Malachi 2:12
The LORD will cut off the man that does this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offers an offering to the LORD of hosts.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) The man.—Better, to the man.

The master and the scholar.—This is the Talmudic interpretation of the Hebrew expression, which occurs only in this passage, but it is unsuitable (besides being philologically precarious), for the passage refers to the whole nation rather than to those who were their appointed scholars and teachers. It is better to render it, “watchman and answerer: i.e., the watchman who cried in the city, “Who comes there?” and him who answers, “Friend,” which is an exhaustive expression for all living persons, and so, in this context, “all posterity.” This is the interpretation of Gesenius, who quotes in support of it an Arabic expression from the life of Tímúr-lang (Timur the lame, Tamerlane):—“When he left the city, there was not a crier or an answerer in it”—i.e., there was not a person left alive. “Neither root nor branch” is another exhaustive term used by our prophet (Malachi 4:1). The Chaldee paraphrase gives the sense of the words in “son and son’s son.”

And him that offereth an offering . . .—Some refer this to the case in which the offender is a priest (Nehemiah 13:28); others understand it as “any one who might offer a sacrifice for him in expiation of his sin.” But since the highest privilege of the Jew was to bring offerings to the Sanctuary, the words may be merely a repetition of the former expression in different terms, and mean “a descendant enjoying religious privileges.” The intermarriage with heathens referred to here is that mentioned in Nehemiah 13:23-28, not the earlier case recorded in Ezra 9, 10.

Malachi

A DIALOGUE WITH GOD

Malachi 2:12
, Malachi 2:14.

It is obvious from the whole context that divorce and foreign inter-marriage were becoming increasingly prevalent in Malachi’s time. The conditions in these respects were nearly similar to that prevailing in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. It is these sins which the Prophet is here vehemently condemning, and for which he threatens to cut off the transgressors out of the tents of Jacob, and to regard no more their offerings and simulated worship. They might cover ‘the altar of the Lord with tears,’ but the sacrifice which they laid upon it was polluted by the sins of their daily domestic life, and therefore was not ‘regarded by Him any more.’ Malachi is true to the prophetic spirit when he denounces a religion which has the form of godliness without its power over the practical life. But his sharp accusations have their edge turned by the question, ‘Wherefore?’ which again calls out from the Prophet’s lips a more sharply-pointed accusation, and a solemner warning that none should ‘deal treacherously against the wife of his youth,’ ‘for I hate putting away, saith the Lord.’ We may dismiss any further reference to the circumstances of the text, and regard it as but one instance of man’s way of treating the voice of God when it warns of the consequences of the sin of man. Looked at from such a point of view the words of our text bring before us God’s merciful threatenings and man’s incredulous rejection of them.

I. God’s merciful threatenings.

The fact of sin affects God’s relation to and dealings with the sinner. It does not prevent the flowing forth of His love, which is not drawn out by anything in us, but wells up from the depths of His being, like the Jordan from its source at Dan, a broad stream gushing forth from the rock. But that love which is the outgoing of perfect moral purity must necessarily become perfect opposition to its own opposite in the sinfulness of man. The divine character is many-sided, and whilst ‘to the pure’ it ‘shows itself pure,’ it cannot but be that ‘to the froward’ it ‘will show itself froward.’ Man’s sin has for its most certain and dreadful consequence that, if we may so say, it forces God to present the stern side of His nature which hates evil. But not merely does sin thus modify the fact of the divine relation to men, but it throws men into opposition in which they can see only the darkness which dwells in the light of God. To the eye looking through a red tinted medium all things are red, and even the crystal sea before the throne is ‘a sea of glass mingled with fire.’

No sin can stay our reception of a multitude of good gifts appealing to our hearts and revealing the patient love of our Father in heaven, but every sin draws after it as certainly as the shadow follows the substance, evil consequences which work themselves out on the large scale in nations and communities, and in the smaller spheres of individual life. And surely it is the voice of love and not of anger that comes to warn us of the death which is the wages of sin. It is not God who has ordained that ‘the soul that sinneth it shall die,’ but it is God who tells us so. The train is rushing full steam ahead to the broken bridge, and will crash down the gulph and be huddled, a hideous ruin, on the rocks; surely it is care for life that holds out the red flag of danger, and surely God is not to be blamed if in spite of the flag full speed is kept up and the crash comes.

The miseries and sufferings which follow our sins are self-inflicted, and for the most part automatic. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that’-and not some other crop-’will he also reap.’ The wages of sin are paid in ready money; and it is as just to lay them at God’s door as it would be to charge Him with inflicting the disease which the dissolute man brings upon himself. It is no arbitrary appointment of God’s that ‘he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption’; nor is it His will acting as that of a jealous despot which makes it inevitably true that here and hereafter, ‘Every transgression and disobedience shall receive its just recompense of reward,’ and that to be parted from Him is death.

