There is only one God. So there is only one being in the whole world that can call himself God with the word "I".

Yet we have this malak Hashem repeatedly acting as if he is God himself.

Appearances of the "angel of the Lord" are often presented as theophanies:[2] in Genesis 31:11–13 the angel of God says, "I am the God of Beth-el"; in Exodus 3:2–6 the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the flame of fire, and then the Lord says to him: "I am the God of thy father"; compare Genesis 22:11; Judges 6:11–22. At times the angel of the Lord speaks in such a way as to assume authority over previous promises (see Gen. 16:11 and 21:17). (source)

Let's take a look at that "I am the God of Bethel". Many things are problematic here.

One explanation is that the angel of Hashem is Hashem himself. If that's the case, we have problems. That's because the angel "appears" while Hashem can't be seen. Also that would suggest that Hashem incarnates as an angel.

Another is that the angel of Hashem is not Hashem. He should have said, "Hashem is the God of Bethel"

Anyway, with all those problems, who is that angel of the Lord? And why did he call himself the God of Bethel?

Note: this question is inspired by the boy Malak in the new Moses movie.

  • 13
    I think you're missing one obvious possibility: The angel is acting as the messenger for God and delivering His message verbatim, as it were.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 19, 2014 at 14:07
  • 4
    Ah it's like my email saying I want a cake even though technically it is I that wants the cake and not that email. Cool. Why God of Bethel though?
    – user4951
    Dec 19, 2014 at 14:13
  • I think @IsaacMoses is correct as the flow of verses indicates (v. 9) that God separated, and then there is a message that God says "I separated" as relayed by the vision of an angel in a dream. Note, the text does not use the word "elohim".
    – rosends
    Dec 19, 2014 at 14:13
  • 4
    @JimThio R. David Kimchi explains that the text means "I am the God who revealed himself to you in Beit El."
    – rosends
    Dec 19, 2014 at 14:16
  • 1
    @Danno, sounds like you have enough information for an authoritative answer.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 19, 2014 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


Many times in the bible a messenger of hashem speaks as hashem himself, or an action performed by his messenger is attributed directly to Hashem. One famous example is 2 Samuel 24:1 vs. 1 Chronicles 21:1. Compare those two passages. They tell the same exact story but one says Hashem incited David to count the people and the other says Satan incited David. Is this a contradiction? In christianity (or messianism) it would be. But Jews have always known that Satan is not an antagonist to Hashem, but is one of his messengers who is also subservient. Since he is doing what Hashem told him to do, Samuel refers to his a actions as actions directly of Hashem. Also look at Isaiah 7:10 where the bible says Hashem is speaking, when in reality it is Isaiah.

  • 2
    It's a good answer, but it's buried in so much anti-messianic propaganda, that it looks like spam. Oct 11, 2015 at 7:15
  • +1 for your answer itself. It seems it was not so well received because of the tone accompanying it though. I'm going to suggest an edit for the community and yourself to review.
    – user2411
    Jul 28, 2016 at 23:16
  • 1
    You're comparing apples with oranges here. If Satan said, I am HaShem, then you'd have a point. That's basically what the angel of HaShem says in Yaakov's dream. And Isaiah 7:10 is even a much much weaker example. The verse starts by saying that HaShem said this so we know it's what HaShem has said not Isaiah.
    – Mordecai
    Oct 31, 2021 at 7:36

The Art Scroll Stone Chumash explains in Vayeitzei 31:13 explains the usage here and in other places that when a malach is instructed to give a message it will give Hashem's words exactly including the I am Hashem.

As Hashem's emissary the angel spoke in the first person, describing Himself as the God of Bethel, i.e. the God who appeared to you in Bethel (see 28:13 (Radak), and Who promised you My protection, assuring you that I would bring you back to that land (Malbim)

An analogy can be given to a tape recorder or a robot which can speak only as it is programmed to do.


It is the Shekinah of Hashem, this is the Devar Hashem (The living word of Hashem) same one the prophet Ezekiel saw, the same one mentioned in Zechariah and you will notice times when he is actually called lord and notice that the angel of the lord commanded Joshua to take his shoes off because he stood upon holy ground and Joshua did so and actually bowed down to him

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

this is also the same one mentioned in Ezekiel

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

Ezekiel 1:26

and also

I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims

Isaiah 6

The word used for angel has two meanings, one is a race of beings called angels and the other is simply "messenger".

This one is The Shekinah of Hashem, the Devar Hashem (living word of God) hence he is the direct "messenger" of Hashem, he is the full revelation of Hashem.

  • This answer raises even more question. If this guy is hashem, why he has a human form and holding a sword (instead of at least Uzi or magic wand or nothing). Since when Hashem needs weapon? If this guy is not hashem why did Josua bow to him? I thought you should only bow to Hashem.
    – user4951
    Dec 26, 2014 at 1:14
  • @Jim Thio, Hashem does not need a weapon it was merely symbolic of Hashem engaging in the war of men. The Shekinah of Hashem is how Hashem reveals himself in this world, to reveal his glory to us his Shekinah is made manifest. The Shekinah comming in the form of a man does not contradict anything being the glory of Hashem manifesting in this world to leave men in awe of Hashem's magnificence
    – eliyah
    Dec 26, 2014 at 4:01
  • @Jim Thio, To bow down to Hashem's Shekinah is to bow down before his manifest glory and greatness which is not breaking any commandments.
    – eliyah
    Dec 26, 2014 at 4:25
  • So I guess Hashem sometimes operate "avatars" like in the movie avatars and those puppets have forms. So hashem has no form. But his puppets/malaks/avatars can have. So ezekiel saw some guy sitting on a throne. That's hashem's angel too. Because Hashem has no form and hence can't possibly look like some guy sitting on athrone.
    – user4951
    Dec 26, 2014 at 9:26
  • 1
    "this is the Devar Hashem (The living word of Hashem)" You realize this is how Christians sees Jesus.... "The Logos". So wouldn't this be some sort of idolatry ? (It doesn't matter if it incarnated a body or not)
    – mil
    Sep 1, 2015 at 13:23

One might say there is a difference between angel and seraph. The term angel is often taken by the Christian meaning, when in Judaism it is not. A seraph is more close to that, in my honest opinion. Every Angel in the Torah is of God himself, if you noticed in Genesis. He refers to himself as we. You could say "Oh but does that mean there are more Gods?" But remember, would saying we be correct if you referred to every cell of your being? Now onto the Seraphs, they are powerful servants of God who pretty much are like his soldiers of a sort, as depicted by Ezekiel.

Remember when Jacob fought the angel? Does israel not mean to struggle with God?

  • 3
    I cannot understand what you are saying. I do not think that this answers the question. Dec 21, 2016 at 17:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .