1

The Identity of the ¬·¬◊· ¬×¬: in the Book of Judges:
A Model for the Usage of this Phrase Elsewhere
1
by René A. Lopez
Introduction
One of the most debated issues today surrounding Christology centers on how
Jesus Christ is to be regarded in relation to the Old Testament (OT) phrase, the Angel of
the LORD.
2
Before and after Christ’s resurrection, He set a precedence and “sanctioned
the hermeneutics of using the OT as a source of information about himself and his re-
demptive work (John 5:39; Luke 24:27).”
3
Many OT persons, cultic practices, holy ob-
jects and prophecies, foreshadowed in typological form the coming of Christ.
From a New Testament (NT) perspective, today, one can appreciate many OT
passages that were perhaps ambiguous in the past. However, when it comes to reinter-
preting OT passages in the light of NT passages, such as the ones including “the angel of
the LORD” (NIV, NASB, RSV),
4
care must be taken not to fall prey to anachronistic
interpretation.
5
It is one thing to allow Christ to clarify OT ambiguous passages, or to
allow clear NT antitypes to fulfill their OT types. Yet, as William Graham MacDonald
puts it: “It is another question entirely, however, whether, under the old covenant with
Israel, God chose to actually reveal himself in Christ there and then by multiple appear-
ances as a human being under the form and label of an angel.”
6
Numerous interpretations have been presented including a visible manifesta-
tion of God personally, a preincarnate appearance of Christ, or a messenger of God’s
heavenly assembly.
7
No wonder James C. Moyer admits, “Each interpretation has diffi-

1
This writer is indebted to Robert B. Chisholm, Jr. for his suggestions that led to this
research.
2
Throughout this paper ¬·¬◊· will be translated as LORD (outside of citations) to distinguish
the OT term from NT term “Lord” applied to Jesus Christ.
3
William Graham MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” in Current Issues
in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation: Studies in Honor of Merrill C. Tenney Presented by His Former
Students, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1975), 324.
4
The NKJV Bible translation will be used unless otherwise noted.
5
For instance did Manoah and wife really “know” their son’s “birth was announced by God’s
preincarnate Son, the Angel of Yahweh,” as Donald K. Campbell, Judges: Leaders in Crisis Times (Wheat-
on, IL: Victor Books, 1989), 116, claims?
6
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 34. Italics are original.
7
Along with James C. Moyer, David M. Howard, Joshua, The New American Commentary:
An Exegetical Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 5 (Nashville: Broad-
man & Holman Publishers, 1998), 159, and J. M. Wilson, “Angel,” in International Standard Bible Ency-
clopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, vol. 1. 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1915;
reprint, 1979), 125, also acknowledge these three common views.
2
culties,” and hence “there is no consensus”
8
among scholars. Regardless of the existent
disparity among scholars, this paper will present preliminary issues along with the two
major views and conclude with a modest proposal.
Preliminary Issues
In order to understand and thus determine the meaning of the phrase ¬×¬:
¬·¬◊· various issues need clarification: (1) the meaning of ¬×¬:, (2) grammatical rela-
tionship of ¬·¬◊· to ¬×¬: and (3) thesis of the paper.
Meaning of JKAaVlAm
The lexical definition of the term ¬×¬: (appearing 215 times in the Masoretic
Text)
9
basically means “messenger” or “angel,”
10
and it stems from the Ugaritic (a
cognate Semitic language of Hebrew) verbal root form l’k meaning: “to depute, minister,
send a messenger.”
11
Ranges of duties performed by such a messenger were “1) to carry a
message, 2) to perform some other specific commission, and 3) to represent more or less
officially the one sending him.”
12
Messengers could either be human
13
or supernatural (as

8
James C. Moyer, “Theophany,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), 1087.
9
James A. Borland, Christ in the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), 36, docu-
ments the term as occurring 214 times in the OT and says: “Nearly 50 percent of these occurrences clearly
have reference in their context to human messengers who bore the messages of ordinary men . . . . The re-
maining Old Testament usages of ‘messenger’ are divided between references to the Messenger of Jehovah
(approximately 33 percent) and references to finite, created messengers, commonly called angels (about 17
percent).
10
Francis Brown, S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the
Old Testament with an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906; reprint,
A Hebrew and English Lexicon with an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic. Peabody, MA: Hend-
rickson, 1979), 521. BDB also adds a third category called: “the theophanic angel.” See also Stephen F.
Noll, “¬×¬:,” in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, ed. Willem A.
VanGemeren, vol. 2. 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 941, and Gerhard von
Rad, Old Testament Theology: The Theology of Israel's Historical Traditions, trans. D. M. G. Stalker, The
Old Testament Library, ed. J. L. Mays, C. A. Newsom, and D. L. Petersen, vol. 1 (Munich: Chr. Kaiser
Verlag, 1957; reprint, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 285.
11
Heinz Joseph Fabry, “¬×¬:,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G. Joha-
nnes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz Joseph Fabry, trans. Douglas W. Stott, vol. 8. 14 vols.
(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1997), 309. See also Ludwig Koëhler and Walter Baumgartner, The He-
brew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, trans. M. E. J. Richardson, rev by Walter Baumgartner
and Johann Jakob Stamm ed., ed. M. E. J. Richardson, vol. 2 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), 585-86.
12
Andrew Bowling, “¬×¬:,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird
Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, vol. 1. 2 vols. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 464. For
more details on the messengers responsibilities see Fabry, “¬×¬:,” 308.
3
an angel).
14
However, something very important must be kept in mind when discussing
the term angel or messenger: “It was primarily a functional (as opposed to an ontological)
description and, thus, could refer to messengers who were human, angelic, or divine (the
best known of the latter being Hermes, ‘the messenger god’).”
15
Grammatical Relationship of hÎwh◊y to JKAaVlAm
A definite angel. Both nouns ¬·¬◊· and ¬×¬: have an important grammatical
relationship to each other. If the grammatical construction of both of these nouns points
to a definite angel, then this will dispel the argument made by some that say the angel of
the LORD is only one of many angels sent by the Lord.
16
In Hebrew grammar, the genitive (a non-existent case in Hebrew) function is
represented via the construct relationship
17
of “joining together of two (occasionally
three, but rarely four) nouns with a sentence”
18
and by “inserting the English preposition
‘of’ between the words.”
19
John M. Baze Jr. explains pertinent details about the construct
state: “In a construct chain of two words, the first noun is classified as in the construct
state [e.g., ¬×¬:] and the last noun in the absolute state [e.g., ¬·¬◊·].”
20
Since the
construct noun cannot take a definite article, the absolute noun in the construct relation-
ship has to be what determines “the definiteness of the phrase”
21
(i.e. the Angel of the
LORD instead of an Angel of the Lord). There are three different ways an absolute noun
can determine the definiteness of the phrase: (1) a definite article prefixed to the noun, (2)
a pronominal suffix, or (3) a proper name.
22
Thus, since the proper name ¬·¬◊· appears in
this construct to ¬×¬:, Baze assesses: “[T]his construct relationship would substantiate

13
For example, prophets are mentioned as messengers in Hag 1:13; Isa 44:26; 2 Chr 36:15, or
priest in Mal 2:7 and Eccl 5:5 (Eng 5:6), and ordinary messengers appear in Gen 32:2 1 Sam 6:21; 1 Kgs
19:2; Num 20:14; 22:5; Judg 7:24.
14
See “The Thesis of the Paper” section for passages showing angelic messengers.
15
Günther Juncker, “Christ as Angel: The Reclamation of a Primitive Title,” Trinity Journal
15 (Fall 1994): 224. See also Borland, Christ in the OT, 36.
16
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 330, argues this point that will be
discussed next.
17
John M. Baze, Jr., “The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament–Part 1,” Conservative The-
ological Journal 3 (December 1997): 271.
18
Page H. Kelley, Biblical Hebrew (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1992), 58.
19
Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the OT–Part 1,” 271.
20
Ibid., 272. The insertion of ¬×¬: and ¬·¬◊· are not original but are inserted for clarity.
21
Bruce K. Waltke and M. O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (Winona Lake, IN:
Eisenbrauns, 1990), 157.
22
Ibid.
4
that the only possible literal translation of mal}ak⋲ YHWH is ‘the Angel of the Lord’ while
eliminating the indefinite translation, ‘an angel of the Lord.’”
23
An indefinite angel. Though MacDonald agrees on the one hand that “every
proper noun is determinate per se,” he differs on the other: “This would in itself authorize
us to translate ‘the angel of [the] Yahweh’ for the anarthrously literal, ‘angel of Yahweh.’
But the inclusion of the article before angel is by no means necessary to translation. ‘In a
few instances,’ wrote grammarian Gesenius, ‘the nomen regens appears; . . . it is often so
before a proper name as in . . . a feast of the Lord . . . an abomination unto the Lord . . . a
virgin of Israel . . . a man of Benjamin,’ etc.
24
One may therefore translate m-Y correctly
as ‘an angel of the Lord’ or ‘an angel of Yahweh,’ and m-E as ‘an angel of God.’”
25
The evidence seems to substantiate MacDonald’s point by looking at the Sep-
tuagint (LXX) translation. The LXX translates a‡ggeloß kuri÷ou for the Hebrew phrase
¬·¬◊· ¬×¬: without an article twenty-four times
26
and thirty-four times with it
27
in differ-
ent case forms. Even Baze, who argues for the previous view, admits “the Hebrew con-
struct relationship, ‘the Angel of the Lord’, may be [translated by] the anarthrous phrase
angelos kuriou.”
28
Even in those references in the LXX that have the article (oJ a‡ggeloß
kuri÷ou) in the book of Judges (and in most of the other places in the OT) it is translated
thus to indicate the first previous anarthrous reference mentioned in context.
29
MacDon-
ald also interprets it this way: “Of course, the grammatical rule of ‘second mention’
would always make it proper on the second use to translate, ‘the angel of Yahweh.’ The
LXX does this for angelos Kyrious (the linguistic equivalent of m-Y) in Judg 2:4, follow-
ing the anarthrous use in Judg 2:1.”
30
Those who make much of the of the definiteness of

