Does it say anywhere in all of the Torah that John the Baptist will be the reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet and that he will come before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes?

"And if you are willing to believe their message, John is Elijah, whose coming was predicted" (Matthew 11:14)


2 Answers 2


As Aaron's answer makes clear, there is no mention of John the Baptist in the Tanach, nor in Jewish tradition, and especially no mention of him being a reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet. He is a figure of the Christian Bible.

There is, however, an old Jewish tradition that Elijah will come to prepare the way for the Messiah. This is mentioned in Malachi 3:23 ("Behold, I send unto you Elijah the Prophet") and in the Talmud as well (Eiruvin 43b).

Most likely, the writers of the Christian Bible knew of this tradition and therefore sought for a way to make it work with the life of Jesus, in attempts to "prove further" his status as Messiah. Since Elijah the Prophet did not come before Jesus to announce him as the Messiah, they had to say that John the Baptist did this job as a reincarnation of Elijah.

Interestingly enough, in John 1:21 in the Christian Bible, John the Baptist replies "no" to the question of whether he is Elijah the Prophet or not. So there is a contradiction between this and Matthew 11:13-14 and 17:12, where Jesus says on two occasions that John was Elijah.

On a side note, Rambam makes it clear that Elijah coming before the Messiah is not necessarily a requirement of the Messianic Age (Hilchot Melachim 12:2), although most Sages maintain it is. Despite what Rambam says, though, the idea that Elijah's coming will proceed the coming of the Messiah is a widespread tradition in Jewish circles.

  • Good answer. The problem is the language in the question of the OP. “If you’re willing to believe their message (meaning the Jews), then John is Elijah...”. Seems to be a logic arguement (if this, then that). Not an actual statement that John is Eliyahu. Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 20:08
  • In the Gospels, Christ is presented as continuing John's ministry, just as John himself is also said to have continued Elijah's (Matthew 11:13-14). Nevertheless, Christ wasn't literally John the Baptist raised from the dead (Matthew 14:2, 16:14; Mark 6:14-16, 8:28; Luke 9:19). The same holds true for John with regard to Elijah in the quoted passage (John 1:21).
    – user18041
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 12:26
  • @Lucian Your point is...?
    – ezra
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 15:02
  • @ezra: That Matthew 11:13-14 has little to do with reincarnation, or with contradicting John 1:21.
    – user18041
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 11:52

No. The entirety of the 5 books of Moses does not mention Elijah the prophet. Nor does it mention John the Baptist. Nor does it mention re-incarnation.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .