Was the Book of Malachi a Hymnal?

Malachi is an interesting book for scholars are not sure if Malachi is the name of an actual prophet, or means the “Messenger or Message” For the purpose of this refection I would like to run with the later suggestion. The reason being that according to Stuart[1]; it seems there is a strong likely hood that if Malachi was a prophet; he was a contemporary with Ezra and Nehemiah.

However I propose that the book of Malachi was not so much a prophetic word from a specific prophet within a specific time frame. Rather the book was like a hymnal with a confession and response that covered the message of previous prophetic voices within the post exilic period.

By previous prophetic voices I include the book of Deuteronomy because it and Malachi are the only books that begin with an address to the nation of Israel.  They both contain the specific mention of blessings and curses and alludes specifically to the Mosaic Covenant and refers to Numbers in the challenge to the priests for not performing their duties.

If it is true that the Pentateuch as we know it was indeed edited within its final format within the exilic / post exilic period; it stands to reason that the book of Malachi could be a shorter version which covers the major 6 points within those books. The six points being;

  1. A question about the lords love and the answer being he is not a territorial God
  2. Three questions / answers about the priesthood..

a)    Priests know its wrong to sacrifice defective sacrifices

b)    Priests warned by God

c)    Priests will be despised if they corrupt their vocation

  1. Faith goes along with sacrifices and keeping of the covenant
  2. The people doubt the lords justice
  3. The Lord does not change…his people must
  4. There is a division between those who think its useless to serve God and those who renew covenant with him.
  5. Conclusion with encouragement and warning.

Through looking at this list we can also see elements of Habakkuk in point one and 4. We can see elements of Micah and Zephaniah in point 2. Isaiah in point 6 and in the conclusion we can see elements of Joel and Zechariah. We also see elements of Haggai in point 3 which has an emphasis on tithing to support the Temple and social justice within community.

It was practice for the Israelite nation to read the book of the law and within the context of the new temple and community within the post exilic period I think I have made a initial case for this book to be a shorter catechism within their worship context.


[1] Douglass Stuart , Malachi The Minor Prophets, McComiskey


About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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