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Yahweh – Our Kinsman Redeemer Has Come!

Sam Shamoun

According to the Hebrew Bible Yahweh commanded that if there is an Israelite who either sells off his inheritance or becomes a slave then his nearest relative, called a go’el/ga’al in Hebrew, must redeem him and his possessions.

“If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest kinsman/redeemer shall come and redeem (ga’al) what his brother has sold.” Leviticus 25:25

“If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, or his uncle or his cousin may redeem (geullah) him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem (ga’al) him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself.” Leviticus 25:47-49

The go’el also had to make sure that the lineage of his nearest kin would be preserved by procuring an offspring for him in cases where the relative had no male heirs or descendants:

“And Bo'az went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the next of kin (ha go’el), of whom Bo'az had spoken, came by. So Bo'az said, ‘Turn aside, friend; sit down here’; and he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, ‘Sit down here’; so they sat down. Then he said to the next of kin (go’el), ‘Na'omi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land which belonged to our kinsman Elim'elech. So I thought I would tell you of it, and say, Buy it in the presence of those sitting here, and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.’ And he said, ‘I will redeem it.’ Then Bo'az said, ‘The day you buy the field from the hand of Na'omi, you are also buying Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the dead, in order to restore the name of the dead to his inheritance.’ Then the next of kin (ha go’el) said, ‘I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.’ Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the next of kin (ha go’el) said to Bo'az, ‘Buy it for yourself,’ he drew off his sandal. Then Bo'az said to the elders and all the people, ‘You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Na'omi all that belonged to Elim'elech and all that belonged to Chil'ion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from the gate of his native place; you are witnesses this day.’ Then all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, ‘We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you prosper in Eph'rathah and be renowned in Bethlehem; and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the children that the LORD will give you by this young woman.’ So Bo'az took Ruth and she became his wife; and he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Na'omi, ‘Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next of kin (go’el); and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ Then Na'omi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Na'omi.’ They named him Obed; he was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Ruth 4:1-17 – Cf. Chapters 2-3

The go’el had the further responsibility of avenging the murder of a member of his family by finding and killing the manslayer:

“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to the people of Israel, When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall select cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person without intent may flee there. The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger (go’el), that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment. And the cities which you give shall be your six cities of refuge. You shall give three cities beyond the Jordan, and three cities in the land of Canaan, to be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be for refuge for the people of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that any one who kills any person without intent may flee there. But if he struck him down with an instrument of iron, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. And if he struck him down with a stone in the hand, by which a man may die, and he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. Or if he struck him down with a weapon of wood in the hand, by which a man may die, and he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. The avenger of blood (go'el hadam) shall himself put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. And if he stabbed him from hatred, or hurled at him, lying in wait, so that he died, or in enmity struck him down with his hand, so that he died, then he who struck the blow shall be put to death; he is a murderer; the avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death, when he meets him. But if he stabbed him suddenly without enmity, or hurled anything on him without lying in wait, or used a stone, by which a man may die, and without seeing him cast it upon him, so that he died, though he was not his enemy, and did not seek his harm; then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood (go’el hadam), in accordance with these ordinances; and the congregation shall rescue the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood (go’el hadam), and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge, to which he had fled, and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil. But if the manslayer shall at any time go beyond the bounds of his city of refuge to which he fled, and the avenger of blood (go’el hadam) finds him outside the bounds of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood (go’el hadam) slays the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of blood. For the man must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest; but after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession.’” Numbers 35:9-28 – cf. Deuteronomy 19:4-13; Joshua 20:1-9; 2 Samuel 14:11

Thus, the go’el had to be a blood relative in order for him to qualify as his next of kin’s redeemer and savior.

With the foregoing in perspective we can now proceed to our next section.

Yahweh – Israel’s Strong Go’el!

What makes this rather surprising is that the prophetic writings identify Yahweh as the go’el of his people!

