NIV Exodus 3:1-5

Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God [Elohim]. The angel of the LORD [Malak-Yhvh] appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD [Yhvh] saw that he turned aside to look, God [Elohim] called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God [Elohim] of your father, the God [Elohim] of Abraham, the God [Elohim] of Isaac, and the God [Elohim] of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God [Elohim].

What are the differences among Elohim, Yhvh, and Malak-Yhvh? What are the nuances with these 3 labels? Is Malak-Yhvh Yhvh?

3 Answers 3


Gen 3:1-5 records the incident of the Burning Bush which has recognized for millennia as forever associating the various names of YHWH, Elohim, Angel of the LORD, etc. Such an association is well established elsewhere.

  • YHWH is God as per Ex 3:15, Deut 10:17, 6:15, 2 Chron 36:23, Isa 45:18, Jer 10:10, Josh 22:22, Ps 29:3, 1 Kings 18:39, etc, etc.
  • "The Angel of the LORD" frequently refers to YHWH Himself, 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, Judg 2:1-4, 6:11-23, 13:3-23, Isa 63:9, Dan 3:25, 28, Hos 12:4, 5, Zech 3:1-7, Mal 3:1, etc.
  • Similarly, "The Angel of God" also frequently referts to YHWH, 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.
  • Sometimes, YHWH is described simply as a "man" as in Gen 18:1, 2 and 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.

This is not to suggest that Jesus is an angel in the sense that He is less that God; far from it! However, the Greek and Hebrew word for “angel” simply means messenger and it is in this sense that Jesus is the messenger in the above passages.

  • In other places we see that the LORD sends the LORD Try to read Zechariah and Cyrus, respectively … Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 22:00
  • @MigueldeServet - I am not sure I understand your comment. Are you saying that "LORD" refers to Zechariah and Cyrus in Zech and Isa?
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 22:09
  • Read again, read better: there are ONLY the LORD and Zechariah in Zech 2:6-12; there are ONLY the LORD and Cyrus in Isaiah 48:11-16. Or do you think that the Jews who read cannot count? Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 2:52
  • @MigueldeServet - please do not resort to sarcasm - it does not become you. Read the text yourself.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 3:27
  • The sarcasm is in the eye of the beholder. I can read and count. Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 5:13

At the time, the common way to refer to God was Elohim. Moses explained in Exodus 6:3

I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty [El Shadday], but by My name, LORD [Yhvh], I did not reveal to them.

So YHvh was a new way to refer to God at the time.

Acts 7:30

After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.

  1. The definitions, and their respective differences, are adequately explained by the Strong's Lexicon for:

אֱלֹהִים (Strong's H430 - 'elohiym)
יְהֹוָה (Strong's H3068 - Yhvh)
מַלְאָךְ (Strong's H4397 - mal'ak) - see מַלְאַ֨ךְ יְהֹוָ֥ה

  1. The Malak-Yhvh is the "messenger" (more appropriately, "manifestation") of YHWH, which can take various forms, like the "burning bush" (Ex 3:2), the "pillar of cloud" or "pillar of fire" (Ex 13:21), even of a man (Gen 18:1,17).

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