This is part seven of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.
At this point Daniel has finished his presentation of the various texts and the reasons which he thinks the ‘Angel’ is actually the result of interpolation. He now attempts to support this theory with the following additional points:
- “…in Gideon’s narrative, the Septuagint has “angel of Yahweh” throughout.”
- “The Septuagint also has additional occurrences of “messenger” all by itself in Samson’s birth narrative…”
- “…and in Hagar’s story,…” (additional ‘angel’ in Septuagint)
- “…and an additional “messenger of the LORD” at Gen 16:8.”
- “Josephus only presents God interacting with Abraham in Genesis 22.”
- “The Vulgate makes no mention of an angel in Exod 3:2, mentioning only God appearing.”
- “…in none of these instances is any self-identification or messenger formula present.”
- “…later versions frequently interpolate the word “angel” where they want to avoid God’s presence, visibility, or participation in something of questionable morality.”
In the Septuagint at Judges 6:14,16 the ‘Angel’ is in the text, but in the early Hebrew codices the word ‘Angel’ is missing. Daniel suggests that this is due to the ‘Angel’ not existing in the earlier texts. There are two other possibilities which he does not address. The ‘Angel’ was dropped from the latter Hebrew codices or the ‘Angel’ was only missing from verses 14 and 16 in the original texts and singularly interpolated in verses 14 and 16 at the time of the translation of the Septuagint or in a later copy of the Septuagint.
What seems painfully obvious is that both the Septuagint and the Hebrew codices agree with each other in Judges chapter 6 at verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b. Both manuscript traditions testify to the title of “Angel of the LORD” with the exception of Judges 6:14, 16.
In this case Daniel is favoring the Hebrew codices over the Septuagint because of the missing ‘Angel’ in verses 14 and 16. As stated in prior blogs, a case can be made for greater adherence to the Greek Septuagint because the LXX Manuscripts predate the Hebrew codices by 600 years. Not only do the earliest LXX manuscripts predate the both the Appello codex and the Leningrad codex by 600 years but the origin of the LXX is dated between 300 and 200 B.C. which places its reported start date right around prior to the time of the dating of the Dead Sea Scroll Manuscripts, which are the oldest Hebrew manuscripts to date.
Furthermore, the Septuagint has been shown to agree in more places with the Dead Sea Scrolls than the Masoretic texts. On the flip side, the Masoretic texts were most likely based on older versions of the Hebrew text dating after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. To make matters more muddy it can be shown that the Masoretic text favors “non-Christian” renderings of key verses which were heavily quoted by Christians of the first and second centuries A.D. Especially those verses which were quoted in the “Christian” New Testament. It is clear from the New Testament that the Septuagint was the standard which the majority of the Jewish world in the first century looked to.
What Daniel is implying is that the two instances of the ‘Angel’ in Judges 6:14,16 in the Septuagint somehow prove that the Angel was interpolated not just in verses 14 and 16 but throughout the whole of the story of Gideon. Does Daniel supply evidence that the Masoretic texts are more accurate than the Septuagint? Does Daniel address the fact that both the LXX and the Hebrew texts contain the ‘Angel’ in verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b? The answer to both questions is a negative.
Regarding the supposed interpolated ‘Angel’ in the story of Gideon, it can be seen as not affecting the message of the overall text. Whether the ‘Angel’ was missing does not preclude an interpretation that the LORD was speaking in verses 14 and 16 through the Messenger. This is based on the context of verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b in which the ‘Angel’ is the interlocutor.
According to Daniel, the Messenger cannot speak in the first person as YHVH, but is only allowed to speak as an individual. This assumption is based on the ‘Angel’ being simply ‘an angel’ and not ‘The Angel’, but this even assumes that ‘an angel’ would not speak as the LORD on His behalf in the first person, which is not necessarily so.
