Chiasm in Malachi 1

Chiasm in Malachi 1 September 16, 2015

In a recent sermon, Pastor Jimmy Gill of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, pointed to the chiastic structure of Malachi 1:6-14, neatly marked by a sevenfold repetition of the phrase “says Yahweh of hosts.”

A. Priests dishonor Yahweh their Father, 1:6a

B. Blemished offerings on my altar, 1:6b-8

C. Will God be gracious to those who offer bad sacrifices, 1:9

D. Stop kindling fire on my altar, 1:10

C’. My name will be great among Gentiles; incense offered in every place, 1:11

B’. You despise the table of Yahweh and His food, 1:12-13a

A’. I am a great king, 1:13b-14

As Pastor Gill pointed out, there is a movement from Father to King in the A/A’ pair. B and B’ both refer to Yahweh’s table, His altar. C states the danger that Israel is in; but C’ indicates that, despite all, Yahweh will keep His promise, and cause the world to become a sweet savor. A the center is the Isaiah-like dismissal of Israel’s useless worship.

At a formal level, these seven speeches form a new-creation sequence. Yahweh remakes the priests and people by sending a prophet to rebuke and warn them. It is also possible to make some correlations between these exhortations and the days of creation.

 1. There is not evident connection between Malachi 1:6 and the creation of light.

2. On Day 2, the Lord created the firmament, a place of separation and contact between the Lord and creation, especially humanity. The Lord’s altar is functionally a “firmament” boundary and mediator.

3. I can’t see much correlation between Malachi 1:9 and the imagery associated with Day 3.

4. Day 4 is the creation of the burning lights of heaven, and Malachi 1:10 speaks of kindling God’s altar. The connection would be stronger if the first part of 1:11 were included in the fourth speech.

5. Throughout the book of Exodus, incense is in the Day 5 slot. The swarming smoke of incense is connected to the swarming creatures of sea and sky.

6. B’ refers again to the altar, this time as the table of Yahweh, with its edibles and fruit (Malachi 1:12). There is perhaps an Adamic connection; he was the first priest to despise the table of the Lord.

7. Sabbath is the day of Yahweh’s enthronement in His creation. Israel sins because they do not treat God as the King that He is. They are effectively Sabbath-breakers in their unfaithful worship.

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