Malachi 4

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-04-17 13:22.

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  • Malachi 4:1 (3:19).
  • Masoretic Text: For look! the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all insolent ones and all doing wickedness will be stubble. And the coming day will ignite them, said YHWH of hosts, which [day] will leave them neither root nor branch.

    Septuagint: For look! the day of the Lord is coming, burning like an oven, and it will burn them. And all the strangers and all those doing lawless things will be stubble. And the day that is coming will ignite them, says the Lord Almighty, and by no means would root or branch remain from them.


    The Septuagint reading “strangers” (instead of “insolent ones”) apparently resulted from reading resh (R) as daleth (D), which also was apparently the case in 3:15.

    With reference to the coming day, a number of ancient Septuagint manuscripts do not include “of the Lord.”

    There are two separate words for “not” in the Septuagint (the second one serving as an intensifier) and may be rendered “by no means.”

    Although the Septuagint reading is slightly expanded, the meaning is much like that of the Masoretic Text.


    The expression “look” or “see” focuses attention on the certainty of the coming of YHWH’s day for executing judgment. For defiant and lawless ones, that day would prove to be like a burning oven. The fire would be controlled and intense, consuming all combustibles that are cast into it. Like stubble or straw, the insolent ones and practicers of lawlessness, as if engulfed by the flames in an oven, would be destroyed. So complete would that destruction be that nothing would be left, neither root nor branch. Not the slightest trace would remain to suggest that the wicked had once existed.

  • Malachi 4:2 (3:20).
  • Masoretic Text: And for you, those fearing my name, the sun of righteousness will rise, and healing [will be] in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves of a stall.

    Septuagint: And for you, those fearing my name, the sun of righteousness will rise, and healing [will be] in its wings. And you will go forth and leap like calves loosened from bonds.


    The expression “sun of righteousness” has, from ancient times, been understood as prophetically applying to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Based on the context, however, it appears unlikely that the original hearers or readers of the message would have reached this conclusion. There is a greater likelihood that they would have taken the expression “sun of righteousness” to mean the beneficent effects of righteousness, comparable to being warmed by the rays of the rising sun. The Contemporary English Version conveys this significance, “will shine like the sun with healing in its rays.”

    The fragmentary Dead Sea Scroll text reads “calf,” not “calves.”

    The expression “calves of a stall” has been understood to mean “calves released from a stall” (NIV) or “stall-fed calves” (Tanakh). Renderings suggesting release would have the support of the Septuagint.


    With the end of all lawlessness, the fearers of God’s name, those revering YHWH himself, would experience the dawning of a new day, one free from oppression, injustice, and violence. Righteousness would rise like the sun, providing healing of wounds from past suffering at the hands of tyrannizing defiers of YHWH and his righteous ways. Like the warming rays of the morning sun, righteousness would bring welcome relief from the cold night when the oppressors prospered and their defiance of YHWH gave no hint of coming to a swift end. The unrestrained delight of the godly ones would be comparable to that of calves released from confinement, calves that then exuberantly run and jump about.

  • Malachi 4:3 (3:21).
  • Masoretic Text: And you will tread down the wicked, for, in the day that I [am] making, they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, said YHWH of hosts.

    Septuagint: And you will trample upon the lawless, for, in the day that I am making, they will be ashes under your feet, says the Lord Almighty.

    Note: Instead of “tread down,” the partially preserved Dead Sea Scroll text says “counsel.” The word “counsel,” however, does not fit, as the wicked have been destroyed.


    Commonly, the righteous found themselves in a position where they were without any or with extremely limited power and influence, often becoming the victims of lawless oppressors or schemers. YHWH’s word, through his messenger, pointed to a dramatic reversal. The wicked would come to be but lifeless ashes, incapable of any kind of fraud or oppression. Upon such “ashes,” the righteous would be able to trample. This reversal would not come about because they had risen up in violent revolt to cast off the oppressive yoke. It would not be a day of their making, but a day that YHWH would make for settling accounts.

  • Malachi 4:4 (3:22).
  • Masoretic Text: Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I, in Horeb, commanded him for all Israel, ordinances and judgments.

    3:24 (4:6). Septuagint: Remember the law of Moses my servant, as I, in Horeb, commanded him for all Israel, ordinances and decrees.

    Note: This verse is the concluding one in the extant manuscripts of the Septuagint.


    Through his messenger, YHWH admonished the people to remember the law of Moses, which had been given by means of him to all Israel at Horeb or Mount Sinai. In being called “my servant,” Moses is identified as having enjoyed a special relationship with YHWH as his prophet and the mediator of the law covenant. The law was “for all Israel” and thus binding on every member of the nation. For the people to “remember” the law of Moses would mean to observe it, not “forgetting” to live up to the commandments contained therein. Besides specific commands, ordinances, or precepts, the law included judgments or judicial decisions respecting specific situations. One example of judgments that became part of the law, although added later, involved heiresses. (Numbers 27:1-11; 36:1-9)

  • Malachi 4:5 (3:23).
  • Masoretic Text: Look! Before the coming of the great and fearsome day of YHWH, I am sending to you Elijah the prophet.

    3:22 (4:4). Septuagint: And look! Before the coming of the great and notable day of the Lord, I am sending to you Elijah the Tishbite

    Note: The Septuagint reading “Elijah the Tishbite” would more strongly suggest a return of the original Elijah, which is what many Jews in the first century were expecting. (1 Kings 17:1; Mark 9:11; John 1:21)


    Before the coming of his day for judgment, YHWH would send his prophet Elijah. Because of what YHWH’s day would accomplish in bringing an end to all practicers of badness while preserving unharmed all upright ones, that day would be great or awesome and terrifying, dreadful, or fearsome. As indicated by the reading of the Septuagint, this would also be a notable day, one for manifesting YHWH’s splendor or glory.

  • Malachi 4:6 (3:24).
  • Masoretic Text: And he will turn the heart of fathers to sons and the heart of sons to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse.

    3:23 (4:5). Septuagint: who will reconcile the heart of the father to the son and the heart of a man to his companion that I may not come and utterly strike the land.

    Note: Although the order of the Septuagint is different, the partially preserved Dead Sea Scroll text corresponds to that of the Masoretic Text but does not repeat the words of 3:22 (4:4). Later copyists did repeat the verse, evidently to avoid having the conclusion be on a note of severe condemnatory judgment.


    The work of YHWH’s prophet would focus on the restoration of proper relationships, which must start with the family. The change to be effected would be a major transformation involving the “heart,” the deep inner self. A number of translations make the reference to family relationships explicit. “He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents.” (Tanakh) “He will lead children and parents to love each other more.” (CEV) The reading of the Septuagint expands the reconciliation to include companions, neighbors, or fellow Israelites.

    To assure that there would be survivors, the preparatory activity of the prophet would be vital. Otherwise, for the land to become a “devoted thing” or to come under a ban or curse would have meant that no one would escape the awesome and dreadful day. The entire land, including all humans and animals, would then be struck down with utter destruction. (Compare Deuteronomy 13:12-18.)

    Jesus Christ identified John the Baptist as the one who filled the role of Elijah. John’s activity did move individuals to sincere repentance and to amend their ways, restoring proper relationships within the family and with fellow Israelites. (Matthew 11:11-14; 17:10-13; Mark 9:12, 13; Luke 3:3-10-14) The words of the angel Gabriel were fulfilled: “He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17, NAB) Instead of continuing to be disobedient, many began a life of uprightness, reflecting the understanding or thinking characteristic of the righteous. (Matthew 21:28-32)