The Angel of the LORD

In the Hebrew Bible there is an angelic figure called the ‘messenger of Yahweh’ — more popularly translated as ‘the angel of the LORD’ — who appears briefly a little more than a dozen times in Israel’s historical narratives. Because of ambiguities perceived in the texts describing some of these occasions, Christians have long identified this figure as God himself. Or, more specifically, they identify this angel as the second person of the triune deity, God the Son, in his existence before his incarnation as the man named Jesus.

Here is one example, the famous burning bush scene from Exodus 3.

There the messenger of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When Yahweh saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’

The angel is in the burning bush, but when Moses turns his attention to the flames, it is God who speaks from the bush. It seems to equate Yahweh with his messenger. And identifying Jesus with this angel-who-is-God is thought to reconcile a handful of alleged contradictions in the Bible.

This is a concept I’ve looked at a few times in the last decade or so, though it’s sat in the back of my mind for a long time. When I first learned of it, years ago, I was excited to find ‘proof’ of Jesus in the Old Testament. You can find a great summary of the Christian interpretation in this recent video, beautifully animated by The Bible Project. When someone sent this video to me, I was struck with the realization that it ignores a lot of the scholarship that has touched on the topic, and even some basic common sense.

For example, one of the most popular arguments in support of the idea — that the messenger of Yahweh is Yahweh, and therefore the pre-existent Jesus — is this: no one can see God and live, but several people in the Old Testament claim to have seen God when seeing this messenger of Yahweh, therefore this angel must be God the Son. However, even some Christian scholars recognize the problem inherent to this idea: if no one can see God and live, then this angel can’t be God, because people see the angel and live.1

There’s no need for an elaborate dive into every single occasion the angel is mentioned, so I’ll cover some of the basic reasons why the popular Christian interpretation is so problematic.

Hebrew Grammar

While the Hebrew phrase ‘messenger of Yahweh’ (הוהי־ךאלמ) is almost always translated as ‘the Angel of the LORD’, the grammar does not require us to understand this angel as a specific individual who appears time and again.

if the [grammatical] construction favors an indefinite angel, it may refer to any of a number of angels sent by the Lord, and it is harder to sustain the theophany view.2

The grammatical argument tends to be that, since ‘Yahweh’ is a proper noun, the whole phrase should be translated as a definite angel: ‘the angel’. This rule is rarely followed in other cases where similar grammar is used. Anarthous phrases (i.e. phrases without the Hebrew definite article ha) like ‘feast of Yahweh’ or ‘man of Benjamin’ are usually translated with the indefinite article because the context requires it.3 ‘Feast of Yahweh’ doesn’t always refer to the same feast, so translating it ‘the feast of Yahweh’ would be misleading and confusing.

Hence, it may be correct to translate the anarthous construct noun (מלאך) as indefinite, and W.G. MacDonald concludes, “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.”4

If the underlying Hebrew is more appropriately translated as ‘a messenger of Yahweh’ whenever that angel is first introduced into each narrative it appears, then we have little reason to assume the biblical authors intended us to interpret it as the same individual each and every time.

Errant Manuscript Traditions

While there are some occasions where the biblical text seems to treat Yahweh and his messenger interchangeably, there is at least one text where the Christian interpretation relies on an errant manuscript tradition. Judges 2 begins with this ‘messenger of Yahweh’ taking credit for Yahweh’s accomplishments in the exodus.

Now the messenger of Yahweh went up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, ‘I brought you up from Egypt’

This type of text is where, in my opinion, Christian scholars seriously fail their readers. The rigors of academia are compromised by personal beliefs. Michael Heiser, an important Christian scholar on the ‘divine council’ alluded to in the Hebrew Bible, has found a lot of popularity in the last few years among apologists. Yet, despite his high standards, when Heiser comes to this text, he doesn’t mince words:

The first-person language—the angel of Yahweh says it was he who swore to the earlier patriarchs that they would have the land—identifies him with Yahweh.5

What Heiser does not tell his readers is the Septuagint’s relevance to this text, and how it undermines the popular Christian interpretation.

While the ‘Septuagint’ (abbreviated LXX) usually refers to the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, this is a misnomer. The actual Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Greek translations of the other Hebrew scriptures were made independently, and were only collected together over time. As a result, we have a few competing Greek versions of those Hebrew scriptures. Judges is one example of this, and we find disagreement in the text at exactly this point.

