Easton's Bible Dictionary
Messenger or angel, The last of the minor prophets, and
the writer of the last book of the Old Testament canon ( Malachi
4:6 ). Nothing is known of him beyond what is contained in his book of prophecies.
Some have supposed that the name is simply a title descriptive of his character
as a messenger of Jehovah, and not a proper name. There is reason, however, to
conclude that Malachi was the ordinary name of the prophet.
He was contemporary with Nehemiah (Compare Malachi
2:8 with Nehemiah
13:15 ; Malachi
2:10 - 16
13:23 ). No allusion is made to him by Ezra, and he does not mention the restoration
of the temple, and hence it is inferred that he prophesied after Haggai and Zechariah,
and when the temple services were still in existence ( Malachi
1:10 ; 3:1
). It is probable that he delivered his prophecies about B.C. 420, after the second
return of Nehemiah from Persia ( Nehemiah
13:6 ), or possibly before his return.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
my messenger; my angel
Smith's Bible Dictionary
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
1. Name of the Prophet
The last book of the Old Testament. Nothing is known of the person of Malachi.
Because his name does not occur elsewhere, some scholars indeed doubt whether
"Malachi" is intended to be the personal name of the prophet. But none of the
other prophetic books of the Old Testament is anonymous. The form mal'akhi, signifies
"my messenger"; it occurs again in Malachi
3:1; compare 2:7.
But this form of itself would hardly be appropriate as a proper name without some
additional syllable such as Yah, whence mal'akhiah, i.e. "messenger of Yahweh."
Haggai, in fact, is expressly designated "messenger of Yahweh" (Haggai
1:13). Besides, the 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. At the same time the Septuagint translates the last clause of Malachi
1:1, "by the hand of his messenger," and the Targum reads, "by the hand of
my angel, whose name is called Ezra the scribe." Jerome likewise testifies that
the Jews of his day ascribed this last book of prophecy to Ezra (V. Praef. in
duodecim Prophetas). But if Ezra's name was originally associated with the book,
it would hardly have been dropped by the collectors of the prophetic Canon who,
lived only a century or two subsequent to Ezra's time. Certain traditions ascribe
the book to Zerubbabel and Nehemiah; others, still, to Malachi, whom they designate
as a Levite and a member of the "Great Synagogue." Certain modern scholars, however,
on the basis of the similarity of the title (Malachi
1:1) to Zechariah
declare it to be anonymous; but this is a rash conclusion without any substantial
proof other than supposition. The best explanation is that of Professor G.G. Cameron,
who 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,
and whose mission in behalf of the church was so sacred in character (1-vol HDB).
2. The Prophet's Times:
Opinions vary as to the prophet's exact date, but nearly all scholars are agreed
that Malachi prophesied during the Persian period, and after the reconstruction
and dedication of the second temple in 516 BC (compare Malachi
1:10 ; 3:1
The prophet speaks of the people's governor" (Hebrew pechah, Malachi
1:8), as do Haggai and Nehemiah (Haggai
1:1 ; Nehemiah
5:14 ; 12:26).
The social conditions portrayed are unquestionably those also of the period of
the Restoration. More specifically, Malachi probably lived and labored during
the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. Serious abuses had crept into Jewish life; the
priests had become lax and degenerate, defective and inferior sacrifices were
allowed to be offered upon the temple altar, the people were neglecting their
tithes, divorce was common and God's covenant was forgotten and ignored; just
such abuses as we know from the Book of Nehemiah were common in his day (compare
3:5 ; 5:1
Yet, it is doubtful whether Malachi preached during Nehemiah's active governorship;
for in Malachi
1:8 it is implied that gifts might be offered to the "governor," whereas Nehemiah
tells us that he declined all such (Nehemiah
5:15 , 18).
On the other hand, the abuses which Malachi attacked correspond so exactly with
those which Nehemiah found on his 2nd visit to Jerusalem in 432 BC (Nehemiah
13:7) that it seems reasonably certain that he prophesied shortly before that
date, i.e. between 445 and 432 BC. As Dr. J.M.P. Smith says, The Book of Malachi
fits the situation amid which Nehemiah worked as snugly as a bone fits its socket"
(ICC, 7). That the prophet should exhort the people to remember the law of Moses,
which was publicly read by Ezra in the year 444 BC, is in perfect agreement with
this conclusion, despite the fact that Stade, Cornill and Kautzsch argue for a
date prior to the time of Ezra. On the other hand, Nagelsbach, Kohler, Orelli,
Reuss and Volck rightly place the book in the period between the two visits of
Nehemiah (445-432 BC).
3 - 5. (SEE MALACHI,
THE BOOK OF)
George L. Robinson
author of the book of malachi, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, malachi, prophet