“Do not remove an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless; for their Redeemer (go’alam) is strong; he will plead their cause against you.” Proverbs 23:10-11

Their Redeemer (go’alam) is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.” Jeremiah 50:34

As his people’s strong go’el Yahweh not only rescues them from oppression,

“Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment, and I will take you for my people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.’” Exodus 6:6-7

“Thou hast led in thy steadfast love the people whom thou hast redeemed (ga'lata), thou hast guided them by thy strength to thy holy abode.” Exodus 15:13

He also ransoms them from death by atoning for their sins:

“They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer (go'alam). But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he was merciful; he atoned for their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.” Psalm 78:35-39

I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you (ga'alatika). Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed (ga’al) Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel. Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer (go'aleka), who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth -- Who was with me? –‘” Isaiah 44:22-24

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” Psalm 103:1-5 – cf. 19:14; 69:18; 72:14; 74:2; 77:15; 106:10; 119:154

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them ('ega'alem) from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.” Hosea 13:14

How many go’els do believers have?

According to Job his Go’el will stand upon the earth at the end or the last day and resurrect him:

“I know that my Redeemer (go'ali) lives, and that in the end (aharon) he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27

Compare this with the following translations:

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and on the last day I will rise out of the earth.” The Sacred Bible - Catholic Public Domain Version

“I know by seeing that my redeemer lives, and he will rise at the last day upon the earth.” The Heritage Bible

Interestingly the prophet Isaiah uses these very same titles and words to describe Yahweh:

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer (go’alo), the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last (aharon); besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it, let him declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any." Isaiah 44:6-8

By “first and the last” Yahweh means that he is the One who has been there from the very beginning of creation and shall be there at the very end of the age:

“Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am He.” Isaiah 41:4

In fact, some translators view aharon in Job as a title much like in Isaiah:

That -- I have known my Redeemer, The Living and the Last, For the dust he doth rise. Young's Literal Translation

But, I, know that, my redeemer, liveth, and, as the Last over my dust, will he arise; J. B. Rotherham, The Emphasized Bible

"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last he will stand upon the earth." NET Bible

The NET Bible translators note that,

60tn The word אַחֲרוּן (’akharon, “last”) has triggered a good number of interpretations. Here it is an adjectival form and not adverbial; it is an epithet of the vindicator. Some commentators, followed by the RSV, change the form to make it adverbial, and translate it “at last.” T. H. Gaster translates it “even if he were the last person to exist” (“Short notes,” VT 4 [1954]: 78). (*; underline emphasis ours)

Whatever the case, it seems reasonably certain that Job knew that there was a day in which he would be raised to see and live with God.

However, we do run in a bit of problem with taking Job’s Redeemer as a reference to God himself since a careful reading of the context of Job suggests that the Redeemer that he seeks maybe someone other than God. The following Bible commentary explains why:

“Why does Job want a go’el? It is possible that the term go’el was selected here because of its strong association with the role of the blood avenger (Num. 35:12, 17-19; Deut. 19:6, 12; Jos. 20:2-9). Earlier Job had appealed to the earth not to cover his blood since the violence he has experienced at God’s hands was tantamount to murder and he wanted his outcry to be heard in heaven (16:18). A similar public declaration of ‘violence’ was repeated in his most recent complaint against God (19:7). A full appreciation of the role of the go’el, however, must take into account the preceding context of this speech (ch. 19) and previous relevant speeches (e.g., 16:9-22). From the outset, it is clear that God is the ‘enemy’ (16:9) who has attacked Job viciously and reduced him to a mangled mess (16:9-14). It is also apparent that Job considers God his accuser and adversary at law (9:14-20; 13:9-13; 31:35). Job, however, is unable to present his case before an impartial court because of the intimidating tactics of his adversary (9:16-17, 34-35; 13:20-21; 23:15-16). Moreover, God has placed Job under siege to prevent his ‘hope’ of vindication being realized (19:16-21). Thus, the odds are completely against him. His God is his accuser, adversary, enemy, spy, destroyer, hunter, and siege commander. Against this opponent Job needs a go’el, one who will take up his case and bring it before the court of heaven for public resolution. That this go’el would be one and the same person as his cruel opponent seems quite illogical, inconsistent, and, from Job’s perspective, intolerable.” (The Book of Job – A Commentary (Old Testament Library), by Normal C. Habel [Westminster John Knox Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1985], pp. 304-305)

