Malachi 2 – The Warning to the Priesthood & Megiddo

We have stepped back in time to view two cities that relate to Jesus Christ.  Tomorrow we are going to take a tiny step into the Gospels of the New Testament, we’ll look at…

Malachi 2
The Warning to the Priesthood

1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.

Damascus is made up of a sizeable Old City, divided into the market area, Muslim area, Christian area and the Jewish area. All three groups are still represented in Damascus, even if the Jewish community now only counts a few thousand.

In the centre of the city is Martyrs Square. In the side streets just off the square, there are lots of eateries serving shawarma and falafel and pastry shops serving sweetmeats. The Old city is surrounded by what was once a Roman wall and rebuilt several times over the last 2000 years, the Old City boasts a main thoroughfare, Straight Street which has been here since Graeco-Roman times.

2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.

“Curse your blessings” – it was the function of the priests to pronounce God’s blessing on the people, but their blessings will become curses so that their uniquely priestly function will be worse than useless.

3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.

“Spread dung upon your faces” – not literally, it means to disgrace extensively.

“Dung of…feasts” – the entrails of an animal that were taken “outside the camp” and burned along with its hide and flesh.  As gruesome as this is to a modern reader, it is simply a case of doing to them as they had done to the Lord.  It is the ancient legal concept of “an eye for an eye.”

4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.

5 My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.

6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

2:6-7 – “The law” – priests were responsible to teach the law of Moses to the people, as the churches of today are responsible to teach the word of Jesus.  Not part of the law/Jesus’ ways, but all of it, the good and bad.  Those that leave anything out or change anything will be punished greatly when Jesus comes back (Rev 22:18-19).

Tell Hazor
Tell Hazor is one of the largest, most important biblical sites in the Canaanite and Israelite periods. The bible gave it the title: “the head of all those kingdoms”(Josh 11:10).

7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.

“Corrupted the covenant” – by unfaithful teaching, but also, it seems, by intermarriage with foreigners.

9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.

10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

2:10-16 – Malachi rebukes the people – in a passage framed by “deal treacherously.”  Two examples of their sin are specifically mentioned: Marrying pagan women and divorce.

11 Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.

“Daughter of a strange god” – a pagan woman.  Such marriages were strictly forbidden in the covenant law because they would lead to apostasy.  This is what Paul was talking about when he said “Be ye not unequally yoked…” (2 Cor 6:14-18).

Gezer was a Canaanite city-state in the foothills of the Judaean Mountains at the border of the Shfela.

Tel Gezer (also Tell el-Jezer), an archaeological site midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is now an Israeli national park. In the Hebrew Bible, Gezer is associated with Joshua and Solomon.

12 The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.

13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.

14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

“Witness…wife of thy covenant” – marriage was a covenant (Prov 2:17; Eze 16:8) and covenants were affirmed before witnesses.

15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

Although the verse is difficult, it may refer to Abraham, who “married” the foreigner Hagar in order to have a son (Gen 16:1-4).  But Abraham didn’t divorce Sarah, who had suggested the union with Hagar in the first place.

16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit that ye deal not treacherously.

17 Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

2:17-4:6 – the second half of Malachi’s prophecy speaks of God’s coming to His people.  They had given up on God and had grown religiously cynical and morally corrupt.  So God’s coming will mean judgment and purification as well as redemption.

Megiddo

The city of Megiddo controlled the pass between the Valley of Jezreel and the Sharon plain. Routes that travelled northwest to the Phoenician coast and east to Damascus were also controlled by this city.

Many critical battles took place dl Megiddo, one of the most strategic cities in the region now called Palestine.

Excavation of the round stone altar and sacred area at Megiddo.
Notice the depth of accumulated debris that archaeologists had to dig down to reach the altar.

An archaeological excavation of Tell el-Mutesellim during the first decade of the 20th century located the city, including numerous layers of occupation. Megiddo was first inhabited during the Neolithic Age.

The Megiddo of the Early Bronze I period boasted the largest known temp[le in the Levant (Syria-Palestine) for that time period.  Excavation revealed numerous levels of occupation through the Middle Bronze and Late Bronze Ages; some levels indicate periods when the city was prosperous and others when it was impoverished.

During the earlier part of the Late Bronze Age Megiddo was under Egyptian domination, having been captured by Pharaoh Thutmose III in approximately 1479 B.C. Several of the Amarna Letters from the ruler of Megiddo profess loyalty to Egypt.

During the conquest of the Promised Land Megiddo was allotted to the tribe of Manasseh (Josh 17:11).  The king of Megiddo is listed among those defeated by Joshua  (Josh 12:21), but Manasseh could not take the city (Jdg 1:27).

It appears that Megiddo was subsequently a Canaanite city with a Philistine presence.  Apparently David conquered it for Israel.

The most important factor contributing to the culture and economy of the Jezreel was the numerous travel routes that passed through the region.

The mighty Via Maris highway passed right through the Carmel range at Megiddo pass and then angled between Mount Tabor and the hill of Moreh toward Damascus. From Megiddo, another important road went east to Beth-shean. A coastal highway extended northwest to Acre, Tyre, and Sidon. Those living in the Valley of Jezreel benefited enormously from the resulting trade and travel opportunities.

An occupation level from the 10th century B.C., the age of Solomon, indicates that city was used as a government administrative center for Israel. This level evidences the same kind of multi-chambered gates and double walls (called casemate walls) found in Hazor and Gezer during the same time period.

On the basis of 1 Kgs 9:15 we can conclude that the style of construction used in these cities was of a sort favored by Solomon’s engineers. Pharaoh Shishak (c. 945-924 B.C.) appears to have destroyed Megiddo during a campaign that included an attack on Judah and Jerusalem.

Megiddo was rebuilt and used again as a military or administrative center during the 9th and 8th centuries B.C.

However, the city once again fell to a foreign power when Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, conquered it around 733 B.C., after which it was used as an Assyrian administrative center. With the fall of the Assyrian Empire, Megiddo came under the control of Judah.

It was the location of the confrontation between King Josiah and Pharaoh Neco that resulted in Josiah’s death.  In Zech 12:11 “the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo” probably refers to mourning over this calamity.  

During the Persian Age the city was abandoned. A number of remarkable archaeological finds have emerged from Megiddo:

A large, round sacrificial area from an Early Bronze temple complex

A plaque depicting a Hittite king standing beneath a winged sun disk

A fragment of an Akkadian tablet containing a part of the Gilgamesh epic

Ivory carvings of the Egyptian god Bes and of lotus patterns

A painted pitcher, called the “Orpheus Jug,” portraying a lyre player leading a procession of animals

Palace structures dating from the Israelite period (tenth-eighth centuries B.C.) reflecting that the city was for a time a significant Israelite administrative center

A stele from Pharaoh Shishak, confirming that this Egyptian monarch did take the city during the time of Rehoboam

Thuthmosis III was short, standing only just over 168 cm (five feet) tall, as his mummy tells us (mummy).

Legend presents Tuthmosis as born of peasant race, the son of a slave-woman in the Pharaoh’s harem. Thutmosis is also called the Napoleon of ancient Egypt because of his military conquests.

A remarkable jasper seal with a roaring lion and the inscription “of Shema, servant of Jeroboam” (i.e., Jeroboam II)

A large building excavated there with three aisles running its length, separated by rows of pillars. (Its function has been debated, with some suggesting a storehouse or barracks, but it was probably a stable for horses from the time of Ahab.)

These finds, from different ages and from across the ancient Near East, attest to the abiding significance of Megiddo.

…the Mount of Olives.