23
Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the OT–Part 1,” 272.
24
E. Kautzsch and A. E. Cowley, Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, 2 ed. (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1976), 412.
25
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 330.
26
Gen 16:7; 22:11, 15; Exod 3:2; Judg 2:1; 6:11, 12, 22; 13:3, 16, 21; 2 Kgs 1:3, 15; 19:35; 1
Chr 21:12, 18, 30; Pss 33:8; 34:5, 6 [LXX numbering]; Isa 37:36; Hag 1:13; Zech 3:1; 12:8; Mal 2:7.
27
Gen 16: 9, 10, 11; Num 22:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32, 34, 35; Judg 2:4; 5:23; 6:21 [2x],
22; 13: 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21; 2 Sam 24:16; 1 Kgs 19:7; 1 Chr 21:15, 16; Hag 1:13; Zech 1:11, 12; 3:5,
6.
28
John M. Baze, Jr., “The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament–Part 2,” Conservative
Theological Journal 4 (March 1998): 66.
29
See Judg 2:1 (anarthrous) followed by 2:4 (arthrous), 6:11-12 (anarthrous) followed by 6:21
[2x] (arthrous), 6:22 (first mentioned anarthrous) followed by the second reference within the same verse
(arthrous), 13:3 (anarthrous) followed by 13:13, 15, 16 (arthrous), 13:16 (anarthrous) followed by 13:17,
18, 20, 21 (arthrous), concluding with an anarthrous mention that may imply Manoah understood that it
was “an angel of the LORD” that appeared not just a human messenger. The only time the phrase oJ a‡gg-
eloß kuri÷ou appears with an article without any preceding anarthrous phrase it can still be argued to be
pointing to first anarthrous phrase mentioned in the book. Hence it refers back to that angel of the LORD.
30
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 330. He goes on to say: “Justifica-
tion for including the article might also be theological as is done in the RSV for all instances except one (1
5
this angel from a purely grammatical argument run into a cul-de-sac when surveying this
evidence, and especially in Haggai 1:13 where oJ a‡ggeloß kuri÷ou refers to the prophet
Haggai. Hence even Baze after saying, “Technically, a precise grammatical interpretation
of the Hebrew construct relationship, ‘the Angel of the Lord’, should include a definite
article in the translation,” must conclude: “So, it would be difficult to determine conclu-
sively that the Alexandrian Jewish translators understood a distinction that this ‘Angel’
had a unique identity or that he was only one of the innumerable host at the providential
disposal of the sovereign God.”
31
Thesis of the Paper
The phrase ¬·¬◊· ¬×¬: occurs fifty-eight times in fifty-four verses
32
and the
synonymous phrase c·¬¬×¬ ¬×¬: with the article occurs nine times and without it ap-
pears four times.
33
Since the book of Judges in 6:20; 13:6, 9 presents c·¬¬×¬ ¬×¬: to
be juxtaposed (and therefore synonymous) to ¬·¬◊· ¬×¬:, this paper will assume both
phrases’ synonymous character. Perhaps the author varied in form for stylistic purposes.
The phrase “the Angel of the LORD” occurs in the book of Judges nineteen-
times (Judg 2:1, 4; 5:23, 6:11, 12, 21 [2x], 22 [2x]; 13:3, 13, 15, 16 [2x], 17, 18, 20, 21
[2x]), which is by far more than any other book of the Bible. It is beyond the purpose and
scope of this paper to deal with every single reference where the phrase “the Angel of the
LORD” appears. However, the thesis here is to define the following concept: The identity
of the Angel of the LORD in the book of Judges: A Model for the Usage of this Phrase

Sam 29:9). Much as translators have been prone to keep ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ in referring to deity, so they are
inclined to designate with the article anything that belongs to God. For instance, to the reverent ear ‘the fin-
ger of God’ sounds more majestic than ‘a finger of God.’”
31
Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the OT–Part 2,” 67. Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., Commentary
on Judges (Dallas, TX: Unpublished, 2003), 65, fn 135, also sees the ambiguity of this term: “It is unclear
from the immediate context if this divine spokesman (lit., ‘messenger’) is a prophet or an angel, but later
descriptions of ‘the angel of the LORD’ suggest a superhuman being is in view (see Judg 6:11-22; 13:3-
21). It is not clear if the title refers to a particular angel. The phrase (construct noun + proper name) is
definite, but it may simply refer to a definite angel in any given context without implying the same angel is
always the referent.”
32
¬·¬◊· ¬×¬: appears in Gen 16:7; 9, 10, 11; 22:11, 15; Exod 3:2; Num 22:22, 23, 24, 25,
26, 27, 31, 32, 34, 35; Judg 2:1, 4; 5:23, 6:11, 12, 21 [2x], 22 [2x]; 13:3, 13, 15, 16 [2x], 17, 18, 20, 21[2x];
2 Sam 24:16; 1 Kgs 19:7; 2 Kgs 1:3, 15; 19:35; 1 Chr 21:12, 15, 16, 18, 30, Pss 34:8 [Eng v 7]; 35:5, 6; Isa
37:36; Hag 1:13; Zech 1:11, 12; 3:1, 5, 6; 12:8; Mal 2:7. Out of all of these passages, two biblical passages
do not refer to the divine but a human messenger. The prophet Haggai appears as the messenger for Yah-
weh in Haggai 1:13, and the priests act as Yahweh’s messengers in Malachi 2:7. The NT phrase oJ a‡gg-
eloß kuri÷ou appears in the NKJV translated: “the Angel of the LORD.” However, this will not enter the
discussion because the definite article in front of the noun “angel” refers to an article of previous reference
of the angel—sent by God—in 1:20 named Gabriel. Hence this excludes the possibility of being the identi-
cal messenger of Yahweh under discussion.
33
c·¬¬×¬ ¬×¬: appears in Gen 31:11; Exod 14:19; Judg 6:20; 13:6, 9; 2 Sam 14:17, 20;
19:28; 2 Chr 36:16, and c·¬¬× ¬×¬: appears in Gen 21:17; 28:12; 32:2; 1 Sam 29:9.
6
Elsewhere. The nineteen occurrences of the phrase “the Angel of the LORD” are used in
the book of Judges in a way that serves as a model for two of the most popular options
possible in identifying this “Angel/angel” as used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. To
achieve this course of action the two major views will be developed here along with a
modest proposal: (1) The Angel of the LORD is God Himself (i.e., Jesus Christ in pre-
incarnate form). (2) The angel of the LORD represents God (i.e., the messenger is not
deity), and (3) modest proposal: the angel of the LORD represents Yahweh and his cul-
tural and ontological relation to Yahweh.
The Angel of the LORD is Yahweh
Most theologians within the last two millennia view the Angel of the LORD
to be an OT Christophany
34
of the Lord Jesus Christ in pre-incarnate form. Justin Martyr
(A.D. 100–165) seems to be the first to equate Christ with the Angel of the Lord of the
OT. Later church leaders like Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 115–181), Irenaeus of Lyons
(A.D. 130–202) and Tertullian (A.D. 145–220) all referred to OT theophanies as being
Christophanies,
35
not to mention Hippolytus, Clement, Origen, Cyprian, Novatian, Victo-
rinus, Eusebius, Athanasius, Hilary and Epiphanius all who labeled Christ by the title An-
gel “(suggesting the paradoxical possibility that they still await the perfecting of our his-
torical theology).”
36
Many contemporary theologians have assumed (and understood as such by
their passing comments)
37
the OT Angel of the LORD to be the preincarnate Christ.
Others have devoted articles and monographs to defending the Christophany view.
38
Five