I need to state again in this blog series that the Messenger can be interpreted by the text even when what Daniel refers to as the “formula” is not present within the texts. The specific Hebrew title, “Malach Adonai” (Messenger of YHVH), holds a prominent place in Jewish ideas about how YHVH communicates with mankind. This is primarily derived from Exodus chapter 33 but is alluded to in the Genesis accounts as well.
From a conservative approach both Genesis and Exodus were written many years prior to the book of Judges so the concepts of God in the book of Judges would logically refer to the earlier books. This is where the Documentarian gets tripped up. They don’t anchor any of the first five books of the Bible to one time period, as well as other Scriptures, and as a result they struggle to reconcile their Deuteronomic theories with the actual texts of the Bible. This is in the end why Daniel is making such a big deal about why he thinks the ‘Malach’ is an interpolation.
The whole Documentarian approach to the Hebraic concept of God assumes that the idea of a Messenger of the LORD did not exist circa 2000 BC. The Documentarian sees this concept of God, in which no one could look upon the LORD without dying, reaching it’s “final draft” in the time period of King Josiah. Once the Documentarian is convinced of this idea they build the entirety of scriptural development upon it. The problem of course is that it remains a flailing theory which continues to lack wholistic and substantial support.
In regard to interpolation there are a couple of ways to understand what is meant by the term. The first way to understand it is by a sequence of events in various translations which lead to a word or phrase being incorporated into the text which was not original to the text. This can happen when editors are explaining the text as they translate it into another language. It also can be the result of mixing an official version with a contemporary version of the text which in time is assumed to be the official version. This is a very generic explanation of what interpolation is, but it is necessary to understand how these things occur.
The second way to understand interpolation is to think of the process as a conscious and active manipulation of the text. This is not really what true interpolation is as it is more about what occurs as a result of human error or translation variances. Daniel, however seems to reiterate that the reason for the supposed ‘Angel’ interpolations is so that the Post-Deuteronomists can make the text line up with their idea about God. In other words they hypothetically changed the text intentionality. Well, it seems this is Daniel’s claim, but he does not state this directly.
Whether one views the ‘Angel’ as interpolated in Judges 6:14,16 or original to the text there still exists the a same understanding with or without the ‘Angel’ in verses 14 and 16. This is due to the fact of the context of verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b in which the ‘Angel’ is referenced in both the Septuagint and the early Hebrew codices. On the one hand if verses 14 and 16 were interpolations, although I believe they were probably not, but if they were, they could be seen as explaining that YHVH was speaking or acting through the ‘Angel’.
It is only when one assumes that the Documentary Hypothesis is true that the Hebrew concept of God is dated to King Josiah’s time period. The Documentarian then dates certain texts based on additional assumptions of diachronic textual origins, and they then begin to justify eliminating words from the text because they “don’t make sense” in their framework.
Clearly both the Septuagint and the early Hebrew codices of Judges chapter 6 of verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b all contain the ‘Angel’, so doesn’t that seem proof enough that the ‘Angel’ existed in these verses in the original story? Apparently not because Daniel is insisting in the face of original manuscript evidence that “another” version existed which he trusts more. The only problem is that this version only exists in the minds of Documentations.
Before conservatives are going to throw in the towel to radical critics on Judges 6:14,16 they need to more adequately explain away verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b because as it stands verses 14 and 16 could be seen as interpolations based on those verses, and not on the radical critical Interpolation Theory.
Moving on to the next claim which Daniel points out. He states that the Septuagint has an additional ‘Angel’ in the Samson birth announcement. Since Daniel didn’t identity chapter and verse I was left to examine the texts and determine that his reference was likely to Judges 13:19:
The English Translation of the Greek Septuagint (Compiled from the Translation by Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton 1851)
And Manoe took a kid of the goats and its meat-offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord; and the angel wrought a distinct work, and Manoe and his wife were looking on.
