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Who or what is “the devourer” to which Malachi 3:11 refers?

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the LORD of hosts; NKJV, ©1982

יא וְגָעַרְתִּי לָכֶם בָּאֹכֵל וְלֹא-יַשְׁחִת לָכֶם אֶת-פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה וְלֹא-תְשַׁכֵּל לָכֶם הַגֶּפֶן בַּשָּׂדֶה אָמַר יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת

  • Ubermensch 'The Jewish Study Bible' by The Jewish Publication Society reads for "the devourer," "The Locusts." – user26950 Jan 6 at 20:32
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"The devourer" simply means "the one who devours" (or destroys). It refers to anyone or anything known for devouring. In this passage, it refers to whomever or whatever "devoured" or "ate up" or "destroyed" the "fruits" and "vines".

In particular, it does not refer to anything or anyone in particular. It leaves who/what devours as undefined, placing the emphasis on the simple fact that something was or is being devoured.

This has likely reference to Joel 1:4 and 2:25. But, it also has bearing on the final verse of this book, which is the final verse of the Old Testament, Mal 4:6, indicating that God would be the one who decrees the curse that "strikes the land". So, this "devourer" (3:11) was probably sent by God and therefore God can also rebuke/stop this "devourer", whomever or whatever God may have decided that the "devourer" should be.

It also has reference to Job, who suffered from a "devourer" like this first in the Bible.

The "roaring lion" who "seeks whom he may devour", Satan, in 1 Peter 5:8 is a "devourer", but not all devourers are necessarily Satan. There are many devourers that are not Satan. Peter came about 400 years after Malachi, so Peter is putting Satan in the "devourer" category Malachi already explained. The relationship is like squares and rectangles. Later passages in the Bible refer to the former, not vice versa. Whether this "devourer" is Satan or the wind is unstated on purpose because that is not the point.

In fact, by leaving the "devourer" unspecified, it's almost Malachi's point that "who the devourer is" is not the point.

In applying this passage to our lives, sometimes our "devourer" is Satan, sometimes it is not, but the important part is that God will rebuke any devourer based on what happens between us and God. The devourer is merely a tool—God's tool—and that's how Malachi treats it.

To understand Malachi's point here, we must understand "rebuke", which basically means God will "stop" the devourer, thereby stopping the devouring and, by implication, restore what the devour took (Joel 2:25). Just as Job's accuser is never named and is simply forgotten at the end of that story, the emphasis is not on this "devourer", but on God's power to stop the damage, to restore the damage, and our choice to ask Him to.

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    In the New Testament we have in 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: – Siju George Jan 7 at 4:10
  • Okay, I'll edit to include that because it is indeed relavent – Jesse Steele Jan 8 at 2:52
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THE DEVOURER REBUKED :

The rebuke of the devourer , means putting an end to insects,pests, locusts , plaques ,or even the weather and anything else that may cause serious harm to the crops. Jesus rebuked of the wind and the fever.

Mark 4:39 (ESV)

39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Luke 4:39 (ESV)

39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

The Psalmist refering to God's enemies in the form of animals , says:

Psalm 68:30 (ESV)

30 Rebuke the beasts that dwell among the reeds, the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.Trample underfoot those who lust after tribute;scatter the peoples who delight in war.[a]

CONCLUSION: The devourer is anything which may cause serious damage to the crops such as plaques,pests,locust,the weather, etc.

  • I am more concerned with the interpretation of “devourer,” not the verb “rebuke.” Your answer seems to be more focused on the verb “rebuke.” Please explain how you arrived at the meaning of the word “devourer.” – Der Übermensch Jan 7 at 23:44
  • Der Ubermensch the devourer is anything that may cause serious damage to the crops, ie , insects ,pests and all the others I have mentioned above. – Ozzie Nicolas Jan 8 at 20:23
  • Basically, you're giving me an answer but not showing your work. – Der Übermensch Jan 8 at 23:57
  • Comment noted, edit to show, I am a novice on computer programs. – Ozzie Nicolas Jan 10 at 9:59
  • I don't see how Psalms 68:30 applies to crops. – Der Übermensch Jan 10 at 14:24
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The focus of Malachi 3:11 is פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה (“the fruit of the ground”) and that of הַגֶּפֶן (“the vine”). If Israel obeyed the Torah, Yahveh would cause them to abound in good things,1 including bountiful harvests. However, if they disobeyed the Torah, Yahveh promised that He would curse Israel.2 These curses included:

38 You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. 39 “You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. 42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land. NKJV, ©1982

In conclusion, it is not only the locust, but also the worm, which is identified as the devourer that consumes the crops when Yahveh curses the Israelites for disobeying the Torah.


Footnotes

1 Deu. 28:11 cf. Deu. 28:2
2 Deu. 28:14–68

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