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1 Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed.

3Moses said, “I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn’t the bush burn up?” 4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.”

5And He said, “Do not come closer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. 6I am,” He said, “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.     Exodus 3/1-6 Tanakh JPS 1985.

 

Many biblical writers assume the existence of beings superior to man in knowledge and power but subordinate to the one God. These beings serve as His attendants, like courtiers of an earthly king, and also as His agents to convey His messages to men and to carry out His will.

These beings are clearly designated by the English word “angel.” The terminology of biblical Hebrew is not so exact. Malʾakh, the word most often used, means “messenger” (“to send”). It is applied frequently to human agents and is sometimes used figuratively.

Apparently for greater clarity, the Bible frequently calls the angel the malʾakh of God; yet the same title is occasionally applied to human agents of the Deity. Elsewhere angels are called ʾelohim (“god” or “gods”); more often bene ʾelohim or bene ʾelim (“sons of gods”) – in the general sense of “divine beings.”

They are also known as kedoshim (qedoshim; “holy beings). Often the angel is called simply “man.” The mysterious being who wrestled with Jacob is first called a man, then ʾelohim, but Hosea refers to him also as a malʾakh.

As a result of this there are some passages where it is uncertain whether a human or superhuman messenger is meant. The Bible also speaks of winged creatures of angelic character called cherubim and seraphim who serve a variety of functions. A further ambiguity is due to the fact that the Bible does not always distinguish clearly between God and His messenger.

Thus, Hagar encounters an angel but later addresses “the Lord that spoke unto her”. It is God who commands the sacrifice of Isaac; later Abraham is addressed by the angel of the Lord from heaven. The angel of the Lord appears to Moses in the burning bush, but through the rest of the story Moses converses with the Deity. So, too, in the Gideon story, Gideon speaks sometimes with God, sometimes with the angel of God.

Some scholars infer from this phenomenon that the angel was not regarded as an independent being, but simply as a manifestation of the Divine power and will. Others suppose that in the earliest version of these stories a human being was confronted directly by God, and that later scribes toned down the boldness of this concept by interposing an angel.

From: Angels & Angelology; Jewishvirtuallibrary.org (edited)

 

20I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready. 21Pay heed to him and obey him. Do not defy him, for he will not pardon your offenses, since My Name is in him; 22but if you obey him and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.     Exodus 23/ 20-22 Tanakh JPS 1985.

 

Commentary:

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed.”

“Moses said, “I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn’t the bush burn up?” 4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.”

 

An angel of the Lord appears in a blazing fire of a bush that Moses gazed upon and G-d calls to Moses from the bush. Why does an angel of the Lord appear in the burning bush and G-d speaks?

G-d created a person for companionship of the spirit, His spirit, a living being that exists in and by His power with Him whose knowledge is exceeded only by His own. Where the person of Ruach (“spirit”) HaKodesh (“Holy G-d”) is so is the person of the Holy G-d, whose person is also of spirit, as all persons are, though they are not one, but always together.

Ruach HaKodesh is the first person created of spirit by HaShem who created all things and his person is connected to all heavenly angels in the power and thought of HaShem.

Many years ago HaShem was having me read these verses of the burning bush and suddenly the person of G-d’s spirit (at my immediate left) said, that is me. I said, who? He said, the angel of the Lord. I said, no you are not. He said, yes I am. I said, o.k., but I did not understand how that could be.

G-d’s spirit is the word of the Lord, the angel of the Lord, the angel of the covenant and the angel of death in the sense that he and G-d are in them.

As G-d says in Exodus I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready. Pay heed to him and obey him. Do not defy him, for he will not pardon your offenses, since My Name is in him. My Name in the angel includes the person of His spirit.

Angels do not have bodies and minds as we do. They are spirit persons whose bodies are formed in the power of G-d and “elements” of the unseen realm of G-d. Their “persons” are a part of HaShem and the person of His spirit.

When the angel of the Lord is in the burning bush and G-d speaks He is speaking through the angel who is His manifest presence. The angels voice is what is heard and to the angel it is the angel speaking but G-d is having the words of G-d spoken as though G-d was the angel. The angel is G-d’s form and presence to speak to Moses. This is a heavenly angel that has no visible presence that humanity can see and to Moses it is just a voice speaking from the burning bush.

Another way to think of it is that angels are hosts of HaShem and the person of His spirit who are like guests. Quiet guests who voice their presence occasionally with conversation, commands and orders. Elijah was also a host. It is different when a man is a host than an angel but also very similar. It is why men are often called angels in the Tanakh.

And now I am a host. I am Elijah for just that reason. With me however HaShem and the person of His spirit are not very quiet. They are always with me and direct everything I do throughout the day. This constant direction can be seen in the story of Elijah and the sacrifice of the bulls with the Baal prophets. Elijah says that everything he did in that long day was at the bidding of G-d.

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