Currently, I am juggling three books, two of which are Stephen Spykerman’s Christians and Jews; The Two Faces of Israel and Asher Intrater’s Who Ate Lunch With Abraham?. Judging from the high ratings on Amazon, I am not the only person who is really enjoying these.
Intrater’s book primarily deals with digging deeper into the “appearances of God in the form of a Man in the Hebrew Scriptures,” a subject that has fascinated me as I have studied the Angel of the Lord appearances. Spykerman’s book explores the place of parts of Christendom among Ephraim/the House of Israel. Where the two books suddenly came together was on page 100 of Spykerman’s offer when he quotes Genesis 48:14-16,
14 But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, [a]crossing his hands, [b]although Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 He blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd [c]all my life to this day,
16 The angel who redeems me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
And may my name [d]live on in them,
And the [e]names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
The Angel who redeems me? Seriously?
I’ve read these verses many times, but always focused on the latter part dealing with ‘grow(ing) into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’ Yet here is a fantastic statement referring to ‘the angel who redeems me.’
It is important to note that though many translations say ‘redeemed,’ the Hebrew is clearly present tense, which I corrected in the above NASB translation.
Even more interesting is the fact that this ‘angel’ is set in parallel with Elohim (God).
Schottenstein’s Interlinear Chumash has a comment on this verse (pg. 300) stating,
16. הַמַלְאָךְ – The angel. This is the essence of the prayer that began with the previous verse. May You O God, assign Your “emissary” – the angel whom You always dispatched to redeem me from evil – to bless the lads, etc. Jacob’s prayer was certainly not addressed to the angel himself, for angels have no power to act except as agents of the Holy One, to Whom Jacob referred in the previous verse. This translation, which combines both verses, follows R’ Avraham ben Ha-Rambam and avoids many difficulties encountered by other translations that imply the angel had independent power.
The present tense, Who shepherds… who redeems, is indicative of Jacob’s faith…
Several items are worthy of note:
- Clearly, they recognize the angel as being very special.
- Schottenstein tries to avoid the very obvious and hard challenges that the Angel has authority, and is even in parallel with ‘Elohim.’
- The note, to me, seems like a soft ‘dodge’ to prevent the reader from digging further into this amazing statement, thus confirming Who the Angel IS!
Spykerman, in pointing out this phrase, begins to make the case for Yeshua as the Redeemer of Ephraim‘s descendents, then too quickly moves on. But, in pointing it out and making the connection, his line of thought is not lost on me.
Part of Israel’s (Jacob’s) blessing on Ephraim and Mannashe is an expression of faith that the Redeemer would lookout for and guard the sons and their progeny!!! Is that not precisely what has happened these 4000 years since the blessing?