Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Priests. Such, hoarding up riches, dishonour God and his sacraments, as if they were temporal things to be purchased, and so they scandalize the weak. It would be well for them if they were reduced to poverty, (ver. 2.) and would repent, as they will otherwise be deprived of eternal goods, having received their wages in this world, like hirelings, John x. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Blessings, riches. The priests also blessed the people, Numbers vi. 23. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Shoulder. I will cast away the shoulder, which in the law was appointed to be your portion, and fling it at you in my anger: and will reject both you and your festivals like dung. (Challoner) — Hebrew now reads for shoulder, zerah, “grain,” or seed. (Calmet) — “I will menace you with the shoulder, and will spread dirt on your faces, even the dirt of your feasts,” (Aquila) or “the ventricle of your festivals.” (Septuagint) (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Levi. When this tribe was chosen does not appear. Some think that he alludes to the renewing of the covenant under Nehemias, which seems best, 2 Esdras ix. 1, 38. I then promised you life, &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. The angel, viz., the minister and messenger. (Challoner) — Priests must administer the sacraments, and likewise instruct the people, being God’s messengers. (Worthington) — The Jews were well acquainted with the law, Jeremias xviii. 18. — The priests had to decide most intricate cases, Deuteronomy xvii. 9., and xxxiii. 9. (Calmet) — The sentence of the high priest was received like that of an angel. (Diod. Sic. xl. apud Phol.) — If such science was required under the old law, how much more is necessary in Christian priests, whose mysteries and duties are so much more important! (Calmet) — Ignoratio scripturarum ignoratio Christi est. [“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”] (St. Jerome in Isaias & hic.)
Ver. 9. People. If priests comply not with these high functions, they are despicable here, and condemned to eternal torments, Jude 11. (Worthington) — Accepted. Hebrew, “raised up faces,” instead of reproving the guilty, Deuteronomy i. 10., and Leviticus xix. 15.
Ver. 10. Brother, in distress, 2 Esdras v. 1. St. Jerome mentions the tradition of the Jews, which supposed that the captives at their return dismissed their wives, and married young ones, though strangers, ver. 11. But this is not probable. Such women were ordered to be dismissed, 1 Esdras ix. 1., and 2 Esdras xiii. 23. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. God, or one addicted to idol-worship, (Haydock) which was contrary to the law, Deuteronomy vii. 3. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “the holy things of the Lord, by what he has loved and done for strange gods.” (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Master. Hebrew, “the watcher, and him who answers,” on guard. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “doth such things, till he be tumbled out,” &c. — Him. Septuagint, “and out of those who offer a sacrifice to,” &c. Such people shall be excluded from the society of God’s servants. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. With tears; viz., by occasion of your wives, whom you have put away, and who came to weep and lament before the altar. (Challoner) — Though divorces were tolerated, (Matthew xix. 6.) the more virtuous did not approve of them, particularly when a wife was put away who had been married in youth. See ver. 10. Perhaps this corruption had crept in, like others, (Calmet) owing to the people’s commerce with strangers. (Diod. in Photius.)
Ver. 14. Covenant. The order established at first, Genesis ii. 24., and Proverbs ii. 17. The parties promised fidelity to each other.
Ver. 15. His spirit. Eve received a soul from God, like Adam. Hebrew, “One (Abraham, Chaldean styled one, Ezechiel xxxiii. 24.) did it not, and he had the,” &c. Septuagint vary. The text is very obscure. (Calmet) See Cap. Crit. iv. p. 317.; Grabe prologue. — A strange god did not make women. The human race is best propagated, where polygamy and divorces are rejected. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Garment; viz., of every man that putteth away his wife without just cause; notwithstanding that God permitted it in the law, to prevent the evil of murder. (Challoner) — The original may receive this sense; or the woman must blame herself if she were hateful, (Deuteronomy xxiv. 1.) and the man acted not treacherously. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “iniquity shall cover your thoughts.” (Haydock) — It should be “garments,” endumata, though St. Jerome and the printed edition read enthumemata, (Calmet) “thoughts.” The first part contains the objection, and the second God’s reply. (St. Jerome) (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Judgment. Being scandalized at the prosperity of the wicked, (Haydock) they deny Providence, Psalm lxxii., and Jeremias xii. (Calmet) — Yet the wicked are left for wise purposes, either for their amendment, or for the trial of the just. (St. Augustine, Psalm liv.) — Those who are offended at their present success, (Haydock) think not of judgment nor of eternal goods. (St. Jerome)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The priests are sharply reproved for neglecting their covenants. The evil of marrying with idolaters; and too easily putting away their wives.
1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is to you.
2 *If you will not hear, and if you will not lay it to heart, to give glory to my name, saith the Lord of hosts: I will send poverty upon you, and will curse your blessings; yea, I will curse them: because you have not laid it to heart.
3 Behold, I will cast the shoulder to you, and will scatter upon your face the dung of your solemnities, and it shall take you away with it.
4 And you shall know that I sent you this commandment, 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 him fear: and he feared me, and he 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 in equity, and turned many away from iniquity.
7 For the lips of the priests shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth: because he is the angel of the Lord of hosts.
8 But you have departed out of the way, and have caused many to stumble at the law: you have made void the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.
9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all people, as you have not kept my ways, and have accepted persons in the law.
10 *Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why then doth every one of us despise his brother, violating the covenant of our fathers?
11 Juda hath transgressed, and abomination hath been committed in Israel, and in Jerusalem: for Juda hath profaned the holiness of the Lord, which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.
12 The Lord will cut off the man that hath done this, both the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering to the Lord of hosts.
13 And this again have you done, you have covered the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and bellowing, so that I have no more a regard to sacrifice, neither do I accept any atonement at your hands.
14 And you have said: For what cause? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee, and the wife of thy youth, whom thou hast despised: yet she was thy partner, and the wife of thy covenant.
15 Did not one make her, and she is the residue of his spirit? And what doth one seek, but the seed of God? Keep then your spirit, and despise not the wife of thy youth.
16 When thou shalt hate her, put her away, saith the Lord, the God of Israel: but iniquity shall cover his garment, saith the Lord of hosts; keep your spirit, and despise not.
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words: and you said: Wherein have we wearied him? In that you say: Every one that doth evil, is good in the sight of the Lord, and such please him: or surely where is the God of judgment?
2: Leviticus xxvi. 14.; Deuteronomy xxviii. 15.
10: Matthew xxiii. 9.; Ephesians iv. 6.