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Malachi 1:10

10. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.

10. Quis etiam in vobis qui claudat ostia, et non incenditis altare meum gratis? non mihi placet in vobis, dicit Iehova exercituum; et oblationem non habebo gratam e manu vestra.


He goes on with the same subject, — that the priests conducted themselves very shamefully in their office, and that the people had become hardened through their example, so that the whole of religion was disregarded. Hence he says, that the doors were not closed by them. Some interpreters connect the two things together — that they closed not the doors of the temple, nor kindled the altar for nothing; and thus they apply the adverb, חנם, chenam, to both clauses; as though he had said, that they were hirelings, who did not freely devote themselves to serve God, but looked for profit and gain in everything: and this is the commonly received explanation. 206206     Adopted by Jerome, Cyril, and in our version, and by Henry, Scott, Adam Clarke, and Henderson. But Marckius takes another view, previously taken by Drusius, Gataker, and Cocceius, according to the following version —
   Who is there moreover among you? let him even close the doors, That ye may not kindle my altar in vain.

   “What he seems to say is this,” observes Drusius, “I wish there were some one so inflamed by a pious zeal, as to close the doors, and thus to exclude all unlawful sacrifices.” To kindle or light the altar was to light the fire under it to consume the sacrifice. The Targum favors “in vain,” or to no purpose, “Offer ye not on my altar an execrable oblation.” The word הכם is used in both senses — “for nothing” or without gain, Genesis 29:15; Exodus 21:2,—and “in vain” or uselessly, Proverbs 1:27; Ezekiel 6:10

   It is difficult to know which of these views is the right one. What seems against our version is the negative לא in the second line. The sense given would be better brought out without it; and so Jerome leaves it out in his explanation. The form also of the sentence being changed renders it improbable that חנם belongs to the former clause. The version of Drusius comes nearest to the original, and is countenanced by the Septuagint and the Targum. — Ed.
But it seems better to me to take them separately and to say, Who does even shut the doors? not however for nothing, and the copulative, ו, vau, as in many other places, may be rendered even: and yet ye kindle not for nothing my altar; as though God had said, “I have fixed your works; ye are then to me as hired servants; and now since I have ordered a reward to be given to you whenever ye stand at my altar, why do ye not close my door?” Some render חנם, chenam, in vain, and give this explanation “Who closes the doors? then kindle not afterwards in vain my altar;” as though God rejected the whole service, which had been corrupted by the avarice or the sloth of the priests, and by the presumption of the people.

It is indeed certain that it is better to separate the two clauses so that the adverb, חנם, chenam, may be confined to the letter; but there may yet, as I have said, be a two-fold meaning. If we render, חנם, chenam, in vain the import is that the Prophet declares that they labored to no purpose while they thus sacrificed to God contrary to his law for they ought to have attended especially to the rule prescribed to them: as then they despised this, he justly says, “Offer not to me in vain;” and thus the future tense is to be taken for the imperative, as we know is the case sometimes in Hebrew.

But no interpreter seems to have sufficiently considered the reason why the Prophet speaks of not closing the doors of the temple. The priests, we know were set over the temple for this reason — that nothing polluted might be admitted; for there were of the Levites some doorkeepers, and others stood at the entrance; in short, all had their stations: and then when they had brought in the victim it was the office of the priests to examine it and to see that it was such as the law of God required. As then it was their special office to see that nothing polluted should be received into the temple of God, he justly complains here that they indiscriminately received what was faulty and profane: hence he rightly declares (for this seems to me to be the true exposition) “Offer not in vain.” He then draws the conclusion, that the priests lost all their labor in thus sacrificing, because God would not have his name profaned, and justly preferred obedience to all sacrifices. He therefore denies that they did any good in slaying victims, because they ought in the first place to have attended to this — not to change anything in God’s word and not to deviate from it in the least. But I cannot now proceed farther.

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