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Judges 2:1-5 (KJV):

And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?

3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.

5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.

If the angel of the LORD was speaking on behalf of the LORD, why did he choose to speak in the first person the whole time and never in the third person? Why didn't he say "the LORD says"? Or should we rather conclude that the angel of the LORD was, in fact, speaking of Himself?

5 Answers 5

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The angel presents himself to Gideon as that angel that took them out of Egypt.

EXODUS 23:21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him.

This angel had Gods name ‘in him’. He spoke, as if he were God. Many believe this angel was a pre-incarnation of Jesus. But that can only be mostly supported eisegetically. That aside, you need to understand how this is understood Hebraically. That is, if a representative of a higher authority is speaking, it is as if that Higher authority themselves is speaking - as they ‘have’, or rather’carry’ the full authority of that person.

This angel was not God, but yet had his name, authority, and could speak for God, so therefore could speak as God. Difficult for some to come to grips with, but no man has ever seen God directly.

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  • The verse you quoted is not Exodus 21:21, but 23:21. And according to Kiel & Delitzsch they said: "The name of Jehovah was in this angel (Exodus 23:21), that is to say, Jehovah revealed Himself in him; and hence he is called in Exodus 33:15-16, the face of Jehovah, because the essential nature of Jehovah was manifested in him. This angel was not a created spirit, therefore, but the manifestation of Jehovah Himself," This is also what I said in my post in this thread. There is no "eisegesis" as you claim. The Jews have a principle known as a "shaliach." A person representing a principal.
    – Mr. Bond
    Apr 12, 2021 at 17:50
  • @Mr Bond - First, thanks for highlighting the typo made for that verse. But also for your additional input. Interesting, and appreciated.
    – Dave
    Apr 12, 2021 at 18:19
  • Had his name “in him” where is that? Apr 12, 2021 at 19:11
  • @Nihil Sine Deo ??? I think I may be missing the point of your comment - but I got that (in him) from Exodus 23.
    – Dave
    Apr 12, 2021 at 19:42
  • No Dave, where is it in Judges. As for Exodus, Moses refused the angel WITHOUT the presence of God Ex33:15. Secondly you’re assuming God CANNOT be the angel ref Deu18:18,19 where it’s speaking of Jesus, who is both man, the Prophet and God isa 9:6 Apr 12, 2021 at 20:14
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At https://biblehub.com/judges/2-1.htm, 19 versions translate it as "the angel" and only 3 versions use "an angel". Interestingly, KJV has "an angel" and New KJV has "the Angel".

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

The angel of the Lord (not an angel). - The phrase is used nearly 60 times to designate the Angel of God's presence. ... In all cases where "the angel of the Lord" delivers a message, he does it as if God Himself were speaking, without the intervening words "Thus saith the Lord," which are used in the case of prophets.

Indeed, this angel, with authority, personally refers to himself 8 times in the passage. This seems to indicate that he is a person/angel of the Godhead.

Joshua had set up his base in Gilgal.

Joshua 4:19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20And there at Gilgal Joshua set up the twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan.

Jos 5:10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.

Jos 10:43 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.

Some years after the death of Joshua, Judges 2:1

The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you,

It's likely that the tabernacle camp was in Gilgal at that time and the angel came from there.

Should we rather conclude that the angel of the Lord was, in fact, speaking of himself?

I think so. I'd count this as yet another mystery in the plurality of Godhead.

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  • You said"It is difficult to justify that he is a created being." Can you justify that "the angel of the Lord" is the Creator if he is not a created being? Apr 10, 2021 at 16:24
  • Indeed, this angel, with authority, personally refers to himself 8 times in the passage.
    – Tony Chan
    Apr 10, 2021 at 17:21
  • Refers to himself as what? The Creator? Where is it written in the bible where the Creator is the angel of the LORD? Apr 10, 2021 at 18:21
  • Good point. I modified.
    – Tony Chan
    Apr 10, 2021 at 18:34
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    @AlexBalilo Mr Bond's response starting "I can justify ..." explains what he considers he can and cannot do and the limitation wrt your question. He is specifically saying that he can not (and/or will not) quote specific chapter and verse that says "I the Angel of the Lord am also known as ..." BUT he can show that the consistent interpretation of the passages that refer to The Angel of the Lord all make it logically clear that the term refers to the Godhead. One can argue that as TAOTL is sometimes descrobed in human form that it is Christ that is referred to. (Christ first seen in Genesis 1) Apr 12, 2021 at 5:28
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At Judges 2:1 it clearly states the angel of the Lord stated, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have "SWORN" to your fathers; and I said I will never break My covenant with you."

This takes place at Exodus 20:2 says, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."

This is also spoken of at Exodus 6:1-8. I will just touch on the main points. At vs2, "God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the Lord; vs3, and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty, but My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them."

At Genesis 17:1 the Lord God appeared (physically) to Abraham. "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless, vs2, And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly."

Going back to Genesis 16:7 is when the angel of the Lord first appears as the angel of the Lord. "Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur."

At vs10, the angel of the Lord said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count." At vs 13 Hagar says, "The she called the name of the Lord who appeared to her, "Thou art a God who sees," for she said, Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?"

If the angel of the Lord is just that, an actual I am not aware of angels called to multiple descendants anywhere in the Bible. I maintain that the angel of the Lord who multiplied Hagar's descendants is the same being who multiplied Abrahams descendants.

Also notice at Judges 2:1 it was specifically the angel of the Lord who swore to the fathers and would never break My covenant, speaking in the first person. At Genesis 22 notice something amazing.

