The Angel of Jehovah in Genesis

Thus as early as Gen. xvi. 7, the angel of Jehovah appears to Hagar and says, "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude." And Hagar, it is said, "called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her [Attah el Roi] Thou God seest me" (ver. 13). This angel therefore is declared to be Jehovah, and promises what God only could perform. Again, in Gen. xviii. 1, it is said, Jehovah appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre, who promised to him the birth of Isaac. In ver. 18, he is again called Jehovah. Jehovah said, "Is anything too hard for Jehovah? At the time appointed I will return unto thee . . . . and Sarah shall have a son." As the angels turned toward Sodom, one of them, called Jehovah, said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" and, "Jehovah said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now and see," etc., and Abraham, it is added, stood before Jehovah. Through the whole of Abraham's intercession in behalf of the cities of the plain, the angel is addressed as Adonai, a title given only to the true God, and speaks as Jehovah, and assumes the authority of God, to pardon or punish as to him seems fit. When the execution of the sentence pronounced on Sodom is mentioned, it is said, "Jehovah rained . . . . brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven." With regard to this and similar remarkable expressions, the question is not, What may they mean? but, What do they mean? Taken by themselves they may be explained away, but taken in the light of the connected revelations of God on the subject, it becomes apparent that Jehovah is distinguished as a person from Jehovah; and therefore that in the Godhead there is more than one person to whom the name Jehovah belongs. In this case, the words "brimstone and fire" may be connected with the words "from Jehovah," in the sense of "fire of God" as a figurative expression for the lightning. The passage would then mean simply, "Jehovah rained lightning on Sodom and Gomorrah." But this is not only against the authorized punctuation of the passage as indicated by the accents, but also against the analogy of Scripture. That is, it is an unnatural interpretation, and brings this passage into conflict with those in which the distinction between the angel of Jehovah and Jehovah, i.e., between the persons of the Godhead, is clearly indicated.

In Gen. xxii. 2, God commands Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. The angel of Jehovah arrests his hand at the moment of immolation, and says (ver. 12), "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me." And in ver. 16, the angel of the Lord said, "By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah . . . . that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed." And Abraham called the name of that place "Jehovah-jireh." Here God, the angel of Jehovah, and Jehovah are names given to the same person, who swears by Himself and promises the blessing of a numerous posterity to Abraham. The angel of Jehovah must therefore be a divine person.

In Jacob's vision, recorded Gen. xxviii. 11-22, he saw a ladder reaching to heaven, "and behold Jehovah stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth." Here the person elsewhere called the angel of Jehovah, and who had given the same promise to Abraham, is called the Lord God of Abraham and the God of Israel. In Gen. xxxii. 24-32, Jacob is said to have wrestled with an angel, who blessed him, and in seeing whom Jacob said, "I have seen God face to face." The prophet Hosea, xii. 4, in referring to this event, says, "Jacob had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Beth-el, and there he spake with us; even Jehovah God of Hosts; Jehovah is his memorial." The angel with whom Jacob wrestled, was the Lord God of Hosts. (Hodge v 1 p 485)

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