The author proceeds to address the common arguments that are often given to prove that Job’s Redeemer is God himself and provides reasons why it must be someone else:

“A major argument against viewing God as the go’el is that it would mean a complete reversal in the pattern of Job’s thought to date, a pattern which also persists after this famous cry of hope. Job has portrayed God consistently as his attacker not his defender, his enemy not his friend, his adversary at law not his advocate, his hunter not his healer, his spy not his savior, an intimidating terror not an impartial judge. In subsequent speeches Job continues to be overwhelmed at the anticipated appearance of God’s terrifying ‘face’ (23:14-17); he identifies God as his accuser and adversary at law to the very end (31:35-37).

“The obvious resolution of the problem is to identify the go’el with a figure like the celestial witness (ed, 16:19) and ‘arbiter’ (mokiah, 9:33) of previous speeches. Both these figures are clearly distinguished from God and viewed as vehicles for bringing Job’s case before an impartial court (cf. Terrien). Job’s suit is with God as his adversary at law. The function of the third party is to guarantee that Job’s case is given a hearing and to defend Job’s innocence before the court, whether Job is present or not. The go’el ‘rises’ to testify on Job’s behalf just as Satan rose to challenge Job’s integrity. Thus Job’s go’el is a ‘defender’ or defense attorney who is the counterpart of Satan, whose name is a technical title for his role as the ‘accuser’ or prosecuting attorney. This figure need not be a personal deity like those of Sumerian theology (Pope), nor need the figure be identified any more precisely than is the ‘Satan.’ The go’el is an appropriate sympathetic member of the heavenly council, an angel figure who assumes the role of the defender of Job’s innocence, the arbiter of Job’s trial (cf. Zech. 3:1-5; Gen. 48:16). Later Elihu accepts the possibility that an anonymous ‘angel’ may arise in heaven to vouch for the righteousness of a mortal before God (33:23). In sum, arguing from the model of an earthly court, Job is convinced that a celestial court would have a go’el who would not only act as an ‘arbiter’ (as in 9:33) before the bench of justice and rise as a ‘witness’ (as in 16:19) to testify on Job’s behalf against God, his accuser and adversary at law, but also take the additional step of espousing Job’s cause as a kinsman and vindicating his integrity for the record of posterity.” (Ibid., 306-307)

The foregoing commentary perfectly comports with statements such as these:

“His soul draws near the Pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him; and he is gracious to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the Pit, I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; then man prays to God, and he accepts him, he comes into his presence with joy. He recounts to men his salvation, and he sings before men, and says: ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not requited to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the Pit, and my life shall see the light.’ Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may see the light of life.” Job 33:22-30

It also makes sense in light of Job’s yearning for a mediator who could intercede between him and God:

“If I wash myself with snow, and cleanse my hands with lye, yet thou wilt plunge me into a pit, and my own clothes will abhor me. For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. Would that there were an umpire between us, who might lay his hand upon us both, that he might remove his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself.” Job 9:30-35

Here is how the Greek version renders the Hebrew:

“Would that there were a mediator (ho mesites) for us and an investigator and one to hear the case between us two.” Job 9:33 LXX

Moreover, Job knew that such a mediator did exist and that he was in heaven:

“O earth, cover not my blood, and let my cry find no resting place. Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he that vouches for me is on high. My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, that he would maintain the right of a man with God, like that of a man with his neighbor. For when a few years have come I shall go the way whence I shall not return.” Job 16:18-22

In light of the foregoing it’s better to interpret Job 19:25 as Job’s request for a defense attorney, someone who would vindicate him before God. This interpretation is reflected in the following translations:

“For I know that my Redeemer and Vindicator lives, and at last He [the Last One] will stand upon the earth.” Amplified Bible

“But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;” New American Bible

“I know that my Defender lives, and in the end he will stand upon the earth.” New Century Version

