Malachi 2

 

וְעַתָּה אֲלֵיכֶם הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת הַכֹּהֲנִים׃   2:1

Mala. 2:1   And now to you, the priests, this commandment:

אִם־לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ וְאִם־לֹא תָשִׂימוּ עַל־לֵב לָתֵת כָּבוֹד לִשְׁמִי אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת וְשִׁלַּחְתִּי בָכֶם   2:2

אֶת־הַמְּאֵרָה וְאָרוֹתִי אֶת־בִּרְכוֹתֵיכֶם וְגַם אָרוֹתִיהָ כִּי אֵינְכֶם שָׂמִים עַל־לֵב׃

 

Mala. 2:2   “If you will not listen and if you will not place upon the heart,

                             to give glory to My name,” says the Lord of hosts,

                    “then I shall send on you such a curse,

                             I will even curse your blessings.

                    So I will indeed curse it,

                             because you are not placing upon the heart.”

הִנְנִי גֹעֵר לָכֶם אֶת־הַזֶּרַע וְזֵרִיתִי פֶרֶשׁ עַל־פְּנֵיכֶם פֶּרֶשׁ חַגֵּיכֶם וְנָשָׂא אֶתְכֶם אֵלָיו׃   2:3

Mala. 2:3   “Behold, I am rebuking your seed

                             and will spread dung over your faces,

                    the dung of your festival sacrifices,

                             and it shall sustain you by itself.”

I presume the meaning of the last English line is that the dung will be all that the priests will have to eat.

וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי שִׁלַּחְתִּי אֲלֵיכֶם אֵת הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת לִהְיוֹת בְּרִיתִי אֶת־לֵוִי אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת׃   2:4

Mala. 2:4   “Then you will know that I had sent this commandment to you

                              to be My covenant with Levi,” says the Lord of hosts.

Hazarding a guess, I would say that, strictly speaking, the covenant was not with Levi himself, but with the priests

the Lord was addressing, that is, the house of Levi..

בְּרִיתִי הָיְתָה אִתּוֹ הַחַיִּים וְהַשָּׁלוֹם וָאֶתְּנֵם־לוֹ מוֹרָא וַיִּירָאֵנִי וּמִפְּנֵי שְׁמִי נִחַת הוּא׃   2:5

Mala. 2:5   “My covenant with him was of life and peace,

                              and I would give them to him, of reverence,

                    so he revered Me,

                              and before My name he was broken.”

Here in the last English line of this verse I offer a translation of the second-from-last Hebrew word different from

almost all bibles.  Only one bible I’ve researched has a similar translation, using the words was shattered for my

phrase was broken.  Every other bible has something like was afraid or, in at least one, was trembling.  The word

does translate to a meaning of fear, but the reason I used was broken is because of the previous verb I translate as

revered.  That word can also be translated as meaning fear.  Because of this I thought it was more informative to

provide additional dimension to the verse by using a term that implied a previous resistance.  Certainly that could

be envisioned as referring to Levi himself.

תּוֹרַת אֱמֶת הָיְתָה בְּפִיהוּ וְעַוְלָה לֹא־נִמְצָא בִשְׂפָתָיו בְּשָׁלוֹם וּבְמִישׁוֹר הָלַךְ אִתִּי וְרַבִּים הֵשִׁיב מֵעָוֺן׃   2:6

Mala. 2:6   “A law of truth was in his mouth

                              and injustice was not found on his lips.

                     In peace and in uprightness he walked with Me,

                              and many he turned back from iniquity.”

כִּי־שִׂפְתֵי כֹהֵן יִשְׁמְרוּ־דַעַת וְתוֹרָה יְבַקְשׁוּ מִפִּיהוּ כִּי מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה־צְבָאוֹת הוּא׃   2:7

Mala. 2:7   For the lips of a priest must keep knowledge,

                             that the Torah they would seek from his mouth,

                    for a messenger of the Lord of hosts is he.

