Elijah or ancient prophets (Lk 9:8-9:8)

“Some others said

That Elijah had appeared.

Others said

That one of the ancient prophets

Had risen.”

 

ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐφάνη, ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη.

 

Luke said that some people said Jesus was the appearance of Elijah (ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐφάνη).  Others said that Jesus was one of the ancient prophets who had risen (ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη).  There was nothing about this speculation in Matthew.  However, Mark, chapter 6:15, had something similar, almost word for word.  Some people said that Jesus was Elijah.  Still others said that he was a prophet, like the former ancient prophets.  Elijah was a 9th century BCE northern Israelite prophet whose work can be found in the Old Testament Books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  There was no doubt that the role of Elijah dominated late Jewish thought at the time of Jesus, with his name appearing around John the Baptist, the transfiguration, and the death of Jesus.  The prophets were the holy men of Hebrew scripture who brought the word of Yahweh to his people.  Who would you compare Jesus to?

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Jesus and Elijah (Mk 6:15-6:15)

But others said.

‘He is Elijah.’

Still others said.

‘He is a prophet,

Like one of the prophets.”

 

ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐστίν· ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον ὅτι προφήτης ὡς εἷς τῶν προφητῶν.

 

There is nothing like this in Matthew, but in Luke, chapter 9:8, there is something similar, almost word for word.  But others said (ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον) that Jesus was Elijah (ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐστίν).  Still others said (ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον) that he was a prophet, like the former prophets (ὅτι προφήτης ὡς εἷς τῶν προφητῶν).  Elijah was a 9th century BCE northern Israelite prophet whose work can be found in the Old Testament Books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  There was no doubt that the role of Elijah dominated late Jewish thought at the time of Jesus, with his name appearing around John the Baptist, the transfiguration, and the death of Jesus.  The prophets were the holy men of the Old Testament who brought the word of Yahweh to his people.

The opening oracle (Mal 1:1-1:1)

“The oracle

Of the word of Yahweh

To Israel

By Malachi.”

This opening phrase of the Book of Malachi indicates that the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Malachi, but it was for Israel.  There is no indication of a time or place for this oracle.  Neither is there any mention of biographical details.  His name Malachi means my messenger.  Thus, he is a messenger of Yahweh for the people of Israel.

The role of Zerubbabel (Zech 4:6-4:7)

“Then he said to me.

‘This is the word of Yahweh

To Zerubbabel.

Not by might,

Not by power,

But by my Spirit.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘O great mountain!

What are you?

Before Zerubbabel,

You shall become a plain.

He shall bring out

The top stone

Amid shouts of

‘Grace!

Grace to it!’”

The angel who had been talking to Zechariah explained that the word of Yahweh was going to come to Zerubbabel, the man appointed by King Cyrus of Persia.  Zerubbabel was going to be successful, but not by his might and power, but by the Holy Spirit of Yahweh.  The great mountain would become a plain before Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah.  He was going to bring out the top stone of the mountain to cheers of grace to all.

Title (Zech 1:1-1:1)

“In the eighth month,

In the second year

Of King Darius,

The word of Yahweh

Came to the prophet Zechariah,

The son of Berechiah,

The son of Iddo.”

The word of Yahweh came to the prophet Zechariah in the same year as it had come to Haggai, the second year of Persian King Darius I in 520 BCE.  However, this was the 8th month and not the 6th month as with Haggai, so that it was 2 month later.  Zechariah was the son of Berechiah and the grandson of Iddo.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, there is an explicit mention of Haggai and Zechariah, the son of Iddo.  Nehemiah, chapter 12, mentioned Iddo as one of the high priests who came with Zerubbabel when he left Babylon in 538 BCE.  Thus, Iddo would have been an important person.  Berechiah seemed to be less important, but could be the father of the young Zechariah.  Nehemiah mentioned Berechiah as the son of Meshezabel, in chapter 3.

The second prophecy (Hag 2:1-2:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the seventh month,

On the twenty-first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai.”

About a month later in the same year, on the 21st of the 7th month, the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Haggai again, maybe around the time of the feast of tents.

Title (Hag 1:1-1:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the sixth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai,

To Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

Governor of Judah.

It also came

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.”

There is a precise date to this prophetic happening, August, 520 BCE, the second year of the great King Darius of Persia (522-486 BCE).  During his reign, he ruled over nearly ½ of the known world, over 50,000,000 people.  The word of Yahweh came through the prophet Haggai, although there is no mention of his family.  Perhaps he was one of those returning from the exile in Babylon.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, Haggai and Zechariah were explicitly mentioned as prophets.  There was also a eunuch servant Haggai in the Book of Esther, but there seems to be no connection to this Haggai.  This Haggai was to prophesize to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, who was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin (598 BCE).  Thus, he could be in the Davidic line.  He probably died sometime around 520 BCE, sometime around the events described here.  King Cyrus had appointed Zerubbabel to be the Governor of Judah in 538 BCE, when he was among the first exiles sent back to Jerusalem.  Joshua, the son of Jehozadak was the high priest in Jerusalem from 515-490 BCE.