Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Furnace. At the day of judgment, the difference between the just and the wicked will plainly appear. (Worthington) — This sense is most generally given, as well as to those words where our Saviour speaks of the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the end of the world together, Matthew xxiv. 3., and Luke xxi. 5. Yet the prophet may also allude to the punishment of the Jews by the Romans, when all were assembled at the Passover, (Calmet) a scourge which the Christians escaped by retiring to Pella. (Eusebius, History of the Church iii. 5.) — Proud. Septuagint, “strangers.” (Calmet) — Branch. No hope shall remain. (Menochius)
Ver. 2. Wings. The sun is represented with wings, to imply celerity. The appearance of the Lord will be most acceptable to the virtuous. (Calmet) — Look up, for your redemption is at hand, Luke xxi. 28. — Herd. Protestants, “stall.” Hebrew marbek, (Haydock) “fattened;” though some explain it of oxen treading out corn: they would not however leap, nor fatten so much. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Ashes, burnt in Jerusalem. (Haydock) — Christians rejoiced in the execution of divine justice. The Jews were not allowed to approach the new city, Elia. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 4. Law. This must be your guide and comfort. No more prophets shall appear before [John] the Baptist. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Elias. Septuagint add, “the Thesbite;” and St. Jerome (in Matthew xvii.) says, that Elias shall indeed come and restore all things. — Dreadful. Christ’s first coming was in all meekness; but he will judge in terror. Hence the prophet’s meaning is not that St. John [the Baptist], but that Elias shall come before the great day of the Lord. (Worthington) — Yet we may understand it of Christ coming into the world to preach, and again to judge. His first coming proved terrible to the perfidious Jews, whose ruin presently ensued. The destruction of Jerusalem was a figure of that which the world shall experience. (Calmet) — This shall be preceded by the preaching of Elias. (N. Alex.[Noel Alexander?] Diss. vi.) — This interpretation seems very striking and natural, though the prophet may have had the first coming of Christ and the ruin of the city chiefly in view. Our Saviour testifies that the Elias whom the Jews expected was already come, Matthew xi. 14., and xvii. 11., and Luke ix. 8. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Heart, &c. By bringing over the Jews to the faith of Christ, he shall reconcile them to their fathers, viz., the patriarchs and prophets, whose hearts for many ages have been turned away from them, because of their refusing to believe in Christ. (Calmet) — The antipathy of Jews and Gentiles shall cease. Both shall enter the Church of Christ, Isaias xi. 13. John the Baptist strove to ameliorate the manners of the people, and to bring all to Christ, who reconciles all seeming contradictions in the Scriptures. He came to put an end to all dissensions. (Calmet) — Yet the wicked will still have war, Matthew x. 35. (Haydock) — Christ will convert those Jews at last, (Romans xi. 26.; Calmet) who have not yet opened their eyes. Their fathers, the apostles and first converts, have long ago shewn them the example. (Haydock) — Anathema. In the Hebrew, cherem, that is, utter destruction. (Challoner) — Septuagint, “entirely,” (Calmet) or “suddenly;” arden. (St. Jerome) (Deuteronomy vii. 26.) — This passage intimates that the ruin of Jerusalem is threatened. If people should be converted, would that stop the general conflagration? (Calmet) — Some of our crafty adversaries have inferred from the above explanation of anathema, that the Church means heretics to be destroyed: but her kingdom is not of this world: she speaks only of the soul, and exercises a spiritual power. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The judgment of the wicked, and reward of the just. An exhortation to observe the law. Elias shall come for the conversion of the Jews.
1 For behold the day shall come, kindled as a furnace: and all the proud, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall set them on fire, saith the Lord of hosts, it shall not leave them root, nor branch.
2 *But unto you that fear my name, the sun of justice shall arise, and health in his wings: and you shall go forth, and shall leap like calves of the herd.
3 And you shall tread down the wicked, when they shall be ashes under the sole of your feet in the day, that I do this, saith the Lord of hosts.
4 *Remember the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb, for all Israel, the precepts, and judgments.
5 *Behold, I will send you Elias, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema.
2: Luke i. 78.
4: Exodus xx.; Deuteronomy v. and vi.
5: Matthew xvii. 10.; Mark ix. 10.; Luke i. 17.