Questions About Eliyahu

Q. I understand that we can rank Moses, the Mashiach and Elijah in order of precedence. Moses is number 1, the Mashiach is number 2 and Elijah is number 3. Is it possible to rank the other prophets in the Jewish version of the Bible in order of precedence?

A. Other than Moses, whose prophecy was of a different quality than any other prophet, we don't "rank" the prophets. (And nowhere does it say that the Moshiach need be a prophet at all.) Elijah was certainly a great prophet but was he #2 after Moses? I don't know. In II Kings chapter 2, Elisha asks for a double share of the prophecy that Elijah had, and Elijah answers that if Elisha sees his miraculous departure (which he does), then he'll know that his request was granted. So, arguably, Elisha was "twice the prophet" that Elijah was. (Fun fact: Elijah performed one resurrection, but Elisha performed two – one posthumously!)

I hope this helps!


Q. How is it possible for Elijah to enter Heaven in his physical form and not in his spiritual form after his death?

A. Rather than addressing how Elijah could enter Heaven in his physical form, let me answer your question with a question: Why do you assume that doing so shouldn't be possible? If anything, there's precedent for it. I refer you to Genesis 5:24: "Enoch walked with God and then he ceased to be, because God had taken him."


Q. What are the characteristics of the Jewish savior? Is Elias the savior?

A. Thanks for your question. Many of the characteristics of the messiah are discussed in Isaiah chapter 11. These include (but are not limited to): He will be wise, understanding and pious. He will be driven to do the will of God and will have exceptional powers of perception. He will judge fairly, not taking advantage of the poor. He will destroy evil with his mere words.

Elias – more commonly referred to in English by the name Elijah – is not the messiah; Elijah is expected to come prior to the arrival of the messiah.


Q. I understand Elijah must return to Jerusalem just before the appearance of the Mashiach in order to anoint him King of Israel. What prophet or prophets in the Hebrew Bible prophesy the return of Elijah? I also understand Elijah returns just before the End Times. Is that correct? Do the End Times start with the appearance of the Mashiach or is it a different phenomenon?

A. Thank you for your question. I refer you to the third chapter of Malachi, and in particular the last two verses of the book (numbered 3:23-24 in the Jewish version; 4:5-6 in the Christian): "Behold, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of God. He will turn the hearts of parents towards children and the hearts of children towards their parents, lest I come and strike the land with destruction."

The Jewish "end times" scenario involves what we call the messianic era, which entails the rebuilding of the Temple and the return of those exiled, among other marvelous occurrences. There is a separate "end times" event, the revival of the dead, which will occur subsequent to the messianic era, so that's what you would call "a different phenomenon."


Q. Do you know in what sections of Jerusalem Elijah will appear at first?

A. I couldn't begin to guess where Elijah would make his first appearance; I don't believe we've been given that level of specificity.

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