If then we rightly understand the connection between sin and suffering, and the fact that the sorrows which are but the echoes of preceding sins have all a distinctly moral and restorative purpose, we are prepared rightly to estimate how tenderly the God who warns us against our sins by what men call threatenings loves us while He speaks.

II. Man’s rejection of God’s merciful threatenings.

It is the great mystery and tragedy of life that men oppose themselves to God’s merciful warnings that all sin is a bitter, because it is an evil, thing. He has to lament, ‘I have smitten your children, and they have received no correction.’ The question ‘Wherefore?’ is asked in very various tones, but none of them has in it the accent of true conviction; and there is a whole world of difference between the lowly petition, ‘Show me wherefore Thou contendest with me,’ and the curt, self-complacent brushing aside of God’s merciful threatenings in the text. The last thing which most of us think of as the cause of our misfortunes is ourselves; and we resent as almost an insult the word, which if we were wise, we should welcome as the crowning proof of the seeking love of our Father in heaven. We are more obstinate and foolish than Balaam, who persisted in his purpose when the angel with the drawn sword in his hand would have barred his way, not to the tree of life, but to death. The awful mystery that a human will can, and the yet sadder mystery that it does, set itself against the divine, is never more unintelligible, never so stupid, and never so tragic as when God says, ‘Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?’ and we say, ‘Why need I die? I will not turn.’

The ‘Wherefore?’ of our text is widely asked in the present day as an expression of utter bewilderment at the miseries of humanity, both in the wide area of this disordered world and in the narrower field of individual lives. There are whole schools of so-called political and social thinkers who have yet to learn that the one thing which the world and the individual need is not a change of conditions or environment, but redemption from sin. Man’s sorrows are but a symptom of his disease, and he is no more to be healed by tinkering with these than a fever-stricken patient can be restored to health by treating the blotches on his skin which tell of the disease that courses through his veins.

But sometimes the question is more than an expression of bewilderment; it conceals an arraignment of God’s justice, or even a denial that there is a God at all. There are men among us who hesitate not to avow that the miseries of the world have rooted out of their minds a belief in Him; and who point to all the ills under which humanity staggers as conclusive against the ancient faith of a God of love. They, too, forget that that love is righteousness, and that if there be sin in the world and God above it, He must necessarily war against it and hate it.

Our right response to God’s merciful threatenings is to ask this question in the right spirit. We are not wise if we turn a deaf ear to His warnings, or go on in a headlong course which He by His providences declared to be dangerous and fatal. We use them as wise men should, only if our ‘Wherefore?’ is asked in order to learn our evil, and having learned it, to purge our bosoms of the perilous stuff by confession and to seek pardon and victory in Christ. Then we shall ‘know the secret of the Lord’ which is ‘with them that fear Him’; and the mysteries that still hang over our own histories and the world’s destiny will have shining down upon them the steadfast light of that love which seeks to make men blessed by making them good.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.The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar - , literally "The Lord cut off from the man that doeth this, watcher and answerer." A proverbial saying apparently, in which the two corresponding classes comprise the whole. Yet so, probably, that the one is the active agent; the other, the passive. The one as a "watcher" goes his rounds, to see that nothing stirreth against that which he is to guard; the other "answereth," when roused. Together, they express the two opposite classes, active and passive sin; those who originate the sin, and those who adopt or retain it at the instigation of the inventor or active propagator of it. It will not exempt from punishment, that he was led into the sin.

From the tabernacles of Jacob - Perhaps "he chose the word, to remind them of their unsettled condition," out of which God had brought them.

And him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts - i. e., him, who, doing these things, offereth an offering to God, to bribe Him, as it were, to connivance at his sin. In the same meaning, Isaiah says, that God hateth Isaiah 1:13. "iniquity and the solemn meeting," and Isaiah 61:8, "I hate robbery with burnt-offering;" or Solomon Proverbs 15:8, "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord Proverbs 28:9; he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, his prayer shall be an abomination." And God by Amos says , "I hate, I despise, your feast-days, and will not accept your solemn assemblies." In one sense the sacrifice was an aggravation, in that the worship of God made the offence either a sin against light, or implied that God might be bribed into connivance in the breaking of His laws. The ancient discipline of removing from communion those guilty of grievous sin was founded on this principle.

12. master and … scholar—literally, "him that watcheth and him that answereth." So "wakeneth" is used of the teacher or "master" (Isa 50:4); masters are watchful in guarding their scholars. The reference is to the priests, who ought to have taught the people piety, but who led them into evil. "Him that answereth" is the scholar who has to answer the questions of his teacher (Lu 2:47) [Grotius]. The Arabs have a proverb, "None calling and none answering," that is, there being not one alive. So Gesenius explains it of the Levite watches in the temple (Ps 134:1), one watchman calling and another answering. But the scholar is rather the people, the pupils of the priests "in doing this," namely, forming unions with foreign wives. "Out of the tabernacles of Jacob" proves it is not the priests alone. God will spare neither priests nor people who act so.

him that offereth—His offerings will not avail to shield him from the penalty of his sin in repudiating his Jewish wife and taking a foreign one.