34
The common view called theophany should not be understood as the Son but as Father God
(which means qeo/ß=theo) as the one who appeared (which means fai÷nw=phany) visibly through the
Angel of the LORD. Yet, this is not as common or as popularly defended as the view that holds this Angel
represents the preincarnate Christ. Since the details of many OT passages fit better with the latter view,
many have defended the Christophany instead of the theophany view, though at times some may use the
term synonymously/interchangeable for the Christophany view. For an excellent discussion on the meaning
and history of the use of both of these terms, see Borland, Christ in the OT, 5-10. Since the most defended
view between the theophany (i.e, a manifestation of God personally) and the Christophany (i.e., a
preincarnate appearance of Christ) is the latter, this paper will present the most popular one. For example,
Borland, Christ in the OT, 3-4, dedicates an entire book to defending the Christophany view. Hence he says
at the beginning: “The thesis of this work is that all Old Testament theophanies that involved the manifesta-
tion of God in human form were appearances of the second person of the Trinity, and as such their purpose
was not only to provide immediate revelation but also to prepare mankind for the incarnation of Christ.”
35
Juncker, “Christ as Angel,” 224-48.
36
Ibid., 248. See this article for a detail discussion and defense showing how early church
leaders equated OT theophanies as Christophanies.
37
For example see Allen P. Ross, “Jacob's Vision: The Founding of Bethel,” Bibliotheca
Sacra 142 (July 1985): 230; William J. McRae, “The Reluctant Servant,” Emmaus Journal 3 (Winter
1994): 153; David J. MacLeod, “The Virginal Conception of Our Lord in Matthew 1:18-25,” Emmaus
Journal 8 (Summer 1999): 25; John F. Walvoord, “The Doctrine of Grace in the Interpretation of Pro-
phecy,” Bibliotheca Sacra 140 (April 1983): 104.
7
basic arguments are used to defend this view in the book of Judges (and elsewhere) as
will be shown below.
The Angel of the LORD Speaks
in the First Person as Yahweh
The first time the Angel of the LORD appears in Judges 2:1-3 he speaks in
the first person singular “I” no less than seven times in three verses.
39
Hence some have
equated this Angel to God as one and the same person.
40
Furthermore, this Angel also
makes historical claims that can only be applicable to the LORD. That is, “I will never
break My covenant
41
with you,” and “I led you
42
out of Egypt” as Exodus 20:2 clearly
reveals to be the LORD: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of
Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
When the Angel of the LORD appears in Judges 13:13 and 14, he addresses
Manoah in the first person singular “I said” and “I commanded” referring to his previous

38
See Daniel Finestone, “Is the Angel of Jehovah in the Old Testament the Lord Jesus
Christ?,” Bibliotheca Sacra 95 (July 1938): 372-77; Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the OT–Part 1,” 269-
81; Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the OT–Part 2,” 66-91; Lewis Sperry Chafer, “The Preexistence of
Christ,” in Vital Christology Issues: Examining Contemporary and Classic Concerns, ed. Roy B. Zuck
(Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997); Juncker, “Christ as Angel,” 221-50; Douglas Mccready, “'He
Came Down From Heaven': The Preexistence Of Christ Revisited,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological
Society 40 (September 1997): 433-44; Noel D. Osborn, “Who is the 'Angel of the Lord?'” The Bible Trans-
lator 39 (October 1988): 438-48; Gary Simmers, “Who Is 'The Angel of the Lord'?,” Faith & Mission 17
(Summer 2000): 3-16; Herbert Lockyer, All the Angels in the Bible: A Complete Exploration of the Nature
and Ministry of Angels, ed. Jr. Herbert Lockyer (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), 87-92;
Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God (London: SPCK, 1992; reprint, Louis-
ville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992); Richard N. Longenecker, The Christology of Early Jewish
Christianity, Studies in Biblical Theology: Second Series 17, ed. C. F. D. Moule and et al (Naperville, IL:
Alec R. Allenson, 1970); Richard M. Amstutz, “The Angel of Jehovah and His Relation to the Trinity”
(Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1932). These are just some who have written on this issue.
39
For example, ¬¬:× (I brought), ×·:× (I led), ·::::ˆ: (I swore), ¬:× (I said), ¬c×׬ (I
will not break), ·:√¬:× (I said) and :¬:×׬ (I will not drive out).
40
See James Muilenburg, “The Speech of Theophany,” Harvard Divinity Bulletin 28 (1964):
38. Leon Wood, Distressing Days of the Judges (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), 231,
fn 12., believes the evidence that this Angel speaks in the first person singular in 2:1-3 proves He is God:
“Because in the verses given both there and here [i.e., 6:11-24] this Person uses the first person references
while speaking in behalf of God, it is clear that He is God Himself, specially the second Person of the
Godhead, here in the theophany (cf. Gen 18:1-21; Josh 5:13–6:5).” See also C. F. Burney, The Book of
Judges with Introduction and Notes and Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Kings with an Introduc-
tion and Appendix, The Library of Biblical Studies, ed. Harry M. Orlinsky (New York: KTAV Publishing
House, 1970), 35-36, who believes the Angel of the LORD denotes “Yahweh Himself in manifestation to
man.”
41
The phrase “My covenant” occurs fifty-four times in Scripture, and almost always refers to
God as the owner of the covenant (e.g., see Gen 6:18; 9:9, 11, 15; 17:2, 4, 7, 9-14, 19, 21; Exod 6:4-5;
19:5; Lev 26:9, 15, 42, etc . . .). Italics added.
42
The plural suffix c: here refers to the nation Israel.
8
words addressed to Manoah’s wife that she is to heed. Others have also viewed Judges
6:11-12, 14, 16 as evidence for seeing “the Angel of Yahweh” to be “Yahweh himself.”
43
Personal authority encompasses all of these statements made in first person singular that
is not becoming of other messengers.
Seeing the Angel of the LORD
Equates Seeing Yahweh
People declare seeing God upon seeing the Angel of the LORD. However, at
times this may not always be evident, for this peculiar Angel comes in the form of a man.
Such a case appears in Judges 6:11, 12 when the Angel of the LORD appears to Gideon,
while threshing wheat, in order to assure him: “The LORD is with” him. Gideon’s re-
sponse to the Angel of ·ˆ:¬× (=my lord) in the Hebrew is one typically made to another
man. However, in v 14, one finds the LORD answers, with no textual clues denoting a
change of speaker,
44
Gideon’s concern of His possible abandonment of Israel. This time
Gideon’s response changes to ·:¬× (my Lord), which is the typical way of addressing
God.
45
Hence one may conclude that this Angel and the LORD are “obviously one and
the same person”
46
as in Judges 2:1.
Afterwards, Gideon decides to sacrifice to the LORD and tells Him to wait
there until he comes back (vv 18-19). When Gideon returns, he finds “the Angel of God”
(=the Angel of the LORD in v 21) now directing how to perform an offering (v 20) and
consumes it with His staff (v 21). Only until then, does Gideon realize he was speaking to
the Angel of the LORD and feared that he had seen God, thus equating the identity of this
Messenger to be God himself, “Alas, O Lord GOD” (v 22). Gideon’s fear sprung (v 23)
from traditional Scriptures that claimed one could not see God face-to-face and live
(Exod 33:18-23, see next section). Contextually, the Angel of the LORD and the LORD
seem to appear as the same person addressing Gideon, because until v 23 not v 15 when
the LORD speaks, he does not realize the Angel was God addressing him earlier.

