Share

Memra

Was Jesus ever an Angel? 

Jewish thinkers have always struggled with the idea of God, a spirit being, bringing forth matter, whether fiery suns or delicate flowers. The idea of God creating through a different aspect of Himself, an intermediate stage, had always been an acceptable concept. Even one of the most learned of Jewish sages, the Ramban, declared that an intermediate stage existed between spirit and matter, so we find that aspects of the Trinity are not so alien to the Jewish mind as modern Rabbis may want you to believe. Jewish scholars have seen this all over the Creation account. When the Bible says “… and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. “ (Genesis 1:2) they look at a parallel passage in Isaiah and see this as the “spirit of the Messiah”. When God said, “let there be light …”, they see the “great light” of the Messiah.

First Century Jews would read the first Chapter of John’s Gospel and immediately recognize Jesus as the memra. It would have caused them no problem at all. It troubled later generations of Jewish rabbis, though. Because the concept of memra so evidently pointed to Jesus and gave credence to the idea of the Trinity we find that, once the Targums had slipped away from common usage, the subsequent holy writings of the rabbis, the Talmud, failed to mention the memra in any significant way. It reminded them too much of the rejected Messiah, so it just dropped out of sight, a symptom of the hardening of heart that God inflicted on His people for His own reasons. This is highlighted by an entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia:

"In the ancient Church liturgy, adopted from the Synagogue, it is especially interesting to notice how often the term Logos, (this is the Greek word for the memra) in the sense of 'the Word by which God made the world, or made His Law or Himself known to man,' was changed into 'Christ.' Possibly on account of the Christian dogma, rabbinic theology, outside of the Targum literature, made little use of the term 'Memra.'" (The Jewish Encyclopaedia, New York and London 1904 p.465)

We next see the (pre-incarnate) Jesus in the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures). There had been times in the early history of God’s people when He simply needed to have a stiff word with them. At those times, sending them a dream or vision or a rank-and-file angel was not enough, He really needed to confront them … personally. There’s only one snag, as God once said to Moses:

"You cannot see my face, for no-one may see me and live." (Exodus 33:20)

So what could He do? On these occasions He sent The Angel of the LORD. There’s only room for one example, so it better be a good one. It is.

The Angel appeared to the parents of Samson, telling them about the great son they were going to bring to the world. This is an interesting story because, through it, we find out a bit more about the Angel of the LORD. We find out that he has the appearance of both man and angel (Judges 13:6) but we get a clear declaration of his identity after Manoah, Samson’s father, asks for his name. He doesn’t give it but after a burnt offering was made, the following happens:

“As the flame blazed up from the altar towards heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realised that it was the angel of the LORD. ‘We are doomed to die!’ he said to his wife. ‘We have seen God!’”(Judges 13:20-22)

So Manoah knew exactly who he was dealing with, God himself. And because he didn’t die as a result, it was God in the form of Jesus, the memra of God. 

This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp

GOING DEEPER

comments powered by Disqus
You may also like...

What did Jesus do at Creation?  More

How do we know that Jesus born into a poor family? More

What didn’t Jesus do?  More

Why do Jews reject Jesus?  More