The Angel of His Face

“In all their affliction he was afflicted, And the Angel of His Face saved them…(Isaiah 63:9)

     Continuing the theme of my last post, I want to expound on some things that became apparent to me from the investigation into the Messiah in the Old Testament.  This article continues my supposition that the “Angel of the Yahweh” mentioned in the Tanach is YHWH Himself and a Pre-incarnate Messiah.  (see my last post for details “The Defense of Christina Deity.”)  While researching this Angel, I stumbled across the above-quoted verse.  I was captivated by the phrase, “of His Face.”  Since we’ve been discussing the pros vs. cons of the Peshat approach to scriptures (used mainly by the Karaite Jews), I thought a literal examination of this verse would be in order.

     The Hebrew for face is mnp( (panim) which is literally means “face”.  No spiritual/theological gymnastics are required to determine its meaning.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states, “The face identifies the person and reflects the attitude and sentiments of the person.  As such, panim can be a substitute for the self, or the feelings of the self.” (1)  This was exactly what I was thinking, that this Angel (or messenger in Hebrew) is here literally (Peshatlly if you will) identified with Yahweh Himself.  I thought, perhaps, I was reading into it, so I searched for some additional commentary on it.  Keil and Delitasch write, “This mediatorial angel is called the “the angel of His face,” as being the representative of God, for the “face of God” is His self-revealing presence.  The genitive wynp, therefore, it’s not to be taken objectively in the sense of the “angels who sees His face,” but as explanatory, “the angel who is His face, or in whom His face is manifested.” (2)  Notice the “w” on the end of the word.  It is called a pronominal suffix and the literal translation of it is “His.”  The grammar (syntax) of the Hebrew (literally, plainly, Peshat) is written with “possession” in mind and this tells us that this Messenger represents or is His Face.  There is one final witness I would like to call that bears witness of this translation.

     A group of Rabbis translated the Tanach into Greek a few hundred years before the time of Jesus.  How did they interpret the verse?  The literal translation form the Greek is “not an ambassador, nor a messenger (angel), but Himself saved them.’ (Greek: ou presbus, oude aggelos, all autos eswsen autos.)  Their understanding of the verse is the same as the supposition that is but forth here.

     To conclude, we have the Hebrew text itself (syntax), the commentary of theologians, and the translation of ancient rabbis which all proclaim that this Angel is Yahweh Himself.  Notice how the first part of the verse begins, “In all their afflictions, He was afflicted.”  This sounds much like the character of Messiah and much like the character of Jesus.  This Angel was a pre-incarnate Savior of Israel and of the Gentiles.

Endnotes

  1. 1.       R.L. Harris, Editor; Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, Associate Editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, page 727.
  2. 2.      C.F. Keil, F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Mass, volume 7, page 599-600.
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