The Two Prophets in Revelation
It is an acknowledged belief that Mosheh (Moses) and Eliyahu (Elijah) are the two prophets in Revelation. That idea that Mosheh and Eliyahu are the two witnesses of the last days is probably taken by the comparison of their extraordinary lives as recorded in the Scripture.
And indeed, the life of Eliyahu, the restorer of the kingdom of Elohim, resembles in many ways the life of Mosheh, the founder of the nation of Israel: both prophets were zealous for the purity of the Word of YHVH and compromised nothing to lead the people to the high standards of the Torah.
Their flight into the desert, the appearance of YHVH to them at Sinai, and even the marvelous termination of their lives, have led to the idea that these men of Elohim are the two olive-trees and two lampstands standing before the throne in heaven.
The similarities between them are intensified when we recall the plagues Mosheh did in Egypt and Eliyahu’s shutting the heavens for three and half years, which in many ways resemble the plagues in Revelation.
Another connection seen between them is that Eliyahu was a forerunner of the Prophet promised by Mosheh, and when this Prophet came in the person of Yeshua to fulfill both the Torah and the Prophets, they both appeared on the mount of Transfiguration, to tell Him all which would happen to Him in Jerusalem.
But, are Mosheh and Eliyahu the two prophets in Revelation?
The two prophets in Revelation
And I shall give unto my two witnesses and they shall prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clad in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that are standing before the Elohim of the earth. And if anyone wishes to harm them, fire comes out from their mouth and consumes their enemies. And if anyone wishes to harm them, he has to be killed in that way. (Rev 11:3-5)
Further, the prophecy goes on to say that the two prophets in Revelation (the two witnesses) are given authority to shut the heaven, so that no rain falls, to turn waters to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues in the days of their mission, as often as they wish.
And at the end of their mission, the beast (metaphor for the last world empire) begins to fight against them and the two prophets are killed, and their dead bodies lie on the street of Jerusalem for three and a half days. And the world rejoices in their death because of the harm these two prophets have caused on them.
And after the three and a half days, their dead bodies are resurrected and taken up to heaven, and great fear falls on those who saw them. And in that hour a great earthquake shakes the earth and many are killed. (Rev 11:6-13)
Who are these two prophets in Revelation, and can we identify them?
We will seek the answer in this study which is a part of the series “The Revelation from YHVH” meant to give more insight into what would transpire in the last three and a half years of the world as we know it.
Eliyahu’s ascension to heaven
There is no dispute among the commentators that Eliyahu will be one of the witnesses in Revelation, who will come with authority to witness concerning what will befall the world in the last three and half years of this era.
YHVH raised up Eliyahu as the most powerful of all the prophets, only second to Mosheh, who by his deeds attested his name: “El is Yehovah“.
Eliyahu (Elijah) was a distinct prophet of YHVH, and while all other prophets were writing the words of YHVH and translating them to the people, Eliyahu was doing the words of YHVH.
Eliyahu was a prophet as fire, whose words burned as a torch against the prophets of Baal (1Ki 18:40). There was no grey area in his uncompromising ministry, and rightly he deserved to be called by his enemies “a disturber of Israel” (1Ki 18:17). But, as Apostle Ya’akov testified, he was also a man like us (Jam 5:17-18).
And when his time to be taken up came, Eliyahu said to his disciple Elisha to ask what he could do for him. And Elisha asked to receive the power of his spirit.
And it came to be, as they continued on and spoke, that, behold, a chariot of fire with horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Eliyahu went up by a whirlwind into the heavens. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. (2Ki 2:9-12)
Thus, the righteous Eliyahu was taken up to heaven and saw no death.
For look, the day shall come, burning like a furnace, and all the proud, and every wrongdoer shall be stubble. And the day that shall come shall burn them up, said Yehovah of the heavenly armies, which leaves to them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My Name, the Servant of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings. And you shall go out and leap for joy like calves from the stall. And you shall trample the wrongdoers, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this, said Yehovah of the heavenly armies. (Mal 4:1-3)
In order to avert the curse in Mal 4:1-3 from Israel, the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) will be sent before the return of the Servant of Righteousness, and before the coming of the great and awesome day of Yehovah, for the purpose of bringing repentance in the nation.
