1 (3:19)#sn Beginning with 4:1, the verse numbers through 4:6 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 4:1 ET = 3:19 HT, 4:2 ET = 3:20 HT, etc., through 4:6 ET = 3:24 HT. Thus the book of Malachi in the Hebrew Bible has only three chapters, with 24 verses in ch. 3. “For indeed the day#sn This day is the well-known “day of the Lord” so pervasive in OT eschatological texts (see Joel 2:30-31; Amos 5:18; Obad 15). For the believer it is a day of grace and salvation; for the sinner, a day of judgment and destruction. is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord who rules over all. “It#tn Heb “so that it” (so NASB, NRSV). For stylistic reasons a new sentence was begun here in the translation. will not leave even a root or branch. 2 But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication#tn Here the Hebrew word צְדָקָה (tsÿdaqah), usually translated “righteousness” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV, NLT; cf. NAB “justice”), has been rendered as “vindication” because it is the vindication of God’s people that is in view in the context. Cf. BDB 842 s.v. צְדָקָה 6; “righteousness as vindicated, justification, salvation, etc.”sn The expression the sun of vindication will rise is a metaphorical way of describing the day of the Lord as a time of restoration when God vindicates his people (see 2 Sam 23:4; Isa 30:26; 60:1, 3). Their vindication and restoration will be as obvious and undeniable as the bright light of the rising sun. will rise with healing wings,#sn The point of the metaphor of healing wings is unclear. The sun seems to be compared to a bird. Perhaps the sun’s “wings” are its warm rays. “Healing” may refer to a reversal of the injury done by evildoers (see Mal 3:5). and you will skip about#tn Heb “you will go out and skip about.” like calves released from the stall. 3 You will trample on the wicked, for they will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord who rules over all.
Restoration through the Lord
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, to whom at Horeb#sn Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai (cf. Exod 3:1). I gave rules and regulations for all Israel to obey.#tn Heb “which I commanded him in Horeb concerning all Israel, statutes and ordinances.” 5 Look, I will send you Elijah#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). the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. 6 He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me,#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. so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.”#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.