“I know there is someone to defend me. I know he lives! And in the end he will stand here on earth and defend me. Easy-to-Read Version

“But I know that my defender lives, and afterwards, he will rise on the earth.” GOD'S WORD Translation

“But I am certain that he who will take up my cause is living, and that in time to come he will take his place on the dust;” The Bible in Basic English

The NET Bible translators agree that in this particular context it is better to render go’el as “vindicator,” even though they assume that Job’s “Vindicator” must be God:

59tn Or “my Vindicator.” The word is the active participle from גָּאַל (ga’al, “to redeem, protect, vindicate”). The word is well-known in the OT because of its identification as the kinsman-redeemer (see the Book of Ruth). This is the near kinsman who will pay off one’s debts, defend the family, avenge a killing, marry the widow of the deceased. The word “redeemer” evokes the wrong connotation for people familiar with the NT alone; a translation of “Vindicator” would capture the idea more. The concept might include the description of the mediator already introduced in Job 16:19, but surely here Job is thinking of God as his vindicator. The interesting point to be stressed here is that Job has said clearly that he sees no vindication in this life, that he is going to die. But he knows he will be vindicated, and even though he will die, his vindicator lives. The dilemma remains though: his distress lay in God’s hiding his face from him, and his vindication lay only in beholding God in peace. (*; underline emphasis ours)

Yet the view that Job’s go’el is someone other than God leads us to a further problem. The Holy Bible is quite emphatic that there is no man or angel righteous and pure enough to mediate before God and offer a ransom which would appease Yahweh so as to allow individuals to live forever:

“Can mortal man be righteous before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth.” Job 4:17-19

“Call now; is there any one who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn?” Job 5:1

“What is man, that he can be clean? Or he that is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not clean in his sight; how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks iniquity like water!” Job 15:14-16

“How then can man be righteous before God? How can he who is born of woman be clean? Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clean in his sight; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!” Job 25:4-6

“‘If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.” 1 Samuel 2:25

Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of his soul is costly, and can never suffice, that he should continue to live on for ever, and never see the Pit. Yea, he shall see that even the wise die, the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes for ever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they named lands their own. Man cannot abide in his pomp, he is like the beasts that perish. This is the fate of those who have foolish confidence, the end of those who are pleased with their portion. [Selah] Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; straight to the grave they descend, and their form shall waste away; Sheol shall be their home. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. [Selah]” Psalm 49:7-15

This means that whoever Job’s Defense Attorney happens to be he is definitely not a mere created being. He must be a fully Divine Person who is personally distinct from Yahweh, which perhaps explains why Job ascribes certain Divine titles and functions such as go’el and aharon to this heavenly Witness.

Israel’s Triune Go’el!

In fact, when we read the Hebrew Bible we discover that Israel’s heavenly go’el is actually tri-personal, consisting of Yahweh, the Angel of his Presence/Face, and his Holy Spirit!

“I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, ‘Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me’; and so he became their Savior (lemoshi’a). In all their distress he too was distressed, and the Angel of his Presence/Face saved them (hoshi’am). In his love and mercy he redeemed them (ga'alam); he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them. Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people— where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses' right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name. Look down from heaven and see from your lofty throne, holy and glorious. Where are your zeal and your might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us. But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer (go'alenu) from of old is your name.” Isaiah 63:7-16

Yahweh became Israel’s Savior and Redeemer by sending both his Angel and Spirit to give Israel deliverance and rest.

Interestingly, we are told in this particular text that Yahweh’s Spirit gave the people rest by leading them into the promised land whereas it is stated elsewhere that Yahweh gave them rest by promising to send his very own Presence/Face ahead of them:

“Moses said to the LORD, ‘See, thou sayest to me, “Bring up this people”; but thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, “I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.” Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thy sight, show me now thy ways, that I may know thee and find favor in thy sight. Consider too that this nation is thy people.’ And he said, ‘My Presence/Face will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And he said to him, ‘If thy Presence/Face will not go with me, do not carry us up from here.’” Exodus 33:12-15

We are further informed that it was Yahweh’s Angel who was sent to redeem them from Egypt:

“Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, ‘Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the adversity that has befallen us: how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians dealt harshly with us and our fathers; and when we cried to the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an Angel and brought us forth out of Egypt; and here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your territory.’” Numbers 20:14-16

We are even told that this specific Angel is actually Israel’s go’el!