LXXA Judges 2.1 reads:

καὶ ἀνέβη ἄγγελος κυρίου ἀπὸ Γαλγαλ ἐπὶ τὸν Κλαυθμῶνα καὶ ἐπὶ Βαιθηλ καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ισραηλ καὶ εἶπεν πρὸςαὐτούς κύριος κύριος ἀνεβίβασεν ὑμᾶς ἐξ Αἰγύπτου

Now an angel of the Lord went up from Galgal to Weeping and to Baithel and to the house of Israel, and he said to them, “The Lord, the Lord brought you up from Egypt”

LXXB Judges 2.1 instead says:

καὶ ἀνέβη ἄγγελος κυρίου ἀπὸ Γαλγαλ ἐπὶ τὸν Κλαυθμῶνα καὶ ἐπὶ Βαιθηλ καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ισραηλ καὶ εἶπεν πρὸςαὐτούς τάδε λέγει κύριος ἀνεβίβασα ὑμᾶς ἐξ Αἰγύπτου

Now an angel of the Lord went up from Galgal to Weeping and to Baithel and to the house of Israel, and he said to them: This is what the Lord says: “I brought you up from Egypt”

While the two texts don’t agree exactly, they reflect an underlying Hebrew version where the messenger of Yahweh made it clear he was only delivering the words of Yahweh. The repetition of κύριος κύριος in LXXA suggests the original Hebrew text referred to ‘Lord Yahweh’, since both terms were translated into Greek as κύριος.6

The Masoretic text, a Hebrew text tradition that most modern English Bibles prioritize over other ancient textual witnesses, is at fault here (probably due to a scribal error) when it depicts Yahweh’s messenger as taking credit for Yahweh’s actions. Behind the Masoretic text, LXXA, and LXXB was a vorlage which did not equivocate between Yahweh and his messenger.

This kind of textual corruption doesn’t occur in every occasion where the Hebrew Bible appears to identify Yahweh with his messenger, but it is important to bear in mind nonetheless. For any scholar to claim Judges 2.1 equates Yahweh with his messenger demonstrates that scholar’s failure to communicate the nature of the evidence.

Messengers Received as Their Senders

Even with this one example cleared up, the Hebrew Bible has plenty of other times when it does refer to Yahweh and his messenger interchangeably. Christian scholars claim the abundance of such texts can only be explained if we identify the messenger of Yahweh as Yahweh himself.

More critical scholars point to other ancient Near Eastern texts which show messengers being received as if they are the rulers or deities who sent them. This is not rare, but a basic aspect of the culture. Heiser, for his part, acknowledges the concept but flatly claims ‘biblical language goes beyond this mental substitution’.7 He doesn’t interact with the evidence, which shows the ‘biblical language’ is rather unexceptional.

While this kind of language of personal appropriation may seem to us unsuitable for mere messengers, ANE customs and texts indicate that envoys who came as agents of a god typically spoke in the first person and were addressed in the second person, just as the deity they represented. For example, in the Ugaritic Baal myth, Yammu’s (Yam’s) messengers came: “(Like) a fire, two fires they appears.” They spoke, “their [tongue] like a sharpened sword.” This is strikingly reminiscent of the way the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush. Note that ʾIlu (mentioned eight lines before) responds as though Yammu is personally present when he is obviously not, which suggests that to see the messenger is like but not equal to seeing the deity8

We even have examples of exactly this in the Hebrew Bible. The final third of Genesis tells the story of Joseph, and how, when he became the second-in-command of Egypt, his eleven brothers didn’t recognize him. Gen 44.1–10 shows Joseph send a messenger to confront the brothers over a matter of theft.

They said to him [the messenger], ‘Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing! Look, the money that we found at the top of our sacks, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan; why then would we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? Should it be found with any one of your servants, let him die; moreover, the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.’

He [the messenger] said, ‘Even so; in accordance with your words, let it be: he with whom it is found shall become my slave, but the rest of you shall go free.’

The narrative, without any explanation, has the brothers address the messenger as if he is Joseph (‘my lord’, ‘your servants’, ‘you’), and the messenger speak in the first person as if he is Joseph (‘my slave’). The author had no need to explain this because what was happening was easily recognizable to his contemporary audience. If the modern equivocation of Yahweh and his angel were applied consistently to even this passage, then Joseph was literally his own messenger.

