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Angel (I) מלאך

(3,150 words)

Author(s): S. A. Meier
I. Name The consonants lʾk in the Semitic languages signify ‘send’, with a more focused nuance in certain languages of specifically ‘send with a commission/message’ (Cunchillos 1982). The mēm- prefix and a-vowels of Heb. malʾāk conform generally to what is expected for an instrumental noun ( maqtal) identifying the vehicle or tool by which the action of the verb is accomplished (in this case, the means by which a message is sent, hence ‘messenger’). Because …

Angel of Yahweh מלאך יהוה

(4,489 words)

Author(s): S. A. Meier
I. Name The word ‘angel’ in this phrase is literally ‘messenger’. The juxtaposition of the common noun “messenger” with a following divine name in a genitive construction signifying a relationship of subordination is attested elsewhere in the ancient Near East (e.g. mlak ym, KTU 1.2; mār šipri ša DN, cf. CAD M/1 265). However, most of the appearances in the Bible of the phrase malʾak YHWH are not easily explicable by recourse to Near Eastern paradigms, for the malʾak YHWH in the Bible presents a number of unique problems. II. Identity It is typical for gods in the ancient Near East…

Destroyer משׁחית

(2,511 words)

Author(s): S. A. Meier
I. Name ‘Destroyer’ is the designation of a supernatural envoy from God assigned the task of annihilating large numbers of people, typically by means of a plague. The noun is a hiphil participle of the root šḥt which is not attested in the OT in the qal. When the root appears in the hiphil, hophal, piel, and niphal stems, it describes the deterioration, marring, disfiguring, damaging and destruction of people and things, such as textiles ( Jer. 13.7), pots ( Jer. 18.4), vineyards ( Jer. 12.10), trees ( Deut. 20.19), cities ( Gen. 13.10) and buildings ( Lam. 2.6). It represents the kind of…

Mediator (I) מלאך מליץ

(1,852 words)

Author(s): S. A. Meier
I. Name The two Hebrew words appearing together only in Job 33.23 are not in a construct or genitive relationship (as is true of malʾak yhwh, Angel of Yahweh), for they are either in apposition, function as poetic parallels, or the first noun is modified by the second adjectival participle. Malʾāk means simply messenger or angel. On the other hand, considerable difficulty has hindered the reconciliation of the negative connotations of the root lwṣ/lyṣ (‘scoff, scorn, mock’; cf. Ps. 119.51; Prov. 3.34; Prov. 9.12) with the positive interpretations of the five biblical appea…