4. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
4. Memores estote legis Mosis servi mei, quam mandavi ei in Horeb ad totum Israelem, (nempe,) statuta et judicia, (vel, statutorum et judiciorum.)
This passage has not been clearly and fully explained, because interpreters did not understand the design of Malachi nor consider the time. We know that before the coming of Christ there was a kind of silence on the part of God, for by not sending Prophets for a time, he designed to stimulate as it were the Jews, so that they might with greater ardor seek Christ. Our Prophet was amongst the very last. As then the Jews were without Prophets, they ought more diligently to have attended to the law, and to have taken a more careful heed to the doctrine of religion contained in it. This is the reason why he now bids them to remember the law of Moses; as though he had said, |Hereafter shall come the time when ye shall be without Prophets, but your remedy shall be the law; attend then carefully to it, and beware lest you should forget it.| For men, as soon as God ceases to speak to them even for the shortest time, are carried away after their own inventions, and are ever inclined to vanity, as we abundantly find by experience. Hence Malachi, in order to keep the Jews from wandering, and from thus departing from the pure doctrine of the law, reminds them that they were faithfully and constantly to remember it until the Redeemer came.
If it be asked why he mentions the law only, the answer is obvious, because that saying of Christ is true, that the law and the Prophets were until John. (Matthew 3:13.) It must yet be observed, that the prophetic office was not separated from the law, for all the prophecies which followed the law were as it were its appendages; so that they included nothing new, but were given that the people might be more fully retained in their obedience to the law. Hence as the Prophets were the interpreters of Moses, it is no wonder that their doctrine was subjected, or as they commonly say, subordinated to the law. The object of the Prophet was to make the Jews attentive to that doctrine which had been delivered to them from above by Moses and the Prophets, so as not to depart from it even in the least degree; as though he had said, |God will not now send to you different teachers in succession; there is enough for your instruction in the law: there is no reason on this account that you should change anything in the discipline of the Church. Though God by ceasing to speak to you, may seem to let loose the reins, so as to allow every one to stray and wander in uncertainty after his own imaginations, it is yet not so; for the law is sufficient to guide us, provided we shake not off its yoke, nor through our ingratitude bury the light by which it directs us.|
He calls it the law of Moses, not because he was its author, but its minister, as also Paul calls the gospel |my gospel,| because he was its minister and preacher. At the same time God claims to himself the whole authority, by adding that Moses was his savant: we hence conclude that he brought nothing of himself; for the word servant is not to be confined to his vocation only, but also to his fidelity in executing his office. God then honored Moses with this title, not so much for his own sake, as in order to give sanction to his law, that no one might think that it was a doctrine invented by man. He expresses the same thing still more clearly by saying, that he had committed the law to him on Horeb; for this clause clearly asserts that Moses had faithfully discharged his office of a servant; for he brought nothing but what had been committed to him from above, and he delivered it, as they say, from hand to hand. Many give this version, |To whom I committed, in the valley of Horeb, statutes and judgements;| but I approve of the other rendering -- that God makes himself here the author of the law, that all the godly might reverently receive it as coming from him. Horeb is Sinai; but they who describe these places say, that a part of the mountain towards the east is called Horeb, and that the other towards the west is called Sinai; but it is still the same mountain.
By saying To all Israel, or to the whole of Israel, he confirms what I have already said -- that he had committed to them the law: that the Jews might be the more touched, he expressly says, that the law was given to them, and that this was a singular privilege with which God had favored them, according to what is said in Psalm 147:20,
|He has not done so to other nations, nor has he manifested to them his judgements.|
For the nations had not been laid under such obligations as the Jews, to whom God had given his law as a peculiar treasure to his own children. And that no one might claim an exemption, he says, to the whole of Israel; as though he had said, |Neither the learned nor the unlearned, neither the rulers nor the common people, can have any excuse, except they all with the greatest care attend to the law, yea, all from the least to the greatest.|
What follows may admit of two explanations: for chvqym, chukim, and msphtym, meshephethim, may be referred to the verb zkrv, zacaru, remember; but as he says Which I have committed, we may take statutes and judgements as explanatory. As to the subject itself, it signifies but little which view we may adopt. There is no doubt but that God by these terms commends his law for its benefits; as though he had said, |The law includes what the Jews ought rightly to observe, even statutes and judgements.| We know that other terms are used in Scripture, such as phqvdym, pekudim, precepts; mtsvtym, metsutim, commandments; and dvtym, odutim, testimonies; but here the Prophet is content brief to remind the Jews that their ingratitude would be less excusable if they departed from the law of God, for this would be openly to reject statutes and judgements; and this is what I have stated, that they were here taught by the Prophet that the doctrine of the law is profitable, in order that they might attend to it more willingly. It follows --