KJV translates the title “ἄγγελος κυρίου“ from LXX as a definitive title “the angel of the Lord”, although the Hebrew text excludes a definitive “Ha-” הַ for this מַלְאַ֣ךְ Mal’ak.

[2 Kings 19:35, KJV]

35 And it came to pass that night, that [the]-angel [of] the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”

[2 Melakim מְלָכִים “Kings” 19:35, MT]

And it came to pass on that night that [an]-angel [of] YHVH went out and slew one hundred eighty-five thousand of the camp of Assyria. And they arose in the morning, and behold they were all dead corpses.” ( וַיְהִי֘ בַּלַּ֣יְלָה הַהוּא֒ וַיֵּצֵ֣א | מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֗ה וַיַּךְ֙ בְּמַחֲנֵ֣ה אַשּׁ֔וּר מֵאָ֛ה שְׁמוֹנִ֥ים וַחֲמִשָּׁ֖ה אָ֑לֶף וַיַּשְׁכִּ֣ימוּ בַבֹּ֔קֶר וְהִנֵּ֥ה כֻלָּ֖ם פְּגָרִ֥ים מֵתִֽים )

Was Mal’ak of YHVH מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֗ה definitive in [2 Kings 19:35], “an angel” (MT) or “the angel” (KJV)?

  • Did KJV add “the” definitive, or did Tanakh remove “Ha-” הַ definitive?
  • Your last line should be rephrased as Why did the KJV translators prefer the definite over the indefinite article ? As it currently stands, it seems to suggest that the one asking it is unaware that an expression cannot always be (meaningfully or correctly) translated word for word from one language into another.
    – Lucian
    Aug 15, 2021 at 14:13
  • It is grammatially indetermined as the construct noun never takes the article, the article is applied to the absolute noun, but YHWH is not allowed to be written with any articles. Thus you must infer from theological considerations whether "the" or "an" is appropriate. This is one of several such indeterminacies in all languages, including Hebrew.
    – Robert
    Aug 15, 2021 at 15:20

3 Answers 3


In Hebrew מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהוָ֗ה angel is construct, and construct depends on the absolute noun it connects to for the article. But, YHWH doesn't take the article. However, you wouldn't say a LORD. So, the angel of the LORD is conceivable.

(i) A noun in the postconstructus state can be found with or without the article הַ and is accordingly definite or indefinite.

(ii) A noun in the status constructus never takes the article הַ. The definiteness of the postconstructus also applies to the status constructus (with certain exceptions, especially in poetry). Where the definiteness of the elements does differ, a construction with the preposition לְ is used, e.g.

מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד a psalm of David

Van der Merwe, C., Naudé, J., Kroeze, J., Van der Merwe, C., Naudé, J., & Kroeze, J. (1999). A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar (electronic ed., p. 194). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

the article cannot be prefixed to a proper name, nor to a noun followed by the genitive, nor can a proper name be used in the construct state. -- Gesenius, F. W. (1910). Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar. (E. Kautzsch & S. A. E. Cowley, Eds.) (2d English ed., p. 401). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Such names, therefore, as יהוה, דָּוִד, יַֽעֲקֹב, כְּנַ֫עַן, סְדֹם do not admit of the article, -- Gesenius, F. W. (1910). Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar. (E. Kautzsch & S. A. E. Cowley, Eds.) (2d English ed., p. 402). Oxford: Clarendon Press.


I found that Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary covers it nicely here: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kdo/2-kings-19.html

They confirm that this is "The" angel of the Lord by providing Exodus 12:23, 12:12, 12:13. They also gave Isaiah 37:36. I also read 2 Chronicles 32:21, "And the Lord sent "an" angel who destroyed every mighty warrior, commander and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned in shame to his own land. And when he had entered the temple of his god, some of his own children killed him there with the sword."

I went and found out why "an" angel of the Lord was used and the following is what Keil & Delitzsch stated;

"2 Chronicles 32:21

The deliverance: cf. 2 Kings 19:35.; Isaiah 37:36. The number of Assyrians smitten by the angel of the Lord is not stated, as it was not of importance, the main fact being that the whole Assyrian host was annihilated, so that Sennacherib had to return with disgrace into his own land. This is what is signified by the rhetorical phrase: The angel of Jahve destroyed all the valiant warriors, and the leaders and princes of the king of Assyria, and he returned with shame of face (cf. Ezra 9:7; Psalms 44:16) to his land, where his sons slew him in the temple. In regard to the facts, see on 2 Kings 19:37 and Isaiah 37:38. The Keth. מיציאו is an orthographical error for מיציאי , a contraction of מן and יציאי from יציא , a passive formation with intransitive signification: some of those who went forth from his own bowels, i.e., some of his sons; cf. the similar formation miyliydeey, 1 Chronicles 20:4."

