In Malachi 4:1-3 (Tanach 3:19-21) It is interpreted as 'sun' (Shemesh) and then talks of the 'wings' (Kanaph) using the Hebrew words. When looking at the history and the pagan gods of that day, they all had 'sun' gods and most had wings. Example in Picture of Egyption sun god: (Egyption sun god

Is there a play on words here? I have heard one idea that the vowel pointing could be different and instead of Shemesh it would be Shamash which would read "servant of righteousness" Is this possible? The comparing of God the creator, to the pagan gods seems different to me. But then who was the author's audience? (sorry for all the questions, and appreciate any answers.)

  • i don't see why we should always debate on scriptures,in pasalm 84:11 bible recorded that God is a sun and shield so why can't he be sun of righteousness with healing. Is that impossible for God?we should all know that God will not be God if all his wisdom are known to man.
    – user3590
    Feb 26, 2014 at 4:58
  • 3
    @SamuelAppiah This is exactly the sort of question this site is for. Whatever you may think about the need to dig into what things actually do or do not mean, if you are going to do it this is a venue for that. On the other hand it is not a place to be critical of the practice of questioning or of the existence of hermeneutics. Please refrain in the same way that you wouldn't join a Harley club and then advocate 'why have motorcycles anyway' or go to a physics conference to say 'science is unnecessary anyway'.
    – Caleb
    Mar 29, 2014 at 11:26
  • "The sun of righteousness with healing under its wings" has to refer to Jesus resurrection from the dead early on Sunday morning. Oct 29, 2017 at 5:08

4 Answers 4


The reading with "servant" is very tenuous and has no textual basis. Firstly, the Hebrew word שמש appears in the tanakh approximately 134 times, of which almost every use exclusively means sun. There are a couple of examples, most notably Isaiah 54:12, although also Psalms 84:12, where some commentators deviate from this meaning. The Isaiah verse is understood almost universally as "window" i.e. the thing the sun comes through, although there is one commentator alluded to in Rashi who associates it with the root you mention, to serve.

There is one Aramaic use of that root in Daniel 7:10, which corresponds more or less with Malachi's time, although is still a stretch. The use as servant is common much later (Mishnaic and Talmudic).

Potentially the most important aspect is simply context. The noun servant/shamash is masculine which would mean the verse's grammar is incorrect. Secondly, the verb וזרחה fits with "sun" like a glove, and not well at all with the "servant" reading.

I read it as a reasonably simplistic analogy. I can't see any motive to pervert this into "servant". I'm not sure about the connection to sun gods, although that's certainly an interesting idea! Might very well be related imagery.

  • I agree with your answer for the sun/servant issue. I will look more closely at the gender usage next time as that would have helped give me more clues. The Imagery has still peaked my interest.
    – Laurie
    Sep 16, 2013 at 21:51
  • This answer would be improved with the sources cited rather than just mentioned. I'd also love to see some investigation of the LXX treatment.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:47

Malachi verse 4:2 is where it refers to the ‘Sun of Righteousness’ with healing in his wings: ‘But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up [or ‘paw the ground’] as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked ...’.

Christians have long seen this phrase as a rather obscure, ancient prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ, but there is no reference to ‘Sun of Righteousness’ or even the English homophone ‘Son of Righteousness’ anywhere in the New Testament and no evidence of their use during the first century of Christianity. The Catholic New American Bible, unlike other major English Bibles, resists the Christian prophecy theory and uses the euphemism ‘its healing rays’ rather than the literal translation ‘healing in his wings’, thereby implying that the ‘sun of justice’ is merely the sun above. Since it does not attempt to explain why the sun would be referred to in the context of divine justice, this Bible’s attempt to deflect attention from the passage must be ignored. So Malachi was neither prophesying the birth of Jesus, nor talking about the physical sun helping to restore divine justice.

Or perhaps the reference to a winged Sun of Righteousness was simply a symbolic reference to the king of Israel or Judah. Throughout the ancient Middle East, the winged sun was a religious symbol that was sometimes associated with royalty. Fragments of an engraved bronze plaque from the 9th century BCE have been found at Tel Dan in northern Israel, depicting a figure with upraised arms standing next to a throne, under the royal symbol of the winged sun. And royal seals have been unearthed in Judah, showing a winged sun and inscribed with the king’s name in Hebrew. However, Malachi can not have been referring to either king, since this is most clearly a divine reference, and therefore the only reasonable meaning is the righteous sun god. The archaeological discovery of plaques and seals is evidence of sun god worship in Israel and Judah respectively (Keel and Uehlinger: Gods, Goddesses and Images of God in Ancient Israel) .

Malachi was telling the faithful that, with the sun god’s help, they will grow up as calves of the stall and will tread down the wicked. There are some further, but rather complex clues in the context of this verse that even more closely associate the ‘Sun of Righteousness’ with the sun god, but their explanation is complex.

  • 2
    So you are saying that Malachi was an 'idol worshipper'?
    – Laurie
    Oct 22, 2013 at 14:57

Malachi 4:2 (KJV)
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings …

“The sun of righteousness” vs the pagan sun gods of Malachi's time:

  • The Devil's goal is always to copy not create (Isaiah 14:14, Romans 1:25)

  • Before God's word was penned he painted a sign in the heavens to preach his message. (Genesis 1:14, Psalms 19:1-6)

  • The sun is created on the 4th day. The ‘Son’ came to earth 4,000 years after creation.

All physical life is connected with sunlight in some way. All spiritual life is connected to Jesus (John 1:4).

The sun is a trinity (Romans 1:20):

  • Light rays - you can see but not feel (the Son)

  • Heat rays - you can feel but not see (the Holy Spirit)

  • Actinic rays - you can’t see or feel (the Father)

The message of the sun in the heavens:

  • When the sun dies in the west it is read (blood atonement at the 1st Advent)

  • When the sun comes up it is read (Christ’s garments at 2nd Advent, Isaiah 63:1)

  • The sun is as a bridegroom (Psalms 19:5) picturing the 2nd Advent (Matthew 25:1-13, Revelation 19:7-9)

  • In the suns circuit it travels against the earth (as does Christ: Galatians 1:3; Romans 12:1; 1 John 2:15-17)

… with healing in his wings …

Complete healing of earthly man is only available when Jesus returns at the 2nd Advent (Romans 8:22-23). “His wings” is the picture of a bird. The Holy Spirit first shows up as a dove.

This is in opposition of the pagan worship of the sun

In the larger context of the passage we see the warning:

Malachi 4:4 (KJV)
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant...

Deuteronomy 17:2-5 (KJV)
2If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, 3And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 4And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: 5Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, [even] that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.

Ezekiel 8:13-16 (KJV)
13He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
14Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S house which [was] toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
15Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
16And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.

  • Most of this post is not terribly useful but the verses at the end are relevant.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:49

Malachi's 3.20 Servant / sun of righteousness could not refer to Jesus for the simple reason that reading Jesus into the verse takes the passage out of context: For verse 21 says, "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I do make, saith the L-RD of hosts." and verse 19 says "For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace; and all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall set them ablaze, saith the L-RD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." That "day" has not "burned as a furnace" and "the wicked have not been tread down as ashes under the soles of your feet [that is, under the feet of those who fear the Holy One, as verse 3.20 says] ...!"

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