Malachi means "my messenger" (HSN4401). Because nothing else is mentioned of him in the Old Testament and because of the meaning of the word, some scholars have thought that "Malachi" may have been just a pen name used by the prophet. This possibility is mentioned in an ancient Jewish tradition.

The prophecy was probably written in the period between 450 and 425 B.C. This was the time of Nehemiah, about 100 years after the first exiles had returned from Babylon. The book reflects that era. The Temple had been completed and sacrifices were being offered, but the priests were careless. The people doubted God and were intermarrying outside Israel. Judah was under a governor and Edom had been destroyed.

The prophet's style is unique in the Old Testament. He makes a statement and then asks a question growing out of that statement. In the answers to these questions Malachi sets forth the greater portion of his message.

The enthusiasm that marked the Jews' return to Jerusalem a century earlier was gone. They were discouraged. There was a drought and the crops were bad. They expected a golden age of prosperity, but it had not dawned. Did not God care? Malachi answered these doubts: God is still on His throne! Look what He did to Edom. God deals with sin. Pay your tithes, obey Him, and see how He will bless you. The Messiah is coming! He will destroy the wicked and give victory to the righteous. But before that day, the prophet Elijah must come (=John the Baptist, Matt.17v10-13).

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