Do angels still manifest themselves as humans and appear to us without us knowing? Do the rabbinic sources have something to say about this?

  • 1
    "Unknowingly" -- I think you mean "unbeknownst to us" -- the angels know what they are doing.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 2:39
  • Of it was unknowingly then how would it be known that they appear to us?
    – Dude
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 2:40
  • 1
    Usually the context is the Prophet Elijah (Eliyahu HaNavi); the Talmud has a couple of stories up to the 300s or so of him popping up at the right time and place. People still tell stories occasionally of a mystery man showing up at the right time and place, then after he's walked away they find a calling card that says "Eliyahu HaNavi" or something like that. Nice stories. "Believe none of these kinds of stories, and you're a heretic. Believe all of them, and you're a lunatic." In short: it's really not a major part of the faith one way or the other.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 2:42
  • 1
    See also judaism.stackexchange.com/a/137953/21 - G-d can arrange for a flesh-and-blood human to be in the right place, at the right time, to tell you the right message. "Angel" in a figurative sense.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 2:43
  • 1
    Stories like these: publishersweekly.com/9780152004453. Nice stories. Wouldn't call them theology (though sometimes they impart a moral lesson). There's a similar folk tale that was recently put out in a kid's book, where the mystery man who turns out to be The Prophet Elijah had appeared as an African-American soldier (whose uniform reads TISHBI). I thought that was a nice twist. But angels per se interacting with humans ... really not since the end of prophecy 2300 years ago give or take. Hassidic lore since the late 1700s is full of it, though. But not everybody's Hassidic.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 2:54

2 Answers 2


I'm not familiar with sources that mention recent instances of this, but I do remember one post-Biblical instance in Shas of angels manifesting themselves as humans in Bavel in the days of the Amoraim.

See תענית כד עמ' ב

אֲמַר רַב מָרִי בְּרַהּ דְּבַת שְׁמוּאֵל: אֲנָא הֲוָה קָאֵימְנָא אַגּוּדָּא דִּנְהַר פָּפָּא, חֲזַאי לְמַלְאֲכֵי דְּאִידְּמוֹ לְמַלָּחֵי דְּקָא מַיְיתִי חָלָא וּמְלוֹנְהוּ לְאַרְבֵּי, וַהֲוָה קִמְחָא דִּסְמִידָא. אֲתוֹ כּוּלֵּי עָלְמָא לְמִיזְבַּן, אָמֵינָא לְהוּ: מֵהָא לָא תִּיזְבְּנוּן דְּמַעֲשֵׂה נִסִּים הוּא, לִמְחַר אָתְיָין אַרְבֵי דְּחִיטֵּי דְּפַרְזִינָא.

Translation of the segment in bold:

I saw angels who appeared as sailors bringing sand and filling ships with it, and it became fine flour.

(BTW - after first seeing this many years ago, I have long been fascinated by the phonetic similarity of מלאכי - angels, to מלחי, sailors of the salty sea)

The above would be a case of a standard מלאך השם to be viewed as some supernatural/spiritual creation of השם that He commands and acts on His behalf, and in this case of the Gemara they appear as humans. This as opposed to humans who attain the status of מלאך השם.


Angels exist, but angels refer to natural forces, “He makes His angels winds; His ministers flaming fire” (Psalms 104:4).

Rambam says that when angels are mentioned in Torah, the story must describe a vision, as angels do not exist in the physical existence. See Guide, Book II, CHAPTER XLII

Thus, angels cannot take on human form. Genesis 18:2 says, three men/angels visited Abraham. Where they angels or humans?

The word malakhim means messengers. Genesis 32:4 reports that Jacob sent malakhim to his brother Esau. Rashi maintains that Jacob sent angels. Rational thinkers say that he sent messengers. I think it is correct to translate the word as “messengers,” for they conveyed messages to Sarah and Lot. Angels are whatever fulfills the will of God. Even snow anf wind are angels. Thus, good humans may be called angels. The visitors to Abraham were good humans, not angels with wings. This is the only human form an angel can take.

  • So Enoch became .. a vision? I thought everyone holds he became the MT"T like the verse implies? Well I guess not Rambam at least. Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 5:16
  • @NissimNanach I think so.
    – Turk Hill
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 21:05

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