This question came in:
My name is XXX I live in YYY. I've been a Born Again Christian for over 30 years, thanks to Gods marvelous grace made available in Jesus name.
Some 2 years or so ago I was busy enlightening some poor JW's when guess what the trinity come up - especially the OT phrase "the angel of the Lord" . They very sweetly and nicely informed me there was no definite article attached to "angel" in the Hebrew.
This has bothered me ever since, the Hebrew has the phrase "malak yhwh" (4397) this would on purely linguistic terms be translated (a/an) angel of the LORD the 'of the' attached to YHWH is perfectly justified because of the very special nature of LORD, but 'malik' is a different matter I have two separate Hebrew text's and in no case can I find the definite article ie 'hamalak' used. I understand that there are compelling reasons of theology for translating "the Angel of the Lord" but JW's seem right in this instant for translating "an angel of Lord"
But as my knowledge of Hebrew is slight, may be I am missing something obvious to everyone else. I would under line I'm familiar with the evidence you present in your article and agree whole heartedly with it. Just seems to me that Christians are in this instance 'lying for Jesus' If the word (the) is not represented in the original it ought not be their, or translated (a / an) or omitted altogether 'angel of the LORD'
I do hope this doesn't appear trivial or nit picking, but sometimes an awful lot seems to hang on one small article.
Would look forward to your reply in due course, given
you can some how find time. In the meantime The Lord Bless You and yours.
The basic answer is: there are more ways to say 'the'
in Hebrew than just 'the'! (In fact, MOST of the ways to say
'the' are NOT by using the word 'the'!)
If you consult a standard Hebrew language grammar (e.g.,
GKC or Waltke/O'Connor [OT:IBHS]), this topic will be discussed under 'determination'
which refers to definiteness ('the') or indefiniteness ('a,
an'). In English, we (mostly) express definiteness by use of the article
'the', but in Hebrew there were other ways of indicating this.
The rules given in the grammars (I cite from Waltke/O'Connor below, section 9.7a) are as follows:
So, in our case, with 'angel of YHWH', if YHWH
is definite, then angel is definite (i.e., 'the angel' in
The next rule goes like this:
Lev 18.8: ish abi(ka) -- THE wife of your father (the first the is due to the suffix your)
1 Kgs 8.15: elohe israel -- THE God of Israel (the
first the is due to the proper name Israel)
This would mean that ANYTIME you see 'malik YHWH' it is to be translated as "THE angel of YHWH" or "THE angel of THE LORD" (both definite).
This is why it is incorrect to say that it says 'AN angel
of YHWH', because it doesn't.
Now, perhaps you see an obvious problem here--how would
we say 'an angel of YHWH' if we wanted to?!
The Hebrew actually has to use a 'round about' way to say this!
Ben leIise (A son of
Jesse)..the le (lamed) lets us know that the phrase is indefinite.
Hope this helps,
August 2, 1999