43
Dale Ralph Davis, Such a Great Salvation: Exposition of the Book of Judges, Expositor's
Guide to the Historical Books (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990), 96, fn 2. For others holding his
view see Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, 2 vols., vol. 1 (New York: Harrper & Row, 1962),
287, and J. Barton Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing
House, 1962), 167-70.
44
See Gen 21:17 where God hears Hagar’s son and the Angel of God responds to Hagar.
Contextually, it seems that God and this Angel are the same person. Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the
OT–Part 2,” 79, says, “With a direct correlation between the spoken words of the Angel of the Lord and the
Lord, this section of Scripture ascribes deity and equivalent authority. The acceptance of the offering and
Gideon’s recognition of the divine presence by the Angel of the Lord reinforce this designation of equality
with the Lord.”
45
Brown, BDB, 10-11.
46
Jarl E. Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Con-
cepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Tes-
tament, ed. Joachim Jeremias et al., vol. 36 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1985), 177.
9
Manoah and his wife had a similar experience to that of Gideon. The Angel of
the LORD appears to Manoah’s wife in 13:3 and announces Samson’s birth and directs
the woman how to raise the child as a Nazirite (from vv 4-5). Nevertheless, in v 6, the
woman calls the Angel “a man of God” (NIV). Later as the Angel converses with
Manoah from vv 13-18, he still does not realize this was the Angel of the LORD. Only
when the Angel of the LORD ascended with the fire of Manoah’s offering did both of
them realize they had seen a theophany (vv 19-22). For like Gideon, Manoah also feared
for both of their lives, because he felt both of them had “seen God.” Both Gideon and
Manoah’s narratives argue for interpreting the equality of God to that of the Angel of the
LORD.
Living after seeing
the Angel of the LORD
Indirect evidence also points to the deity of the Angel of the LORD. Upon
seeing this Angel people feared for their lives as Gideon and Manoah (cf. Judg 6:22-23;
13:22). This idea was rooted in Scripture that supported that anyone gazing upon God
would die. In Exodus 33:20, God said to Moses: “You cannot see My face; for no man
shall see Me, and live.”
47
Hence people were amazed to live after seeing the Angel of the
LORD because it was the same as if they saw God. Thus, one may conclude the follow-
ing syllogism:
major premise: No one cannot see God face-to-face and live
minor premise: Anyone seeing the Angel of the LORD face-to-face
feared for their life
conclusion: This Messenger must be God
Obviously, God’s appearance in the form of a Messenger comes veiled. That is the only
way humans can see Him and live, as it occurred with Jesus Christ’s coming in the flesh
(John 1:1-18). Nevertheless, peoples’ amazing response of fearing for their lives when
gazing upon this Angel (equal only to that of God) argues for the deity of this being. For
no other angel in Scripture do people ever respond with fear of losing their lives upon
seeing such a being.
48
The Angel of the LORD Possesses
the Same Attributes as Yahweh
Baze argues for the deity of the Angel of the LORD based on possessing the
same attributes as God expressed in Judges 6:11-24: “Other associated attributes

47
Perhaps this a common belief in the ancient Near East, because prior to the Mosaic law
Jacob in Gen 32:30 expresses the same concern: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is pre-
served.” Albert Barnes, The Bible Commentary: Judges, Barnes' Notes, ed. F. C. Cook and J. M. Fuller, 14
vols., vol. 2 (London: Blackie & Son, 1879; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, [no date]), 432,
says: “The same notion prevailed amongst the heathen.”
48
Of course, people feared seeing angelic beings as Gen 21:17 and Dan 10:19 records, but
nowhere does it mention that they feared of losing their lives because they have witnessed a theophany.
10
[referring to 6:11-24] are: omniscience in the prophecy that Midian would be defeated by
Gideon, omnipotence in the fulfillment of that prophecy, and omnipresence in the phys-
ical appearance of the Angel of the Lord (Judg. 6:12) as compared with the Lord (Judg.
6:14ff). Also in this context a distinction in personality is delineated between the Angel
of the Lord and the ‘Master Lord’ (¬ˆ·¬◊· ·:¬×, }∞d⋲oœnaœy Yahweh; Judg. 6:22).”
49
In the
encounter with the Angel in 13:1-25, Baze also adds: “Common themes of exhibiting the
attributes of God by the Angel of the Lord continue as demonstrated in the previous
contexts: recognition and reaction of the divine presence of the Angel of the Lord by
Manoah and his wife, the revelation that His name is incomprehensible, omniscience in
the prophecy of a son who would defeat the Philistine, omnipotence in its prophetic ful-
fillment, and omnipresence in the physical appearance of the Angel of the Lord.”
50
It seems this angel is worshipped as God since he is presently involved in con-
suming the sacrifices offered to God (cf. 6:21-22; 13:19-20).
51
James A. Borland sees the
removal of Moses’ shoes as a sign of worship in Exodus 3:5 and Joshua’s act of worship
in Joshua 5:14 is indicative of this Angel’s deity. He adds: “On the contrary, Exodus 3:5
and Joshua 5:14 are the only Old Testament texts that portray men actually worshiping
anyone not distinctly designated Jehovah or some false god or idol.”
52
The Angel of the LORD
Disappears when Jesus Arrives
Interestingly, the phrase “the Angel of the LORD” or the Messenger is never
mentioned or appears again once Jesus Christ is born.
53
Although this is not pertinent to
Judges, indirectly due to progressive revelation, and how one handles the entire corpus of

49
Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the OT–Part 2,” 79. Similar arguments are also made by
Finestone, “the Angel of Jehovah in the OT,” 373-76. He argues that the Angel of the LORD claims and is
addressed as deity, is paid divine honors, called God by OT writers, possesses divine attributes and pro-
mises to do what only God can do.
50
Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the OT–Part 2,” 81. See also Baze’s treatment (in pp 82-
89) of other passages and issues that points to the similarity of this Angel’s attributes to that of God. Bor-
land, Christ in the OT, 42-44, also follows similar lines of arguments.
51
Arthur H. Lewis, Judges/Ruth (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979), 44, believes, “At times the
Angel of the Lord was addressed as God, worshipped, and believed to be the divine presence (Gen. 21:17;
21:11—the Angel spoke as God; 31:11, 13—the Angel claimed to be God, ‘The God of Bethel.’”
52
Borland, Christ in the OT, 44-45. Italic is original.
53
Lewis, Judges, 44, believes the angel is God but notices the difference when using the tern
“angel” in the NT: “The New Testament appearances of ‘an angel of the Lord’ are similar in kind and
purpose [to that of the Angel of the Lord, as the context where this appears indicates] (Matt. 2:13, 19; Luke
1:11; Acts 5:19; 12:23). However, since ‘messenger’ is a frequent nuance of the word for angel, it is also
possible to conclude that the visitor was either a human spokesman for God or a member of the angelic host
on a special mission from God. Borland, Christ in the OT, 29, says, “It can be shown that the Christo-
phanies were functions of the second person of the Trinity, then after the Son’s presence became localized
in humanity, any further manifestations would not partake of the normal characteristics of a human-form
theophany.”
11
Scripture, it bears defining who is this Messenger in Judges based on this peculiar piece
of evidence.
Perhaps, as some have argued, this Messenger is not mentioned again because
He is now present in the person of Jesus Christ. It is striking how this Angel fades once
Jesus arrives. G. Henton Davies says, “In reality there are no true theophanies in the NT,
for their place is taken by the manifestation of God in Christ (John 1:14; Col. 1:15; Heb.
1:1-3).”
54
James Oliver Buswell, Jr. explains it his way: “The Incarnation differs from all
other theophanies in that when he ‘was born in Bethlehem,’ when He ‘became flesh,’ He
took to himself, permanently, a genuine human nature, wholly apart from sin. In the Old
Testament theophanies He appeared as man in specific times and places without actually
becoming a member of the human race.”
55
Borland further explains by adding:
To anticipate, God ‘s presence in the Christophany was often noted by the special-
ized term ‘the angel of the Lord.’ But, someone may ask, did not ‘the angel of the
LORD’ appear several times in the New Testament after the conception of Christ?
The answer is both yes and no. It is true that the King James Version has ‘the an-
gel of the LORD’ appearing on eight separate occasions in ten different verses of
the New Testament.
56
However, only in one of these occurrences does the definite
article actually appear with the word angel in the original language (Matt. 1:24).
It seems to be here simply because this particular angel had been mentioned in
Matthew 1:20 and so is a certain or a particular angel when he is spoken of again
in verse 24. The thesis is, therefore, that on none of these New Testament occa-
sions was Christ appearing in a theophany. It was simply ‘an angel’ of the Lord.
57
Thus, this evidence seems to support the view that after the birth of Christ the angel of
the LORD never appeared again because he was now present in the person of Jesus
Christ.