This is perhaps a great exaggeration by Daniel because when one actually looks at the Greek text of the Septuagint it is clear that the Greek word for ‘angel’, ἄγγελος (ággelos) is not in verse 19, hence the italicized ‘angel’ in the English translation of the Septuagint! It was pointed out in his previous comments that the passage is another difficult one to interpret. He stated:
“V. 19 also provides an interesting problem. It states that, on the angel’s orders, Manoah offered a meat offering on a rock “to Yahweh. And [?] did wonders/wondrously.” There is no subject attached to the participle מפלא, “to be wonderful.” Many translations assume the angel is understood, since he is overseeing the sacrifice (thus, “the angel did wondrously”), while others believe the statement refers to Yahweh, and want it to act as a relative clause (thus, “to Yahweh, to him who works wonders”)…”
Daniel is addressing the Hebrew in his comment above, but later when he turns his attention to the Greek LXX he states that the ‘Angel’ is added to the Septuagint in the Samson birth narrative, but clearly he must be referring to the English translation of the Septuagint and not to the Greek. I am just a novice in the Greek but even I can see that the word ἄγγελος (ággelos) is not in Judges 13:19. If this is the case then where is the interpolated ‘angel’ in verse 19 besides in the interpretation to English?
I am no translation expert but it seems fairly clear that the Greek sentence references the pronoun ‘he’ and is translated as ‘angel’ based on the context of the previous verses. The problem of course is that if verse 19 is what Daniel is claiming as an interpolation then it fails the test simply based on the Greek text. It is pretty straight forward. No ἄγγελος (ággelos), no ‘angel’, therefore, no interpolation in the Greek!
Next Daniel points out that there is an additional ‘Angel’ in the story of Hagar in the Septuagint. He again does not cite chapter and verse, so I assume he is referring to Genesis 16:8:
English Translation of the Septuagint
And the angel of the Lord said to her, Agar, Sara’s maid, whence comest thou, and wither goest thou? and she said, I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sara.
This is perhaps a more likely interpolation but even so, it is still not verifiable because what if it was original to the story, and it was the Hebrew codices which left the ‘angel’ out of verse 8? After all both the Septuagint and the Hebrew codices agree in Judges 16:7,9,10, and 11 with the ‘Angel’ as the intermediary. Even if a conservative would agree to verse 8 as an interpolation it still does not explain away the context of verses 7, 9, 10 and 11 which would be a more likely reason for a possible interpolation of verse 8!
One more thing to state in regard to Daniel’s claim that the ‘Angel’ was interpolated in Judges 16:8, he breaks with his “rule” regarding the “formula”. This is that the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editors took the opportunity to insert the word “Malach” in front of the Name of God, but this pattern is missing from verse 8 as the Hebrew simply reads, “And he said,…”. There is no reference to the LORD in verse 8! It is simply a reference to “he” which is in reference to verse 7 which both the Hebrew and the Septuagint agree is the Angel of the LORD! In my opinion there is a greater case for interpolation of the ‘Angel’ based on the context of the ‘Angel’ in verse 7 and not on the absence of it in verse 8. Even so, it still is possible that the Hebrew texts dropped the ‘Angel’ rather than the Septuagint adding it.
Daniel’s next comment is a possible faux pas as he seems to indicate another additional ‘angel’, but he is likely referencing the previous comment with regard to the story of Hagar.
“The Septuagint also has additional occurrences of “messenger” all by itself in Samson’s birth narrative and in Hagar’s story, and an additional “messenger of the Lord” at Gen 16:8.”
It sounds like an additional “messenger” in Gen.16:8 except that this is likely the one in the story of Hagar of which chapter 16 contains. It looks like Daniel in his eagerness to show all these “additional” ‘messengers’ cites Gen.16:8 as another occurrence, but does not recognize that this was the one within the story of Hagar which he already referenced!
Next Daniel states:
“Josephus only presents God interacting with Abraham in Genesis 22.”
