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Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO MALACHI\\

This book, in the Hebrew copies, is called "Sepher Malachi", the Book
of Malachi; in the Vulgate Latin version, "the Prophecy of Malachi"; in
the Syriac and Arabic versions, "the Prophecy of the Prophet Malachi";
According to Lactantius {a}, Zechariah was the last of the prophets;
but the more commonly received opinion, and the truest, is, that
Malachi was the last; hence Aben Ezra calls him \^Myaybnh Pwo\^, "the
end of the prophets"; and by Kimchi he is said to be, \^Mbv Nwrxa\^
"the last of them"; and sometimes, by the Rabbins, \^Myaybnh Mtwx\^,
"the seal of the prophets" {b}; by whom they are all sealed up,
concluded, and finished. His name signifies "my angel", as is commonly
said; though Hillerus {c} makes it to signify "the angel of the Lord";
hence some have thought that he was not a man, but an angel; and so the
Septuagint render \^ykalm dyb\^, in the first verse \\#Mal 1:1\\, "by
the hand of his angel"; and others have thought that the book takes its
name, not from the author of it, but from the mention that is made of
the messenger or angel of the Lord, John the Baptist, in \\#Mal 3:1\\
but the more prevailing opinion is, that Malachi is the name of a man,
the writer of the book, about whom the Jews have been divided. Rab
Nachman says Malachi was Mordecai; and that he was so called because
he was second to the king. R. Joshua ben Korcha contradicts him, and
affirms Malachi is Ezra; and to him agrees the Chaldee paraphrase on
\\#Mal 1:1\\ which says, that Malachi, his name is called Ezra the
scribe; but, as Kimchi observes, Ezra is never called a prophet, as
Malachi is, only a scribe; wherefore in the Talmud {d}, where this
matter is debated, it is concluded thus; but the wise men say, Malachi
is his name; that is, it is the proper name of a man; there was a man
of this name, that wrote this prophecy; not Mordecai, nor Ezra, nor
Zerubbabel, nor Nehemiah, as some have thought; but Malachi: and if the
accounts of Epiphanius {e} and Isidore {f} are to be credited, this
prophet was born at Sapho, in the tribe of Zebulun; and had his name
from his beautiful form, and unblemished life; and that he died very
young, and was buried in his own field. The time of his prophesying is
not agreed on: the Jews commonly make him contemporary with Haggai and
Zechariah; they say {g} that Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, all of
them prophesied in the second year of Darius; and Ganz, their
chronologer {h}, places the death of these prophets together in one
year; but he seems to be later than they: Haggai prophesied before the
building of the temple; Zechariah about the time of it; and Malachi
after it, when the temple was rebuilt, and the worship of God restored
and settled; and when both priests and people were become very corrupt
and degenerate, of which he complains; so that it is possible that he
might live a century after the other prophets, and about four centuries
before the coming of Christ, during which time prophecy ceased; though
some think he lived not long before the times of Christ, which is not
probable. Bishop Usher {i} makes him contemporary with Nehemiah, and
places him in the year 416 B.C.; and Mr. Whiston {k} in the year 400
B.C.; Mr. Bedford {l} in the year 424 B.C.: however, this book has been
always accounted authentic, and a part of the canon of the Scripture;
and is confirmed by the passages cited out of it, and the references
made unto it, in the New Testament, \\#Mt 11:10 Mr 1:2 Ro 9:1\\
\\#Mt 17:12 Mr 9:11,12 Lu 1:17\\. The general design of it is to
reprove the Jews for their ingratitude to the Lord, their neglect and
contempt of his worship, and breach of his laws; and to raise in the
minds of the truly godly an expectation of the Messiah, and his
forerunner, John the Baptist.

{a} De vera Sapientia, l. 4. c. 5. p. 279.
{b} Nizzachon, p. 200. apud Hottinger. Thes. Phil. p. 489.
{c} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 147, 359, 541.
{d} T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 15. 1.
{e} De Prophet. Vita & Interitu, c. 22.
{f} De Vita & Morte Sanct. c. 51.
{g} T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 15. 1. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 20. p. 55.
{h} Ganz, Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 18. 1.
{i} Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3589.
{k} Chronological Tables, cent. 12.
{l} Scripture Chronology, p. 725.

\\INTRODUCTION TO MALACHI 1\\

In this chapter the Lord declares his love to the people of Israel, and
proves it; and complains that the honour due unto him was not given
him; which he demonstrates by various instances. The inscription is in
\\#Mal 1:1\\ showing the name and nature of the prophecy; the author of
it; the people to whom it was sent; and the name of the person by whom.
In \\#Mal 1:2\\ the Lord affirms his love to the people of Israel,
which they called in question; and proves it to be real, special, and
distinguishing, by the instance of Jacob and Esau, two brothers; yet
one, their ancestor, was loved, and the other hated; which latter is
proved by the desolations made in his country, and by the fruitless
attempts made to repair and rebuild; which was so clear a proof of the
Lord's indignation against him, that the Israelites could not but see
it, and would be obliged to confess it, to the glory of God,
\\#Mal 1:3-5\\ hence he passes on to observe the honour and fear that
were due to him as a Father and master, which were not shown him; but,
instead thereof, he was despised, and even by the priests themselves,
with which they are charged, \\#Mal 1:6\\ and which being objected to
by them, is proved by offering polluted bread on his altar; and by
polluting him, in saying his table was contemptible; and by sacrificing
the blind, the lame, and the sick, unto him; things which would be
justly resented, if offered to a temporal prince and governor,
\\#Mal 1:7,8\\ wherefore they are called upon by the prophet to pray to
the Lord for grace and mercy for the people, seeing it was by their
means (the priests) that these things were done; though it was
questionable whether the Lord would have any regard to them,
\\#Mal 1:9\\ their sins being so dreadfully aggravated; and
particularly, inasmuch as they did not serve in the temple, not so much
as shut a door, or kindle a fire on the altar, for nothing, without
being paid for it; hence the Lord declares he had no pleasure in them,
nor would he accept their offerings; but would call the Gentiles by his
grace, among whom his name would be great from one end of the earth to
the other; and incense and pure offerings would be offered by them to
him, \\#Mal 1:10,11\\ and then he renews the charge against them, that
they had profaned his name, by saying that his table, and the fruit
thereof, were polluted, and his meat contemptible; by expressing a
weariness in his worship, and a contempt of it; and by bringing the
torn, the lame, and sick, as an offering to him, \\#Mal 1:12,13\\ upon
which such sacrificers are declared deceivers, and pronounced accursed,
which they might assure themselves was and would be their case; since
he was a great King, and his name dreadful among the Heathen,
\\#Mal 1:14\\.