Malachi
מַלְאָכִי
Duccio di Buoninsegna 066.jpg
The Prophet Malachi, painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1310-1311 (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena Cathedral).
Burial placeTomb of the Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, Jerusalem
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Malachi (/ˈmælək/ (listen); Hebrew: מַלְאָכִי, Modern: Malʾaḵī, Tiberian: Malʾāḵī, "My messenger", see malakh) is the traditional author of the Book of Malachi, the last book of the Nevi'im (Prophets) section of the Tanakh. According to the 1897 Easton's Bible Dictionary, it is possible that Malachi is not a proper name, as it simply means "messenger".[1]

The editors of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia implied that he prophesied after Haggai and Zechariah and speculated that he delivered his prophecies about 420 BC, after the second return of Nehemiah from Persia,[2] or possibly before his return. No allusion is made to him by Ezra, however, and he does not directly mention the restoration of the Second Temple.

Name

Because the name Malachi does not occur elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, some scholars doubt whether it is intended to be the personal name of the prophet. The form mal'akhi (literally "my malakh") signifies "my messenger"; it occurs in Malachi 3:1[3] (compare to Malachi 2:7, but this form would hardly be appropriate as a proper name without some additional syllable such as Yah, whence mal'akhiah, i.e. "messenger of Yah".[citation needed] In the Book of Haggai, Haggai is designated the "messenger of the LORD."[4] The non-canonical superscriptions prefixed to the book, in both the Septuagint and the Vulgate, warrant the supposition that Malachi's full name ended with the syllable -yah.[citation needed] The Septuagint translates the last clause of Malachi 1:1, "by the hand of his messenger",[citation needed] and the Targum reads, "by the hand of my angel, whose name is called Ezra the scribe".[5]

Works

Imaginative image of Malachi (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)
Imaginative image of Malachi (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

The Jews of his day ascribed the Book of Malachi to Ezra.[citation needed] Certain traditions ascribe the book to Zerubbabel and Nehemiah; others to Malachi, whom they designate as a Levite and a member of the Great Assembly.[citation needed] Certain modern scholars, however, on the basis of the similarity of the title[6] declare it to be anonymous.[citation needed] G.G. Cameron suggests that the termination of the word "Malachi" is adjectival, and equivalent to the Latin angelicus, signifying "one charged with a message or mission" (a missionary). The term would thus be an official title, and the thought would not be unsuitable to one whose message closed the prophetical canon of the Old Testament.[5][dead link]

Date

Opinions vary as to the prophet's exact date, but nearly all scholars agree that Malachi prophesied during the Persian period, and after the reconstruction and dedication of the Second Temple in 516 BC.[citation needed] More specifically, Malachi probably lived and labored during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah.[citation needed] The abuses which Malachi mentions in his writings correspond so exactly with those which Nehemiah found on his second visit to Jerusalem in 432 BC[7] that it seems reasonably certain that he prophesied concurrently with Nehemiah or shortly after.[5]

According to W. Gunther Plaut,

Malachi describes a priesthood that is forgetful of its duties, a Temple that is underfunded because the people have lost interest in it, and a society in which Jewish men divorce their Jewish wives to marry out of the faith.[8]

References

  1. ^ Malachi at the Easton's Bible Dictionary
  2. ^ Nehemiah 13:6)
  3. ^ Malachi 3:1
  4. ^ Haggai 1:13
  5. ^ a b c "www.Bibler.org - Dictionary - Malachi". 2012-08-07.
  6. ^ compare Malachi 1:1 to Zechariah 9:1 and Zechariah 12:1
  7. ^ Nehemiah 13:7
  8. ^ Plaut, W. Gunther. "Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: Back in the Land", My Jewish Learning
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article "Malachi".