What does Malachi 1:3 mean?
ESV: but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”
NIV: but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.'
NASB: but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and given his inheritance to the jackals of the wilderness.'
CSB: but I hated Esau. I turned his mountains into a wasteland, and gave his inheritance to the desert jackals."
NLT: but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau’s inheritance into a desert for jackals.'
KJV: And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
NKJV: But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness.”
Verse Commentary:
Verses 2 through 5 contrast the destruction of Edom with the survival of Israel. Esau was the father of the nation of Edom. His brother, Jacob, was the father of the nation of Israel. These nations are as closely related as possible. However, God has not favored Edom the way He has Israel. The prophet Obadiah predicted the destruction of Edom (Obadiah 1:1–9), in judgment for their sins (Obadiah 1:10–14). The reference here to Edom's cities being abandoned shows that Obadiah's prophecy has been fulfilled. Israel's struggles have also been the result of their sins, but God has kept them alive and intact.

This is an example of the ancient use of extreme contrasts. In English, the terms "love" and "hate" have an emotional impact. They imply completely opposite attitudes. In biblical use, this is not always the case (Romans 9:10–13). Here, the extremes are meant to show a clear contrast between God's actions, not His emotions, towards two different nations. God has loved Israel in the sense that He has given great blessing and care to them. In contrast, He has destroyed Edom for their sins.
Verse Context:
Malachi 1:1–5 introduces this prophecy as one from Malachi, meaning ''My Messenger.'' This passage summarizes the basic spiritual problem facing Israel: apathy. God has shown His love for them, but they don’t recognize it anymore. To show how He has loved them, Malachi points to the destruction of Edom. Israel has suffered, but God has kept them through those struggles. Edom, on the other hand, has been obliterated. God's chosen people have sinned, but they haven't been destroyed, which is an act of God's love and mercy towards them.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 1 begins the first of three main messages in the book of Malachi. This is addressed to the priests, who have failed to do their duty. They are allowing improper sacrifices, they are not teaching the people, and they are acting in legalism and apathy. If the priests do not change, they will be under the curse of God. God's love for Israel is demonstrated by the counter-example of Edom. Edom's complete destruction was foretold in the book of Obadiah. This shows that God can punish disobedience with annihilation, but has not done so for Israel.
Chapter Context:
Malachi's structure is complex, and chapter divisions are not helpful in seeing the pattern. There are three primary messages in this book, the first running from Malachi 1:2 through Malachi 2:9. Most of chapter one is the first message, directed to the priests of Israel. This is an important first step, since the priests were responsible for teaching the people. Failures by the priests would inevitably lead to failures by the people. The second and third messages are delivered more generally to the nation of Israel.
Book Summary:
Malachi is the last message of prophecy given to Israel prior to 400 years of silence. Israel has rebuilt the temple, following the invasions of Babylon, but they are still under foreign oppression. Israel's spiritual condition, however, is dire. Hosea depicted Israel as prone to failure, but repentant. Later, Ezekiel exposed Israel's blatant disobedience. By the time of Malachi, Israel has passed into numbness and apathy. Unlike other Old Testament prophets, Malachi takes the form of a dialogue, where Israel responds to accusations as if unaware that they've occurred. The next prophetic voice from God would not come until the ministry of John the Baptist.
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