What angel is Ex. 23:20 referring to?

Who or what is this angel that is spoken of here? Utterly confused by all the different angels in Exodus. You have the Angel of ADONI, you have the Angel of God, and then an angel not otherwise specified. How long was this angel with Moses? And could Moses see it all the time?

Now, here is what I am assuming and correct me if I am wrong here, but I assume the Angel of ADONI is God incarnate. Jesus basically before he was born. This is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, however, they knew Him as El Shaddai, which means Almighty or Justice. It was not until the burning bush that God revealed to Moses that El Shaddai was ADONI, which means Lord.

Now, as far as angels go, it gets pretty complicated pretty quick. But just consider the above and tell me what you know.

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From my understanding, it is debated that the angel of the Lord is Jesus. I have a few links where some apologists go into better details than I can. Here’s a passage from one of the links though.

The precise identity of the “angel of the Lord” is not given in the Bible. However, there are many important “clues” to his identity. There are Old and New Testament references to “angels of the Lord,” “ an angel of the Lord,” and “ the angel of the Lord.” It seems when the definite article “the” is used, it is specifying a unique being, separate from the other angels. The angel of the Lord speaks as God, identifies Himself with God, and exercises the responsibilities of God (Genesis 16:7-12; 21:17-18; 22:11-18; Exodus 3:2; Judges 2:1-4; 5:23; 6:11-24; 13:3-22; 2 Samuel 24:16; Zechariah 1:12; 3:1; 12:8). In several of these appearances, those who saw the angel of the Lord feared for their lives because they had “seen the Lord.” Therefore, it is clear that in at least some instances, the angel of the Lord is a theophany, an appearance of God in physical form.

When you continue reading in the passage that you put up this angel of the Lord has the power to forgive sins. This is something only God can do. When you do a bit of a word study on the Hebrew word yiś·śā in verse 21 it has some really interesting meanings aside from Pardon. A few of them are “to lift, carry, or take”. Interesting to put that into perspective when you know the verse is talking about sin. Which all the more seems to give the impression he can lift sins or count them against people. Again that is only something God can do. Here are a few videos and links that I said earlier talk about it deeper than I can.

This one specifically speaks about the Trinity in the Old testament you may find what you are looking for here in this video series.


How did you know about this?

@Jesse_Means_God_Exists Well when in the Gospel of John its said that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” you have to come to the conclusion that Jesus is eternal. If he’s eternal then he has to have been there since the beginning like its stated. So then I just started looking up if Jesus is in the Old testament lol

Come to find out it seems that he did somewhat reveal himself to Abraham but not as Jesus/Yeshua. Check out Genesis 18 the whole chapter and see what you think. :slight_smile:

Yes, I see. The person who it was, was not Jesus, but YHWH. Therefore, the angel of ADONI is Jesus.

I still do not know who the angel of God is, or the angel that was with Moses.

@Jesse_Means_God_Exists What passages are you getting these phrases from?

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As @Luna pointed out so well; the angel of the Lord seems to be sometimes a ‘Theophany’ an appearing of the pre-Incarnate Christ Jesus, and sometimes just an angelic created being. The important difference is that Jesus Christ (God the Son), is not a created being; but is the Eternal God. From the article below

Three Possibilities

Three major views have been put forth as to the exact identity of the angel of the LORD.

1. A mighty angel who acted as the special representative of the LORD.

2. God the Father assuming a human body.

3. God the Son, taking a body for a short period of time.

Each of these three views has its supporters. To determine which view best fits the evidence, we will consider some of the major appearances of the angel of the LORD and make some observations about those appearances.

the video @Luna shared is from theBibleProject’s series on Spiritual Beings. I think all their teaching is within Christian orthodoxy and doesn’t stray into error, although I’m just a lay person not a theologian. Obviously some ministries will share their point of view more strongly, depending on what denomination they are loosely aligned to. We can read and then go back to the Bible and make up our own mind. I was interested to learn that ‘God’ (El or elohim) is the general name for a spiritual being; whereas Yahweh is the ‘proper’ name.

you might also enjoy theBibleProject in depth word studies about the Shema, and the video about ‘YHWH, Adonai, LORD, Jehovah’ and all the names of God;

To your question regarding Exodus 23:20 I personally would lean towards this being Theophany; a reference to God the Son; but that would be because the translators of the NKJV and the KJV have translated ‘Angel’ and ‘Him’ (upper case). denoting this to be God; as opposed to a normal angel who was a created being such as Gabriel.

