I’d like to suggest a possible alternative suggesting that “angels,” as we conceive them as spirit beings, is actually secondary; and that Bible characters in general, which obviously includes angels of the spirit kind, is the primary focus. In other words, I believe the author (s) of Hebrews meant “anybody in the OT that we Hebrews hold in high esteem” or “anybody bearing a message directly from YHWH”. This would include David, Samson, Elisha, along with Gabriel, Michael, the Angel of the Lord, and so on.
Why do I say this?
To answer the meaning of any particular passage, such as Heb 1:5-14, we need to make sure we fully understand the flow of thought out from which they came.
Heb 1:1-2 sets up a “first way” and a “second way” scenario, a dichotomy, which I believe penetrates the book as a thesis. The peak statement of the thesis is explicitly stated in Heb 10:9, “He does away with the first in order to establish the second.”
Hebrews opens up by describing the “first way”:
Formerly, in many-varied degrees and in many-varied ways, (in the OT Age), God, having spoken with, by, in, to our (fore-) fathers, “in the
(Heb 1:1, author’s translation and parenthetical statements).
“In the prophets” like other terms, “in the Law,” refer to the Bible in general, those specific areas or sometimes a general term. The author(s)’ particular usage here seems to be “all the OT” as they go on to grab verses and comparisons from all over the OT, including the life stories of these “Bible characters that people tend to esteem” in chapter 11.
Therefore, since we don’t really talk this way, a paraphrase is warranted, simply just to explain how all the OT is meant and to explain the thesis, which is supported by the author(s) regarding types and shadows as “the first way”; the “second way” being the substance = faith.
In the Old Testament times, God spoke to our Hebrew forefathers in the mode of Bible stories by exposing the nature of a “thing” and
communicating it to others through earthly means. But they did not
receive the underlying nature of that “thing.”
(Heb 1:1, author’s paraphrase).
This “first way” pictured a reality. The “second way” is the reality, which is Christ: Him in us, us in Him. To stress this reality, the Hebrew author(s) use a specific phrase in 1:2, which most translations insert an extra word into, however in my opinion, this addition obscures the force of the opening thesis statement. Allow me again to offer a translation of Heb 1:2 followed by a paraphrase:
has fittingly in these final-outcome days (of NT reality) been speaking “within the realm of Son” / “in Son” (mode), Whom He
established-as Heir of All Things and-also through Whom He
brought-forth (to make) these ages.
(Heb 1:2, author’s translation and parenthetical statements).
Now in New Testament times, in the days of the final outcome, God speaks to us in Son-mode by inwardly expressing the very nature that
was only pictured before.
(Heb 1:2, author’s paraphrase)
εν υιω = “en Huiō” = “in Son” is the reality of the “second way.” As we abide in Christ, we “enter today” in the reality such as in chapters 3-4 of the Promised Land pictured in the OT stories among other ideas. This is what I think the author(s) primarily meant.
For example, I think we are generally aware of how there are quite a few “first and second” scenarios in various OT Bible stories. The one I wish to focus on is the “first and second generation” leaving Egypt. Simply put, Moses led the first generation, but that generation could not enter under Moses’s leadership. This is the Mosaic Law. It’s way can only direct us to the need. As Paul essentially said in Gal 3:21, if the Law could give life, then there would have been no need of anything further. This takes us to the “second generation” as the further reality. Who leads that generation? Joshua does. The second generation entered the land by “sharing Joshua’s view”. The first generation rejected Joshua and Caleb’s view of how to enter.
I think we all know that Joshua is the same name as Jesus. “Jesus” is the English way of saying the Greek way of saying “Yeshua”, while “Joshua” is the English way bypassing Greek entirely. I believe this thing was so obvious to a Hebrew audience that all the author(s) needed to do was quote a passage from that point in Israel’s history that punctuated the great divide between this “first and second”. We find that quote from Deuteronomy in Heb 1:6.