The identity of the prophet Eliyahu as one of the two prophets in Revelation is universally acknowledged by all scholars and clearly revealed in the next verses. This is the same prophet Eliyahu, who was sent in the spirit and power in Yochanan, the cousin of Yeshua, to make the people prepared for YHVH. (Luk 1:16-17).
The prophecy continues in Malachi,
Remember the Torah of Mosheh, My servant, which I commanded him in Horev for all Israel – laws and judgements. Behold, I am sending you Eliyah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of Yehovah. And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with utter destruction. (Mal 4:4-6)
With this calling to remembrance of the Torah of YHVH and what Mosheh has written about the Anointed One, and the prediction that the prophet Eliyahu will be sent before His coming, ends the whole era of prophecy. No prophet of Israel was raised after Malachi.
Thus, the prophecy ends with the final message that the Day of YHVH is coming with His Messiah, preceded by the arrival of Eliyahu the prophet.
Thus, the last words of the last prophet of Israel, “I am sending you Eliyah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of Yehovah. And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with utter destruction.” (Mal 4:4-6) are continued in “Revelation of Yeshua Messiah [the Servant of Righteousness], which Elohim gave Him to show His servants what has to take place with speed …” (Rev 1:1).
The two prophets in the Apostolic Writings
The second of the two prophets in Revelation, however, is much harder to identify, as we will see in our study below.
The dominant opinion among the scholars is that the second of the two prophets in Revelation is Mosheh (Moses). This opinion is based on the account in Mat 17:2-5 aka the Transfiguration of Yeshua the Messiah.
As said in the beginning of our study, the dominant opinion among the prophecy scholars is that the two prophets in Revelation are Eliyahu and Mosheh. And while no one disputes that Eliyahu is one of them, the presence of Mosheh in Revelation is at least questionable. And this is why.
As we noted, this opinion is based on the account in Mat 17:2-5 aka the Transfiguration of Yeshua the Messiah.
According to the Greek text of Mat 17:2-5, it appears that Yeshua went to the mountain with His disciples solely to show them the miracle of His transfiguration.
The disciples stayed passively there, as if no miracle happened before them and then, and for some unexplained reason, Kepha (Peter) suggested to build three tabernacles (booths) for Yeshua, for Mosheh, and for Eliyahu.
And since the Apostolic Writings only here quotes both prophets, and Revelation does not reveal their identities, the majority of the scholars (if not all) have accepted that the two prophets in Revelation are Mosheh and Eliyahu.
This is the interpretation derived from the Greek copies of Matthew.
While in Hebrew, however, we see a different picture. For the purpose of our study, we will use the translation of an ancient Hebrew manuscript Shem-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew (shem tov, Hebrew for “good name”) by George Howard, Mercer University Press, 1995.
Here is the place to say that this ancient Hebrew text of Matthew has been preserved for us by the Rabbis of old, but to obtain more insight into this controversial topic for many, the reader is encouraged to refer to the articles “The name of Yeshua secretly guarded by the Rabbis” and “Did Israel reject the Messiah?“
Note: the bold text below is completely void in the Greek copies of Matthew and Mark, and partially in Greek Luke.
- And after six* days Yeshua took Kepha, and Ya’akov, and Yochanan, and brought them to a high mountain where He might pray.
- While He was praying, He was changed before them, and the skin of His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as snow.
- Then Mosheh and Eliyahu, while speaking with him, were revealed to them and they told Yeshua all which would happen to him in Jerusalem**. Kepha and his companions were asleep. Asleep but not asleep; awake but not awake. They saw his body and the two men with Him^.
- When they went away, then Kepha said to Yeshua: It is good to be here. Let us make here three tabernacles, for you, one for Mosheh, and one for Eliyahu, because he did not know what he was saying.
- While he was still speaking, see, a bright cloud covered them and they were greatly alarmed. While they were under the cloud they heard from the midst of the cloud a voice speaking and saying: See, this is my son, my beloved, my delight is in him, you shall hear him. (Mat 17:1-5) Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, by George Howard, Mercer University Press, 1995
* Luk 9:28 says eight days, while Mark and Greek Matthew agree with Hebrew Gospel of Matthew
**Luk 9:31: “Who appeared in glory and spoke of His death which He was about to complete in Jerusalem” agreeing with the Hebrew text.
^ agrees with Luk 9:32, “But Kepha and those with him were heavy with sleep. And having awakened, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him.”