Messengers speaking their master’s words in the first person are actually seen dozens of times in the Hebrew Bible. They are the prophets, human equivalents to the angelic messengers seen only rarely.

Since a messenger speaks for his dispatcher, there is an inevitable transfer of identity. Thus prophets, also “messengers” (Isa 42:19; 44:26; Hag 1:13; 2 Chr 36:15, 16), speak in the divine voice and merge into the divine persona (cf. Exo 7:17; 11:8). […] The paradoxical interpenetration of Yahweh and angel, or Yahweh and prophet, also recalls the relationship between deity and idol in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Canaan. The statue is not the god, but can become the god and be referred to by the god’s name (Jacobsen 1987a). The Egyptian “Report of Wen-Amon” 2.55 (ANET 28) in fact calls a portable idol a “messenger.” Idol, angel and prophet are essentially localizations of a divine presence, or theophanies.9

In fact, the phrase ‘messenger of Yahweh’ is used for humans at least twice in the Hebrew Bible.

To use this term of a human, as does Haggai [1.13] and now Mal. 2:7, is revolutionary, the more so since in Mal. 2:7 an entire ethnic group—the Levites—have been so labeled.10

For biblical authors to apply the phrase to humans shows that, while it may have been understood as a special role to fill, it was nevertheless not a unique role. If any human can function as ‘messenger of Yahweh’, it reasons that Haggai and Malachi did not regard it as referring to a specific angel who is actually God himself.

Interpretations in Second Temple Literature

If Haggai and Malachi, each written at the very start of the Second Temple period of Israel’s history, did not regard the messenger of Yahweh as a particular individual, but a function potentially anyone could carry out, we should probably survey Judean literature after them. I can’t find a single text from this time period that equates the messenger of Yahweh with Yahweh himself.

Except for copies of the canonical Hebrew scriptures, the Dead Sea Scrolls are remarkably quiet regarding the messenger of Yahweh. A variety of angels with names, exalted angels, and categories of angelic roles do appear in the Qumran literature, but none of them are equated with the God they represent.

The ‘angel of the Lord’ makes additional appearances in the Septuagint, such as Dan 14.31–42 (an alternate version of the story of Daniel in the lions’ den), but there is nothing unusual about them that requires commentary.

Philo of Alexandria, writing in the first half of the first century AD, identifies the messenger of Yahweh with God’s λόγος, his divine, personified Word. The λόγος is immensely exalted in Philo’s theology. He calls it ‘the image of the living God’ (Moses 1.66), and the ‘firstborn’ (Confusion 146). These obviously have close parallels with how Jesus is described in the New Testament (e.g. 2 Cor 4.4; Col 1.15), but Philo is emphatic that, however exalted the λόγος may be, it is not God himself (Heir 206). Philo even calls the λόγος the ‘second god’ (Providence 1), just barely crossing the line into bitheism as long as doing so means the supreme God’s unity is maintained. However, Philo does elsewhere clarify that the λόγος is really just the ‘the eldest son’, ‘the eldest of [God’s] angels’ (Confusion 63; 146). The messenger of Yahweh is the first thing God created, à la Lady Wisdom in Prov 8.22–24. (Jesus is explicitly identified as ‘the beginning of God’s creation’ in Rev 3.14.) Philo even comments on our test-case, Exo 3, saying that the angel was only an ‘emblem’ representing ‘the providence of God’ (Moses 1.67).

Josephus, writing at the end of the first century, curiously minimizes the angel’s presence in his retelling of Israel’s history. Any occasions where an ambiguity might be alleged, Josephus tells the story to maintain a distinction between God and his angel. In the case of the burning bush (Judean Antiquities 2.12.1), Josephus completely removes the angel from the narrative, though he also deliberately avoids saying God himself was in the fire. Instead, Moses interacts only with ‘a voice’, which delivers ‘divine oracles’ from God.

Interpretations in the New Testament

Most importantly for our survey, not even the New Testament identifies the messenger of Yahweh with God or Jesus. The ‘angel of the Lord’ is mentioned about a dozen times between the different NT texts, and none of them make the connection. Even when the burning bush story is brought up, it is said that Moses first saw ‘an angel’, mentioned separately from ‘the voice of the Lord’ which spoke to him (Acts 7.30–31).

The two New Testament birth narratives for Jesus deserve extra attention. Matt 1–2 and Luke 1–2 each mention an ‘angel of the Lord’, ἄγγελος κυρίου. The Greek phrase is identical to the one used when the Septuagint translates ‘messenger of Yahweh’ from Hebrew. Both birth narratives are replete with allusions to birth stories in the Hebrew Bible.