They still confirm it was "the" angel of the Lord that did the "smiting." I base this on what happened to Stephen at Acts 7. Stephen (before his death) is ripping the Jews for what they did to Jesus.

Stephen says at Acts 7:30, "And after forty years had passed "AN" angel appeared to him/Moses in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning throne bush."

At verse 38 Stephen says, "This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with "the" angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you." This is definitely "the" angle of the Lord, (the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ) at Exodus 3 and at many other places in the Old Testament functioning as a mediator for the early Fathers and the nation of Israel.

There is a way of determining/grammatically if "a/an" angel of the Lord appeared or if "the" angel of the Lord appeared. The chief grammatical function of "an" (or "a") is to connote a thing NOT previously noted or recognized, while "the" connotes a thing previously noted or recognized.

For example, "the" angel of the Lord first appears as the angel of the Lord at Genesis 16:7. Notice what he says and does. He appears many times in the Old Testament. "An/a" angel of the Lord appears in the New Testament at Matthew 2:13, Matthew 28:2, Acts 5:19, Acts 8:26, Acts 12:7, 12:11 and at other places. As a side note, "the" angel of the Lord "NEVER" appears in the New Testament.

  • "There is a way of determining/grammatically if "a/an" angel of the Lord appeared or if "the" angel of the Lord appeared." -- This is absolutely false. Please see my comment to question or consult any Hebrew grammar. You can grammatically tell if there an "an" angel of Elohim, but never "an" angel of YHWH.
    – Robert
    Aug 15, 2021 at 22:46
  • @Robert The point I am making is by definition there is a difference between the words, "an/a" and "the" as it relates to "an/a" angel of the Lord as opposed to "the" angel of the Lord. There is only one "The" angel of the Lord who identifies with God Himself and is God Himself. Please answer this question? The angel of the Lord who multiplied Hagar's descendants at Genesis 16:9 the same being who multiplied Abram's descendants at Genesis 17:1-2? Both are referred to "Jehovah" (3068) Genesis 17:1, "I am God (430) Almighty; Walk before Me. Vs2, And I will multiply you exceedingly."
    – Mr. Bond
    Aug 16, 2021 at 0:01
  • "The point I am making is by definition there is a difference between the words, "an/a" and "the" as it relates to "an/a" angel of the Lord as opposed to "the" angel of the Lord." -- Right and this is the part that's false. There is no difference in Hebrew.
    – Robert
    Aug 16, 2021 at 0:07
  • @Robert If there is no difference then how do you determine which angel is which doing the action? Is it the context? I'm trying to understand this from you point of view. And btw, can you please answer my question from Genesis 16:10 and Genesis 17:1-2.
    – Mr. Bond
    Aug 16, 2021 at 0:19
  • Yes, like many other grammatical constructions which are ambiguous, you need to look to the overall context, which in this case makes it a theological question. There are many such grammatical ambiguities in Hebrew (e.g. often you can't tell whether a 'he' is interrogative or an article, or whether something is in weqatal form or just qatal with an "and" in front). All languages have ambiguities like this, and this is an example.
    – Robert
    Aug 16, 2021 at 0:30

Darby Bible Translation:

And it came to pass that night, that an angel of Jehovah went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty-five thousand. And when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead bodies.

Even though most translations use "the angel", neither the original MT nor LXX manuscript has a definite article with it. Pulpit explains:

That the angel of the Lord went out; or, an angel (ἄγγελος Κυρίου, LXX.). We cannot say, with Bahr, that it was "the same one who smote the firstborn in Egypt, and inflicted the pestilence after the census under David." Revelation does not tell us that there is definitely one destroying angel. "The angel of death" is a rabbinical invention. It accords rather with the analogy of God's dealings that he should use at one time the services of one minister, at another time those of another.

It was popularly believed that a single particular angel of the Lord was responsible for all these acts. However, from the texts alone, such a conclusion is not 100% warranted.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.