The Book of Malachi

I. Title

        The title is the same in Hebrew as it is in the English and Greek translations. Malachi is not likely the name of the author of the book; it means simply "my messenger" and occurs in Malachi 1:1 and 3:1; in three one it is simply translated, instead of being treated like a proper name.

II. Author and Setting

A. Author

        Based on Mark 1:2-3, Malachi was actually written by the prophet Isaiah. See the discussion on Zechariah for more explanation.
        Isaiah was the son of Amoz. Nothing is known about his father, Amoz, beyond his name. Isaiah mentions two sons in the book of Isaiah: Maher- shalal-hash-baz, which means "Hasten spoil, quick booty" and She'ar-Yashub, which means "a remnant shall remain". Isaiah prophesied mainly in Jerusalem. Based on his vocabulary usage and style, it seems clear that Isaiah was very well educated. According to Jewish tradition found in the Mishna, Manasseh stuck Isaiah in a hollow tree and then sawed him in half as punishment for opposing him (cf. Hebrews 11:37).

B. Historical Setting

        Isaiah received prophesies and committed them to writing over the years 740 to 690 BC. At the same time he was prophesying in Judah, Amos and Hosea were busy in the Northern Kingdom of Israel; Micah was writing in the south. Isaiah's prophetic work was composed during the reigns of the following kings (see 2 Kings 15:8-21:18):

Judah
Israel
Uzziah (Azariah) 792-740 Jehoash 798-782
Jotham 750-732 Jereboam II 793-753
Zechariah 753
Shallum 752
Menahem 752-742
Pekah 752-732
Pekahiah 742-740
Hoshea 732-723
Ahaz 735-715 Israel Taken Captive
Hezekiah 715-686
Manasseh 696-642

C. Political Situation

1. Assyria was gaining momentum and strength in the west as a major world power. In Isaiah's lifetime, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, as a separate political entity, came to an end. Tiglath-Pileser III invaded Gilead and the Northern Kingdom in 734; its capital, Samaria, finally fell between 724- 722 BC.
2. Sennacherib invaded Judah, the Southern Kingdom, in 701 BC.

D. Spiritual Situation

        Degeneracy and official sanction of idolatry in Judah during the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh only encouraged an already existing problem. Although Hezekiah instituted reforms, both the common people, as well as the upper classes, continued to be attracted to false gods.

E. Economic Situation

        Isaiah lived during a period of great prosperity, especially at the beginning of his ministry. However, this prosperity was concentrated in the upper classes, who had a tendency to be stingy and oppressive in handling their wealth.

III. An Outline of Malachi

I. Yahweh's complaints 1:1-2:17
II. Yahweh's arrival 3:1-4:6

Questions on Malachi

1. Who is the author of Malachi?
2. To which kingdom did he prophesy?
3. What sins of the priests are denounced?
4. What sins of the people are denounced?
5. What two Old Testament figures are mentioned at the end of the book of Malachi?