Our comments on the three accounts of the Mount of Transfiguration:
- Luke uses the term “the mountain” when referring to the Mount of Transfiguration (assumed to be the Mount of Olives), while Matthew and Mark agree with Hebrew Gospel of Matthew using the term “a high mountain”.
- In Greek, Yeshua went with His disciples to the mountain, while in Hebrew, He brought them on a high mountain.
- In the Greek copies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it appears that Kepha’s suggestion was made in the presence of the two prophets, while in Hebrew Gospel of Matthew that suggestion was made after they were gone, which explains why the Hebrew account is saying, in agreement with Luke, “because he did not know what he was saying” .
- Overall, the Greek copy of Luke agrees to some degree with Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, while Greek Matthew and Mark differ significantly.
So, according to the ancient Hebrew text of Matthew, Yeshua brought His disciples to a high mountain to pray and as a result of His prayer He was changed.
Since, there is no high mountain in Jerusalem and the hills on which the city is built can hardly be called “mountains”, we may assume that Yeshua brought them in a vision to a high place, perhaps Mount Sinai, where the two prophets appeared.
With a confidence we may say that what happened on the high mountain was a vision, because both accounts (Hebrew Matthew and Greek Luke) testify that the disciples “were asleep. Asleep but not asleep; awake but not awake” and “were heavy with sleep. And having awakened, they saw…”
These two accounts in Hebrew Matthew and Greek Luke make us accept that the disciples were in a state of what we would describe as trance (like Avraham in the Covenant of the Pieces); or perhaps, simply because they were exceedingly afraid (see Mar 9:6), they were stunned by the appearance of the two prophets.
We also see (only in Hebrew Matthew and in Greek Luke) that the mission of the two prophets was to tell Yeshua what would happen to Him in Jerusalem, namely, His death and resurrection.
And at the end of the transfiguration, after the prophets went away, Kepha, confused by what he saw, offered to do something that there was no need for when he offered to build booths for the two prophets who were already gone from the scene. Perhaps that was the reason for Matthew (in Hebrew) to note, “because he did not know what he was saying”.
And a bright cloud covered them and they were greatly alarmed when they heard from the midst of the cloud a voice speaking: “See, this is my Son, my beloved, my delight is in Him, you shall hear Him”.
However, we may notice that another clue is given to the Torah observant believers in Yeshua, namely, that the vision on the high mountain occurred during the Festival of the Booths, or in Hebrew — Chag Sukkot. Read more.
So, how would this ancient Hebrew manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew help us identify the two prophets in Revelation?
The dispute over the body of Mosheh
And Mosheh the servant of Yehovah died there in the land of Moav, according to the mouth of Yehovah. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moav, opposite Beyth Pe’or, and no one knows his burial-place to this day. And Mosheh was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his freshness gone. And the children of Israel wept for Mosheh in the desert plains of Moav thirty days. And the days of weeping and mourning for Mosheh were completed. (Deu 34:5-8)
YHVH granted Mosheh the favor to see the Promised Land for which he was so dearly desired to enter. And after the favor was granted, the servant of YHVH was to taste death.
We are told that Mosheh died in the foreign land of Moav “according to the mouth”, i.e., according to the commandment of YHVH. The valley where YHVH buried Mosheh was probably the valley in the field of Moav, on the top of Pisgah mentioned in Num 21:20, near to Mount Nebo.
On his descending the mountain, the eyes of the people would have certainly followed him as far as they possibly could. So, the eyes of his people could not only accompany him but could have seen that YHVH went down with him into the valley, where Mosheh was taken forever out of their sight.
However, it is also true that there is no word in the text about YHVH having brought the body of Mosheh down from the mountain and buried it in their sight.
We are not told as to why the body of Mosheh was buried out of the people’s sight, but it is safe to say that the burial of Mosheh by the hand of YHVH was intended to conceal his grave, for the purpose of guarding against turning it into an idol or a high place for worship.
If YHVH, therefore, would not allow the body of Mosheh to be buried by men, but buried it by Himself it was for the purpose of not leaving it to corruption and have probably imparted a power to it that preserved it from decay.
With that being said, there can be no doubt that this truth lies in the apocryphal book The Assumption of Moses to which Apostle Yehudah in Jud 1:9 refers concerning the contest between Michael the archangel and the devil for the body of Mosheh.