However in the ESV the translators in Exodus 23:20 have chosen a lower case ‘angel’, so I’m not 100% sure myself.

I know you like getting into the Greek/Hebrew.
‘the angel’; being ‘malak’ full references here; note point 3 the ’ the theophanic angel ה֯א֠להים ׳מ’ they seem to suggest that the Exodus 23:20 being a Theophany as well. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/4397.htm

Created angelic beings always seem to say; “don’t worship me; only worship God” (I’m just thinking of the one that appeared to the apostle John in Revelation 22:8-9) ; in the Bible only God accepts the worship that is rightfully His.

Interestingly, on a related note, Jesus claimed to be Yahweh when he spoke the Pharisees. In John 8:56-59 Jesus said he was ‘I AM’; the exact same introduction that God gave to Moses in Exodus 3:14. The Pharisees knew exactly what he was claiming; and they picked up stones to stone Jesus for blasphemy. This was main charge of the Jews at the crucifixion - Jesus claimed to be the uncreated Eternal God;

Matthew 26:63-66 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

the reference Jesus, in calling himself the Son of Man; is referring to the prophecy in Daniel 7 about the coming Messiah would have all authority given to Him.

The Son of Man Is Given Dominion
13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

hopefully this helps without causing you ‘information overload’. :slight_smile: It’s a big topic to explore; and as I said I’m not a theologian, just a lay church person. hopefully this is a helpful start for your studies. :slight_smile:


Thanks so much for you post and trying to give me some information on this.

Yes, indeed, from the Hebrew, it is just “angel”

H4855 | S H4397 מַלְאָךְ malʾāḵᵉ 213x
n.m. [root of: 4856, 4857, 4858?; 10417]. messenger, a human representative; angel, a supernatural representative of God, sometimes delivering messages, sometimes protecting God’s people; the “angel of the LORD” sometimes shares divine characteristics and is sometimes thought to be an manifestation of God himself, or of the preincarnate Christ.

But in context it is just really complicated given all the other “angels” that visited people in the OT.

Also to note is that the “Angel of ADONI” visited Mary before she became pregnant to tell her she would birth the Son of God, Emanuel.

And this is all more complicated than it seems because I am looking at more than just Ex. 23:20. There is also when Moses met with the Angle of ADONI when he went to go up to Mount Sinai. Further, the Burning bush was a manifestation of God, but I will have to double check what kind.

There is also the “Angel of God,” not to be confused with the Angel of the ADONI or even the angel of Elohim (I think), who I think is what the pillar of fire was when the Israelites were on the sore of the Red Sea. This particular representation of an Angel is especially confusing because it just says Angel of “God” without the name of the associated One God. I am reading a Messianic Jewish translation of the Bible so it gives the Hebrew names for these things. Now, what is notable about this word “God” as in “Angel of God” in just that form is I think thought of as A God such that other nations could have gods as well. It uses God a lot in Genesis, but then doesn’t use it that much in Exodus besides the infrequent use of “Angel of God”. So as far as “‘Messenger’ of God” goes, IDK who that would be.

So “Angel of God” would be the last one to figure out. You can find that terminology here:

Ex. 14:19 Then the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. Also the pillar of cloud moved from in front and stood behind them,

I will get to those links eventually.

Thanks again for your post.

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I believe the angel of God here is the angel of Elohim, so that answers that.

However, there is a mountain of more study that can be done about this stuff. I am just scratching the tip of the iceberg at this point.

I am getting them from the TLV of the Bible.