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In various cases in the Bible, it seems that when the text states a person was visited by an "angel of the LORD", it actually means God. For example, in Exodus 3:

2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.

Yet it is soon followed that the speaker is YHWH ("I AM WHO I AM") (v14).

In a perhaps more confusing instance, in Revelation 22, the following occurs:

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them, I threw myself down to worship at the feet of the angel who was showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do this! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets, and with those who obey the words of this book. Worship God!”

But that is soon followed by a declaration that "I am the Alpha and the Omega" (v13). I am certain there are also other instances of this, though only those two spring to mind.

From reading other similar questions, it seems that the messenger (angel) comes with the full authority of the one who sends them (God). Still, why, particularly in Revelation, the change from "I am a fellow servant" followed by, also first-person, "I am the Alpha.." etc. Does the Hebrew wording shed any further light on this? Or would angels have been understood differently by biblical persons than by us today?

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  • The phrase "ἄγγελος κυρίου" ("angel of the Lord") does appear in the NT, mostly in Luke-Acts, and it's interesting to think about the relationship with the OT figure (always "the angel of the LORD"). But in Revelation it's just "angel", so it's hard for me to see how you're connecting this. – Susan Feb 12 '16 at 7:05
  • I would guess it's because of Revelation 22's lack of clarity on who is speaking when, between John's angelic guide and Jesus (whom many identify with God), or if the angel and Jesus are in fact the same individual (not a common interpretation I've seen, but it's out there), which would parallel the typical conflation of the angel of YHWH with YHWH himself. – user2910 Feb 12 '16 at 19:01
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I am sorry to break it to you ... there are no such beings as "angels", provided you read the Hebrew of the masoret Bible.

Let's refer to Genesis chap 2.

ויכל
השמים והארץ
וכל צבאם

Then He completes
the heavens and earth
and all their forces

ויכל אלהים
ביום השביעי
מלאכתו
אשר עשה
וישבת ביום השביעי
מכל
מלאכתו
אשר עשה

And then G'd completes
on the 7th day
His MLAKheT
which He did
and then rested on the 7th day
from all
His MLAKheT
which He did

Notice the word [מלאכת]MLAKheT (inadequately translated as "work" in English) is derived from the word [מלאך]MLAKh.

There are quite some hypotheses using the stale argument of "mistranscription" to say the word [מלאך]MLAKh was actually of some esoteric origins. Those arguments wondrously ignore what is right here in Genesis 2, the origin of [מלאך]MLAKh.

EDITed 2016/10/20 for accuracy

[מלאך]MLAKh is the causative derivative from the word [לאך]LAKh, of causing a task to be performed.

Jonah's shipmates asked him "What is your [מלאכת]MLAKheT?" What is your commission?

Which means, G'd in His creative activity, was performing not just work but a task, a commitment.

End of 2016/10/20 Edit

Unfortunately, the early Hellenic translators had chosen to translate the word [מלאך]MLAKh as angel/anggelos. Anggelos is unfortunately a pagan term in Greeko-Persian mythology for their messenger demigods.

The septuagint is a translation done in a period when hellenised Jews were too eager to illustrate Jewish scriptures to the street level of Greek philosophy and mythology, to prove that even Jewish literature are of the sophistry of Hellenism.

To translate [מלאך]MLAKh as angel/anggelos is an affront to the Almighty, accusing Him of performing the work of pagan demigods. Why did those hellenised Jews not choose a more accurate word in Greek, that would connote commission or fulfillment of task? But instead had chosen to evoke the romanticism of the graceful mythical creatures of Greeko-Persian mythologies.

Additionally the word found in this passage - [צבאם] TsVAM which is gerund of [צבא] TsVA, and [צבאות] TsVaOT the collective verbal-noun.

The phrase [יי צבאות] haShem TSvaOT is translated in English as "LORD of hosts" - but it actually means haShem of the forces. Correlating with modern science with the [צבאם] TsVAM in Genesis 2, that G'd completed the creation and the earth and all their forces and vectors.

Another fact is the phrase on the seventh day [ביום השביעי], in which is found a declension of the word [שבע]ShVA seven - [שבע]ShVA also means satisfaction/accomplishment sense of fulfillment. Having completed and satisfied and and hence imbuing the meaning of perfected.

Incidentally, the book of Malakhi [מלאכי] grammatically means "that which is fulfilling" - that is to say the Bible is complete and no more Bible after Malakhi.

The book of Malakhi has nothing to do with "angels" or messenger demigods. Malakhi is a summary of all the declaration of the prophetic books.