וְאַתֶּם סַרְתֶּם מִן־הַדֶּרֶךְ הִכְשַׁלְתֶּם רַבִּים בַּתּוֹרָה שִׁחַתֶּם בְּרִית הַלֵּוִי אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת׃   2:8

Mala. 2:8   “But you have departed from the path;

                              you have caused many to stumble in the Torah

                     you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of hosts.

וְגַם־אֲנִי נָתַתִּי אֶתְכֶם נִבְזִים וּשְׁפָלִים לְכָל־הָעָם כְּפִי אֲשֶׁר אֵינְכֶם שֹׁמְרִים אֶת־דְּרָכַי וְנֹשְׂאִים פָּנִים   2:9

 בַּתּוֹרָה׃

Mala. 2:9   “So I have made you contemptible also and low to all the people,

                               accordingly as there is none of you keeping My ways,

                     but are uplifting persons in the Torah.”

You may recall that the Lord disapproves of uplifting a person in judgment.  See Deut. 1:17, 10:17, and 16:19 for

the typical condemnation of this practice.

הֲלוֹא אָב אֶחָד לְכֻלָּנוּ הֲלוֹא אֵל אֶחָד בְּרָאָנוּ מַדּוּעַ נִבְגַּד אִישׁ בְּאָחִיו לְחַלֵּל בְּרִית אֲבֹתֵינוּ׃   2:10

Mala. 2:10   Is there not one Father for all of us?

                               Has not one God created us?

                     Why does one deal treacherously with his brothers,

                               profaning the covenant of our fathers?

בָּגְדָה יְהוּדָה וְתוֹעֵבָה נֶעֶשְׂתָה בְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּבִירוּשָׁלִָם כִּי חִלֵּל יְהוּדָה קֹדֶשׁ יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר אָהֵב וּבָעַל    2:11

בַּת־אֵל נֵכָר׃

Mala. 2:11   Judah deals treacherously,

                                and abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem,

                      when Judah, whom He loves, profanes the holiness of the Lord

                                and marries the daughter of an alien god.

I believe the last phrase of this verse, “... and marries the daughter of an alien god,” carries in it the essence of this

chapter.  I feel fairly certain that in this entire chapter Malachi is condemning the priests for (symbolically) violating

the commandment of Exod. 21:10 relating to a man who takes a second wife, yet must still care for his first wife’s

needs.  Very clever of Malachi, I’d say.

יַכְרֵת יְהוָה לָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂנָּה עֵר וְעֹנֶה מֵאָהֳלֵי יַעֲקֹב וּמַגִּישׁ מִנְחָה לַיהוָה צְבָאוֹת׃   2:12

Mala. 2:12   The Lord shall cut off the exciter and the testifier

                                 from the tents of Jacob,

                       and for any man, the bringer of an offering to the Lord of hosts,

                                 who would do it.

The words I translate as exciter and testifier in this verse are not well understood, their meaning being obscure. 

Most Jewish commentators believe they refer to a caller and a responder, both of whom will be cut off.  But I

suspect that Malachi tells us who they are.  Throughout much of this chapter he is addressing the priests. In some

of this chapter he uses both singular and plural second-person pronouns.  I think when he uses plural pronouns

he is talking to the priests, and when he uses singular pronouns he is talking to Judah.  The next verse contains

only plural pronouns.  Thus I think Malachi is referring to different priests, one type the exciter, that is, one who

calls falsely to the people, and the testifier, one who preaches and practices falsehoods.

וְזֹאת שֵׁנִית תַּעֲשׂוּ כַּסּוֹת דִּמְעָה אֶת־מִזְבַּח יְהוָה בְּכִי וַאֲנָקָה מֵאֵין עוֹד פְּנוֹת אֶל־הַמִּנְחָה וְלָקַחַת   2:13

רָצוֹן מִיֶּדְכֶם׃

Mala. 2:13   And this is another thing you would do,

                                spreading tears over the altar of the Lord of crying and groaning,

                       that there is no more turning to the offering

                                or receiving delight from your hand.

