Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. Exodus 23:20-21

Firstly, is the angel spoken of in this verse the one who led the Israelites with a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire through the wilderness? I am sure that it is, but, considering that the text does not explicitly say that it is, I should allow the possibility that it isn't.

The Bible says that God was the one who guided Israelites with the pillars of cloud and fire.

Exodus 13:21 KJV — And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

Exodus 14:24 KJV — And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

Assuming that Exodus 23:21 is speaking of the angel that was doing these same things, is the angel simply the representative of Yahweh, and so is called Yahweh in the text, or was Yahweh Himself the angel? What does it mean that His name was in him?

Thank you.

  • Angelic names (MIchael, Gabriel) usually end in -el, which is a divine name. Within context (verse 23), it refers to Joshua, the jeh- or yeh- being also a theonym.
    – Lucian
    Aug 22, 2019 at 0:22
  • Good question. +1. See, also, Genesis 24:7. The Lord God of heaven ... shall send his angel before thee. (Regarding the servant who sought a wife for Isaac.) And Exodus 14:19 And the angel of God which went before ... removed and went behind. And I Corinthians 10:4 ... the rock that followed them, was Christ.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 22, 2019 at 1:36
  • @Lucian What within the text indicates that it refers to Joshua?
    – CMK
    Aug 22, 2019 at 14:16
  • Verse 23, as I've already said. It was through Joshua (3:10, 12:7-8, 24:11) that God subdued the nations mentioned therein.
    – Lucian
    Aug 22, 2019 at 14:39
  • @Lucian But verse 23 only says that the angel would bring the Israelites to the Canaanite groups, and then God says that He will kill them.
    – CMK
    Aug 23, 2019 at 15:30

9 Answers 9


There are different speculations on ‘the Angel’ referred here in this passage. According to that argument it could be Yahweh, Jesus, Moses, Joshua or Michael the Archangel. However, in this verse, no matter who the messenger is Lords warns the people of Israel to take heed to the importance of the Message and its authority. It is not the postman but the content of the message he delivered and it’s authority is more important.
God’s name in him (the messenger) is like a signature that attest the authority of a document. A signature is the proof that shows the undersigned himself wrote the check or document. It authorizes the bearer to exercise the full power of the signatory to exercise the document. God wanted conveyed through His representative or messenger. The messengers are spoken His words exactly as if He is personally being heard! The messenger’s Voice carries the name of the Lord. Therefore, "be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.

  • Thanks. Your answer is what i thought to be true as well. I suppose, though, that what I really wanted to know, though, was whether or not the angel was God Himself or simply a representative of Him, but the title question did not reflect that.
    – CMK
    Aug 23, 2019 at 15:35
  • 1
    Dear CMK, Christian faith is build upon the revealed truth from God. The Bible did not say that the angel here is God. That means God did not want us to focus on the messenger rather pay attention to the message. All other effort to find out who the angel was will end up in mere speculations. If you speculate it was God himself or it was someone else there is nothing wrong in it and it make no difference. This is only my personal opinion. Take it or trash it.
    – Ben
    Aug 24, 2019 at 4:34

The phrase "My name is in him", to me, implies that this was no ordinary angel, but most likely, the pre-existent Christ. This could also tie in with I Cor 10:4, where we're told that the "rock" that followed the Israelites "was Christ". I Cor 10:4 is often cited as "proof" that the God of the Old Testament was the pre-existent Jesus, and not God the Father. But, by logic, it could only have been God the Father who told the Israelites, through Moses, that His angel would follow them and would not forgive their transgressions, if this "angel" was indeed Christ, and was the same "rock" mentioned in I Cor 10:4.

  • Yes, this angel was Jesus in his prehuman form. He was used to guide the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) God's name is “within him” in that Jesus is the principal one who upholds and sanctifies his Father’s name. +1 Dec 4, 2020 at 19:48

The Angel is sent by God, and "in him is His name"; this was so scandalous for Septuagint translators (in the sense that the nameless Angel who bears in him God's name can be regarded as equal to God, for "in" implies something intrinsic, not adventitious) that they mitigated this implication by translating "in him" not with the equivalent Greek ἒν αὐτῷ, but with ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν - "upon him", that more coveys notion of adventitiousness and not intrinsicallity.

Moreover, the passage also says "be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression", but to forgive or not to forgive is a prerogative of only God, but if someone in whom is God's name can Himself authoritatively forgive or not, then this cannot be just an angel, for no angel has this authority, but only Someone with the equal authority with God.

This was so scandalous for Rabbinic interpreters that they hazarded such an interpretation: "He will not forgive" means that "he will not forgive for the reason of not having authority of doing so, for this authority belongs to God only"; but, of course, this is a forced and torturous treatment of the Biblical text.