Therefore, if you read the masoret in the original Hebrew, there is no such thing as "angels". "Angel" is a concept concocted out of desire to celebrate hellenistic mythology by a group of hellenised Jews thro contaminating the translation of the Bible.

[מלאך]MLAKh should therefore mean a commissioned/agent to fulfill a task. If you consider the Bible in entirety, chronologically from Genesis to Malakhi, [מלאך]MLAKh (the agents mistranslated as "angels") were seldom being "messengers".

Though bible societies claim to base the KJV and NIV on the masoret, we know that when an exegetical crisis is encountered, they chose to defer to the septuagint. Therefore, regardless (and irregardless) of their claims, for all intents and purposes, the KJV and NIV are translated based on the septuagint.

I wish to further reinforce my explanation further with other misdeeds of the septuagint, hence inherited/propagated by the authors of the Greek documents/epistles as foundation for the books after Malakhi.

For example: - [שאל]ShaAL in Hebrew means ask/question. Naturally, then [שאול]ShE-OL being the passive verbal-noun means "unknown" or "mystery". However, hellenistic eagerness had the Bible translators opportunistically retrofitting the pagan concept of hades into the translation of the original Hebrew.

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  • Though I vigorously disagree with this answer, unless one is capable of taking issue w/ Blessed Geek's use of Hebrew, I see it as a valid answer-not the one I would choose, but an answer nonetheless. – Tau Feb 12 '16 at 0:31
  • The strength and potency of my argument is directly proportional to the number of ineffable downvotes I get for it. Ineffable = downvotes for offending their sacred theology but there is no way for them to defend their theology against mine. – Cynthia Avishegnath Feb 12 '16 at 4:02
  • I'm not going to argue Hebrew w/you, but there are too many references to "malak" that are separate from "YWH": most notably in Ex. 33:2-3, and Ex. 34:6. The point that "angel" and "God" have been misinterpreted I will concede; but that there are no angels....NO! God has introduced them in too many instances, and in too many references to overlook. – Tau Feb 13 '16 at 9:18
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"Angel of the LORD"

"Angel of the LORD" does not necessarily mean God, but of course it does here, through an indirect means. By way of explanation, Julian Morgenstern ('The Elohist Narrative in Exodus 3:1-15') says that the chapter has been recognised by all biblical scholars as composite. Although there is not unanimity on a verse by verse basis, Morgenstern says we may unhesitatingly assign verses 1, 4b, 6 and 9-15 to an anonymous source now known as the Elohist. The other verses in Exodus 3:1-15 are attributed to another anonymous source now known as the Yahwist. The Yahwist source recorded Judahite traditions, while the Elohist recorded the traditions of the northern kingdom of Israel.

We can then see that, to the Yahwist, it was an angel of the LORD that appeared in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), whereas in the version recorded by the Elohist, it was God himself (Exodus 4b). The two different accounts were merged into a single document during the late monarchy, after the Assyrian conquest of Israel.

Revelation

The Book of Revelation was written centuries later than Exodus and in Greek, so the Hebrew wording of Exodus does little to help us understand this often puzzling book. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and omega is the last letter in that alphabet. So, "I am the Alpha and the Omega" suggests that Jesus is first and last, or everything. The angel who speaks directly to John in Rev 22:8-9 is reading from the book in Rev 22:10c-20b and supposedly quoting the words of Jesus.

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  • FWIW, the Hebrew is always* "the angel of the LORD". Although other "angels" appear, "the angel of YHWH" is singular and definite. This gets blurry in the NT. (*"Always" is always dangerous....but Hebrew would require a different construction for "an angel of the LORD", and theologically I think the HB is consistent on this.) – Susan Feb 12 '16 at 7:19
  • In the Hebrew, linguistically and grammatically,, there is. no "angel" or "angels". NONE. – Cynthia Avishegnath Feb 12 '16 at 20:44
  • @BlessedGeek I entirely agree and have often said so. However, our concern here is not linguistics but interpretation. Exodus 3:2 isn't read and interpreted as messenger of the Lord but as angel of the Lord. I have not attempted to address the whole-of-Bible references to "angel of the Lord" because in my view that is too broad; I have looked at the apparent dichotomy of Ex 3:2 and 3:14. – Dick Harfield Feb 12 '16 at 23:34
  • The fundamental singleton of understanding and interpreting the Bible is to understand the grammar and syntax - without that root node, everything else is pretending to understand the Bible without actually wanting to understand the Bible. Not the grammar/syntax of the English/Greek/Latin which is pointless. If at any place they contradict the masoret - they no longer have legitimacy as being "the Bible". – Cynthia Avishegnath Feb 14 '16 at 4:08
  • @BlessedGeek Please join me in chat – Dick Harfield Feb 14 '16 at 4:41