The Angles of Jehovah (of the Lord)

(1) Enlightening Background Technicalities.

In the King James Version the term "angel of the Lord" is always used, whereas the American Standard Version always has it "angel of Jehovah " in the Old Testament, but "angel of the Lord" in the New Testament, which is the way the Greek text reads, following the LXX, which accommodated itself to the post-exile Hebrew custom (after 538 B.C.) of substituting adonai, lord, for the name of their God lest they fail to use it with acceptable reverence and thus "in vain," in violation of Exodus 20:7. The King James Version after its early editions accommodated itself, as most modern versions also do, to the Hebrew custom - except for Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2 26:4, and the following compounds: Jehovah-Jireh (Genesis 22:14, where used proleptically), Jehovah-Nissi (Exodus 17:15), and Jehovah-Shalom (Judges 6:24).

When Moses wanted to know God's name so that he could tell his Hebrew brethren in Egypt, God said he was I AM THAT I AM, and in shortened form he spoke of himself as I AM (Exodus 3:14). Then he said to tell the elders of Israel that Jehovah, the God of their fathers had appeared unto him. The difference is that God spoke of himself subjectively, in the first person (I AM), whereas Moses would speak of him objectively, in the third person (HE [WHO] IS = Jehovah - as rendered in the American Standard Version).

Many modern scholars, however, based upon a few early centuries A.D. references, prefer YAHWEH to JEHOVAH as an approximation to the Hebrew pronunciation. And the latter is indeed an artificial form, often attributed to Petrus Galatinus about 150 A.D. It is a combination of (a) the four consonants (YHWH) of the original consonantal Hebrew word of the Old Testament for the name of their God and (b) the vowel markings added to them in the Masoretic text of the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. - which text was designed to preserve the traditional pronunciation of the Hebrew words (which might otherwise have become lost with the passing of time). In the case of the vowel markings to go with YHWH, however, those of ADONIA are said to have been borrowed in order to preserve the memory also of that substitute word then being used by the Jews for the name of their God, not only in conversation but also when reading the scriptures.

It may also be noted that "Y" may also be transliterated "J" which is why the "J," in JEHOVAH - and also "I", as in ISAIAH, meaning YAH is helper, or helper is YAH in the Hebrew.

Likewise it may be noted that the Masoretic text for I AM is EHYEH. And a short form for YAHWEH is YAH (or JAH), which appears in the Old Testament 41 times - 19 times as a separate word (Exodus 15:2; 16:16; Psalm 77:11; 89:8; 94:7,12; 115:17,18; 118:5,14,17, 18,18;122:4; 130:3; Isaiah 12:2;26:4; 38:11,11) plus 22 times as HALLELU-JAH or HALLELU-YAH, rendered "Praise ye the Lord" (King James version) or "Praise ye Jehovah" American Standard Version) - all of the latter in Psalms: 104:35; 105:45; 106:1,18; 111:1; 112:1; 113:1,9; 115:18; 116:19; 117:2; 135:1,21; 146:1,10; 147:1,2; 148:1,14; 149:1,9; 150:1,6.

NOTE: In Psalm 115:18 both the above categories are represented. In some instances, both YAH (or JAH) and YAHWEH (of JEHOVAH) occur in the same passage; and in one instance (Isaiah 38:11) YAH (or JAH) is repeated, no doubt for emphasis. In the New Testament (Revelation 19:, HALLELUYAH IS TRANSLITERATED INTO Greek as hallelouia, and anglicized as Alleluia in the King Jams Version, but Hallelujah in the American Standard Version. The difference as to AL and Hal in anglicized form is the result of following different Greek manuscripts. If the a has what looks like an apostrophe over it with its tail turned to the right, to indicate what is called a rough breathing, it is the equivalent of ha. With tail turned left it is smooth breathing, with no "h" sound. Adequate transliteration of the Hebrew word requires the rough breathing in the Greek and the "h" in the English spelling.

With our basic text for this outline being the American Standard Version, we shall for the most part be using the expression "angel of Jehovah" rather than "of the Lord" except in the New Testament), and sometimes "angel(s) of God." which means the same thing, because they are angels of the true and living God, whose name is Jehovah.

Identifying "The Angel of Jehovah" or "of God"
While there are multitudes of angels of God, "the angel of Jehovah" or "of God" seems to be (a) distinct from the other angels, and (b) much of the time is equated with God himself, as if one of the members of the Godhead - seemingly the same one most if not all the time - and likely is the one called "the angel of his presence" (literally, "of his face") in Isaiah 63:9.

Furthermore, wherever the King James version has "the angel of the Lord" in the New Testament (Matthew 1:20; 2:13; 28:2; Like 2:9; Acts 5:19; 8:28; 12:7, 23; 27:23), the American Standard Version has "an angel of the: Lord" - there being no definite article in the Greek text either of these passages. As far, then, as the New Testament is concerned, "the angel of Jehovah" or "of God" in the Old Testament could well have been the member of the Godhead that later became incarnate as Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3,14) - which we believe will be evident when we return to the New Testament for additional light at the conclusion of this subsection.

