Torah Study Notes 11-17-12

November 17, 2012
p. 191
PG: Malachi “my messenger” is the last of the prophets. Perhaps it was just not necessary to have prophets after him. The three chapters we have may be only part of much more extensive writing by him. The prophets were preserved because they were right and touched a resonant moral nerve. The Haftarah is a commentary on the weekly Torah reading when there is a distinctive Shabbat. There is no necessary continuity from one Shabbat to the next. The prophetic message is that the fate of the people is wholly dependent on their relationship with God. Once that message was internalized there was no longer a necessity for prophets. This is why there was great controversy over Jesus in the 1st C. Others have come forward as prophets over succeeding centuries – both in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The Mormon’s are a good example of the latter. The first important step is the recording and retention of their ideas. But the ideas must have “legs” – long term appeal. Many writers and thinkers have been forgotten – like Eden Phillpots a prolific and popular turn of the century author. Some prophets are not read at all – like Malcolm.
The related Torah portion is the birth of Jacob and Esau and culminate with Isaac’s blessings. Note that the Torah reading suggests no wickedness on the part of Esau.
1:1 I have loved Jacob but hated Esau. We are talking about two peoples: Israel and Edom – a war has been going on for a couple of centuries – a border dispute over the section of land between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Elat. The area contained ore mines. Apparently the Edomiites supported Babylonia and were awarded lands as a result.
1:6 When the prophet speaks he is channeling God – hence the direct quotes. AF: Who is the greater sinner: the person who brings an unfit animal or the priest who accepts it? PG: There is collusion here and the result is a degradation of faith. The people are divided – emotionally, philosophically and theologically. LL: Can the Torah portion and this portion read together have a lesson? Perhaps had Jacob not been duplicitous there would not later be a nation divided? Jacob after all stole his brother’s birthright. PG: It is difficult to say. There might be worse problems in the long run. The question presented is : what is Malachi saying to us? CL: There is a literary parallelism here between the story of Jacob and the use of animal skins and the use of animals with blemished skins here.
1:10 I take no pleasure in you and will not accept an offering from your hands. PG: This is in continuity with previous prophets. The question is what is due God?

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