54
G. Henton Davies, “Theophany,” in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. G. A.
Buttrick, vol. 4 (New York: Abingdon, 1962), as quoted in Borland, Christ in the OT, 13.
55
James Oliver Buswell, Jr., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, 3 vols., vol. 1
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962), 33, fn 3.
56
These passages are in Matt 1:20, 24; 2:13, 19; 28:2; Luke 2:9; Acts 5:19; 8:26; 12:7 and
12:23.
57
Borland, Christ in the OT, 30. Borland further explains in page 15 the NT incarnation of
Christ as it relates to the OT Christophanies: “The Christophanies were accomplished instantaneously by an
act of the will, while the incarnation was unique and had to be assumed by means of a normal human preg-
nancy and birth, although the conception was initiated supernaturally via the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s humanity had its historical beginning with the incarnation about 4 B.C. Not a single one of the
numerous Old Testament appearances of Christ in human form involved the Kenosis doctrine of Philippi-
ans 2:5-8. No Christophany incorporated the laying aside of any aspect of Christ’s deity, save His invisibil-
ity. In each of these manifestations Christ appeared in what looked like, yet was not truly, a human body.
Thus, the primary difference between an Old Testament Christophany and the incarnation of Christ is not
only in the transitory nature of the one and the permanency of the other. More importantly, the incarnation
of Christ involved ‘a permanent union between God and complete manhood (body, soul, and spirit).” Italics
are original.
12
The Angel of the LORD Represents Yahweh
Though many believe the angel of the LORD is Yahweh (i.e., a Christoph-
any), ample evidence exists that supports viewing this being as a mere representative of
God. Below, six arguments validate interpreting the angel of the LORD to be a unique
representative of God, as opposed to being God ontologically.
In Ancient Texts Messengers are
Addressed in the First and Second Person
An ancient Near Eastern text supports the fact that messengers who came on
behalf of a god were addressed in the first and second person as the deity. Such evidence
may be found in the Ugaritic Baal myth of the Canaanite deity:
thm . ym . b§lkm The message of Yam your lord,
[}adn] km . tptΩ . nhr . of your [sire] judge Nahar (is this):
tn . ílm . dtqh. ‘Give up, gods, him whom you protect,
dtqynh [hml]t . ‘him whom you protect, o multitude,
tn . b§l. w§nnh . ‘give up Baal and his lackeys,
bn . dgn. }artm pzhû ‘the son of Dagon, that I may possess his gold.’
[wy§n.] tr . }abh . íl . [And] the bull El his father [answered]:
§bdk . b§l . yymm . ‘Baal is your slave, o Yam,
§bdk . b§l . [ynhr] m . ‘Baal is your slave, o Nahar,
58
bn . dgn . d[s]rkm . ‘the son of Dagon is your prisoner.
hw ybl . drmnk . kílm ‘Even he must bring you tribute like the gods,
ybl . wbn . qdsû . mnhΩyk . ‘[even he] must bring you gifts like the sons of the
Holy one.’
59
Prior to speaking, Yam’s messengers came, “(Like) a fire, two fires they appeared,”
60
which is strikingly similar to the way the angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in the

58
Yam and Nahar are the same person, see Patricia Turner and Charles Russell Coulter,
Dictionary of Ancient Deities (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 511. Bold was added for
emphasis.
59
J. C. L. Gibson, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 2 ed., ed. G. R. Driver (Edinburgh: Clark,
1978), 42. Samuel A. Meier, The Messenger in the Ancient Semitic World, Harvard Semitic Monographs,
ed. Frank Moore Cross, vol. 45 (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1988), 184, also notes how envoys can speak
as if the one who sent them were speaking in the first person: “The only time before this formula [i.e., Thus
said] is the isolated case of Gapnu-wa-Ugaru sent to Anat; her trauma is eased by their opening words, ‘No
foe rises to oppose Baal, no enemy against the ‘Cloud-Rider’ (CTA 3.4.5-6). Otherwise, no further additio-
nal comments or expansions are made by any messenger who simply delivers the message exactly as he re-
ceived it (i.e. in the first person).”
60
Gibson, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 42.
13
burning bush in Exodus 3:2.
61
Important to note is how El answers. He responds as if
Yam is personally present, but obviously he is not. Hence one may suggest that to see the
messenger is like (but not equal to) seeing the deity.
Two biblical passages (Gen 44:9-10 and Deut 29:2-6) also show that messen-
gers can speak in the third or first person in the same context. Both Genesis 44:9-10 and
Deut 29:2-6 state the following:
‘With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my
lord’s slaves.’ And he said, ‘Now also let it be according to your words; he with
whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be blameless’ (Gen 44:9-10).
Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: ‘You have seen all that the LORD
did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to
all his land the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great
wonders. Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and
ears to hear, to this very day. ‘And I have led you forty years in the wilderness.
Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on
your feet. You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink,
that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’
In both narratives Joseph’s messenger and Moses switch from the third person
to the first person as if they were the primary referent of the dialogue. MacDonald ex-
plains it succinctly:
The malak of Joseph mentioned Joseph (in the third person) as the one whose cup
was stolen, but (in the first person) he spoke of making the culprit ‘my slave’ and
releasing the rest. Even more graphic is a quotation from Moses, since for all
practical purposes he too filled the continual role of m-Y to Israel. . . . Deut 29:2-6
illustrates the familiar pattern of subtle shift in speaker from the third person, i.e.,
from Moses to Yahweh. [Hence he concludes:] Disregard of the malak idiom
would lead to one of two literal absurdities: (1) that Moses was claiming to be
their God; (2) that Moses was vestigium Christi in whose shell the true Christ was
hiding (cf. John 1:17).
62
This evidence from ancient Near Eastern texts along with Daniel I. Block’s
assessment may explain why much confusion exits in viewing the angel as deity instead
of a mere representative of God that is addressed as if he is God: “This explains why, in
many contexts, Yahweh/God and mal}ak⋲ YHWH are freely interchanged (cf. 6:22-23).

61
Mark S. Smith, “Remembering God: Collective Memory in Israelite Religion,” Catholic
Biblical Quarterly 64 (October 2002): 637, notices the ties with angels and fire: “The presentation of the
fire with the divine figures [in the Yam and Baal account] suits an angel.” See also Ezek 8:2; Dan 10:6, as
well as the account of God’s deliverance of his three servants from the fire in Dan 3:24-26 by His
messenger.
62
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 331-32.
14
Later, for Manoah and his wife to see the mal}ak⋲ YHWH is to see God (13:22; cf. vv. 3-
21), and in the present context [i.e. Judg 2:1-3] the envoy’s speech is cast as a divine
speech in the first person. What the messenger says, God says, and vice versa.”
63
Further
evidence of meshing both personas between the angel and Yahweh occurs in Exodus
32:34–33:17 where Moses intercedes for the people after violating the covenant; Yahweh
answers by promising to “send My angel before you” (32:34; 33:2), but later says “My
Presence will go with you” (33:14) marking a clear distinction between the messenger
and Yahweh’s presence through the angel exercising his Master’s authority.
64
As James
F. Ross says: “It would seem that the question of the messenger’s authority could be an-
swered simply: it is that of the one who sends him. Thus a messenger is to be treated as if
he were his master.”
65
Thus, Semitic culture supports understanding the concept of
messenger as the angel of the LORD to represent God but is not God himself.
66
In the
ancient Near Eastern context kingly messengers many times were addressed in the first
person and treated as if the actual king was present.
67
Linguistic Distinctions Exist
Between Both Entities
As seen above in the Gideon narrative of Judges 6:11-26, some maintain the
equality and interchangeableness between the Lord and his angel to be one and the same

63
Daniel I. Block, Judges, Ruth, The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theo-
logical Exposition of Holy Scripture, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 6 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Pub-
lishers, 1999), 110-111.
64
Wilson, “Angel,” 125. Lowell K. Handy, Among the Host of Heaven: The Syro-Palestinian
Pantheon as Bureaucracy (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1994), 154, notices distinctions from the ancient
texts as opposed to the biblical text that goes against viewing the angel as deity: “When the gods sent mes-
sengers to humans, they themselves appeared, whereas in the biblical texts, messengers function to allow
Yahweh to confer with mortals without having to appear before himself.” Thus, the angel must not have
been God, but his envoy.
65
James F. Ross, “The Prophet as Yahweh's Messenger,” in Prophecy in Israel: Search for an
Identity, ed. David L. Petersen (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 114. See also E. Theodore Mullen, Jr.,
The Assembly of the Gods: The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature, Harvard Semi-
tic Monographs 24, ed. Frank Moore Cross (Scholars Press, 1980), 210, who says, “The form of the mes-
sage, as repeated, leaves no doubt as to the concept of the authority of the messenger—the envoy had the
same authority as the deity who dispatched him.”
66
Osborn, “Who is the 'Angel of the Lord?'” 437, acknowledges the legitimacy of this argu-
ment: “One other argument that might also be used to identify the angel of the Lord with the Lord himself
is that the words of this angel often come across as the Lord speaking directly. (See Gen 16:10; 21:18; Num
33:32-35; Jg 2:1-3 and Zech 3:4) However, other angels and prophets can speak the same way.” This is
common way an envoy represented his sender in Semitic thought declared by MacDonald, “Christology
and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 331. He says: “In Semitic thought this messenger-representative was con-
ceived of as being personally—and in his very words—the presence of the sender.”
67
Meier, The Messenger in the Ancient Semitic World, 182, has noticed, “If there are no ini-
tial comments about the message to follow, the message then begins immediately with the messenger nor-
mally speaking as if he were the sender, that is, in the first person.”
15
person speaking.
68
However, enough linguistic evidence exists to distinguish both
entities. For example, the narrative switches from speaking about the LORD in the third
person to the angel (from vv 11-14) to the first person (“Have I not sent you?’) to sug-
gests the Lord is now speaking. Hence Gideon also switches his form of address from the
polite reply of “my lord/sir” (·ˆ:¬× in v 13) to the divine reference “my Lord” (·:¬× in v
15) to distinguish humanity from deity.
69
It seems the Lord remains in the background as
an invisible party, while his angel remains in the forefront as the change of phrase from
an “angel of the LORD” (vv 11-12) to “the LORD” (v 14) indicates.
70
Only until the
messenger disappears in v 21 does the LORD enter the scene again in v 23 (to calm
Gideon’s fear)
71
and appears late at night (from vv 25-26) to instruct Gideon about a
sacrifice and setting up the correct worship system (cf. vv 27-35).
72
Robert G. Boiling