Old Testament References:
(a) Genesis 16:7-14: "The angel of Jehovah" appeared to Hagar, the handmaid of Sarai, when she was fleeing from her mistress, and instructed her to return. "and she called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth."

(b) Genesis 18:1 - 19:28: Three "men" appeared to Abraham, one of whom is identified as "Jehovah" (18:13-33; 19:27) - a member of the Godhead; and the other two, called "angels" (19:1,15), went into Sodom and visited Abraham's nephew, Lot, delivering him and his family from the destruction of that city.

(c) Genesis 21:8-20: "and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven [on a later occasion], and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? For God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand; for I will make him a great nation" (vs. 17-18).

(d) Genesis 22:1-19: "And the angel of Jehovah called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Lay not thy hand on the lad, … for now I know thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me. … and the angel of Jehovah called Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee," etc. (vs.11-17).

(e) Genesis 24: 1-67: Abraham's language to his servant whom he was sending to the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia to obtain a wife for his son Isaac: "Jehovah, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house, and from the land of my nativity, and who spake unto me, and who sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he will send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife for my son from thence" (v.7; cf. v.40).

NOTE: The writer (Moses) is using a figure of speech called prolepsis, in which a thing is spoken of before its time, as in speaking of President Reagan when he was a boy, though he was not president when a boy. In like manner, Abraham at the time referred to in the narrative under consideration did not know God by the name Jehovah, but as God almighty (Heb. El Shadddai) (Exodus 6:2-3) - though the writer did know it. (See also Genesis 28:13-17, 21 for similar use of the name Jehovah in connection with occasion before it had been revealed.)

(f) Genesis 31: 3-16: "and Jehovah spake unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee … And the angel of God said unto me in a dream Jacob: … and he said [according to Jacob's report to his wives], … I am the God of Bethel [28:10-22], where thou anointedst a pillar, where thou vowedest a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy nativity" (vs.3-13).

(g) Genesis 48:15-16: "And he blessed Joseph, and said, the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who hath fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth" (vs.15-16).

This was Jacob ("Israel") blessing his son Joseph and his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh. The "angel" here is the "angel of God" in (f) above, and is equated with God himself, hence as being a member of the Godhead.

(h) Exodus 3:1-22: "And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto 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 bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when Jehovah saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I … Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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 upon God. And Jehovah said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people that are in Egypt," etc. (vs.2-7a).

NOTE: "The angel of Jehovah," "Jehovah," and "God," are equated in this passage.

(i) Exodus 13: 21-22: "And Jehovah went before them [the Israelites in their journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan] by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them by the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night: the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people."

NOTE: See Exodus 14:19-28, where 'the angel of God" seems to be the same as "Jehovah" in the foregoing.

(j) Exodus 23:20-23: "Behold, I [Jehovah] send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Take ye heed before him, and harken unto his voice; provoke him not; for he will not pardon you transgression: for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed hearken unto his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine angel shall go before thee," etc.

(This would seem to be the "presence" of Jehovah mentioned later in Exodus 33:14-15 [included in the last scripture cited in the second paragraph below], and the same as "the angel of his presence" referred to in Isaiah 62:9 - equivalent to "the angel of God" or "the angel of Jehovah" in other passages.)

NOTE: After a sinful episode at Mount Sinai on the way to Canaan (Exodus 32-33), God severely punishes Israel and threatened to consume them and make a great nation of Moses in their stead. Moses interceded and God agreed to let them live and go on to Canaan, promising to send "mine angel" before them and drive out the inhabitants of the land(Exodus 32:34) but not without first saying, "I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people; lest I consume thee in the way." (Exodus 33:3b)

Some think this was another angel - not "the angel of Jehovah" - not "the angel of his presence" - who had been with them thus far - but the substitute of a lesser angel. And that appears to be what is meant in 33:1-3. Nevertheless, God seems to have relented and gone with them after all, and 32:34 to have been what he said after relenting but reported before the explanation of what led up to it, as stated in 33:4-23.

"When the people heard these evil tidings [of 33:1-3], they mourned: and no man did put on him ornaments. And Jehovah said unto Moses, say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people; if I go up in the midst of thee for one moment, I shall consume thee; therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee." They mourned, and stripped themselves of their ornaments, never wearing them again, and God did not "consume" them. He also further reversed himself, promising Moses, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Moses replied, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." And he asked that God show him his glory as assurance that he and the people had found favor in his sight and would have his presence on their journey. In response, God had Moses to go into the cleft of a rock while his glory passed by, and then to see his back but not his face. (33:4-23.)

