Continued from Chapter 9
(Exodus 3:2-8, 10-16, 18
The Angel of the Lord
Some trinitarians claim that whenever the Scriptures mention malach ’Adon-ai
), “an angel of the Lord
,” the angel is Jesus. They translate all passages mentioning such an angel as “the Angel of the Lord
,” although the Hebrew may just as well mean “an angel of the Lord
” (literally “a messenger of the Lord
”; cf. Judges 2:1, 6:11-22
True, in the construct state, when the second noun has the definite article, the first noun is automatically definite without the need for the article, however, with proper nouns, which are automatically definite, only context determines whether the first noun attached to it is to be taken as definite or indefinite. The context, in all the verses where malach ’Adon-ai
occurs, strongly indicates that it is not to be taken as definite.
Even when the noun “angel
) appears with a definite article in a scriptural passage, it is not used in the sense of a definite personality, but only as a reference to the particular angel mentioned previously in the text. The angel is always an impersonal being whose name is not necessary, since he is simply a messenger (the Hebrew word malach
” as does the Greek anggelos
) to whom God, in whom all power resides, has entrusted a specific mission (1 Chronicles 21:16, 27; Zechariah 1:12-17
). It is for this reason that the prophet Haggai, who conveyed God’s message to Israel, is also called “a messenger of the Lord
” (Haggai 1:13
). The Hebrew term applied to Haggai, malach ’Ado-nai
, is the same that is translated as “an angel of the Lord
” and points to his prophetic role as an intermediary.
Similarly, the priest is designated as “a messenger of the Lord of hosts
” (Malachi 2:7
). The angel who appears to Abraham does not swear by his own name but merely conveys God’s message: “‘By Myself I have sworn,’ says the Lord
” (Genesis 22:16
). God sends angels to act in His name, not in their own names. Therefore, to Jacob an angel says:
“Why is it that you ask my name?
” (Genesis 32:30
), and to Manoah an angel says: “Why is it that you ask my name, seeing it is hidden?
” (Judges 13:18
).1 There is no indication that these verses all refer to one specific angel. The angels that appeared to various biblical personalities were acting only as messengers bearing God’s word. That the words of a messenger of God may be attributed directly to God is evident from Isaiah 7:10
, which reads: “And the Lord spoke again to Ahaz
.” Ahaz received this message through Isaiah, but it is nevertheless reported as if God Himself spoke directly to him because a messenger represents the one who sends him. Therefore, an action of an angel may be credited directly to God, who gave him the message (Zechariah 3:1-8
In describing the beginning of Moses’ career as a prophet the Torah states: And an angel of the Lord appeared to him [Moses
] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the brush was not consumed. And Moses said: “I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
” And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said: “Moses, Moses
.” And he said: “Here am I
.” Then He said: “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground
.” And He said: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob
.” And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord said: “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; for I know their pains; and I have come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians.… Come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt
.” But Moses said to God: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
” And He said: “Certainly I will be with you; and this shall be the sign to you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain
.” Then Moses said to God: “Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and shall say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they shall say to me: ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?
” And God said to Moses: “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE
”; and He said: “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: I WILL BE has sent me to you.
And God also said to Moses: “Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you; this is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations. Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them: The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me.… And they shall hearken to your voice. And you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt, and you shall say to him: The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. And now let us go, we pray you, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God
.” (Exodus 3:2-8, 10-16, 18
© Gerald Sigal