68
Johannes Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture, South Florida Studies in the History of
Judaism, ed. Jacob Neusner, William Scott Green, and et al, vol. 2 (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1991),
496-97, notices how the narratives of Judg 6:11ff merge the personalities of the man of God with Yahweh.
However, he believes Yahweh’s relationship with angel is not an immutable identity. Thus, “later, when
Yahweh’s personality and unity became strongly accentuated, a changed occurred in the conception, and
Yahweh’s mal}aœk⋲h became an independent divine personality, subordinate to Yahweh, the highest heavenly
servant or angel.”
69
Brown, BDB, 10-11. For a thorough analysis showing the distinction between “my lord/sir”
(·ˆ:¬× in v 13) to the divine reference “my Lord” (·:¬× in v 15) see Marc Zvi Brettler, God is King : Un-
derstanding an Israelite Metaphor, Journal for the study of the Old Testament, vol. Supplement Series 76
(Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989), 40-41.
70
Barnes, The Bible Commentary: Judges, 431, notices this change, and calls it “remarkable,”
but he seems to equate the angel with God: “When the messages are delivered by the Angel of the Lord, the
form of the message is as if God Himself were speaking.” Furthermore, the LXX emends the text by adding
“oJ a‡ggeloß kuri÷ou” in place of the Masoretic text’s harder and preferable reading of “¬·¬◊·.” Block,
Judges, 260, fn 521, says, “The MT, which is preferred as the more difficult reading, highlights the identi-
fication of Yahweh’s envoy with God himself.” It seems George F. Moore, A Critical Exegetical Commen-
tary on Judges, The International Critical Commentary, ed. S. R. Driver, A. Plummer, and C. A. Briggs
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1895), 185, interprets the LXX emendation as evidence of the solution that the
“Messenger is Yahweh himself.” But in fact, the LXX evidence “reflects the opposite solution to the pro-
blem of the three-way conversation and has ‘Yahweh’s envoy’ speaking in both verses,” see Robert G. Bo-
ling, Judges, The Anchor Bible, ed. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman (Garden City,
NY: Doubleday & Company, 1975), 132. While Osborn, “Who is the 'Angel of the Lord?'”: 437, notices
these distinctions, he notes that “often when God is clearly speaking in the Old Testament, he will refer to
himself in the third person as if he were not speaking. This is a figure of speech in Hebrew. For example, in
Gen 9:16 God says, ‘Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlast-
ing covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth’ (NIV).” Other examples may
be found in Lev 6:2 and Amos 2:4.
71
Smith, “Remembering God,” 637, noticing the distinction between the departure of the
angel in Judg 6:21 and the appearance of Yahweh in v 23 says: “The angel is said to have departed, but
Yahweh remains as the deity address Gideon in v. 23. . . . In short, v. 20 might suggest an identification (of
some sort) between Yahweh and his messenger, while v. 23 points to their separate identities.” Though la-
ter, Smith will argue, “In any case, tradition apparently did not maintain such a clear delineation of divine
figures and the motifs associated with them.”
72
Block, Judges, 264, in the absence of the angel says: “In the absence of any reference to the
messenger, one may ask whether Gideon hears Yahweh’s voice from the sky, without any visible sign of
his presence.”
16
also recognizing the obvious distinction among speakers says, “Yahweh himself remains
invisible . . . . In the present context Yahweh has caught up with his envoy, and Gideon is
in a three way conversation without realizing it.”
73
Similar distinctions found in Judges 6:11-26 are also seen in Exodus 3:2,
Genesis 21:17-19 and Zechariah 3:1-2 by Robert B. Chisholm who says: “One can detect
this same distinction between the Lord and his angel in Exod. 3. The angel gets Moses’
attention (v. 2) and the Lord then speaks to him (vv 4ff.). In Gen. 21:17-19 it is possible
to distinguish between God and his angel.”
74
About Zechariah 3:1-2, Chisholm adds: “In
this text the angel of Yahweh and Satan stand in Joshua’s presence. The introductory for-
mula in v. 2 suggests that Yahweh speaks the following words, but the content of the
speech (an imprecation offered in Yahweh’s name) seems inconsistent with the formula.
However, if Yahweh speaks through
75
the angel, the speech is more understandable. The
angel appeals to Yahweh in the third person, yet his imprecation is divinely inspired and
expresses Yahweh’s sentiment.”
76
The angel of the LORD and God are clearly distinguished in these contexts as
in Judges 6:11-26. Thus, this angel of the LORD is not deity since in these contexts deity
is distinguished from this messenger.
People did not Die After Seeing
the Angel of the LORD
As amazed as people were of living after seeing the angel of the LORD, they
did. Thus, he must not have been God since biblical statements (like Gen 32:30; Exod
33:20; Judg 6:22; 13:22; Deut 4:33) point to man’s understanding of not being able to
live upon seeing God. One may answer this objection by suggesting the messenger came
in a veiled form (not in full splendor), like Jesus Christ in the NT. To see this angel was
similar to seeing God as Jesus himself said that to see Him was similar to seeing the Fa-
ther (John 14:9b). However, if this was the case, when Moses wanted to see God’s glory,
the Lord could have just shown him the angel of the LORD, who many believe to be the
preincarnate Christ. For who could reveal God’s glory more than the OT preincarnate and
NT incarnate Jesus Christ, if indeed this angel was Christ before his birth?

73
Boling, Judges, 131. See also Adele Reinhartz, 'Why Ask My Name?' : Anonymity and Iden-
tity in Biblical Narrative (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 174-75, who treats this issue tho-
roughly, but leaves it open for the reader to decide.
74
Chisholm, Judges, 141, fn 313.
75
Tammi J. Schneider, Judges: Berit Olam Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry, ed. David
W. Cotter (Collegeville, MN: The Luturgical Press, 2000), 105, also notices in Judg 6:15 a distinction in
speaker between God and the messenger who He speaks through: “The deity, through the messenger, . . .”
Italics are not original.
76
Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., The Heavenly Assembly and the Messenger of Yahweh, Unpub-
lished Class Notes: OT1005 Exegesis in the Prophets (Dallas, TX: Fall 2003), 3.
17
Furthermore, if the distinctions to distinguish both entities as mentioned above
hold true, this answers why people did not die upon seeing this angel. Thus to see the an-
gel in one sense is like seeing God since he comes with God’s authority speaking for
God, but to gaze at this messenger in another sense is unlike gazing at God since he is not
ontologically God, which is the reason people did not die.
77
Messengers Accepted
Deity Attributes as Representatives
The evidence used by Baze (above) of equating the angel with God by point-
ing to his omniscience through the ability to foretell prophecy, omnipotence through his
power to fulfill prophecy and omnipresence due to being in the present form of a man at
the same time the LORD speaking perhaps from heaven are not sound arguments.
78
First,
no one can prove that it was solely through this angel’s power that any prophecy foretold
by him came to pass. One can just as easily see the angel as the representative communi-
cating in the first person, as if he was God, what only God will fulfill.
Second, it cannot be proven from any text that this angel was the sole source
of the prophecy. This is similar to the previous objection posed. One can just as easily see
the angel conveying God’s prophetic message. Understanding it this way suggests God is
the source of the prophetic event and the angel the one who communicates it, and appears
as if he is the sole source foretelling the prophecy. Prophets function in a similar manner
whether they used the prophetic formula ¬·¬◊· ¬:× ¬: (thus says the LORD)
79
like the
angel of the LORD used it in Zechariah 3:7 or not.
80
Daniel I. Block also notes: “Prophets