This is an interesting comment by Daniel because it appears to be an attempt to state that whatever manuscripts Josephus had at his disposal theoretically did not mention the ‘angel’ in Genesis 22. It would be a quite convincing argument except for the fact that Josephus does not consider his account of the Scriptures as an authorized version, but merely a reckoning of his origins and the histories of his people. As Josephus states in the beginning of his writings:
The Life of Flavius Josephus
(1) The family from which I am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priests; and as nobility among several people is of a different origin, so with us to be of the sacerdotal dignity, is an indication of the splendor of a family.
Josephus does not set out to translate the Bible but clearly indicates his primary aim is in writing a history of his people in order that others would know his nobility.
The fact that Josephus does not mention the ‘angel’ when he recounts Gen. 22 most likely is due to his paraphrased approach which not only leaves out many Scriptural details but also adds a great deal more of extra non-Biblical information either from tradition or elsewhere. Below is his account of Gen. 22:
Antiquities. 1. 13. 4
(233) And the deed had been done if God had not opposed it; for he called loudly to Abraham by his name, and forbade him to slay his son; and said, “It was not out of a desire of human blood that he was commanded to slay his son, nor was he willing that he should be taken away from him whom he had made his father, but to try the temper of his mind, whether he would be obedient to such a command. (234) Since, therefore, he now was satisfied as to that his alacrity, and the surprising readiness he showed in this his piety, he was delighted in having bestowed such blessings upon him; and that he would not be wanting in all sort of concern about him, and in bestowing other children upon him; and that his son should live to a very great age; that he should live a happy life, and bequeath a large principality to his children, who should be good and legitimate. “(235) He foretold also, that his family should increase into many nations; and that those patriarchs should leave behind them an everlasting name; that they should obtain the possession of the land of Canaan, and be envied by all men. When God had said this, he produced to them a ram, which did not appear before, for the sacrifice. (236) So Abraham and Isaac receiving each other unexpectedly, and having obtained the promises of such great blessings, embraced one another; and when they had sacrificed, they returned to Sarah, and lived happily together, God affording them his assistance in all things they desired.
It should be clear that Josephus is by no means interested in a direct word for word account of Gen. 22 but is more interested in retelling the story in a similar fashion to the Greek histories of his day.
Furthermore, while Josephus does not mention the ‘angel’ in his account of Gen. 22 he does include an ‘angel’ in the following passages:
Antiquities. 1. 10. 4: Gen.16 Story of Hagar
Antiquities. 1. 12. 3: Gen. 21 Hagar and Ishmael
Antiquities. 1. 20. 2: Gen. 32 Jacob wrestles an ‘angel’
Antiquities. 5. 8. 2 Judges 13 Story of Manoah
Are we to treat the passages in which Josephus does mention the angel as interpolations as well or perhaps Josephus is correctly citing the Bible of his day? What does Daniel state in regard to Josephus’ agreement with the Septuagint and the Hebrew codices? Nothing.
In addition to Josephus’ agreement with the texts he includes one reference to Gen. 32 which does not contain an ‘angel’ in either the Septuagint or the Hebrew manuscripts. Either this indicates that the ‘angel’ was dropped from the texts which the Septuagint and the Hebrew codices were based on or perhaps the story is clearly understood to refer to an ‘angel’ despite the lack of the word “Malach”. In my opinion the “man” of Gen. 32 is clearly understood as an ‘angel’ or the ‘Angel’ despite the absence of the word “Malach”. Daniel himself identifies Gen.32 as an ‘angel’ passage despite his buildup of the Interpolation Theory and the fact that the word ‘angel’ does not appear in Gen. 32; hence, no interpolation of “Malach”.
Additionally Josephus equates speaking with the ‘Angel’ the same as interacting with God. Consider Josephus account of the Samson birth narrative:
Antiquities. 5. 8. 2
(284) which when they had done, he touched the flesh with the rod which he had in his hand, which, upon the breaking out of a flame, was consumed, together with the loaves; and the angel ascended openly in their sight up to heaven, by means of the smoke as by a vehicle. Now Manoah was afraid that some danger would come to them from this sight of God; but his wife bade him be of good courage, for that God appeared to them for their benefit.