This verse is thought to be about the tears, crying, and groaning of the wives who have been been dealt with

treacherously.  But I have what I think is a better idea.  I suspect that Malachi may be referring to the “tears,” “crying,”

and “groaning” of God,   After all, He is Who has been dealt with treacherously, as Malachi sees it.  He is also the

one Who is “rejecting” the offering and not “receiving delight” from the hands of the priests.

וַאֲמַרְתֶּם עַל־מָה עַל כִּי־יְהוָה הֵעִיד בֵּינְךָ וּבֵין אֵשֶׁת נְעוּרֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה בָּגַדְתָּה בָּהּ וְהִיא    2:14

 חֲבֶרְתְּךָ וְאֵשֶׁת בְּרִיתֶךָ׃

Mala. 2:14   And you say, “Why?”

                                Because the Lord is the Witness between you and the Woman of your youth,

                      with whom you have dealt treacherously,

                                 yet she was your Companion and the Wife of your covenant.

Who is the Woman of this verse?  Companion, and Wife of the covenant, Who has been dealt with treacherously? 

The Jewish commentators seem to believe it is symbolic of the “marriage” between God and Judah.  I agree and

conclude that the phrase “Woman of your youth” is Malachi’s metaphor for God’s relationship with Judah:   Judah

was the groom, whom God loves (see v. 2:11), and God is the “Bride.”

וְלֹא־אֶחָד עָשָׂה וּשְׁאָר רוּחַ לוֹ וּמָה הָאֶחָד מְבַקֵּשׁ זֶרַע אֱלֹהִים וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם בְּרוּחֲכֶם וּבְאֵשֶׁת   2:15

נְעוּרֶיךָ אַל־יִבְגֹּד׃

Mala. 2:15   And not one has done, or his spirit remained;

                                 and what was the One seeking?  A seed of God!

                      So you must keep guard on your spirit,

                                 and with the Woman of your youth one may not deal treacherously.

This verse is very difficult to interpret.  What does it mean?  No one knows with any certainty.  This verse has

been a subject of discussion for two millennia and there is no consensus.  The various suggested interpretations

can be examined by googling “Malachi 2:15.”  The discussion is too varied and complicated to repeat here.  Now as

to what I think, I imagine the first line means not one priest has done according to the Lord’’s covenant; nor did the

desire of any priest tend toward the Lord.  The second line is more obscure than the first.  But I suspect it means

that the Lord was seeking someone who would act like a child of God.  And as I remarked above, I believe the

Woman of your youth is the Lord, the “Bride” of Judah.

כִּי־שָׂנֵא שַׁלַּח אָמַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכִסָּה חָמָס עַל־לְבוּשׁוֹ אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם   2:16

בְּרוּחֲכֶם וְלֹא תִבְגֹּדוּ׃

Mala. 2:16   For He hates sending away, says the Lord, God of Israel,

                                  and anyone spreading violence over his clothes, says the Lord of hosts.

                      So keep guard on your spirit

                                and do not deal treacherously.

I believe that Malachi is here describing God’s “dilemma:”  He “hates” sending anyone away (that is, cutting

someone off),but He also “hates” human treachery, violence, and injustice.  What is God to do, Malachi seems to

be saying.

הוֹגַעְתֶּם יְהוָה בְּדִבְרֵיכֶם וַאֲמַרְתֶּם בַּמָּה הוֹגָעְנוּ בֶּאֱמָרְכֶם כָּל־עֹשֵׂה רָע טוֹב בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה וּבָהֶם   2:17

הוּא חָפֵץ אוֹ אַיֵּה אֱלֹהֵי הַמִּשְׁפָּט׃

Mala. 2:17   You make the Lord weary with your words,

                                 and you ask, “In what way have we made weary?”

                      By your saying, “Everyone doing evil is good in the eyes of the Lord

                                 and in them He takes pleasure,”

                      or, “Where is the God of Justice?”

 

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