstanding the fact that in other cases bâgad has cholem in the imperfect; for the niphal of this verb is never met with. The Israelite acted faithlessly towards his brother, both when he contracted a marriage with a heathen woman, and when he put away his Israelitish wife, and thereby desecrated the covenant of the fathers, i.e., the covenant which Jehovah made with the fathers, when He chose them from among the heathen, and adopted them as His covenant nation (Exodus 19:5-6; Exodus 24:8).

The reason for this rebuke is given in Malachi 2:11, in a statement of what has taken place. In order the more emphatically to describe this as reprehensible, bâgedâh (hath dealt treacherously) is repeated and applied to the whole nation. Yehūdâh (Judah), construed as a feminine, is the land acting in its inhabitants. Then what has taken place is described as תּועבה, abomination, like idolatry, witchcraft, and other grievous sins (cf. Deuteronomy 13:15; Deuteronomy 18:9.), in which the name Israel is intentionally chosen as the holy name of the nation, to indicate the contrast between the holy vocation of Israel and its unholy conduct. In addition to Israel as the national name ( equals Judah) Jerusalem is also mentioned, as is frequently the case, as the capital and centre of the nation. What has occurred is an abomination, because Judah desecrates קדשׁ יי, i.e., neither the holiness of Jehovah as a divine attribute, nor the temple as the sanctuary, still less the holy state of marriage, which is never so designated in the Old Testament, but Israel as the nation which Jehovah loved. Israel is called qōdesh, a sanctuary or holy thing, as עם קדושׁ, which Jehovah has chosen out of all nations to be His peculiar possession (Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Jeremiah 2:3; Psalm 114:2; Ezra 9:2 : see Targ., Rashi, Ab. Ezra, etc.). Through the sin which it had committed, Judah, i.e., the community which had returned from exile, had profaned itself as the sanctuary of God, or neutralized itself as a holy community chosen and beloved of Jehovah (Koehler). To this there is appended, though not till the last clause, the statement of the abomination: Judah, in its individual members, has married the daughter of a strange god (cf. Ezra 9:2.; Nehemiah 13:23.). By the expression בּת אל נכר the person married is described as an idolatress (bath, daughter equals dependent). This involved the desecration of the holy calling of the nation. It is true that in the law it is only marriages with Canaanites that are expressly forbidden (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3), but the reason assigned for this prohibition shows, that all marriages with heathen women, who did not give up their idolatry, were thereby denounced as irreconcilable with the calling of Israel (see at 1 Kings 11:1-2). This sin may God punish by cutting off every one who commits it. This threat of punishment (Malachi 2:12) is indeed only expressed in the form of a wish, but the wish has been created by the impulse of the Holy Spirit. Very different and by no means satisfactory explanations have been given of the expression ער וענה, the waking one (ער the participle of עוּר) and the answering one, a proverbial description of the wicked man formed by the combination of opposites (on the custom of expressing totality by opposites, see Dietrich, Abhandlung zur hebr. Gramm. p. 201ff.), in which, however, the meaning of the word ער still continues a matter of dispute. The rabbinical explanation, which is followed by Luther, viz., teacher and scholar, is founded upon the meaning excitare given to the verb עוּר, and the excitans is supposed to be the teacher who stimulates by questioning and admonishing. But apart from all other reasons which tell against this explanation, it does not suit the context; for there is not a single word to indicate that the prophet is speaking only of priests who have taken foreign wives; on the contrary, the prophet accuses Judah and Jerusalem, and therefore the people generally, of being guilty of this sin. Moreover, it was no punishment to an Israelite to have no rabbi or teacher of the law among his sons. The words are at any rate to be taken more generally than this. The best established meaning is vigil et respondens, in which ער is taken transitively, as in Job 41:2 in the chethib, and in the Chaldee ער, watcher (Daniel 4:10-13 and Daniel 4:14-17), in the sense of vivus quisque. In this case the proverbial phrase would be taken from the night-watchman (J. D. Mich., Ros., Ges. Thes. p. 1004). It is no conclusive objection to this, that the words which follow, וּמגּישׁ מנחה, evidently stand upon the same line as ער וענה and must form part of the same whole, and therefore that ער וענה cannot of itself embrace the whole. For this conclusion is by no means a necessary one. If the two expressions referred to portions of the same whole, they could not well be separated from one another by מאהלי יעקב. Moreover, the limitation of ער וענה to the age of childhood founders upon the artificial interpretation which it is necessary to give to the two words. According to Koehler ער denotes the child in the first stage of its growth, in which it only manifests its life by occasionally waking up from its ordinary state of deep, death-like slumber, and ענה the more advanced child, which is able to speak and answer questions. But who would ever think of calling a child in the first weeks of its life, when it sleeps more than it wakes, a waker? Moreover, the sleep of an infant is not a "deep, death-like slumber." The words "out of the tents of Jacob," i.e., the houses of Israel, belong to יכרת. The last clause adds the further announcement, that whoever commits such abominations shall have no one to offer a sacrificial gift to the Lord. These words are not to be taken as referring to the priestly caste, as Hitzig supposes; but Jerome has given the correct meaning: "and whoever is willing to offer a gift upon the altar for men of this description." The meaning of the whole verse is the following: "May God not only cut off every descendant of such a sinner out of the houses of Israel, but any one who might offer a sacrifice for him in expiation of his sin."

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