Malachi 1 – “Jacob, Not Esau; Unfit Sacrifice”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
God proclaims his favoritism for Jacob (Israel) over Esau (Edom) and lambastes the people for bringing unfit sacrifices.

II. Photo
God rejects Esau: “I have made his hills a desolation, his territory a home for the jackals of the desert.” (v. 3b)

III. Select Verses
2-3: I have shown you love, said the LORD. But you ask, “How have You shown us love?” After all — declares the LORD — Esau is Jacob’s brother; yet I have accepted Jacob and have rejected Esau. I have made his hills a desolation, his territory a home for beasts of the desert.
6-8: A son should honor his father, and a slave his master. Now if I am a father, where is the honor due Me? And if I am a master, where is the reverence due Me? — said the LORD of Hosts to you, O priests who scorn My name. But you ask, “How have we scorned Your name?” You offer defiled food on My altar. But you ask, “How have we defiled You?” By saying, “The table of the LORD can be treated with scorn.” When you present a blind animal for sacrifice — it doesn’t matter! When you present a lame or sick one — it doesn’t matter! Just offer it to your governor: Will he accept you? Will he show you favor? — said the LORD of Hosts.
14: A curse on the cheat who has an [unblemished] male in his flock, but for his vow sacrifices a blemished animal to the LORD! For I am a great King — said the LORD of Hosts — and My name is revered among the nations.

IV. Outline
1. Introduction
2-5. God blesses Jacob and curses Esau
6-14. Diatribe for bringing unfit sacrifices

V. Comment
There is a debate whether Malachi, the twelfth book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, was originally conceived as a discrete book. This debate stems from the fact that its introductory phrase, “A pronouncement: The word of the Lord to Israel,” only occurs three times in the Hebrew Bible, and the other two are at the end of the previous book (Zechariah 9:1, 12:1). Thus, according to some scholars, there were three anonymous oracles appended to the book of Zechariah, and Malachi was the last of them.

What about the name “Malachi”? There is no conclusive evidence here either. Andrew Hill writes: “As a proper name Malachi may be translated “my messenger” or “my angel” (cf. Zech 1:9, 11), though context militates against the latter. Several commentators have espoused the view that Malachi is indeed a proper name. Still others suggest that the name is a shortened form of Malachiah, meaning “Yah(weh) is my messenger” or “Yah(weh) is an angel.” While highly irregular, this is not impossible given the unusual revelatory ministry of the angel of the Lord in the OT (cf. Judg 13:18; 1 Chr 21:18; Zech 1:11; 3:5; 12:8).“” (5:477)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Hill, Andrew. “Malachi, Book of” Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:477.
Smith, Ralph L. “Micah – Malachi” World Biblical Commentary v. 32 (Word Books: 1984).
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