Before I quote Heb 1:6, I’d like to point out that it was not common practice to quote vast swaths of Scripture to an audience quite familiar with the Scriptures. Writing materials were expensive and delivering a message also needed to take into account deliverability of the letter. Therefore, size was also important. Thus, it was standard practice to quote a key section of a passage, expecting the audience to fill in the rest of the context, sentence, or thought. The passage quoted from Deuteronomy explains who these messengers are if we simply keep reading. Although, like I said, this passage from a song would have been very familiar to any person nurtured by the Mosaic Law. Here is my translation and paraphrase of Heb 1:6:
And moreover when He brings in His (begotten) Firstborn (Son, Israel per Exodus 4:22) to (go) into the Habitable Land (of the “Promised
Land”), He says (by the Bible story song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:43
), “And let the messengers worship Him. (Be glad, O nations with
His people! And grow in strength in Him all, O sons of God! For the
blood of His sons, He shall avenge…and the Lord shall clear out the
land for His people.)”
(Heb 1:6, author’s translation and parenthetical statements).
And so when God again brings His Firstborn to the edge of the Promised Land, the land they were to inhabit, Moses taught them a song
in the “Second Law” of Deuteronomy 32, “And let God’s messengers
worship Him! Be glad, O nations with His people! And grow in strength
in Him all, O sons of God! For the blood of His sons, He shall
avenge…and the Lord shall clear out the land for His people.”
(Heb 1:6, author’s paraphrase)
I suppose the thought of Heb 1:6 could carry on as follows, “God’s true messengers are “in Son”. But we all know this was shown to us in Bible stories. They showed what it looked like to have the “in Son” reality, which was “sharing Joshua’s view,” but they didn’t actually get that underlying reality. And that is why God told Moses to teach them this song about how all God’s messengers worship Him, which we now know is in “Spirit and Truth.”
So in answer to the original question, I’m suggesting that perhaps the premise of the question should be broadened to include the idea of “figures from Hebrew history that a Hebrew person would be tempted to hold in high esteem over Jesus”, which of course, includes angels, but as among all others such as Solomon in Psalm 2 / 2Sam 7:14. … Moses over his household, and so on.
Thus, in Heb 1:6, the standard translation envisions Jesus being born on planet earth, which I can agree to as an interpretive idea, but when we look at the quote’s source, then we are faced with God’s perspective quite clearly stated in Exodus 4:22 as , “Israel, My Son, My Firstborn”. In other words, God sees all these people as “in Son”, just as the Greek says it in Heb 1:2.
As a Hebrew, picture in your mind what the Exodus event looked like from God’s heavenly perspective. “Out of Egypt, God called His Son”. Yes, it is Jesus, praise the Lord! And yet, let’s see what God saw from above. He saw a great multitude of people, a “corporate Son” if you will. I think this kind of picture captivated Hebrew Christians, especially Paul, who was essentially told in the vision in Acts 9, “persecuting Christians is persecuting Christ”. It is a corporate body reality, the church as the body of Christ.
Furthermore, since I mentioned Paul, I believe this heavenly view of the Exodus event was firmly in his mind when he penned 2Cor 4:10-12 about bearing in our midst the deadening process of Jesus so that live goes out to others. That is exactly what this corporate Son looked like from the heavenly perspective due to Joseph’s bones being carried in their midst. The dead bones of one man planted in Egypt like a seed, lost their shell (the sarcophagus), and were carried out within the midst of Israel, My Son, My Firstborn, leaving captivity behind. We all know who Jacob loved as “firstborn”, and yet we see the corporate expression of this seed coming up out of “the clay brick building mentality of Egyptian slavery” into a flourishing resurrection of a Son begotten. “Today I have begotten you”. Right? There is even a bloody doorway provided by the spotless lamb!
In any case, I’m suggesting here that the case for messengers is bigger and grander than just saying Jesus is higher than angelic beings, but that He far exceeds any Bible character that was charged with giving us a specific message from YHWH. In fact, Jesus is the EXACT Expresser of YHWH’s underlying reality (hypo-stasis). The context of messengers is bigger than just referring to angels. That is what I think the meaning of Heb 1:5-14 is and for the remainder of the book going on.