“And he [Jacob/Israel] blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has led me all my life long to this day, the Angel who has redeemed (ha go'el) me from all evil, may HE bless (yebarecha) the lads; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’” Genesis 48:15-16

Amazingly, Jacob uses the singular verb, “may He bless,” as opposed to the plural (yebarechu) even though he clearly refers to both God and the Angel in his invocation! The singular obviously indicates that Jacob knew that God and his Angel were somehow connected even though they were personally distinct.

In fact, God and his Angel are so intimately related with each other that elsewhere it is said that this particular Angel actually bears Yahweh’s very own Name!

“Behold, I send an Angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my Name is in him. But if you hearken attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. When my angel goes before you, and brings you in to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Per'izzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.” Exodus 23:20-24

To have Yahweh’s Name within him basically means that the Angel bears the very essence and characteristics of Yahweh, which explains why he is able to either forgive sins or not – an exclusively divine function (cf. 1 Kings 8:46-52; Psalm 103:2-3, 10-14; 130:4; Isaiah 43:25; Micah 7:18-19) – and have his mediation accepted by Yahweh:

“The Angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.” Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’ When the Angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, and they called that place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.” Judges 2:1-5

“Then the Angel of the LORD said, ‘O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these seventy years?’ And the LORD answered gracious and comforting words to the Angel who talked with me. So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. And I am very angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little they furthered the disaster. Therefore, thus says the LORD, I have returned to Jerusalem with compassion; my house shall be built in it, says the LORD of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. Cry again, Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’” Zechariah 1:12-17

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the Angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with rich apparel.’” Zechariah 3:1-4

The Angel is not a creature but is a fully Divine Being who is personally distinct from Yahweh and therefore can intercede before him.

This also helps us to better understand the meaning of the phrase, “Angel of his Face,” i.e., he is the Angel who fully bears the Divine essence and therefore perfectly expresses the Divine Being to others. This also ties the Angel with Yahweh’s very own Presence/Face which he sent ahead of the Israelites, e.g., the Angel is Yahweh’s personal Presence/Face that went before the people of God!

Therefore, it is apparent that the OT teaching concerning the Angel of Yahweh and the Holy Spirit conclusively proves that Israel’s heavenly go’el is not uni-personal but is Triune in nature. The OT evidence shows that the true prophets of Yahweh knew and proclaimed that the one true God of all is a tri-personal Being. As the late renowned Biblical and Semitic scholar Dr. Gleason L. Archer explained:

“On the other hand, the Bible teaches that God is not a sterile monad but eternally exists in three Persons. This is suggested by the Creation account in Genesis 1:1-3: ‘In the beginning God [‘elohim, plural in form, with the im ending] created [bara, a singular verb, not the plural bare‘u] the heavens and the earth [this plural for ‘God’ is probably a ‘plural of majesty’; yet compare Gen. 1:26-27, discussed below]. And the earth was formless and void … and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters [showing the involvement of the Third Person in the work of creation]. Then God ['elohim] said, “Let there be light!”’ (NASB). Here we have God speaking as the Creative Word, the same as the Logos (John 1:3), who is the Second Person of the Trinity…

“So far as Old Testament passages are concerned, the following have a definite bearing on the Trinity:

1. Genesis 1:26 quotes God ('elohim) as saying, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness’ (NASB). This first person plural can hardly be a mere editorial or royal plural that refers to the speaker alone, for no such usage is demonstrable anywhere else in biblical Hebrew. Therefore we must face the question of who are included in this ‘us’ and ‘our.’ It could hardly include the angels in consultation with God, for nowhere is it ever stated that man was created in the image of the angels, only God. Verse 27 then affirms: ‘And God ['elohim] created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’ (NASB). God – the same God who spoke of Himself in the plural – now states that He created man in His image. In other words, the plural equals the singular. This can only be understood in terms of the Trinitarian nature of God. The one true God subsists in three Persons, Persons who are able to confer with one another and carry their plans into action together – without ceasing to be one God…

