By William Finck
The Old Testament accounts found in the Book of Genesis demonstrate that there was a rivalry between Jacob and Esau. Esau, it is also clear, was a race-mixer who had taken wives of the Canaanites and the Ishmaelites (Genesis 36). The rivalry between the brothers later turned into a national enmity among their descendants, and the Edomites were eventually enslaved by the Israelites (1 Chron. 18), and later revolted (2 Chron. 21). When the Chaldaeans finally took Jerusalem and destroyed the city, we find that the Edomites were in league with them, and are blamed for the temple’s destruction (Psalm 137:7-9; 1 Esdras 4:45 in the Septuagint).
When the Israelites moved into the land of Canaan, they were instructed to destroy all of the Canaanite peoples. They failed to do this, and were warned that harm would later come to them because of this failure (Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13; Jdg. 2:3). It is evident that both in Jerusalem and elsewhere, the later Israelites did indeed have a problem with infiltration and race-mixing by the Canaanite tribes (Jer. 2:13, 21-22; Ezek. 16:3, 45 et al.). This was one of the chief reasons for their chastisement and removal.
The prophecy found in Ezekiel chapters 35 and 36 discuss the fact that the Edomites had moved into the lands of Israel and Judah after the removal of the Israelites by the Assyrians and Chaldaeans (cf. Ezek. 35:10). The theme of the prophecy found in Malachi chapters 1 and 2 is that Jacob is distinguished from Esau, and that the sacrifices of the priests are not acceptable, because the covenant is with Levi. With this Malachi fully infers that there were (or that there would be) priests who should not have held the office.