The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this; the family of those who do this shall be destroyed utterly by the hand of God, he will punish this crime.

The master and the scholar; him that calleth and him that answereth; there shall be left neither any to teach nor any to learn, none to call nor any to answer, all the living cut off.

Out of the tabernacles of Jacob: this points to the people, or laity, who dwelt in the cities of Jacob, they shall be rooted out of the land.

And him that offereth an offering; the priests that are guilty of this fault shall be put out of the office of priest, and minister no more before the Lord. The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this,.... That is guilty of such treachery, wickedness, and idolatry: or "to the man that doeth this" (y); all that belong to him, his children and substance: it denotes the utter destruction, not of a single man and his family only, but of the whole Jewish nation and its polity, civil and ecclesiastical, as follows:

the master and the scholar out of the tabernacles of Jacob; the Targum paraphrases it,

"the son, and son's son, out of the cities of Jacob;''

agreeable to which is Kimchi's note,

"it is as if it was said, there shall not be left in his house one alive; that there shall not be in his house one that answers him, that calls by name.''

In the Hebrew text it is, "him that is awake, and him that answers" (z); which the Talmudists (a) explain, the former of the wise men or masters, and the latter of the disciples of the wise men; to which sense our version agrees: but by "him that waketh or watcheth", according to Cocceius, is meant the civil magistrate, who watches for the good of the commonwealth, and so may design the elders and rulers of the people; and by him that "answereth", the prophet, who returns answers when he is consulted in things belonging to the law of God, and such were the scribes and lawyers.

And him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts; the priests, that offered sacrifice for the people; so that hereby is threatened an entire destruction, both of the civil and ecclesiastical polity of the Jews, that there should be no prince, prophet, and priest among them; all should be removed out of the tents of Jacob, or cities of Israel; see Hosea 3:4.

(y) "viro", Drusius, Cocceius, Burkius, De Dieu; "filius et qui fecerit istud", Piscator. (z) "vigilantem et respondentem", Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius, Grotius; "vigilantem et responsantem", Junius & Tremellius; "vigilem et respondentem", Burkius. (a) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 82. 1.

The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that {q} offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.

(q) That is, the priest.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. the man] Rather, to the man, as R.V., i.e. out of his family.

the master and the scholar] Rather, as A.V. margin and R.V., him that waketh and him that answereth. It is a proverbial expression, like “him that is shut up and him that is left at large” (1 Kings 21:21), meaning all without exception. It is taken from sentries or watchmen who as they go their rounds give their challenge and receive the watch-word in reply. In the same sense the Arabs say, ‘no one crying out, and no one answering, i.e. no one alive’. See Gesen. Thes. p. 1004 a.