But Michael the chief messenger, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Mosheh, presumed not to bring against him a blasphemous accusation, but said, “Yehovah rebuke you!” (Jud 1:9)
From this scene it appears that Michael and the satan disputed over the body of Mosheh, because the satan most certainly wanted to make Mosheh’s body into an idol for men. But Michael disputed with the satan, so that its location could not be discovered by him.
The Assumption of Moses
The original text of The Assumption of Moses, has survived much in Latin, but it is also preserved in Greek and, namely, its most remarkable passage in Jud 1:9.
Below are the notes to The Assumption of Moses translated from the Latin 6th century manuscript by R. H. Charles, M.A., Trinity College, Dublin, and Exeter College, Oxford.
“Judging from the surviving Greek fragments (in brackets), the order of the action in the original Assumption was probably as follows:
- Michael is commissioned to bury Moses;
- Satan opposes his burial on two grounds: First, he claims to be the lord of matter (hence the body rightfully should be handed over to him). To this claim Michael rejoins: “The Lord rebuke thee, for it was God’s Spirit that created the world and all mankind.” (Jud_1:9) Hence not Satan, but God was the Lord of matter. Secondly, Satan brings the charge of murder against Moses. (The answer to this charge is wanting.) [Source: Adumbrat. in Ep. Judae (Zahn’s Supplementum Clementinum, p. 84)]
- Having rebutted Satan’s accusations, Michael then proceeds to charge Satan with having inspired the serpent to tempt Adam and Eve. [Origen (185-254 A.D.) De Princip. iii. 2. 1 (Lommatzsch, xxi. 303, 304)]
- Finally, all opposition having been overcome, the Assumption takes place in the presence of Joshua and Caleb in a very peculiar way: Moses “living in the spirit” which is carried up to heaven and the dead body of Moses buried in the recesses of the mountains [Clement of Alexandria (Flor. 190-203 A.D.), Strom. vi. 15]”
In summary, according to the apocryphal book The Assumption of Moses, Mosheh died, the body was buried somewhere in the mountain of Moav, and the living spirit of the prophet was carried up to heaven. And this is all in agreement with the account in the Torah.
Therefore, the assumption of Mosheh was not in a bodily form, much less in a living body, but in a spiritual form: his living spirit was taken up to heaven. And if this is so, then we can say safely that the Mosheh the disciples saw on the high mountain was not the resurrected body of the prophet but his spirit and the whole vision on the Mount of Transfiguration was in the spiritual realm.
So, who is the second witness in Revelation?
As YHVH Himself buried Moses and his grave has not been found to this day, so did He take up Eliyahu to heaven in a more glorious manner in a fiery chariot with fiery horses. This parallel has a real foundation in the appearance of Mosheh and Eliyahu with the Messiah, only we must not overlook the difference in their departure from life.
Mosheh did die because of his sin at the rock and was buried by the hand of YHVH. Eliyahu did not die but was taken alive up to heaven. We will note here that this difference will be our key to unlock the identity of the two prophets in Revelation.
The forgotten prophet: the Enoch case
The prophet Chanoch (Enoch) is rarely mentioned outside of Gen 5:22-24. From these verses we learn that Chanoch was a righteous man who walked with Elohim and Elohim took him. We read thus,
And after he brought forth Methushelach, Chanoch walked with Elohim three hundred years, and brought forth sons and daughters. So all the days of Chanoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Chanoch walked with Elohim. Then he was no more, for Elohim took him. (Gen 5:22-24)
The phrase “walked with Elohim”, which is only applied to the two righteous men Chanoch and Noach (see Gen 6:9), denotes the closest relationship of a human with the personal Creator. It must be distinguished from “walking before Elohim” referring to Avraham in Gen 17:1 and Gen 24:40, and “walking after Elohim” to Israel in Deu 13:4, where both phrases are used to indicate a righteous life under the Torah.
The only other passage in which “walk with Elohim” occurs is Mal 2:6-7, where it denotes the conduct of the Levitical priests, who stood in a closer relation to YHVH. Therefore, the expression “walked with Elohim” denotes the closest relationship with YHVH a human could possibly have.
In Chanoch, the seventh from Adam through Seth, righteousness attained its highest point. Chanoch, therefore, was taken up by Elohim and carried into the heavenly realm, so that he did not experience death, in the same manner Eliyahu was taken up.