77
Lewis, Judges, 75, prefers to solve the identity of the angel appearing in 13:3-5, 9-20 by
suggesting the visitor may be the archangel Gabriel, who appeared to Mary (Luke 1:19) with like news of
Jesus’ birth. This is highly unlikely since this angel never uses a personal name other than the name to
which he has been sent to represent. That Manoah did not think of this angel as deity is highly probable as
Smith, “Remembering God,” 639, suggests: “In v. 22 Manoah characterizes the figure as an }§loœhˆîm, proba-
bly not God, but a divine figure of some sort that they have seen.” This is why, “The narrative never says
that Manoah did not think that the figure might be a divinity of some sort, only that he did not recognize the
figure to be a messenger of Yahweh.”
78
See section above and Baze, “The Angel of the Lord in the OT–Part 2,” 79.
79
This formula occurs 420 times in the OT, not counting other variant formulas. For example
see Exod 4:22; Josh 7:13; Judg 6:8; 1 Sam 2:27; 10:18; 1 Kgs 11:31; Isa 7:17; Jer 2:2; Zech 1:14, etc. . . .
80
John T. Greene, The Role of the Messenger and Message in the Ancient Near East: Oral
and Written Communication in the Ancient Near East and the Hebrew Scriptures: Communicators and
Communiques in Context, Brown Judaic Studies, ed. Jacob Neusner and et al, vol. 169 (Atlanta, GA: Scho-
lars Press, 1989), 183, 185, acknowledges the observation by Martin J. Buss, The Prophetic Word of Ho-
sea: A Morphological Study (Berlin: Verlag Alfred Töpelmann, 1969), 128, that the common prophetic
formula may not be so common after all: “‘There is even an absence of prophetic formulas—like ‘Thus
says the Lord’—which has been regarded as useful aids for discovering divisions’ in some of the prophetic
books.” After surmounting plenty of evidence Greene concludes: “Thus, evidence in several prophetic
books—and one apocryphal book—has been presented which demonstrates that not every occurrence of kh
‘mr yhwh is followed by a so-called message, or that strictly speaking it is even to be called a messenger
formula, for other formulae function in the same way whether it (i.e., kh ‘mr yhwh) is present or not. What
can be said with certainty is that at best the formula and its variants ‘are used when the importance and the
18
are also often referred to as Yahweh’s mal}aœk⋲ˆîm,
81
. . . This is probably the same figure
whom Yahweh had promised in the time of Moses to send ahead of the Israelites in their
campaigns against the Canaanites (cf. Exod 23:20-23; 33:2; also 32:34) and who func-
tioned as the alter ego of God.”
82
Yet, the angel is not God but appears as having attri-
butes of God (like forgiving sin) “because God’s name, i.e., His character and thus His
authority, are in the angel.”
83
Furthermore, since the phrase “angel of the LORD” was
also used of a prophet and priest (cf. Hag 1:13; Mal 2:7), it seems irreverent, if the angel
of the LORD is God, to use this phrase for some one other than God.
Third, even if one was to grant the Trinitarian view of the preincarnate Christ
here (thus making this being by default omnipresent), comparing Judg 6:12 with v 14
may only prove Christ as the angel of the LORD speaks in v 12 and God the Father talks
in v 14. By itself this argument, even if one grants that both entities are God, does not
prove omnipresence. If linguistic differences are held as mentioned above, it clarifies the
distinctions of Gideon’s address as oppose to proving omnipresence of this messenger.
In regards to the worship of this messenger, MacDonald correctly notices:
“The angel-Christ view does not reckon with the true intermediary character of angels as

reliability of a prophetic utterance are to be particularly emphasized.’ This still does not tell us whether the
formula was added by the prophets themselves or whether the formula was added by the editors and redac-
tors at large stage in the development of the prophetic corpus of literature.” Barnes, The Bible
Commentary: Judges, 419-20, is wrong in saying the angel of the Lord never uses the prophetic formula:
“In all cases where ‘the angel of the Lord’ delivers a message, he does it as if God Himself were speaking,
without the interpreting words ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ which are used in the case of prophets.” Not only does
the angel also use this formula, but as Greene has proven in his book that prophets have also used other
ways (differing from this “formula”) of conveying God’s message.
81
See 2 Chr 36:15-16; Isa 42:19; 44:26; Hag 1:13; Mal 3:1.
82
Block, Judges, 110.
83
Wilson, “Angel,” 125. Rabbi Eleazar is known to have said “on the basis of the Waw in the
beginning of the verse [Exod 23:21]– laid down that ‘And YHWH’ refers to both God and his heavenly
court” [Jarl E. Fossum, “Kyrios Jesus as the Angel of the Lord in Jude 5-7,” New Testament Studies 33
(1987): 229.] Further evidence also appears in the Apocalypse of Abraham that shows this angel was not
considered to be God, but only carrying His authority because of the divine name indwelling the angel: “I
am Iaoel [i.e., Yahoel] and was called so by him . . . a power through the medium of his ineffable name in
me” (10:8-9). In 3 Enoch 12:5 calls this angel “the lesser YHWH” also known in 3 Enoch 48D as Metatron
who has seventy names. James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Expansions of
the 'Old Testament' and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Frag-
ments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works, The Anchor Bible Reference Library, vol. 2 (New York: Double-
day, 1985), 243-44, believes Metatron, in many ways, is similar to Michael the archangel: “both were said
to serve in the heavenly sanctuary; both were guardian angels of Israel; what is said in one text about Mi-
chel is said in another about Metratron. A possible explanation of these similarities would be that originally
Metatron and Michael were one and the same angel: Michael was the angel’s common name, Metatron one
of his esoteric, magical names.” Though one may not agree, it at least shows that common tradition did not
view the angel of the Lord as God himself, but the revealer of God. However, not all rabbinic tradition
agrees with this as A. C. Gaebelein, The Angels of God (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969), 20,
shows how a Talmud equates the angel with deity: “‘the Metatron, the Angel of the Lord, is united with the
most high God by oneness in nature,’ while another source speaks of him as ‘having dominion over all
created things.”
19
capable of communicating all man’s responses—even worship—to God.” The fact Paul
warns in Colossians 2:18-19 against angel-worship assumes people looked upon this as a
natural act perhaps stemming from the OT covenant intermediaries who stood for God.
84
One may also see John’s attempt to worship the angel in Revelation 19:10 and 22:9 as the
common assumption that was acceptable under the old covenant, but now under the new
dispensation it has been replaced. Hence MacDonald concludes: “Regardless of how we
construe John’s guide, his command to ‘Worship God’ must be seen as indicative of a
whole new order in which the physical dimension of separation between God and man
has been overcome. The immediacy of the presence of God precluded any further use of
angelic mediation for those like John who were already (by vision) in heaven. We must
infer that either the beloved apostle was shamefully ignorant of proper protocol in matters
of reverencing God or that the coming of the eternal order brought about a change in the
old proprieties.”
85
Furthermore, it was understood in many ancient Near East accounts that mes-
sengers received homage on behalf of the one who sent him. Samuel A. Meier acknowl-
edges various accounts. For example, Ereshkigal’s messenger to Anu stands while others
bow to him. In another account: “Tammaritu the king of Elam, said, ‘How could Umma-
nigash kiss the ground before the messengers of Ashurbanipal?” In a Neo-Assyrian text
one reads: “‘To your messenger may they [all lands] do homage’ (ana paœn maœr sûiprika
appa lilbinu® ). The tradition is old, for Shulgi’s envoy expects it when sent abroad, and he
notes the insult when such homage is not granted: When I came to the gate of the palace,
no one took notice of the greetings of my king: those who were sitting did not rise (and)
did not bow down.”
86
Thus, accepting worship by the angel of the LORD does not in

