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Malachi 4:5-6

Context
4:5 Look, I will send you Elijah 1  the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. 4:6 He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, 2  so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.” 3 

1 sn I will send you Elijah the prophet. In light of the ascension of Elijah to heaven without dying (2 Kgs 2:11), Judaism has always awaited his return as an aspect of the messianic age (see, e.g., John 1:19-28). Jesus identified John the Baptist as Elijah, because he came in the “spirit and power” of his prototype Elijah (Matt 11:14; 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36).

2 tn Heb “he will turn the heart[s] of [the] fathers to [the] sons, and the heart[s] of [the] sons to their fathers.” This may mean that the messenger will encourage reconciliation of conflicts within Jewish families in the postexilic community (see Mal 2:10; this interpretation is followed by most English versions). Another option is to translate, “he will turn the hearts of the fathers together with those of the children [to me], and the hearts of the children together with those of their fathers [to me].” In this case the prophet encourages both the younger and older generations of sinful society to repent and return to the Lord (cf. Mal 3:7). This option is preferred in the present translation; see Beth Glazier-McDonald, Malachi (SBLDS), 256.

3 tn Heb “[the] ban” (חֵרֶם, kherem). God’s prophetic messenger seeks to bring about salvation and restoration, thus avoiding the imposition of the covenant curse, that is, the divine ban that the hopelessly unrepentant must expect (see Deut 7:2; 20:17; Judg 1:21; Zech 14:11). If the wicked repent, the purifying judgment threatened in 4:1-3 will be unnecessary.



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