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Old Testament | Malachi | Summary

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Summary

  • In the first disputation (1:2–5), Yahweh's love for Israel is contrasted with his treatment of Edom, which had become a desolate land by this time.
  • The second disputation (1:6–2:9) addresses problems in the temple priesthood.
  • The third disputation (2:10–16) accuses that Judah has "profaned the sanctuary of Yahweh ... and has married the daughter of a foreign god," an accusation usually understood to indicate either worship of a foreign goddess or marriage to foreign women.
  • In the fourth disputation (2:17–3:5), Yahweh assures that his messenger will come, bringing swift judgment against the wicked.
  • Yahweh accuses the people of failing to present their tithes and offerings in the fifth disputation (3:6–12).
  • In the final disputation, Yahweh acknowledges that the people have "spoken harsh words" in questioning the value of faithfulness to him (3:13–4:3).
  • An epilogue (4:4–5) admonishes the reader to remember the teaching of Moses, and proclaims that the prophet Elijah will return in advance of "the great and terrible day of Yahweh."

Analysis

Malachi discusses issues of concern for the postexilic community in Judah. The discussion of problems with the priesthood and the offerings they present critiques the current running of the temple in Jerusalem, but does not hint at any deeper critique of the sacrificial cult such as those found in other prophets. Temple sacrifices and offerings remain of vital importance in Malachi, and must be done correctly.

The ending of Malachi (4:4–5) may serve as an epilogue to the entire series of the 12 Minor Prophets (Hosea-Malachi), which were grouped together in the canon of the Hebrew Bible at an early date and probably underwent their final editing as a discrete corpus. It directs the reader's attention back to the Torah of Moses, and forward in expectation of the future Day of Yahweh.

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