As a sequel, we note in the book of Deuteronomy that after Israel had arrived nearly 40 years later east of the Jordan River, Moses in his farewell address shortly before his death and Joshua's leading them westward across Jordan into Canaan, recounted various outstanding incidents that occurred along the way, showing how Jehovah had indeed been with them all the while notwithstanding their intransigence time after time after time and his punishing them in various ways. And in 1:32-33, Moses was recounting how he had said to them at Kadesh-Barnea, "Jehovah your God … went before you in the way, to seek you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in the cloud by day" - which was the very thing God had promised before the above mentioned sinful episode at Sinai (and verifies our analysis above of Exodus 32-33). But the adult generation had so rebelled at Kadesh, near the border of Canaan, that God punished them by postponing entrance into Canaan until 40 years after their leaving Egypt, when all the rebels would have died in the wilderness.

(k) While Israel was encamped in the plains of Moab east of the Jordan opposite Jericho, "the angel of Jehovah" was involved in preventing the greedy prophet Balaam from cursing the Israelites for the Moabite king Balak (Numbers 22:22-38). And in vs.35-38 "the angel of Jehovah" and "God" seem to be equated.

(l) After Israel was settled in Canaan, ":the angel of Jehovah" appeared from time to time to different persons for special purposes: (1) To Israel at Bochim, to rebuke them for not having driven out the inhabitants of Canaan to the extent commanded them - and identified himself as the one who had brought them out of Egypt (Judges 2:1-5);
(2) to Gideon in Ophrah, to appoint him to deliver Israel from the Midianite oppression - and is identified as Jehovah (Judges 6"11-14);
(3) to the wife of Manoah, and later to Manoah, to foretell their becoming the parents of Samson - and they came to realize that they had seen God (Judges 13:2-25);
(4) to David by the threshing floor of Araunah, after staying a pestilence brought on by David's numbering the people as for war without divine authorization, and where David confessed to him his sin (2 Samuel 24:15-17; cf. 1 Chronicles 21:18-27);
(5) to Elijah, in wilderness south of Beersheba while fleeing to Horeb from wicked Jezebel in Jezreel after slaying the false prophets she had been supporting (1 Kings 19:1-8); (6) to Elijah again later, regarding a mission to king Ahaziah in Samaria, who was seeking information of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1:1-16;
(7) to the camp of the Assryians just outside Jerusalem, to smite it and save the city from attack and destruction (2 Kings 19:35-36);
(8) it the prophet Zachariah, near the end of Judah's exile in Babylonia, to apprise him of it and make known pertinent information, as related in the first six chapters of the Book of Zachariah. He is called "the angel that talked with me" and "the angel of Jehovah" (the latter in 1:11, 12: 3:1, 5, 6).

NOTE: While (4) through (8) do not identify "the angel of Jehovah" any further as in prior references, there is nothing in their contexts to prohibit them from likewise referring to a member of the Godhead rather than a created angel sent by Jehovah. And the same is true in regard to the remaining three scriptures that mention "the angel of Jehovah" without reference to any specific occasion of service - namely, Psalm 34:7; 35:5,6 - but do have reference to their ministry in behalf of God's saints, as do the others.

New Testament References:
Speaking of Moses, Acts 7:30-32 states: "And when forty years were fulfilled, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame in the bush. …: and as he drew near to behold, there came a voice of the Lord, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob." And 7:38 says, "This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel that spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers" - described in the Pentateuch as "the angel of Jehovah" and identified as Jehovah, that is, as a member of the Godhead. But these verses in Acts identify said angel as the same one in all these instances.

Next we have 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, as follows: "For I would not, brethren have you to be ignorant, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto [Gr. into] Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat of the same spiritual food [manna]; and did all drink the same spiritual drink [water supplied from a rock at Horeb and at Kadeshbarnea]: for they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ."

Reference is made to Israel's experience in being delivered from Egypt and in their journeying through one wilderness after another on their way to the promised land of Canaan. Manna was "bread from heaven" (Exodus 16:4) and was miraculously supplied, nourishing not only their bodies but the spirits of the Israelites, so that it is referred to as "spiritual food." At Horeb Moses was commanded to "smite the rock, and there shall come forth water out of it, that the people may drink" (Exodus 17:6). And at Kadesh the situation was essentially the same, with Moses smiting the rock, and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle" (Numbers 20:1-11). Psalm 78, telling of Jehovah's "wondrous works" (v.4), recounted that, saying: "He clave rocks in the wilderness, and gave them to drink abundantly out of the depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, And caused waters to run down like rivers" (vs.15-16; cf. Isaiah 48:21). And this miraculous provision of water refreshed the spirits as well as the bodies of the people, so that it was indeed "spiritual drink" as well as literal water.

But the actual source of that drink was a Spirit Being, not the inanimate physical rock from which it flowed. That Being was "Christ," a "spiritual rock." AND "HE FOLLOWED THEM." That must mean he was the member of the Godhead who accompanied Israel from Egypt to Canaan, and still rendered miraculous service on various occasions in the land of Canaan also, as well as being the one who had appeared unto their earlier fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as narrated above from the outset. But when he "became flesh, and dwelt among us … as … the only begotten from the Father" (John 1:14), there were still angels of God that ministered on various occasions, but none called "the angel of the Lord" or "of God," which he, and seemingly he alone, had been called.

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