2. Psalm 33:6 reads, ‘By the Word of Yahweh were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the Spirit (ruah) of His mouth.’ Here again we have the same involvement of all three Persons of the Trinity in the work of creation: the Father decrees, the Son as the Logos brings the Father’s decree into operation, and the Spirit imparts His life-giving dynamic to the whole process…

“In addition to the examples given above of Old Testament verses that cannot be made sense of except through the Trinitarian nature of the Godhead, there are repeated instances of the activity of the ‘Angel of Yahweh’ who becomes equated with Yahweh Himself. Consider the following passages:

1. Genesis 22:11 describes the more dramatic moment of Abraham's experience on Mount Moriah, as he was about to sacrifice Isaac: ‘But the Angel of Yahweh called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”’ The next verse proceeds to equate that Angel with God Himself: ‘For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ Then in v.v. 16-17 the Angel declares, ‘“By Myself I have sworn,” declares Yahweh, "because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your only son… indeed I will greatly bless you.”’ Very clearly the Angel of Yahweh here is Yahweh Himself. ‘Yahweh’ is the covenant name of the Trinitarian God, and the Angel of that God is also Himself God. That is to say, we can identify the Angel of Yahweh in passages like these as the preincarnate Redeemer, God the Son, already engaged in His redemptive or mediatorial work even prior to His becoming Man in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

2. In Genesis 31:11, 13 we have the same phenomenon; the Angel of God turns out to be God Himself: 'Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, “Jacob,” and I said, “Here I am ... I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar.”’ (NASB)

3. Exodus 3:2 states: 'And the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush.' The full self-identification then comes in v. 6: 'He said also, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.'

4. Judges 13:20 states: 'For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of Yahweh ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.' Verses 22-23 complete the identification of the Angel with God: 'So Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God!" But his wife said to him, "If Yahweh had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands.”’

“From this survey of the biblical evidence, we must conclude that Scripture does indeed teach the doctrine of the Trinity, even though it does not use the precise term…” (Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1982], pp. 357, 359, 360-361; underline emphasis ours)

No wonder the prophet David spoke of Gods coming to redeem Israel!

“What other nation on earth is like thy people Israel, whom God(s) have gone (halachu elohim) to redeem to be his people, making himself a name, and doing for them great and terrible things, by driving out before his people a nation and its gods?” 2 Samuel 7:23

The verse literally reads “God(s) have gone,” or “God(s), they went/have gone” since the verb is plural. Hence, it seems that David himself knew (by revelation of course!) that the God who saved Israel is multi-Personal in nature– more specifically tri-Personal– and therefore chose to use a plural verb to denote this fact.(1)

We now come to our final section.

Yahweh becomes our literal flesh and blood relative!

According to the holy prophetic writings Yahweh is an infinite, incomprehensible spiritual Being. As such Yahweh is not composed of flesh and blood like man:

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it?” Numbers 23:19

“The Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together.” Isaiah 31:3

“I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy E'phraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy.” Hosea 11:9

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do men say that the Son of man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’” Matthew 16:13-17

Notice how Jesus contrasts the Father who revealed to Peter Christ’s true identity with flesh and blood, i.e., the Father is not a flesh and blood human being and therefore Peter didn’t receive this revelation from a flesh and blood person. And:

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

Now this seems to pose a problem for God being a go’el since a go’el is one who must be related to a person. As we saw earlier, the go’el must be a fellow human being according to the Holy Bible since s/he is called to ransom and avenge fellow humans that have direct blood ties with the go’el. In light of this it would seem that Yahweh would need to share our humanity in order to qualify as our go’el or nearest of kin.