Moreover, the apocryphal Book of Enoch represents him as prophesying of the coming of the Anointed One of YHVH (Hebrew, mashiach) to execute judgment on the wicked men.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jud 1:14-15 KJV)
Note: The Letter of Yehudah hardly survived in the Apostolic Writings due to this quote from the “unauthorized” Book of Enoch and due to the quote from the book The Assumption of Moses.
In Jud 1:14-15, the apostle is referring to the Book of Enoch,
And behold! He cometh with ten thousand of His set-apart ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly, and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. (1Enoch 1:9)
We should note that Yehudah used the word “prophesied” thus calling Chanoch (Enoch) a prophet and the Book of Enoch a “prophecy”.
Apostle Kepha says in 2Pe 1:20-21 that no prophecy in the Scripture is of a private interpretation. And if Yehudah called the Book of Enoch “prophecy”, then Chanoch was a prophet and his prophetic book was inspired by the same Ruach haKodesh (Hebrew for “the Wind of Set-apartness”, Holy Spirit in Latin) as all other prophecies are inspired. Therefore, if the Book of Enoch was good for the apostle, it is good for us, too: for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
We continue in Gen 5:24; the phrase “he was no more” is interpreted by some to mean that Chanoch did experience death and his dead body was taken up to heaven, in the same manner and reason Mosheh’s body was taken up.
However, we find in the Letter to the Hebrews that Chanoch did not die, but was translated up alive because he walked with Elohim by faith.
Below is the text of Heb 11:5 from an ancient Hebrew manuscript The Letter to the Hebrews, translation by James Scott Trimm, Institute for Nazarene Jewish Studies; the bold text is void in the Greek copy of the Hebrews.
By a work of the faith, Chanoch was translated up by Elohim so he should not see death and was not, for Elohim took him. Before he was taken, he had the testimony that he had pleased Him: like that which was said, And Chanoch walked with Elohim … (Heb 11:5)
Therefore, in conclusion of the Enoch case, we can say with confidence that the prophet did not experience death, because he walked with Elohim and, as we read in The Book of Jubilee, his office was ordained for testimony to the world until the Day of Judgement.
For Chanoch’s office was ordained for a testimony to the generations of the world, so that he should recount all the deeds of generation unto generation, till the Day of Judgement. (Jubilee 10:17)
Who are the two prophets in Revelation?
We noted that Yeshua brought the disciples to a high mountain in the spirit. Hence, we inferred that the whole vision of the appearance of the two prophets was in a spirit, and not in their physical bodies. Why is this important to note?
It is important, because, otherwise, we will have the burden of the impossible task to prove as to how and when the dead body of Mosheh had been resurrected, if he appeared in a body, before the resurrection of Yeshua — the first-fruit of the resurrection.
For more insight on how Yeshua fulfilled the Festival of the First-fruits, the reader may refer to the corresponding article from the series The Appointed Times of YHVH.
Then, we have to explain as to how Mosheh would be the only human who died twice and resurrected twice, if we assume he would be one of the two prophets in Revelation (this resurrection is not to be equated with the “resurrection” of Lazarus, which was more like resuscitation, and not a resurrection in a new immortal body).
Therefore, if Mosheh is not one of the two prophets in Revelation, then we are left with the only option to accept that the second prophet will be the prophet Chanoch (Enoch).
And indeed, as Elohim had taken Chanoch (Enoch) up to heaven, so that he did not taste of death, and He had also suddenly taken Eliyahu (Elijah) up and carry him to heaven without dying, so will He send them back to earth to finish the mission they have been called into.
We need to note here that every human being must die in order to be resurrected in a new incorruptible body (see 1Co 15:42, 50). Even those who will be found worthy of witnessing the return of Yeshua the Anointed One of YHVH, will die too, even at the blink of the eye they will die and be resurrected.
Chanoch and Eliyahu are the only humans who have not experienced death. Likewise, they too need to die in order to be resurrected. And they will die martyr’s death as YHVH’s two prophets in Revelation.
Therefore, the only two possibilities for the two prophets in Revelation that remained are Chanoch (Enoch) and Eliyahu (Elijah).
And indeed, for Chanoch’s office was ordained for a testimony to the generations of the world, so that he should recount all the deeds of generation unto generation, till the Day of Judgement, and Eliyah the prophet will be sent before the coming of the great and awesome day of Yehovah, that he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest He come and strike the earth with utter destruction.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.