Genesis 48:16 – The Angel Who Redeemed Jacob

Genesis 48:15 He blessed Joseph, and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
Genesis 48:16 the angel who has redeemed [Ga’al, Strong’s #1350, rescued] me from all [Kol] evil, bless the lads, and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac. Let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

There is nothing in the above scripture, or anywhere else in the Bible, that directly tell us why Jacob suddenly used the word “angel” in his prayer, thus many use the spirit of human imagination in order to “see” trinity in this verse. On the other hand, any explanation regarding why Jacob used the word “angel” in Genesis 48:16 that we might supply would be that of our own reasoning, and may or may not be the correct reasoning.

Strong’s Number: 1350

to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman

to act as kinsman, do the part of next of kin, act as kinsman-redeemer 1a
by marrying brother’s widow to beget a child for him, to redeem from slavery, to redeem land, to exact vengeance
to redeem (by payment)
to redeem (with God as subject) 1a
individuals from death 1a
Israel from Egyptian bondage 1a
Israel from exile
to redeem oneself
to be redeemed

KJV (104) – at all, 2; avenger, 6; deliver, 1; kinsfolks, 1; kinsman, 13; kinsman’s part, 1; purchase, 1; ransom, 2; redeem, 50; redeemer, 18; revenger, 7; stain, 1; wise, 1;
NAS (99) – Redeemer, 18; avenger, 13; bought back, 1; buy back, 1; claim, 1; close relative, 3; closest relative, 3; closest relatives, 1; ever wish to redeem, 2; kinsman, 2; redeem, 22; redeemed, 25; redeemer, 1; redeems, 1; relative, 2; relatives, 1; rescue, 1; wishes to redeem, 1;
Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. “Hebrew Lexicon entry for Ga’al”. “The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon”.

Matthew Henry states concerning this: “He [God] had by his angel redeemed him from all evil, Genesis 48:16”. Although Matthew Henry believed this angel to be Jesus and uncreated, yet he does point out a thought that might be applicable here, that Jacob was was praying to Yahweh, who had by means of his angel redeemed Jacob from all evil. If we are to assume that the “angel” here is an angel of Yahweh, the most direct way to read this, I believe, is that Jacob was expressing to the God of Abraham, with whom Abraham and Isaac walked, and who had fed Jacob, and who had sent his angel to deliver Jacob from all the bad things that could have happened to Jacob, to bless Joseph’s sons, and let his name be upon them, and the name of Jacob’s fathers Abraham and Isaac.
*Henry, Matthew. “Complete Commentary on Genesis 48”. “Matthew Henry Complete Commentary
on the Whole Bible”. 1706.

However, Matthew Henry and many others often claim that this angel is Jesus, evidently because of the word “redeemed”. Some are so bold as to say that only Jesus as God could redeem one from all evil. Forms of the Hebrew word transliterated as KOL always looks to the context and and common evidence for what is included or excluded. Was Jacob redeemed from absolutely all evil that exists? That, of course, really does not make sense, else Jacob would not had to suffer the evil of pain, growing old and death. Nor do we have any thing presented in the scriptures that would give us any reason to think that Jacob was speaking of Jesus’ future sacrifice for sin, as almost all commentators claim.

Matthew Henry, however, states that God “by his angel redeemed him from all evil.” Based on this assumption, then, “God” would be one individual or person and the “angel” would an angel of that unipersonal God. Jacob was certainly contemplating his death, and, according to this view, he was expressing how God had, through His angel, rescued him, all the bad experiences of his life, until that day. From that vantage point, we would conclude that Jacob was glorifying the God of his forefathers, that He had provided two necessary things in his life: the necessary food that Jacob needed to live and an angel who redeemed Jacob from the evil of the world. In effect, this is saying basically the same thing that Jesus said we should pray, although Jesus also expanded beyond this to include the Kingdom promises: “Our Father, who is in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your kingdom come. May your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:10-13) Jacob included at least three of these elements in his prayer. However, the blessing he requested for his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh, could be viewed as related to praying for God’s kingdom to come.

Usually, an angel is a messenger, and if a messenger is sent by another, we do not normally think that the messenger is the one who sent the messenger. This should also be default reasoning in this case, if we accept that the “angel” spoken of here is an angel of Yahweh.

On the other hand, one has to call upon the spirit of human imagination to conclude that Jacob had any thought, by using the the word “redeemed”, that he was praying about Jesus, who was yet to die about 3,000 years later, in order to redeem man from the condemnation in Adam. (Romans 5:6-19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Titus 2:14) This is not to say that we know for a certainty that Jesus did not appear in the Old Testament times as an “angel of Yahweh”; he certainly could have done so. No scripture, however, actually states that he did so.

There are some oddities concerning this and the trinitarians, however; some of the same trinitarians who would claim that the “angel” here refers to Jesus will say that no angel died for us, but many of them would, in effect, contradict this by saying that the angel of Genesis 48:16 is Jesus, who redeemed us from all sin, which they apply to the redemption of Jesus in the cross, which would mean that they are saying that an angel died for our sins, although they would claim that this angel — imagined to be a person of God Himself — was uncreated. Regardless, it was indeed not a spirit being who died for us; it was the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom sacrifice for our sins. — 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

See also:
The Angel of Yahweh

Nevertheless, it is possible that Jacob was referring to Yahweh himself as being a messenger of redemption, rescuing Jacob from walking the ways of evil. Supporting this view is:

Psalm 121:7
Yahweh will keep you from all evil [that which is bad]. He will keep your soul. — World English.

This is in keeping the the model prayer that Jesus gave us, which is directed, not to Jesus, but to the God and Father of Jesus:

Matthew 6:13 Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil [bad].

We should not think that Jesus was telling his disciples to pray that nothing bad ever happen to them. The thought is not that God doesn’t allow any bad things to happen to us, but that he provides the means of deliverance for his people through all the temptations to that would lead the believer astray into badness.

The point is, however, is that Jesus directs us to seek this deliverance from his God and Father, although from other scriptures we know that the God and Father of Jesus performs his works through the one whom he has appointed.

There is no indication, however, in Genesis 48:15,16 that Jacob was speaking of the ransom sacrifice that Jesus was to give almost 2,000 years later.

Another way of viewing this is that Jacob, while praying, remembered the angel through whom God performed his work in giving aid to Jacob, and parenthetically stated that remembrance, in that God had used His angel to rescue him from all manner of evil.

And finally, another thought is that possibly something is missing due to copyist error. We do not find anything solid, however, to support this view. This does not mean that it is not a possibility, however, that a copyist did indeed leave something out of Jacob’s words. We just don’t know one way or the other.

Regardless, what we do not find is anything in Jacob’s prayer about a triune God, or that Jesus is the second person of God, etc. One has to call upon the spirit of human imagination to first believe that the “angel” is Jesus, then add more to this so as to have it that this angel is the second person of a triune God, and that this “trinune God” is Yahweh (Jehovah), etc.

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