Bereishis Rabbah 50:2 states that one angel cannot perform multiple tasks:

אין מלאך אחד עושה שתי שליחות ולא שתי מלאכים עושים שליחות אחד.

One angel cannot perform two agencies, nor can two angels perform a single agency.

Yet Eichah Rabbah 2:3 states that Gavriel performed three agencies:

אמר רבי יוחנן למלאך קשה שביניהם אמר זה גבריאל שנאמר ואיש אחד בתוכם לבש בדים וקסת בספר במתניו. ג׳ דברים היה אותו מלאך משמש קסנטור ספקלטור וכהן גדול.

R’ Yochanan said: [G-d spoke] to the angel who was the most severe of them - This was Gavriel, as it says, “but one man among them was clothed in linen, with a scribe’s slate at his loins.” This angel served three functions: scribe, executioner, and High Priest.

How can these sources be reconciled? Can an angel have only one mission, or can he have three? If you want to argue that, for whatever reason, Gavriel is different, the Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah proceeds to detail which angels were involved and which task each one had:

מיכאל אמר בשורתו ונסתלק גבריאל נשתלח להפך את סדום ורפאל להציל את לוט.

Michael said his news [that Avraham would have a son] and left; Gavriel was sent to destroy Sedom; and Refael to save Lot.

But if Gavriel can perform multiple agencies, let him do all three! Are we forced to say that these Midrashim are in conflict, or is there a way of reconciling them?

(I see that the Anaf Yosef to Eichah Rabbah asks this question, leaving it unanswered. He’s referenced in note 69 in the Artscroll edition, and the piece in question is written out on the Hebrew side on page ד, for those who want to see him inside.)

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    There isn't a controdiction if you understand that the multiple agencies are not taking place simultaneously and that gavriel did each of these things one at a time. Another plausible explanation is the first source is a general rule for angels but gavriel is unique amongst angels in that it is an angel that is able to do multiple taskes simultaneously
    – Dude
    Jul 3, 2018 at 18:16
  • @Dude To respond to the first claim I present to you the angel Refael, which the Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah previously established healed Avraham as well, yet everyone asks the same question of one angel doing multiple agencies. If you’d like I can try to locate the precise sources and edit them in. To respond to the second claim, please reread beginning with the paragraph sandwiched between the two quotes beginning with “If you want to argue that, for whatever reason, Gavriel is different.”
    – DonielF
    Jul 3, 2018 at 18:21
  • what about the malach YHVH? Is this one and the same, if so it seems to be fulfilling multiple tasks
    – Levi
    Apr 21, 2020 at 18:51
  • @Levi I must be misunderstanding what you’re referring to, as Hashem is not a Malach.
    – DonielF
    Apr 21, 2020 at 22:48
  • @DonielF No no, I didn’t mean that at all! What I meant was that in the Tenach we don’t find the names of the malachim being sent, but sometimes we find terms like malach ha’elohim, or malach YHVH, this happens more than once. So my question was wether or not one and the same messenger is descibed as such, or if it are more than one and the same which is refered to as such. If it’s one and the same malach in each of the cases it seems that this angel fulfilled multiple tasks during certain situations.
    – Levi
    Apr 23, 2020 at 16:06


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