Angels in the Bible and Jewish Tradition
December 2014

“Angels in the Bible and Jewish Tradition,” Ensign, December 2014, 45

Angels in the Bible and Jewish Tradition

Ancient Jewish traditions regarding angels may seem strange or fragmentary to us, but they do communicate some basic ideas about how these beings were understood to function. The Restoration helps us understand them even better.

The Old Testament frequently uses the Hebrew word malach, which refers generally to a “messenger,” whether mortal or from the celestial realm. Heavenly messengers who bring word from God are often called “the angel [malach] of the Lord” (Genesis 22:11; Exodus 3:2). In addition, the words cherubim and seraphim appear in the Old Testament and are associated with different orders, kinds, or functions of angels.

Biblical and Jewish literature maintains that there are innumerable angels that make up the hosts of heaven (see Job 25:3; Psalm 68:17; 2 Kings 6:16–17) and suggests that these hosts were organized in some fashion. Many Jewish texts depict the archangel Michael (who is mentioned in Daniel 10:13, 21 and 12:1) at the head of this organization.

Though little has been revealed about such things, the Restoration does confirm and expand on the basic idea that angels function within a structure or order of heaven. The Lord even revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that the archangel Michael is Adam and stands at the head of a heavenly organization (see D&C 27:11; 78:16; 107:53–56).

The Restoration gives clarity to Latter-day Saints’ understanding of the Old Testament references to angels, as well as the role of angels in God’s dealings with His children.