Matthew’s first five chapters are deliberately constructed to resemble Israel’s origin story as told in Genesis and Exodus: Jesus’ father Joseph receives a prophetic dream (Gen 37.5, etc.), a star signals Israel’s ruler (Num 24.17), an evil king attempts to kill Jesus when he is only a child (Exo 1.15–22), Jesus is called ‘out of Egypt’ (Hos 11.1), and let still Jesus instructs about the law from a mountain (Exo 19ff). It would at least seem only natural for the messenger of Yahweh to announce the birth of Jesus.

Luke 1–2 deliberately resembles the style of stories and hymns from the Hebrew Bible, and the pregnancy revelations follow closely after those of Isaac, Samson, and Samuel.11

elements from the scene in Genesis 16 are combined with elements from other biblical scenes and distributed between the two annunciation stories of Luke 1. For example, in the first annunciation story (Luke 1:11–20), Luke uses the term ἄγγελος κυρίου to describe the angel issuing the birth prophecy (cf. Gen 16:7, 9–10; Judg 13:3).12

Luke’s birth narrative intentionally sets up its ἄγγελος κυρίου in parallel to the messenger of Yahweh found in the birth narratives of Isaac and Samson. This intended continuity makes it impossible for the angel to be God or Jesus in Luke’s conceptualization. In fact, Luke’s birth narrative tells us the real identity of the angel of the Lord: he is Gabriel, who ‘stands in the presence of God’ (1.11,19).

Zech 3, written contemporary to Haggai, contains a quasi-symbolic scene where Jerusalem’s high priest Joshua is on trial. On his left stands the sâtan (literally ‘the accuser’), while his defender, the messenger of Yahweh, stands on his right. The trial setting, the presence of the sâtan, and the technical verb ‘stand’, require us to recognize the scene as taking place in the ‘divine council’, the heavenly court of divine beings which Yahweh presides over.13 This court is also found in Job 1–2, and the opposing courtroom roles of Joshua’s accuser and defender implies their ontological equality (i.e. they are both angels beneath God). The messenger of Yahweh responds to the sâtan’s accusations against Joshua with a blunt ‘Yahweh rebuke you’. This exchange is echoed in a lost section from the Assumption of Moses, a fragmentary text from the late Second Temple period. The missing episode (if it really is from that book) is preserved only in a brief reference by the New Testament’s Letter of Judah.

But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’

If this passage is intended to remind readers of the passage in Zechariah — which seems evident, since ἐπιτιμήσαι σοι κύριος, ‘the Lord rebuke you’, is almost identical to LXX Zech 3.2 — it would mean the author of Judah likewise could not have identified the messenger of Yahweh with God or Jesus, instead seeing him as Michael (as opposed to Luke’s identification with Gabriel).

Remnants of Polytheism

I’ve written before on the lingering remnants of Israel’s polytheistic past. Yahweh was once associated with Edom before the migration of his sect into Canaan. Yahweh was once part of a pantheon, beneath the chief god El. Yahweh’s sect grew in power, and they elevated him above the pantheon, and he subsumed the identity of El.

The effects of this were not immediate, nor were they balanced evenly across the regions where Yahweh was worshiped. Local traditions grew separately from one another, so we have stories about El interacting with the patriarchs in Genesis, overshadowed by stories about Yahweh doing the same. Conflicting traditions about God making their way into the Bible naturally mean the Bible will contradict itself regarding God’s interactions with humanity. And even after these contradicting texts made their way into the same Bible, readers found ways to redact or reinterpret the texts in order to make them cohere with one another.

For example, later scribes found references to the pantheon of gods in Deut 32 problematic for a strictly monotheistic worldview, so they redacted the chapter.14 Similarly, although Exo 19.20 explicitly says ‘Yahweh descended upon Mount Sinai’ to speak to Moses for the word-for-word transcription of the law code found in Exo 20–23, readers in the late Second Temple period invented a more indirect process, by which Yahweh mediated this law code through an angel (e.g. Jubilees 1.27; Gal 3.19; Heb 2.2; Acts 7.53).