This seems pretty straight forward. To see the Divine ‘Angel’ is to see God. Since Daniel seems eager to give Josephus preeminence on Gen. 22 shall we also listen to what Josephus states about the Samson narrative?
Next Daniel states:
“The Vulgate makes no mention of an angel in Exod 3:2, mentioning only God appearing.”
Daniel is implying the same for St. Jerome as he did for Josephus in that Jerome in his translation of the Vulgate must have had access to manuscripts which have been lost to the winds of time. It’s possible, but even so, we are left questioning if Jerome’s theoretical manuscript was itself corrupted by the missing ‘Angel’. After all, even the Masoretic text which has been shown to favor “non-Christian” renderings includes the ‘Angel’ at Exod. 3:2.
As long as all cards are on the table shouldn’t we also consider that St. Jerome might have just accidentally left the ‘Angel’ out in the process of translating the Hebrew? As unbelievable as it might seem that a renowned translator such as Jerome could make such a blunder if we are honest with our logic then we must consider this possibility as well.
The point is that we are not bound to only one reason for the missing ‘Angel’ in Exodus 3:2 in the Latin Vulgate, but can consider the following other possibilities:
- Jerome translates from a corrupted Hebrew manuscript.
- Jerome accidentally leaves the ‘Angel’ out of the translation.
Consider also that the Vulgate contains the ‘Angel’ in many other passages as well as those which Daniel brings to question:
Gen. 16:7, 9 – Story of Hagar (angelus)
Gen. 21:17 – Hagar and Ishmael (angelus)
Gen. 22:11, 15 – Abraham offers Isaac (angelus)
Judges 6:11, 20 – The call of Gideon (angelus)
Judges 13 – Samson’s birth announcement (angelus)
Shall we dismiss the Latin Vulgate witness to every instance of the ‘Angel’ simply because the word is missing in Exodus 3:2?
Lastly, on this point, while the Vulgate is missing the ‘Angel’ at Exodus 3:2, it includes the ‘Angel’ within the same book in these areas:
Exodus 14:19 – The ‘Angel’ in the pillar of cloud
Exodus 23:23 – The ‘Angel’ goes before Israel
Exodus 32:34 – The ‘Angel’ will go before them
Instead of questioning the originality of the ‘Angel’ due to some missing instances of the ‘Angel’ in both the Latin Vulgate and Josephus, we should consider all of the other ‘Angel’ passages which are in both texts as further testimony to the existence of the ‘Angel’ in the original stories.
Daniel then states:
“…in none of these instances is any self-identification or messenger formula present. Some have claimed that the messenger was so fully identified with his patron that it was not necessary, but there is simply no evidence for this notion. The closest we get is the anomalous “says Yahweh” in Gen 22:16.”
Which are the instances that Daniel is referring to? He is saying that the additional ‘Angel’ in the Samson and Hagar Narratives as well as the missing ‘Angel’ in Josephus’ account and Exodus 3:2 of the Latin Vulgate are these instances. His line of reasoning is that none of these instances have either self-identification or a “messenger formula”, but what does this mean and does it matter in the way he thinks it does?
Daniel is tied up in the idea of self-identification within the texts. In other words at no point does the ‘Angel’ ever say directly, “I am the Angel of the LORD.”, but is identified by the writer in phrases such as, “Then the Angel of the LORD said…”. This seems a rather interesting approach to denying the existence of the ‘Angel’ in the “original” narratives because it assumes that no name in Scripture can be verified unless the actor states, “I am (insert name)”.
If we were to take this “self-identification” rule to its extreme then we would question all the players for how many are recorded as identifying themselves? Does Hagar in Gen. 16, Abram and Isaac in Gen. 22, Gideon in Judges 6, or Manoah in Judges 13 ever state who they are? No, they as most of the individuals of the Bible are identified by the writer. What the radical critics think is an important consideration doesn’t seem to hold much weight upon closer examination.
