What does Malachi 3:9 mean?
ESV: You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.
NIV: You are under a curse--your whole nation--because you are robbing me.
NASB: You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the entire nation of you!
CSB: You are suffering under a curse, yet you--the whole nation--are still robbing me.
NLT: You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.
KJV: Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
NKJV: You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.
Verse Commentary:
According to the covenant between God and Israel, the people were to bring 10 percent of everything they possessed to the temple. This not only supported the Levites, who maintained the temple, it was also used to care for widows, orphans, and others (Leviticus 27:30). Verse 8 indicated that Israel has been "robbing" God by keeping these tithes and offerings. Since Israel was violating the covenant, they could expect the promised curses (Deuteronomy 28:15–68).

Verses 10 and 11 describe God protecting Israel from economic hardship, if they will honor the covenant. So, the curse being mentioned here is likely agricultural. Given the complaints of the people in this book, and their continued domination by Babylon, this was probably a time of financial and social hardship for Israel. It's common for humanity, in all generations, to defy God, then blame Him for the consequences of our own sin. In this case, that complaint is doubly hypocritical, because these very consequences were explicitly promised by God if Israel broke the covenant!

As with verse 8, and the upcoming promise of verse 10, context is key to complete understanding. Malachi's criticism, like the law of Moses, is meant for the nation of Israel. While we can draw principles for modern faith from this book, the covenant agreement being discussed here, including the requirement of tithing, is meant for the nation of Israel. This is not a regulation applied to all people at all times.
Verse Context:
Malachi 3:7–12 is both a reminder and an encouragement to Israel. God's covenant through Moses included positive promises, in response to obedience. However, it also included negative consequences, in response to defiance. Israel has been ''robbing'' God by failing to pay His tithes. Israel's lack of success, in this case, is partly because of their own disobedience. Even so, God promises to restore Israel's fortunes if they will be faithful. Though often mis-applied, these requirements and promises are meant only for Israel, not all believers at all times.
Chapter Summary:
The final message, completed in chapter 4, is an appeal for God's chosen people to return. God would prefer to see them redeemed, than to be destroyed, when the end finally comes. This passage includes God's promise to send a messenger heralding the Messiah. And, that the Promised One will someday rule and conquer the wicked. In the meantime, Israel must stop ''robbing'' Him by withholding His tithes and offerings. Only God's unchanging nature has kept Israel from destruction. At the same time, God will remember those who have been faithful during these faithless times.
Chapter Context:
Malachi's first message, to the priests, ended in chapter 2. The prophecy then shifts to accuse Israel of unfaithfulness across chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3. The final message covers the last half of chapter 3 and all of the short fourth chapter. This last warning is centered on Israel's failure to pay God His tithes and offerings, as well as a promise to send Messiah to judge all sin.
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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