Conclusion

While it may sound like a trite excuse to those enthused by the pop theology exemplified by the mentioned video earlier, this last point is perhaps the most important to carry forward, after acknowledging errant manuscript traditions, cultural idiosyncrasies, and the distinct lack of the popular Christian interpretation in any text before the second century AD. The bare, undeniable fact that the Hebrew Bible contains evolving, conflicting traditions that have undergone varying degrees of redaction in order to mitigate polytheistic or anthropomorphic depictions of Israel’s god readily accounts for any stray text where it may seem that Yahweh and his messenger ‘overlap’ in identity.

To put it simply: an angel has been inserted (albeit inconsistently) into points of the narrative where later scribes thought Yahweh’s identity as the one true god, transcendent above all else, was conceptually threatened.

The messenger of Yahweh is not Yahweh. The angel of the LORD is not Jesus.


Brief Analysis of Texts

If you are interested in the individual texts relevant to the topic, and how they might be explained under the paradigm given above, I’ve laid them out here.

Gen 16.7–11: The messenger represents Yahweh who sent him.

Gen 18–19: Three ‘men’ (angels) appear. Abraham addresses one as Yahweh, and Lot addresses the other two as Yahweh. The messengers represent Yahweh who sent them.

Gen 22.11–15: The messenger represents Yahweh who sent him. He even prefaces one of his statements as ‘Yahweh says’, comparable to the prophets when they deliver oracles they claim are Yahweh’s speech.

Exo 3.1ff: The messenger represents Yahweh who sent him.

Exo 23.20–21: In Exo 19, Moses went up Mount Sinai to speak to Yahweh, and that chapter concludes with Moses coming back down the mountain to relay Yahweh’s words to Israel. Here, near the tail end of that speech, Yahweh (via Moses) tells Israel that he will send an angel to lead the way for them in their journey to Canaan, and the people are to obey the angel ‘for my name is in him’. This is one of the Hebrew Bible’s clearest references to the custom of treating the messenger as if he is the one who sent him.

Exo 32.34: Yahweh tells Moses that his ‘angel’ will lead the way to Canaan. This repeats the previous example.

Exo 33.2: Same as above.

Num 22.22–35: The messenger of Yahweh is not conflated with Yahweh. (The narrative actually calls this angel an ‘adversary’, Hebrew sâtan!)

Judges 2.1–4: The Masoretic text tradition conflates the messenger with Yahweh, but two early Greek translations distinguish the messenger from Yahweh.

Judges 5.23: The messenger refers to Yahweh in distinction from himself.

Judges 6.11–22: The messenger is briefly conflated with Yahweh who he represents, but the narrative, and Gideon’s reaction, specifically identify the messenger as an ‘angel’, not as Yahweh.

Judges 13: The messenger is not conflated with Yahweh in this story, but a few peculiarities stick out, such as the messenger refusing to divulge his name because ‘it is too wonderful’ (13.18), and his subsequent ascension to heaven through the burnt offering (13.20), which Christians interpret to mean the messenger really is Yahweh. Of the examples seen so far, this story has the strongest hints of polytheism lingering in the text.

Some scholars have theorized a connection between Samson, the truncated story of Shamgar son of Anat (Judges 3.31), and the story of Shammah (2 Sam 23.11–12).15 The heroic acts of these three biblical figures are very similar. Two of their names reference pagan sun-gods: Samson’s name honors Shemesh (a Canaanite goddess),16 Shamgar’s name means ‘Šimige has given’ in Hurrian (Šimige is a Hurrian god),17 and Anat is the name of a Semitic goddess (the Ugaritic pantheon included both Canaanite and Hurrian gods).18 Samson’s activity is even located near Beth Shemesh, ‘House of Shemesh’.

Behind Judges 13 may be an earlier legend in which a god (Shemesh, or another deity) appeared in disguise and fathered Samson with a human woman. Samson’s incredible strength would be the result of his divine parentage, and cutting his hair to harm him would be comparable to Achilles’ heel. Despite the text laboring to avoid suggesting that Samson is the son of Yahweh or the angel, even ancient readers recognized this was implied. Josephus claims that the angel’s second appearance, this time to the woman’s husband, was to assure him she had been faithful to their marriage (Judean Antiquities 5.8.2–3).19 As this story of a deity’s son was brought into the Yahwist tradition, it was eventually sanitized: not only is Yahweh not Samson’s father, but Samson’s parents never even interacted with Yahweh, only a messenger representing Yahweh.