Moreover, the Exodus text clearly distinguishes that there is, first, God who, so to say, stays in place and, second, His Angel bearing His name, who goes before the nation of Israel in wilderness; and the inspired prophet David interprets this by calling the second, that is to say, this God-Name-Bearing Angel who goes before the Jewish nation in the wilderness, also as "God" θεός in Psalm 68 (67):8-9: "ὁ Θεός, ἐν τῷ ἐκπορεύεσθαί σε ἐνώπιον τοῦ λαοῦ σου, ἐν τῷ διαβαίνειν σε ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ. (διάψαλμα). 9 γῆ ἐσείσθη, καὶ γὰρ οἱ οὐρανοὶ ἔσταξαν ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ Σινᾶ, ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ Θεοῦ ᾿Ισραήλ." ("O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou wentest through the wilderness, the earth quaked, yea, the heavens dropped [water] at the presence of the God of Sina, at the presence of the God of Israel."

Christians, who interpreted this Angel with the authority of forgiving or not with the co-eternal Logos of God who has the same authority as God have a clear philological upper hand over Rabbis in interpreting this passage without the mentioned violence on the text, providing exegesis and not eisegesis.

  • The answer by Levan really blessed me 😭 The Angel was indeed Christ, I have always felt this and this makes it clearer to me. May 11, 2020 at 0:55
  • 1
    Another great answer!
    – Dottard
    Dec 4, 2020 at 19:34
  • @Dottard Thanks! I had this answer before, but having recently read the mentioned psalm, I understood that it was an inspired theological interpretation of the Exodus text by the psalmist, so I added this also. Dec 4, 2020 at 19:41

The focus of TANAKH [Torah, Neviim, and Ketubiim] is YaH'shuwah (Jesus Christ), Who will fulfill (Matthew 5:17-19)the original plan of Elohim YHWH to save human being who are keeping and obeying His Commandments. The sign of the Aleph Tav was eliminated from translation of the Hebrew Bible which should be meant the Father (YHWH) and the only begotten Son and the Spirit (Genesis 1:1-2; John 14:9-13). Therefore. "for My name is in Him". Exodus 23:21 is prophesied Yahushua (Yah'shua) in the New Testament. Further, YHWH is the FATHER (YHWH), the Son (YaH'shua) may refer to Proverbs 30:4 and the YaH'shua is referring to the Colossians 1:16. The Aleph Tav (Genesis 1:1) which was translated into English with Alpa Omega into the New Testament (Revelation 1::8, 11). Thanks


Will the unpardoning nature, could this not be the Third person of the Trinity - the Holy Spirit of God? Compare with what Jesus also said in Matthew

Mat 12:31-32 KJV 31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever *speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (emphasis added)

With this, we can speculate the Angel to be the Spirit of God


How about this thought. The Jews didn't impose a a 3 God person concept in the scriptures and so this was the One God who is Spirit taking the form of an Angel("of the LORD")... an Avatar of God. Later Jesus would say" I have come in my Father's name" He was both completely human and "all the fullness of the Godhead "dwells in him bodily. A different Avatar both human and Divine. Jesus is not in the Godhead, but rather the Godhead is in the man Jesus. CF Col 2:8;9 thus baptism was always "in the name of Jesus " fulfilling Matt 28:19


This is true, John 14:10 reiterates that Jesus and the Father are one and not to be divided. But on the angel question, Jewish extra biblical literature also talks about that particular angel mentioned above as the metatron, greek meaning archangel that is “ in the presence of God”. He also is a kind of scribe according to that same literature ( kabbalah) which jives with John the revealer’s vision of angels in that book Rev10:1. “-and he had a little scroll lying open in his hand”It is also a similar ID given by Gabriel to Zecariah in Luke 1, to rebuke Zechariah for his lack of faith. (“I stand in the presence of God”) I find it fascinating that some angels are so powerful, they light up the whole earth.Rev18:2 .so i have no problem believing that angels can do powerful, authoritative things.


You will not understand how I just found this. On page 231 of Joseph B Lumpkin's "3 Books of Enoch", in 3rd Enoch there is a typo, it says reference Exodus 22:21 "For my name is in him." It was brought up in a Tiktok that I misquoted, I did not; it was a typo. It should be Exodus 23:21 this means Metatron the angel Enoch became after he entered heaven. Enoch 7th from Adam as mentioned in Jude who was translated to heaven and is 1 of the 2 Witnesses with Elijah is the Angel watching over Israel in the desert.

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    – agarza
    Mar 29 at 19:50

In Jesus pre-exsistence he appeared to the prophets as the angel of Jehovah, having the authority to forgive sins. Coming to earth he wanted others to know that as the Son of Man (Christ) he would do this and that is why he is Lord of the Sabbath which is also called Christ's Millinieal Regin.

Peshitta Holy Bible Translated

Beware of him and listen to his voice; do not contend against him, lest he will not forgive your sins, because my Name is upon him.

He was such an Angel as could forgive sin, see ( Matthew 9:6 )

Jesus when translated means (Jehovah is Salvation) John 5:43 I have come in the name of my Father, but you do not receive me. If someone else came in his own name, you would receive that one.

Take Care. BroRando

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    Jul 6 at 13:12

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