In some cases the writer identifies the ‘Angel’ and in other cases the ‘Angel’ is identified by the witness such as with Gideon in Judges 6:22. Daniel isn’t interested in third-party identification and so his answer to “fix” this issue is to explain these as interpolations. The problem with this approach is that even if such self-identification phrases did exist in the texts the radical critics would likely explain those away as “interpolations” as well.
Daniel insists that there are no “messenger formulas” in those instances but I seem to recall that he made a big deal about the narratives primarily because they did have the so-called “messenger formulas”, so what is he trying to state now? I think it is safe to say that Daniel’s point is tied up in the conflation idea in regard to the ‘Angel’ and the LORD.
Daniel is consumed with the notion that there is no evidence to support the Messenger being identified with His Patron, but the truth of the matter is that the majority of the evidence is in the very passages which Daniel has set out to discredit! He states there is no evidence because in his mind everything is explained away by theoretical interpolations by hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic editors which were concocted by the unsubstantiated Documentary Hypothesis.
As far as further evidence, there are a few other passages which Daniel does not consider. Why? Because Daniel was primarily only interested in the 36 occurrences of “יהוה מלאך” and 6 occurrences of אלהים” מלאך” from Genesis to Judges. All other narratives with the word “Malach” are ignored by Daniel as perhaps in his view they have no bearing.
Consider Genesis 24:7,40
v7. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. (ESV)
v40. But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son from my clan and from my father’s house. (ESV)
In verse 7 Abraham is speaking to his head servant regarding a wife for his son Isaac. Abraham says, “…he will send his angel…”. This is a very specific way of describing the ‘angel’. It is not “an angel” or “the angel”, but “His Angel”. This is not just a messenger, but this is the LORD’s Messenger. In the Hebrew the word is “מלאכו” (Malacho)(His Angel). If that doesn’t read like a reference to The Messenger of The LORD then I don’t know what does! Daniel isn’t concerned too much about this reference because he never even mentions it.
When Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons he speaks of the ‘Angel’ who redeemed him and asks the ‘Angel’ to bless the boys. Consider Genesis 48:15,16:
v15. And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
v16. the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (ESV)
This ‘Angel’ whom Jacob prays to and asks for blessings is, it would seem, being identified with His Patron. Again Daniel doesn’t waste his time on Gen.48:15,16 because it does not contain the “messenger formula”. Daniel is so caught up in the supposed formulas it seems that he has missed a key passage which lends evidence to the Hebraic ideas concerning the role which the Messenger plays, and how the ‘Angel’ is prayed to, just as the LORD is prayed to.
Next Daniel states:
“…later versions frequently interpolate the word “angel” where they want to avoid God’s presence, visibility, or participation in something of questionable morality. For instance, in Exod 4:24 both the Septuagint and the targums interpolate the angel to avoid the notion that Yahweh would have come down to kill Moses. In Num 22:20 and 23:4 the Samaritan Pentateuch changes “and God met Balaam” to “and the angel of God met Balaam.” He does not change Num 22:9 or another phrase in Num 23:4, however. In the Palestinian Targum God tells Moses that his angels will pass by him, not that he himself will pass by, as in Exodus 33. Numerous other examples could be brought up, but this should do.”
His reference to “later” versions of the Bible is interesting as he begins to reference the Septuagint and the Targums? Did I miss something? Is he calling the Septuagint and the Targums “later” versions? The age of the Septuagint is more certain than any Bible version as Greek fragments of it have been found and dated to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. which coincides with the tradition that it was translated from the Hebrew into the Greek in the 3rd century B.C. Complete manuscripts of the Septuagint are dated to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. That is still 500 to 600 years earlier than the Complete Masoretic Text. The two main Targum manuscripts in question can be dated around the 5th century A.D. Recent scholarship has pushed the dating of the Targums even earlier based on Aramaic dialect, source relationships, and rabbinic citations. Rather than settle on that earlier date for the Targums I will leave that matter out of this and be satisfied with the manuscript dating of the 5th century A.D. as I believe that for this purpose it is still an early enough date to exclude the term “late version.”