2 Sam 24.16–17: The messenger of Yahweh appears in the narrative rather abruptly, but he is distinct from Yahweh.

1 Kings 19.7: The messenger of Yahweh is not conflated with Yahweh.

2 Kings 1.3,15: The messenger of Yahweh distinguishes himself from Yahweh, even prefacing his speech with ‘thus Yahweh says’.

2 Kings 19.35: The messenger of Yahweh is not conflated with Yahweh.

1 Chr 21: See the parallel in 2 Sam 24.16–17.

Psa 34.7: The messenger of Yahweh is not conflated with Yahweh.

Psa 35.5–6: The messenger of Yahweh is not conflated with Yahweh.

Zech 1.11–14: It’s a little bit ambiguous whether the messenger of Yahweh is identified as one of the ‘men’ riding on the colored horses, but he is not conflated with Yahweh. He speaks to Yahweh, who responds. The messenger intersperses his message to Zechariah with the statement ‘thus Yahweh says’ three times.

Zech 3.1–6: As discussed above, the courtroom setting implied by Joshua’s trial and roles of the messenger of Yahweh and the sâtan are ontological equals. They are both angels, members of the ‘sons of God’ category seen in Job 1–2.

Zech 12.8: The NRSV renders this verse this way:

On that day the Lord will shield the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, at their head.

The implied parallelism seems to be saying the house of David will ‘be like God’ and ‘like the messenger of Yahweh’, suggesting an identification between the two figures. However, another way of reading the text is that the house of David ‘shall be like God’ in the same way as the messenger of Yahweh had been ‘like God’ in the past (i.e. the angel represented God whenever he appeared, as a messenger is meant to). This would be comparable, then, to the way Moses was said to be ‘like God’ when confronting the pharaoh (Exo 4.16; 7.1).

It may complicate the incomparability of God; yet it comports well with the theology of the Chronicler, who spares no effort in praising the house of David. […] The phrase [“Angel of Yahweh”] appears only this once in Second Zechariah and could well be the mark of a redactor or compiler of the Book of Zechariah. […] This comparison of the Davidic dynasty to the Angel of Yahweh may draw upon the language of 2 Sam 14:17, in which the wise woman of Tekoa likens David to the “angel of God” (cf. the variant in Greek Lucan, which has “angel of Yahweh,” as here).20

Footnotes

1 René López, ‘Identifying the “Angel of the Lord” in the Book of Judges’, BBR 20.1, 10–11.

2 López, 2.

3 Kristian Bendoraitis, ’Behold, the Angels Came and Served Him’: A Compositional Analysis of Angels in Matthew, 24 fn 7; Michael Heiser, Angels: What the Bible Really Says About God’s Heavenly Host, ebook. Heiser tries to downplay these other cases as ‘rare’, and exploits the different rules of Greek grammar, saying Matt 1.24 is unique in the NT for using the article with the phrase ἄγγελος κυρίου. Heiser neglects to mention that the article is used because the ἄγγελος κυρίου had already been introduced to the reader, in 1.20, so using the article for this angel’s second mention in the text is not unusual, cf. W.G. MacDonald, ‘Christology and “The Angel of the Lord”’, Current Issues inn Biblical and Patristic Interpretation, 330 (via López), ‘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 [ho] angelos Kyrious . . . in Judg 2:4, following the anarthous use in Judg 2:1.’

4 López, 2.

5 Heiser, Angels, ebook.

6 Robert Boling, Judges, 62.

7 Heiser, Angels, ebook.

8 López, 4–5 (italics original).

9 William Propp, Exodus 1–18, 198–199.

10 David Petersen, Zechariah 9–14 and Malachi, 192.

11 Kenneth Litwak, Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts, 71ff.

12 Marrianne Palmer Bonz, The Past as Legacy: Luke-Acts and Ancient Epic, 162.

13 Carol Meyers, Eric Meyers, Zechariah 1–8, 182–184.

14 Richard Nelson, Deuteronomy, 379–380; Michael Heiser, ‘Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God’, Bibliotheca Sacra 158, 52–74.

15 Richard Nelson, Judges, 69.

16 Avigdor Shinan, Yair Zakovitch, From Gods to God, 192–193.

17 Philippe Guillaume, Waiting for Josiah: The Judges, 29

18 Mark Smith, God in Translation, 88 fn 219.

19 Shinan & Zakovitch, 193–194.

20 Carol Meyers, Eric Meyers, Zechariah 9–14, 333. David is also compared to ‘an angel of God’ in 2 Sam 19.27.