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Malachi 2:1-9

Context
The Sacrilege of the Priestly Message

2:1 “Now, you priests, this commandment is for you. 2:2 If you do not listen and take seriously 1  the need to honor my name,” says the Lord who rules over all, “I will send judgment 2  on you and turn your blessings into curses – indeed, I have already done so because you are not taking it to heart. 2:3 I am about to discipline your children 3  and will spread offal 4  on your faces, 5  the very offal produced at your festivals, and you will be carried away along with it. 2:4 Then you will know that I sent this commandment to you so that my covenant 6  may continue to be with Levi,” says the Lord who rules over all. 2:5 “My covenant with him was designed to bring life and peace. I gave its statutes to him to fill him with awe, and he indeed revered me and stood in awe before me. 2:6 He taught what was true; 7  sinful words were not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity, and he turned many people away from sin. 2:7 For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge of sacred things, and people should seek instruction from him 8  because he is the messenger of the Lord who rules over all. 2:8 You, however, have turned from the way. You have caused many to violate the law; 9  you have corrupted the covenant with Levi,” 10  says the Lord who rules over all. 2:9 “Therefore, I have caused you to be ignored and belittled before all people to the extent to which you are not following after me and are showing partiality in your 11  instruction.”

1 tn Heb “and if you do not place upon [the] heart”; KJV, NAB, NRSV “lay it to heart.”

2 tn Heb “the curse” (so NASB, NRSV); NLT “a terrible curse.”

3 tc The phrase “discipline your children” is disputed. The LXX and Vulgate suppose זְרוֹעַ (zÿroa’, “arm”) for the MT זֶרַע (zera’, “seed”; hence, “children”). Then, for the MT גֹעֵר (goer, “rebuking”) the same versions suggest גָּרַע (gara’, “take away”). The resulting translation is “I am about to take away your arm” (cf. NAB “deprive you of the shoulder”). However, this reading is unlikely. It is common for a curse (v. 2) to fall on offspring (see, e.g., Deut 28:18, 32, 41, 53, 55, 57), but a curse never takes the form of a broken or amputated arm. It is preferable to retain the reading of the MT here.

4 tn The Hebrew term פֶרֶשׁ (feresh, “offal”) refers to the entrails as ripped out in preparing a sacrificial victim (BDB 831 s.v. פֶּרֶשׁ). This graphic term has been variously translated: “dung” (KJV, RSV, NRSV, NLT); “refuse” (NKJV, NASB); “offal” (NEB, NIV).

5 sn See Zech 3:3-4 for similar coarse imagery which reflects cultic disqualification.

6 sn My covenant refers to the priestly covenant through Aaron and his grandson Phinehas (see Exod 6:16-20; Num 25:10-13; Jer 33:21-22). The point here is to contrast the priestly ideal with the disgraceful manner in which it was being carried out in postexilic times.

7 tn Heb “True teaching was in his mouth”; cf. NASB, NRSV “True instruction (doctrine NAB) was in his mouth.”

8 tn Heb “from his mouth” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV).

9 tn The definite article embedded within בַּתּוֹרָה (battorah) may suggest that the Torah is in mind and not just “ordinary” priestly instruction, though it might refer to the instruction previously mentioned (v. 7).

10 tn Or “the Levitical covenant.”

11 tn Heb “in the instruction” (so NASB). The Hebrew article is used here as a possessive pronoun (cf. NRSV, NLT).



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