A Posthumous Letter?
Eliyahu is mentioned twice in Tanakh after his disappearance in the storm. In Divrei HaYamaim, we read of a letter sent by him to king Yehoram:
וַיָּבֹא אֵלָיו מִכְתָּב מֵאֵלִיָּהוּ הַנָּבִיא לֵאמֹר כֹּה אָמַר י"י אֱ-לֹהֵי דָּוִיד אָבִיךָ תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַכְתָּ בְּדַרְכֵי יְהוֹשָׁפָט אָבִיךָ וּבְדַרְכֵי אָסָא מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה.
As Elisha appears to succeed Eliyahu as prophet already during the reign of Yehoshafat,1 Yehoram's father, it seems that this letter was received after Eliyahu was taken by Hashem. If he had died, though, how could he write such a letter? Is this, then, evidence that he is still alive?2
Harbinger of the Day of God
At the end of Malakhi, Eliyahu makes a second appearance. Hashem announces that He is going to send Eliyahu to the people before the coming of the "Great Day of Hashem", so that he can help them repent:
(כג) הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ לָכֶם אֵת אֵלִיָּה הַנָּבִיא לִפְנֵי בּוֹא יוֹם י"י הַגָּדוֹל וְהַנּוֹרָא. (כד) וְהֵשִׁיב לֵב אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְלֵב בָּנִים עַל אֲבוֹתָם פֶּן אָבוֹא וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶת הָאָרֶץ חֵרֶם.
(23) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming Of the great and terrible day of the Lord. (24) 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 smite the land with utter destruction. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming Of the great and terrible day of the Lord.
Is Eliyahu being resurrected in order to fulfill his duties or does this verse also imply that Eliyahu never died?