84
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 332, believes this common proof
text in Col 2:18-19 is misunderstood: “It is my firm conviction that the NT does not create the insoluble
dilemma of either condemning the old covenant worthies who ‘worshipped’ angels or, on the other hand, of
denying that angels so addressed were really angels, since they did not forbid it. Col 2:18, 19, the plausible
proof text, warns against being duped by a self inaugurated seer who puts on the act of humbling himself
and worshipping before angels for having received ‘visions’ that are manifestly not from Christ. If the
‘angels’ Paul had in mind here have any objective reality at all, they would in context have to be satanic, or
similar to the angelos phoœtos he alluded to in 2 Cor 11:14, the equivalent of a ‘false apostle’ (2 Cor 11:13).
For a similar dispensational view to that of MacDonald. See Wendell E. Kent, “The Spoiling of Princi-
palities and Powers: A Critical Monograph on Colossians 2:15,” Grace Journal 3 (Winter 1962): 13. After
presenting and choosing one of two possible interpretations to the worship-of-angel view of the Colossian
church, specifically 2:10, 15, 18, he says: “The other explanation is much more plausible. It implies that
God ‘clothed’ with angels and at the death of Christ stripped Himself of them. The writer finds this
explanation much more satisfying. The many references to angels in the Old Testament indicate that angels
had a large ministry in those times. It was God’s way of revealing Himself until the Son came to be the
final revelation of the Father.”
85
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 332. Borland, Christ in the OT, 45,
disagrees that now forbidding to worship angels on behalf of God “is certainly not due to any dispensa-
tional change.” Instead, after presenting his own evidence against MacDonald, he concludes by also attri-
buting ignorance to John’s act of worship as mistaking the angel for Christ, or that he was just “overawed”
by the angelic presence and forgot this was inappropriate. For another refutation of MacDonald’s view see
John Owen, An Exposition of Hebrews, 4 vols., vol. 3 (Evansville, IN: Sovereign Grace, 1960), 235-36.
86
Meier, The Messenger in the Ancient Semitic World, 157-58.
20
itself prove deity, since Meier notes: “Clearly, bowing toward the messenger is a sign of
submission to the one who sent the envoy.”
87
Israelite Religion and
the Angel as Yahweh
Israelite monotheistic religion does not permit understanding the angel of the
LORD as Yahweh, if one concedes that certain passages distinguish the angel from
Yahweh. For how would an OT saint think in such cases (e.g., Judg 6:11-24; Zech 1:12;
3:1-10)? This argument has not received enough attention when discussing the identity of
the angel of the LORD (see the following section).
Modest Proposal: the Angel of the LORD
Represents Yahweh and His Cultural and
Ontological Relation to Yahweh
The Angel of the LORD Represents Yahweh
As seen above from the ancient Near Eastern culture as well as biblical pas-
sages in the Bible, messengers are shown to represent their masters as if they were there.
Hence the Sitz im Leben where the concept of an envoy arose must be the hermeneutical
grid by which one must interpret ¬·¬◊· ¬×¬: passages. Thus, MacDonald says: “The Se-
mitic malak idea was perfectly adaptable to the monarchial order. One is not surprised to
find in the celestial court of Yahweh an array of angels waiting like royal ministers to
magnify his presence throughout the earth. A dispatched angel would arrive anonymously
(in terms of his own name), because coming in the name of God, i.e., as m-Y or m-E, his
sole concern was to speak or act for God as the situation required and to receive man’s
response to God.”
88
If anything, theologians should shift the focus of this argument from
the identity of this angel to what the angel says and who the angel represents.
Israelite Culture and
the Angel Ontologically as Yahweh
Israelite tradition shown in the Passover Haggadah understood in commenting
on Deuteronomy 26:8 that even the angel who led Israel from Egypt was not necessarily
the nation’s deliverer (e.g., Judg 2:1;Isa 63:9), but Yahweh: “And the Lord brought us
from Egypt, not by means of an angel, nor by means of a seraph, nor by means of a mes-
senger.”
89
The Hebrews understood culturally how one could be presented as being the

87
Ibid., 158.
88
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 332.
89
Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, A Passover Haggadah for Jewish Believers (Tustin, CA: Ariel
Ministries Press, 1970), 15. Taking notice of this says Fossum, “Kyrios Jesus as the Angel of the Lord,”
234, says, “We must also take note of rabbinic tradition which maintains that although the angel Metatron
21
source of an action by having a part in the process without being the actual source of the
action. That is why Exodus 33:1 refers to Moses as being the one who brought the people
out of the land of Egypt, as well as attribute this same action to the angel of the LORD in
Judges 2:1. Yet, Exodus 20:2 says: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of
the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
Unique from their ancient Near Eastern neighbors was the monotheistic belief
system of Israel. Therefore, it is important to note, with Loren T. Stuckenbruck, the
following monotheistic belief in relation to the angel of the LORD: “As long as the term
¬·¬· ¬×¬: could represent alternative language for God, its presence in passages from
the Hebrew scriptures posed no difficulty for monotheism belief.”
90
Thus, since this angel
and Yahweh are distinguished in many passages, then how could one keep a monotheistic
view while at the same time maintaining the distinct personalities and deity of both of
these beings?
91
Impossible! Usually this is answered in an anachronistic sense by
identifying the angel as the preincarnate Christ. However, from a dispensational
perspective this may solve the problem, but not from a historical perspective in the
progress of revelation. One must remember that God had not revealed to OT saints the
Trinitarian concept. Even for early NT believers this was hard to grasp. This is why
Jesus’ deity was always questioned (Mark 2:6; 4:41; John 8:59; 10:33; 14:7). Therefore,
to hold the angel-Christ view is incongruent with monotheistic belief of the OT Sitz im
Leben.
Conclusion: The Preincarnate
Christ view as the Angel
undercuts Christology
The incarnation of Jesus Christ is one of the most unique events in history.
What makes it so unique is that God took on human nature and dwelled among men
(John 1:1-14). The Word becoming flesh cannot be all that unique if He was already,
whether semi-human or not, existing in some unique body. For a body, however

is to be acknowledged as the Angel of the Lord described in Exod 23: 20-21 and the possessor of a name
‘like that of his Master', he is not to be accepted as Israel ׬:··¬c, ‘messenger’ or ‘deliverer.’”
90
Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Angel Veneration and Christology: A Study in Early Judaism and
in the Christology of the Apocalypse of John, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament,
ed. Martin Hengel and Otfried Hofius, vol. 70 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1995), 67, fn 58.
91
Handy, Among the Host of Heaven, 158, notices how careful biblical writers were in main-
taining a monotheistic view and says: “The careful use of the messengers in the Bible certainly reflects a
desire on the part of the biblical authors to present Yahweh as the only ‘god’ and to exclude messengers
from this status. It is true, however, that the angels are understood as presenting the words and actions of
Yahweh as though he himself were presenting them.” Yet, Handy adds, “No matter what the historical
progression of religious beliefs may have been in Judah or Israel, the biblical texts present a picture of the
religious world in which Yahweh is the sole recognized deity for Judah and Israel.” See also Rad, Old Tes-
tament Theology, 210-212; Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, trans. John Baker, The Old
Testament Library, ed. G. E. Wright et al., vol. 1 (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1967), 220-27.
22
temporary it may be, is nevertheless a body. MacDonald sums all of the theological and
practical Christological issues that are in peril if the angel-Christ view is accepted:
The argument for the angel-Christ view proves too much, finding Jesus retro-
actively in every nameless angel the Lord sent. It also falls prey to the Arian argu-
ments for creaturism and essential subordinationism. Additionally, it places the
most serious docetic question marks after the incarnation.
Angelomorphic christophanology is threatened by the three main factors: the
linguistic phenomena, the cultural understanding of patriarchal and monarchial
malak, and the theology of the NT that stresses: (1) the uniqueness and historicity
of the incarnation; (2) the teaching of the supra-angelic character of the Son—not
as a superangel but in consonance with Heb 1:1-14; and (3) the methodology of
building Christology without ever capitalizing upon some great secret of angelic
identities in the OT.
92
Two final things may also be added. Since NT writers never mention, allude
or imply that Jesus was typified in the angel of the LORD like Adam, the high priest, the
rock in the wilderness, prophets, Moses and other evasive types, this silence screams for
an answer. Furthermore, the absence of the angel of the LORD from appearing in the NT
once the incarnation took place argues for a lack of need as used in the OT unique way.
Since Christ will now occupy God’s earthly and visible representative, there is no further
need for a temporary angelic representative.
93
Hebrews 1:1-2 declares that once Messiah
arrived all other envoys in this dispensation will cease: “God, who at various times and in
various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spo-
ken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He
made the worlds.” Thus, there cannot be a more complete and flawless human representa-
tive for God on earth than the God-man, Jesus Christ.

92
MacDonald, “Christology and 'The Angel of the Lord',” 335. Ronald F. Youngblood,
Exodus, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983; reprint, Eugene, OR: Wipf and
Stock Publishers, 2000), 32, also takes issue with the angel-Christ view as the OT preincarnate Jesus. Thus
he concludes like MacDonald and this writer that although the angel-Christ view is possible “such an inter-
pretation dilutes the uniqueness of Jesus’ incarnation and undercuts the teaching of Hebrews 1:3-14, where
God’s Son is said to be superior to all the angels.”
93
Wilson, “Angel,” 125, says: “It is certain that from the beginning God used angels in hu-
man form, with human voices, in order to communicate with man; and the appearances of the angel of the
Lord, with special redemptive relation to God’s people, show the working of that divine mode of self-reve-
lation which culminated in the coming of the Savior, and are thus a foreshadowing of, and a preparation
for, the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Further than this it is not safe to go.”
23
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