Lo and behold this is precisely what Yahweh did, or more specifically what the Angel of Yahweh/God the Son did when he became a flesh and blood human being through the virgin birth!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” John 1:1-4, 14

As our flesh and blood kin Jesus mediates for us before the Father by presenting his own blood which was shed on the cross as a ransom for our lives:

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement/propitiation who turns aside his wrath, taking away sin, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Romans 3:25-26

“What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?” Romans 8:31-34

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator (heis mesites) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the Author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again he says, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’ Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:9-18

“The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:23-27

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.” Hebrews 9:11-15

The inspired Christian Greek Scriptures even call Jesus our heavenly Advocate or Defense Attorney!

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate/one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (the one who turns aside God's wrath, taking away our sins), and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2

Jesus is also said to be the First and the Last who has power over death,

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the First and the Last, who died and came to life.’” Revelation 2:8

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the EndI Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.’ … He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.” Revelation 22:12-13, 16, 20-21

As such Christ comes to resurrect the dead at the last day:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live… Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his [Son’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:25, 28-29

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’ … So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’” John 6:35-40, 53-54

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.’ … So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Laz'arus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’” John 11:25-27, 41-44

“For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

“But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night… For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-2, 9-10

Hence, according to the NT Jesus Christ is the Redeemer and Vindicator that Job longed for, the Witness in heaven who would plead Job’s case before the Father and who would raise Job from the dead!

To state this in another way, Christ is the living God who became our literal flesh and blood kinsman redeemer in order to ransom his people from their bondage to sin and Satan as well as to stand up on their behalf as their Intercessor and Vindicator. As the late Gleason Archer wrote in his explanation of Jesus’ use of the phrase “Son of Man”:

“This raises the question of what the title 'Son of Man' (Bar enosh in the Aramaic of Dan. 7) signified. Why was the Messiah represented as a glorified human being rather than as the divine King of Glory? The answer is to be found in the necessity of the Incarnation as indispensible to man's redemption. The fallen, guilty race of Adam could not have their sins atoned for except by a Sin-Bearer who represented them as a true human being as He laid down his life for their sake. The Old Testament term for Redeemer is go'el, which implies 'kinsman-redeemer.' He therefore had to be related by blood to the person whose cause he took over and whose need he supplied, whatever it was, whether to buy him back from slavery (Lev. 25:48), to redeem his forfeited property foreclosed on a mortgage (Lev. 25:25), to care for his childless widow (Ruth 3:13), or to avenge his blood on the murderer (Num. 35:19).

"God revealed Himself to Israel as go'el of His covenant people (Exod. 6:6; 15:13; Isa. 43:1; Ps. 19:14 [15 Heb.], et al.); but before God became Man by the miracle of the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth, it was a mystery to God's ancient people how He could ever qualify as their go'el. God was their Father by creation, to be sure, but go'el implies a blood relationship on a physical level. And so God had to become one of us in order to redeem us from the guilt and penalty of our sin. 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth' (John 1:14, NASB)." (Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, p. 323; underline emphasis ours)

Amen! Come Lord Jesus, come! We praise and thank you for becoming our flesh and blood kinsman-redeemer in order to deliver us from the wrath to come! We pray that by your sovereign grace we will love and worship you forever and ever, O risen Lord of glory and eternal Son of God! Amen.

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(1) The assertion that the inspired author or speaker used a plural verb here in order to make it agree with the plural noun Elohim should be rejected since the Hebrew Bible often employs singular verbs, adjectives, participles etc., with Elohim. In fact, in the parallel version of David’s prayer we find the writer using a singular verb:

“What other nation on earth is like thy people Israel, whom [the] God went (halacha ha elohim) to redeem to be his people, making for thyself a name for great and terrible things, in driving out nations before thy people whom thou didst redeem from Egypt?” 1 Chronicles 17:21

The books of Chronicles not only repeat many of the stories found in Samuel and Kings but do so by paraphrasing them. In the above verse David's prayer appears word for word with one difference, the verb for went is now in the singular.

This shows that the writers weren’t hesitant to use a singular verb with a plural noun (in fact, this is what they normally did). Therefore, the use of the plural verb in 2 Samuel 7:23 must be taken as supporting evidence that the inspired OT authors knew that Yahweh their God was a multi-Personal Being.