With Exodus 4:24, again Daniel is comparing the Septuagint to the Masoretic Text, and he is favoring the Masoretic Text. As I have pointed out previously if one were to favor the Septuagint over the Masoretic then they might be persuaded to think that rather than the Septuagint interpolating an ‘angel’ that the Masoretic Text is missing it. After all, both the manuscript dates of the Septuagint and the Targums are predating the Masoretic Text by at least 500 years.
On another note regarding the Targums, they were never considered official translations of the texts but understood to be paraphrases which shed meaning on the Hebrew texts. In this light it is entirely possible that the Targums explain that God could never have appeared to anyone in person and so the ‘angel’ is understood to act as the agent of the LORD; hence the ‘angel’ is used in Exodus 4:24. Most likely it has nothing to do with Daniel’s claim that, “…the targums interpolate the angel to avoid the notion that Yahweh would have come down to kill Moses,” and more to do with the Hebraic understanding of how the LORD interacts with humanity. Ironically, if the LORD did appear to Moses, he would have died from His Glory, therefore it was the LORD appearing to him in a less glorious form whether one wishes to call Him an angel or not.
Regarding the Samaritan Pentateuch, it has less footing to stand on as the earliest complete manuscript is dating to the Middle ages, but there is what is termed Pre-Samaritan texts which constitute about 5% of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I would be more likely to agree with Daniel on the Samaritan Pentateuch being a later Bible version, but possibly not in the same way he implies. He states:
“In Num 22:20 and 23:4 the Samaritan Pentateuch changes “and God met Balaam” to “and the angel of God met Balaam.” He does not change Num 22:9 or another phrase in Num 23:4, however.”
Well I don’t see the issue as both the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text agree by leaving out the ‘angel’ in Numbers 22:20 and 23:4, but again, are we to understand the passage as referring to God coming down in person to Balaam? Especially in light of Exodus 33:20? Daniel does not agree as I suspect his view is that the concept of ‘dying from seeing God’ in 33:20 does not pre-date the hypothetical Deuteronomic period. Daniel refers to “He” which I presume is communicating that a translator did not differ the story of Balaam in Num. 22:9 or 23:4, but from what, I could only guess?
Lastly he states:
“In the Palestinian Targum God tells Moses that his angels will pass by him, not that he himself will pass by, as in Exodus 33. Numerous other examples could be brought up, but this should do.”
Aside from the fact that the Palestinian Targum states that God’s angels will pass by Moses, again it is clear that the Septuagint and the Masoretic text do not contain the ‘angel’. Seeing as how these texts are in agreement and the Septuagint is on better footing than either the Masoretic or the Palestinian Targum, it seems rather trite to state that the Palestinian Targum somehow proves interpolation.
This brings up my next point on what Daniel is defining as “Post-Deuteronomic Interpolation”. I assumed from the start of his article that he was possibly considering a hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic period as somewhere around the 6th century B.C. but based on his comments regarding “later versions interpolating the angel” it appears that his idea of “Post-Deuteronomic” somehow extends all the way past the Christian era? Well, he might disagree, but this would likely be based on speculative viewpoints regarding when these “later versions” originated.
This concludes part seven of this eight part series. In part eight I will be commenting on Daniel’s concluding remarks.
As always, Keep Ceeking Truth! Peace be with you all and I look forward to my next post! 🙂
Part 1 Critically Conflated
Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations
Part 3 Saying and Seeing
Part 4 Presuming Preemption
Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared
Part 6 Diachronic Deadends
Part 7 Additional or Absent?
Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture