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The Worship of the Multi-Personal God (Genesis 48:15-16)

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  • The Worship of the Multi-Personal God (Genesis 48:15-16)

    Genesis 48:15, 16
    And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
    The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, 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, KJV).

    1. The Hebrew word for "Angel" is mal'ak and it means "messenger". It could refer to created supernal beings (Psalm 148:2), people (Joshua 6:17) and based on the text before us it can refer to another Person of God.

    2. What takes places in Genesis 48:15-16 is a blessing and since it is recorded in Hebrews 11:21 as an act of faith it was something that God viewed in a positive light.
    By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff (Hebrews 11:21, NASB).
    a. NIDNTT: Hebrews 11:21 (Jacob, cf. Gen. 48:15 f.) (1:214, Blessing, H.G Link).
    b. Danker: Of paternal blessings by Isaac (Gen 27) and Jacob (Gen 48) Hb 11:20f (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, eulogew, page 408).
    c. Danker: pisits can also be characterized by faith in God by the context, without the addition of specific words; so in connection w. OT personalities: Abraham Ro 4:5, 9, 11-13, 16, 19f. The OT heroes of faith Hb 11:4-33, 39 (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, pistis, page 819).
    d. Thayer: to invoke blessings: of one at the point of death, Heb. 11.20 sq. (Gen. 48:9) (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, eulogew, page 259).
    e. Mounce: the OT does not portray a blessing as magical, but as a prayer offered to a sovereign God (Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Bless, page 67).

    3. In this blessing/prayer we see that:
    a. Jacob credited the Angel for redeeming him from all evil.
    b. Jacob asked the Angel to bless Joseph's children.
    c. Jacob asked the Angel to cause his descendants to grow into a multitude.

    4. The Angel of the LORD is God but also has a distinct personality from Him (2 Samuel 24:16; cf. 1 Chronicles 21:27). This is what the Trinitarian would expect to find but not the Unitarian.
    a. Keil & Delitzsch: The triple reference to God, in which the Angel is placed on an equality with Ha-Elohim cannot possibly be a created angel, but must be the "Angel of God," i.e. God manifested in the form of the Angel of Jehovah, or the "Angel of His face" (Isa. 63:9), contains a foreshadowing of the Trinity, though only God and the Angel are distinguished, not three Persons of the divine nature. The God before whom Abraham and Isaac walked, had proved Himself to Jacob to be "the Lord which fed" and "the Angel which redeemed" (Commentary on the Old Testament: Pentateuch, 1:383-384).
    b. The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible: He introduced himself as Deity and yet as distinct from God. He spoke face to face with early Bible characters as man to man, in whose form he appeared (1:186, Angel, G.B. Funderburk)
    c. H.C. Leupold: Without a doubt, the third reference is also to God, for it is in strict parallelism with the preceding two and ascribes a truly divine work to the Angel, namely the work of redeeming from all evil. Consequently this is a reference to the divine Angel of the Lord or Angel of Yahweh, whom we already met with 22:11, and who was there already discovered to be more than a created angel. See the remarks on that passage. Cf. also 16:11. For the Son is God's messenger or Angel, sent to deliver man. Here again the participle is used, go'el, "the Redeeming One," i.e., one who still redeems or continually redeems. After an experience of a lifetime marked by many a deliverance Jacob well knew how often He had been delivered. In this case there is no need of specifying wherein the blessing upon "the lads" (ne'arim = "young men") is to consist. "May He bless the lads" covers the case, for it involves that He is to continue to manifest the same care, first suffering them to walk before Him; secondly, shepherding them uninterruptedly; thirdly, redeeming them also from all evil. Yet the three mentioned are one, as the singular verb "may He bless" (yebharekh) indicates. In the statement "may my name be named upon them" the term "name" (shem) signifies "character"; i.e., may my and my father's character find expression in them, or: may they express the true patriarchal character and be conscious of what deeper responsibilities are involved. (Exposition of Genesis, Volume 2, page 1154)

    5. Agency
    a. NIDNTT: The common Jewish legal institution of the saliah (the Aram. Pass. Part. Of salah) has become important for NT exegesis. Rab. Judaism in the time of Jesus clearly recognized the function of the representative or proxy derived from the old Sem. Law concerning messengers. It is expressed briefly in the principle found in the Mishnah, “A man’s agent (saluah) is like himself” (Ber. 5:5 et al.). Hence the messenger becomes the proxy of the one who has given him the commission (cf. 1 Sam. 25:40 f.; 2 Sam. 10:4, 6) (1:127-128, Apostle, E. von Eicken, H. Lindner).
    Some will say that others can act as agents for God but that doesn't mean they are God. They merely speak or represent Him. However, Jacob was already in the presence of God when He prayed to Him in Genesis 48:15 so it can not be a case of agency in Genesis 48:16.
    Last edited by foudroyant; 06-25-2014, 11:28 AM.
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