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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Malachi 2:3

Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Malachi 2:3

3. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.

3. Ecce ego corrumpo (vel perdo) vobis semen (vertunt Graeci, brachium; sed decepti sunt in una litera,) et spergam stercus super facies vestras, stercus solemnitatum vestrarum; et tollet vos ad se (alii vertunt, tollet vos ad ipsum; sed coacta est illa expositio.)

He confirms here again what he had said in the last verse, -- that they would perceive God's curse in want and poverty. The curse of God is any kind of calamity; for as God declares especially his favor by a liberal support, so the sterility of the land and defective produce most clearly evidence the curse of God. The Prophet then shows, by mentioning one thing, what sort of curse was nigh the Jews, -- that God would destroy their seed. Some read, but improperly, |I will destroy you and the seed.| I wonder how learned men make such puerile mistakes, when there is nothing ambiguous in the Prophet's words. I will destroy then for you the seed; that is, |Sow as much as you please, I will yet destroy your seed, so that it shall produce no fruit.| In short, he threatens the Jews with want and famine; for the land would produce nothing when cursed by God.

But as the Jews flattered themselves on account of their descent, and ever boasted of their fathers, and as that preeminence with which God had favored them proved to them an occasion of haughtiness and pride, the Prophet here ridicules this foolish confidence, I will scatter dung, he says, on your faces: |Ye are a holy nation, ye are the chosen seed of Abraham, ye are a royal priesthood; these are your boastings; but the Lord will render your faces filthy with dung; this will be your nobility and preeminence! there is then no reason for you to think yourselves exempt from punishments because God has adopted you; for as ye have abused his benefits and profaned his name, so ye shall also find in your turn, that he will cover you with everything disgraceful and ignominious, so as to make you wholly filthy: ye shall then be covered all over with dung, and shall not be the holy seed of Abraham.|

But as they might have again raised a clamor and say, |Have we then in vain so diligently served God? Why has he bidden a temple to be built for him by us and promised to dwell there? God then has deceived us, or at least his promises avail nothing.| -- The Prophet gives this answer, |God will overwhelm you with disgrace and also your sacrifices.| But he calls them the dung of solemnities, as though he had said, |I will cover you with reproach on account of your impiety, which is seen in your sacrifices.| Had the Jews any holiness they derived it from their sacrifices, by which they expiated their sins and reconciled themselves to God: but the Prophet says that it was their special ill-savor which offended God, and which he abominated, because they vitiated their sacrifices. Nor is that to be disapproved which some of the rabbins have said, that the Prophet alludes to the oxen, calves, and rams; for when the Jews from various places brought their sacrifices, there must have been much dung from all that vast number. There is then here a striking allusion to the victims themselves, as though he had said, |Ye think that I can be pacified by your sacrifices, as though loads of dung were pleasing to me; for when ye bring such a vast number, even the place itself, the area before the temple, throws an ill-savor on account of the dung that is there. Ye are then, forsooth! holy, and all your filth is cleansed away by means of this dung. Begone then together with the dung of your solemnities; for I will cast this very dung on your heads.|

We now perceive what the Prophet means: and emphatical are the words, Behold I; for God by these single words cuts off all those pretences by which the Jews deceived themselves, and thought that their vices were concealed from God: |I myself,| he says, |am present, to whom ye think your sacrifices to be acceptable; I then will destroy your seed, and I will also cast dung on your faces; all the dignity which ye pretend shall be abolished, for ye think that ye are defended by a sort of privilege, when ye boast yourselves to be the seed of Abraham: it is dung, it is dung,| he says. He afterwards shows what was especially the dung and the filth: for when they objected and said, |What! have our sacrifices availed nothing?| he answers, |Nay, I will cast that dung upon you, because the chief pollution is in your sacrifices, for ye vitiate and adulterate my service: and what else is your sacrifice but profanation only? ye are sacrilegious in all your empty pomps. Since then all your victims have an ill-savor and displease me, and as I nauseate them, (as it is also said in the first and last chapter of Isaiah,) I will heap the dung on your own heads, because ye think it to be your chief expiation.|

He adds at last, It shall take you to itself; that is, |Ye shall be dung altogether; and thus all your boastings, that ye are descended from the holy Patriarch Abraham, shall be wholly useless; though I made a covenant and promised that you should be to me a royal priesthood, yet the dung shall take you to itself, and thus whatever dignity I have hitherto conferred on you shall be taken away.| Let us proceed

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