(KJV)Malachi 1:7

Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.

Could the polluted bread be referring to the (showbread) which had not been made of fine flour & with pure frankincense put on it(Leviticus 24:7) or to the daily meat offering which went along with the daily sacrifice of lambs?(exodus 29:40)

3 Answers 3


The Hebrew text of Mal. 1:7 states,

ז מַגִּישִׁים עַל מִזְבְּחִי לֶחֶם מְגֹאָל וַאֲמַרְתֶּם בַּמֶּה גֵאַלְנוּךָ בֶּאֱמָרְכֶם שֻׁלְחַן יַהְוֶה נִבְזֶה הוּא

Although not one of the typical words translated into English by the verb “offer,” the Hifʿil participle מַגִּישִׁים appears to be suitably translated as “offer” in this particular context.1

The question thus remains, “What is לֶחֶם מְגֹאָל—‘polluted bread’?”

First, it cannot refer to the bread of the presence (לֶחֶם פָּנִים), a.k.a. “shewbread,” as that was never offered on the altar. By the way, when the prophet Malachi states, “The table of Yahveh is contemptible” (שֻׁלְחַן יַהְוֶה נִבְזֶה הוּא), “table” refers to the altar itself.2

“The table of Yahveh”—It is the altar, and so it said in Eze. 41:22 regarding the altar, “This is the table that is before Yahveh.”

שלחן יהוה - הוא המזבח וכן אמר ביחזקאל על המזבח: זה השלחן אשר לפני יהוה

There appears to be a parallel between Mal. 1:7 and 1:8 that provides the answer to the question of the identity of the לֶחֶם מְגֹאָל. In both verses, there is the presence of a conjugation of the verb נָגַשׁ:

Parallelism between Malachi 1:7 and 1:8

More importantly, there is a parallelism between the “polluted bread” of Mal. 1:7 and the “lame” (עִוֵּר), “blind” (פִּסֵּחַ), and “sick” (חֹלֶה) of Mal. 1:8, thus equating the polluted bread with the lame, blind, and sick offering. Of course, this lame, blind, sick offering does not refer to a blind person (i.e., a human), but rather, lame, blind, and sick animals.

In Deu. 15:21, it is written,

21 And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God. KJV, 1769

כא וְכִי יִהְיֶה בוֹ מוּם פִּסֵּחַ אוֹ עִוֵּר כֹּל מוּם רָע לֹא תִזְבָּחֶנּוּ לַיהְוֶה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ

This verse mentions a sacrifice that is “lame” (פִּסֵּחַ) or “blind” (עִוֵּר), and it describes such a blemish as being רָע, literally “evil.”

In Lev. 21:6, it is written,

6 They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy. KJV, 1769

ו קְדֹשִׁים יִהְיוּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם וְלֹא יְחַלְּלוּ שֵׁם אֱלֹהֵיהֶם כִּי אֶת אִשֵּׁי יַהְוֶה לֶחֶם אֱלֹהֵיהֶם הֵם מַקְרִיבִם וְהָיוּ קֹדֶשׁ

There are a couple facets worth noting. First, the priests either do or do not profane the name of their God on account of their offerings. If they offer the proper sacrifices, i.e., those without blemish, then they sanctify (i.e., do not profane) the name of their God, whereas if they offer blemished sacrifices, then they profane the name of their God, and thus despise it.

Next, the [animal] offerings to Yahveh made by fire are they themselves “the bread of their God” (לֶחֶם אֱלֹהֵיהֶם). This same notion is repeated elsewhere in the Torah.3

Regarding the Hebrew word לֶחֶם, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius wrote,4

Gesenius, p. 436, לֶחֶם

Therefore, in Mal. 1:7–8, it is not some literal bread offering that is the “polluted bread,” but rather, those blemished animal sacrifices that the priests were offering contrary to the Torah.


Gesenius, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm. Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Trans. Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux. London: Bagster, 1860.


1 cp. Amos 5:25: הַזְּבָחִים וּמִנְחָה הִגַּשְׁתֶּם לִי—“Have you offered Me sacrifices and offerings...?”
2 David Kimchi, commentary on Mal. 1:7
3 Lev. 3:11, 3:16, 21:6, 21:8, 21:17, 21:21–22, 22:25
4 p. 436


Bread is symbolic of the teachings or doctrines of the Word of God. Malachi is addressing and rebuking the polluted, unclean teachings within the priesthood. They desecrated their souls (altars) with defiled beliefs and doctrines. Instead of eating the bread of life (Christ), their minds were feeding on the wrong spiritual food.

Today, we are the temple and the altar of the Lord. God takes his word seriously, he does not want those who pledge allegiance to his name to bring impurities or mixed doctrines in his word.

Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile H1351himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile H1351 himself.

The prophet Daniel refused to defile himself with the wrong teachings or beliefs (meat of the king). Meat and wine are also symbolic of the Word of God, more solid and deeper than bread.

Blue Letter Bible Strong's H1351 - ga'al - גָּאַל

Outline of Biblical Usage 1. to defile, pollute, desecrate 1. (Niphal) to be defiled, be polluted
 2. (Piel) to pollute, desecrate
 3. (Pual) to be desecrated (of removal from priesthood)
 4. (Hiphil) to pollute, stain
 5. (Hithpael) to defile oneself
 repudiating); to soil or (figuratively) desecrate:—defile, pollute, stain.


The word translated "bread" in your question can refer specifically to bread or to food in general. This is similar to those Asian countries that refer to eating a meal as "having rice" (or something like that). Informally in the USA one might say, "Hey, do you want to grab a burger with me?"

So the "bread" is the "food" being offered in the form of the various animals.

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