Original Research

Antithesis between יִרְאֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה and רְשׁעָ֔יִם : Malachi 3:13–21 [MT] as a reconciliation of Yahweh’s justice with life’s inequalities

Blessing O. Boloje, Alphonso Groenewald
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 36, No 1 | a1480 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v36i1.1480 | © 2015 Blessing O. Boloje, Alphonso Groenewald | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 May 2015 | Published: 05 November 2015

About the author(s)

Blessing O. Boloje, Department of Old Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Alphonso Groenewald, Department of Old Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article demonstrates the vindictive tone of Malachi’s final sermon by highlighting the amazing reversal of fortunes of the righteous and shocking end of the wicked. Such a reversal or antithesis this article proposes, serves as a climax to the literary motif and artistic brilliance of reversal noticeable in the book of Malachi. The substance of Malachi’s message is that of triumph of Yahweh’s justice over obvious inequalities of life. Malachi 3:13–21 reveals that beyond the horizon of lived reality lies a judgement moment in which good and evil are still criteria of what is acceptable and unacceptable to Yahweh. The article examines the literary structure and content of the this unit of Malachi’s oracle, provides detailed exegesis of the cynicism or antithesis in the text and concludes by synthesising the result in an attempt at reconciling Yahweh’s supposed justice with obvious life’s inequalities. Malachi’s prediction of the ultimate restoration of the fortune of the righteous and shameful end of the wicked, stands as a refutation of the insinuation that to serve Yahweh is worthless.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article not only focuses on the synchronic dimensions of this text, but also the diachronic perspectives. The literary analysis is combined with a historical embeddedness of this text. This text poses a challenge to the reader of the 21st century and invites the modern reader to a explore life, and specifically fullness of life amidst circumstances not conducive to fullness of life.


Prophets, Prophetic literature, Malachi


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