him that offereth] nor shall the religious service, whether of priest or layman, avert his doom.Verse 12. - Will cut off. The Hebrew is an imprecation, "May the Lord cut off" (Deuteronomy 7:2, 3). It implies that the transgressor shall be deprived of his position as one of the covenant people, and shall leave no one to maintain his name and family. The man. Others render, "unto the man," making the following words the direct object of the verb. The master and the scholar; so the Vulgate, magistrum et discipulum; literally, the watcher and the answerer, i.e. the watchman and the inhabitants of the city; the LXX., reading somewhat differently, has, ἕως καὶ ταπεινωθῇ ἐκ σκηνωμάτων Ἰακώβ, "until he be brought low from the tents of Jacob," meaning, until he repent and return humbly to obedience. In this case the term "cut off" must be taken in some milder sense than "exterminate." The present text, however, seems to be a kind of alliterative proverbial saying to express totality, everybody; though whence it arose, and what is its exact signification, are matters of great uncertainty. Some take the phrase to mean," every waking and speaking person," i.e. every living soul. The English and Latin Versions proceed on the assumption (which Pusey denies) that the first verb can be taken actively, "he that awakeneth," the teacher being so called as stimulating the scholar, who is named "the answerer." The Targum and Syriac explain it by "son and son's son." Of the various suggestions offered, the most probable is that it is a military phrase derived from the challenge of the sentinels and the answer thereto, which in time came to de. note the whole inhabitants of a camp or city. The tabernacles. The dwellings. Or the word, as Dr. Cox supposes, may belong to the original saying, and have come down from the remote period when the Israelites lived in tents. And him that offereth an offering (michchah) unto the Lord of hosts. The same punishment shall fall on one who offers even an oblation of meal for men who are guilty of this sin. This sin would appertain specially to the priests. Or we may take the clause in a general sense. God will cut off every such transgressor, even if he try to propitiate the Lord by making an offering before trim (Ecclus. 35. [32] 12), "Do not think to corrupt with gifts; for such he will not receive: and trust not to unrighteous sacrifices; for the Lord is Judge, and with him is no respect of persons." The series of visions closes with a symbolical transaction, which is closely connected with the substance of the night-visions, and sets before the eye the figure of the mediator of salvation, who, as crowned high priest, or as priestly king, is to build the kingdom of God, and raise it into a victorious power over all the kingdoms of this world, for the purpose of comforting and strengthening the congregation. The transaction is the following: Zechariah 6:9. "And the word of Jehovah came to me thus: Zechariah 6:10. Take of the people of the captivity, of Cheldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedahyah, and go thou the same day, go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, whither they have come from Babel; Zechariah 6:11. And take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Jozadak the high priest." By the introduction, "The word of the Lord came to me," the following transaction is introduced as a procedure of symbolical importance. It is evident from Zechariah 6:10 and Zechariah 6:11 that messengers had come to Jerusalem from the Israelites who had been left behind in Babel, to offer presents of silver and gold, probably for supporting the erection of the temple, and had gone to the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah. The prophet is to go to them, and to take silver and gold from them, to have a crown made for Joshua the high priest. The construction in Zechariah 6:10 and Zechariah 6:11 is somewhat broad and dragging. The object is wanting to the inf. absol. לקוח, which is used instead of the imperative; and the sentence which has been begun is interrupted by וּבאת וגו, so that the verb which stands at the head is resumed in the ולקחתּ of Zechariah 6:11, and the sentence finished by the introduction of the object. This view is the simplest one. For it is still more impracticable to take לקוח in an absolute sense, and either supply the object from the context, or force it out by alterations of the text (Hitzig). If, for example, we were to supply as the object, "that which they are bringing," this meaning would result: "accept what they are bringing, do not refuse it," without there being any ground for the assumption that there had been any unwillingness to accept the presents. The alteration of מחלדּי into מחמדּי, "my jewels," is destitute of any critical support, and מחלדּי is defended against critical caprice by the לחלם in Zechariah 6:14. Nor can מאת הגּולה be taken as the object to לקוח, "take (some) from the emigration," because this thought requires מן, and is irreconcilable with מאת, "from with." Haggōlâh, lit., the wandering into exile, then those who belong to the wandering, or to the exiled, not merely those who are still in exile, but very frequently also those who have returned from exile. This is the meaning here, as in Ezra 4:1; Ezra 6:19, etc. Mecheldai is an abbreviation for מאת חלדּי. Cheldai, Tobiyah, and Yedahyah, were the persons who had come from Babylon to bring the present. This is implied in the words אשׁר בּאוּ מב, whither they have come from Babel. אשׁר is an accus. loci, pointing back to בּית. We are not warranted in interpreting the names of these men symbolically or typically, either by the circumstance that the names have an appellative meaning, like all proper names in Hebrew, or by the fact that Cheldai is written Chēlem in Zechariah 6:14, and that instead of Josiah we have there apparently chēn. For chēn is not a proper name (see at Zechariah 6:14), and chēlem, i.e., strength, is not materially different from Cheldai, i.e., the enduring one; so that it is only a variation of the name, such as we often meet with. The definition "on that day" can only point back to the day mentioned in Zechariah 1:7, on which Zechariah saw the night-visions, so that it defines the chronological connection between this symbolical transaction and those night-visions. For, with the explanation given by C. B. Michaelis, "die isto quo scil. facere debes quae nunc mando," the definition of the time is unmeaning. If God had defined the day more precisely to the prophet in the vision, the prophet would have recorded it. Zechariah is to have given to him as much of the silver and gold which they have brought with them as is required to make ‛ătârōth. The plural ‛ătârōth does indeed apparently point to at least two crowns, say a silver and a golden one, as C. B. Michaelis and Hitzig suppose. But what follows cannot be made to harmonize with this. The prophet is to put the ‛ătârōth upon Joshua's head. But you do not put two or more crowns upon the head of one man; and the indifference with which Ewald, Hitzig, and Bunsen interpolate the words זרוּבבל וּבראשׁ after בּראשׁ, without the smallest critical authority, is condemned by the fact that in what follows only one wearer of a crown is spoken of, and in Zechariah 6:13, according to the correct interpretation, there is no "sharp distinction made between the priest and the Messiah." The plural ‛ătârōth denotes here one single splendid crown, consisting of several gold and silver twists wound together, or rising one above another, as in Job 31:36, and just as in Revelation 19:12 (ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ διαδήματα πολλά) Christ is said to wear, not many separate diadems, but a crown consisting of several diadems twisted together, as the insignia of His regal dignity.
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