Genesis 22 deals with Abraham sacrificing his first born son Isaac to the Lord God. Genesis 22:10, "And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. Vs11, But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am,"

Vs12, And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothin to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." (Notice the angel of the Lord is speaking in the third person). God often speaks in the third person. A good example is at Job 1:8, "And the Lord said to Satan. "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil."

Back to Genesis 22 verse 15, "Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven. vs16, And said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, Vs17, 'Indeed, I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of your enemies." Vs18, "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed MY VOICE." Who's voice, who was doing the speaking out of heaven?

And, if the angel of the Lord is just that, an actual angel why does God allow him to call out of heaven two times when the Lord God Himself has called out from heaven on various occasions?

Now, here is why I know the angle of the Lord is not an actual angel but the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Hebrews 6:13-14, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could not swear by no one greater, HEW SWORE BY HIMSELF, vs14, "saying, I will bless you, and I will surely multiply you."

Again, the angel of the Lord cannot be an actual angel, angels cannot swear oaths on behalf of God Himself. I'm not saying this, the Bible is.

God the Father has no separate manifestation from the Son. the Son is the ONLY manifestation and revelation of the Father. What is known of the Father is REVEALED through the Son.

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The occurrence of "The Angel of the LORD" in the OT is quite often the LORD Himself, but not always. The standard commentaries are undecided but most (Ellicott, Barnes, Cambridge, MacLaren, Pulpit, etc) equate this angel with one of:

  • the "angel of the presence", Isa 63:9, Luke 1:19, which specifically refer to Gabriel. However, All angels stand in the presence of God as per Luke 15:10, Rev 14:10, etc..
  • the "angel of the covenant" only occurs in Mal 3:1 which these same commentaries (correctly) call the pre-incarnate Jesus
  • the "captain of the heavenly host" in Josh 5:13-15. Now, the fact that this The Commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” (V15) implies that it was also the pre-incarnate Jesus.

The fact that the angel in Josh 2:1-5 speaks in the first person as the LORD again suggests that this is another epiphany of the pre-incarnate Jesus as in many other places,. See appendix below.

APPENDIX - Angel of the LORD

The following passages make it clear that the “Angel of the LORD” is almost always, the LORD (Jehovah) Himself, probably Jesus in particular. Gen 16:7-13, 22:11-17, 32:24-30, 48:16, Ex 3:2-6, 32:34, Num 22:22-35, Josh 5:13-15, 6:11-23, 13:3-23, Isa 63:9, Dan 3:25, 28, Hos 12:4, 5, Zech 3:1-7

A closely related phrase, “Angel of God” who is clearly God as in Gen 6:13, 8:15, 9:8, 17, 15:13, 17:3, 4, 21:12, 16-21, 35:1, 10, Ex 4:3-8, 6:2, 23:20, 21, Deut 1:6, 1 Kings 12:22, etc. See also Acts 10:3, 4, Gal 4:14.

In Isa 63:9, “the Angel of His [LORD’s] presence saved them”, and is almost certainly a reference to the same being. The same is true of Ex 23:20, 21, Josh 5:13-15.

In view of the clear statements in John 1:18, 5:37, 6:46, 1 John 4:12 that no one has seen God the Father, and the numerous cases listed above of people seeing the LORD and the Angel of the LORD, etc, it appears that these epiphanies were of the pre-incarnate Jesus.

In other places we see that the LORD sends the LORD:

  • Zech 2:6-12 – the LORD (= YHWH) claims three times that He has been sent by the LORD.
  • Isa 48:11-16 – again, the LORD has been sent by the LORD.

Thus, unsurprisingly, Jesus is the messenger to the human race and underlines the importance that the Godhead places upon such messages.

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  • Dottard, what do you think of Dave's answer? He holds the opposite view and people seem to agree with it more. Apr 11, 2021 at 18:19
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator - Dave's theology is quite different from mine and he is welcome to to his opinion. The only comment I will make about his view here is that a person speaking in the first person on behalf of the the LORD only occurs in Scripture when they actually say so. He should provide evidence for that view which he has not.
    – Dottard
    Apr 11, 2021 at 21:17
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There are a few things to consider here. First, the opinion that is the most popular is not always correct. Was it not popular opinion to crucify Jesus? Surely there just was no way that that deceiver could be the Messiah, right? But in reality, He was known as Faithful and True. Also, as already pointed out, the point-of-view of one's speech is not a good indicator of who can be God. In fact, there were times where Jesus said some things that seemed to separate Him from God although that was who He was.

Next, a common quote from Jesus and John is that no man has seen God. But we have to remember that God often speaks in absolute terms. An example would be doing work on the Sabbath. But there may have had to be some kind of work done, as exemplified by Jesus when He asked the Pharisees if they would lift an ox out of a pit or loosen the donkey from the stall to give it water on the Sabbath (which they did and that was fine, but that is not to say that they were good role models, though). And how would we reconcile Exodus 24:10, which explicitly states that the nobles saw the God of Israel and He chose not to lay His hands on them? Do you suppose that also was just an angel with great authority? Or what about Isaiah 6:5, when Isaiah proclaims that he has seen the King? Or Matthew 28:2, when the Angel rolls away Jesus' reproach and proceeds to sit on His throne made of stone(See Joshua 5:9)? This goes on and on.

Finally, it is important to study the Bible by comparing scripture with scripture. That is not to say that understanding Hebrew culture will not help at all, but it will only take you so far in comprehending the Bible as a whole.

To finally answer the question asked: The Angel was indeed talking about Himself. He chose to speak in the first person because He wanted to and could. Remember, the only angel to speak from Heaven is the Angel of the Lord (Abraham and Hagar). That is something only God does, and yet He spoke in the third person.

Here is a book for further study on the matter: I Have Now Come: The Angel of the Lord

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