Job 38, Daniel 7, Revelation 5 – Angels

Gustave_Dore_XIV

Angels in the Bible are sometimes called in Hebrew bene Elohim which is translated as “sons of God”.  So, e.g., in the Book of Job (composed in Hebrew somewhen in the mid 6th to mid 4th century BC) we read:

“The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” (Job 38:7)

The morning stars in the ancient world are what we now know as planets of our solar system.  The morning stars are: MercuryVenusMars, Jupiter and Saturn because these can be seen with the naked eye.

Some translations of the Bible into English have “angels” or “heavenly beings” but a literal translation of the Hebrew bene Elohim is “sons of God”.  The angels in the Bible are not, strictly speaking, created by God.  It would be closer to the point to say that God begets them.  Angels are “sons and daughters of God” we would say today.  Angels eternally proceed out from God.  Beyond this space-time universe the angels eternally proceed out from God and as sons of God they share the divine nature.  Another book of the Bible describes this sublime effulgence of angels.

The Book of Daniel probably written in its final version in 164 BC in Aramaic and Hebrew.  The book contains a magnificent vision of “the Ancient of Days”.  The vision is highly metaphorical and pictorial but includes the procession of angels:

“A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” (Daniel 7:10)

The numerical words (“a thousand thousands” and “ten thousand times ten thousand”) is an ancient Near Eastern way of saying “infinity”.  An infinity of angels!  We also have here an example of a literary device in ancient Hebrew called by scholars “parallelism”.  This is when the second line is an echo of the first line.  The echo explains the meaning of the first line.  So the stream of fire that issues out from God is the infinity of angels.  An infinity of angels proceeds out from the Infinite One.  The last book of the Bible called The Book of Revelation or The Apocalypse written in Greek but full of Hebrew idioms towards the end of the first century refers to Daniel’s vision:

“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.”  (Revelation 5:11)

Rev Dr Peter Pimentel

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