Hebrew Word For Angels: Malakh

by | Feb 13, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

Ask any person who or what is an angel, and there is a high chance they will say they are creatures with wings that occasionally visit Earth from heaven. This popular description of angels is a recurrent theme in all art forms, be it TV shows, movies, literature, paintings, and music. In almost all depictions of these winged creatures, they serve the purpose of helping people in need. When someone helps us, we often say, “You are an angel.” However, in the Bible, there is more to an angel than what has been popularized so far by the media.

So, what’s the Hebrew word for angels?

The Hebrew word for angels is Malach, or Malakh, and it means messenger, be it divine or human. In the Old Testament, the word Malach or malachim in the plural form gives us a glimpse into the supernatural realm and the roles or purposes of angels, such as to deliver a message, to serve and praise God, or to execute judgment.

The Meaning of Malekh the Hebrew Word for Angels

In Biblical Hebrew, malakh means “sent one” or “messenger” “divine or human. The Hebrew word malakh can be joined with the name of God to indicate that the angel is sent by God. For example, malakh Elohim angel or God or Malakh Adonai angel of the Lord

The Pentateuch refers to beings (angels) that bring special messages from God. In Hebrew, these beings are malakh Elohim messengers of God or malakh YHWH, the messenger of the Lord. The names point to their divine occupation- to serve God. Angels can take human form, but they have supernatural abilities.

In Hebrew, the suffix ‘EL’ refers to God. Hence, each angel is named in reference to his relation to the divine. For example, Gabriel means “God is my strength, “and Michael means “Who is like God.”

What Does the Bible Say About Angels?

Angels are God’s creation and, like all creatures, are subject to the will of God. They serve different functions.

  • Direct and defend God’s people ( Exodus 12:23; 23:23)
  • Serve God (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 22:9)
  • Appear before God (Job 1:6; 2:1).
  • Praise God (Psalm 148:1-2; Isaiah 6:3)
  • Worship God (Revelation 5:8-13)
  • Rejoice in what God does (Job 38:6-7)
  • Are instruments of God’s judgments (2 Samuel 24: 15-16; Revelation 7:1; 8:2).

The Bible describes angels as powerful spiritual beings God created to perform specific jobs in heaven and on earth. Nonetheless, only a few angels are mentioned by name.

Angel of the Lord

In the Old Testament, there are several references to “angels of the Lord,” “an angel of the Lord,” and “the angel of the LORD” (Genesis 16:7-12; 21:17-18; Exodus 3:2; Judges 2:1-4; 5:23; 2 Samuel 24:16; Zechariah 1:12; 3:1).

In all instances, the definite article “the” is used, which points to a specific unique being separate from the other angels. Nonetheless, in some instances, the angel of the Lord is a theophany, an appearance of God in physical form.

Angel Gabriel

The angel Gabriel is the primary messenger of God who delivers important messages. In the Old Testament, he appears to Prophet Daniel two times. The first time, Gabriel appears to Daniel to explain the vision about the end times (Daniel 8:16). The second time, the angel Gabriel gives Daniel insight and a reply to his prayer from God (Daniel 9).

 Angel Gabriel also appeared to the priest Zechariah to announce that his wife Elizabeth would miraculously give birth to John the Baptist. Zechariah doubts what Angel Gabriel tells him because they are past childbearing age. So he asks for proof, and the angel says: “I’m Gabriel! I stand in God’s presence. God sent me to tell you this good news” (Luke 1:5).

Angel Gabriel also visited Mary and told her she would miraculously give birth to Jesus. In all three instances, the angel Gabriel was sent to deliver important messages to individuals specifically chosen by God.

Angel Michael

The second angel the Bible calls by name is Michael, also called archangel or the holy warrior of the Lord. Michael appears in the book of Daniel as a warrior (Daniel 10:21; 12:1). He is also mentioned in the book of Revelation together with other angels when they battle the great dragon during the end times (Revelation 12:7–9).

Abraham is Visited By Three Beings

Three messengers come to Abraham to inform him that Sarah will give birth and that they will destroy the city of Sodom. The Scripture says the men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood before the LORD. This shows that the three beings that Abraham saw were two angels and God (He appeared in physical form). When Abraham meets them for the first time, he calls them “my lord.” The Hebrew word for lord is Adonai.

The next chapter further proves that the two were angels by saying, “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening Lot was sitting by the gateway of the city.” In fact, when Lot saw them, he called them “My lords” (Genesis 19). David refers to Saul as “my lord the king” (1 Samuel 24:8; 26:17; 29:8).

The dictionary defines a lord as “someone or something having power, authority, or influence; a master or earthy ruler.” The title lord is also given to people/beings with the power bestowed by God or the people. That is why in the Old Testament when angels appear to Abraham and Lot, they bow to show respect.

Are Seraphim and Cherubim Angels?

The Bible describes seraphim as winged creatures that stood above the throne where God was sitting (Isaiah 6:1–4). The Cherubim are mentioned numerous times in Scripture. After Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, the cherubim guarded the entrance (Genesis 3:24). Cherubim are also mentioned in connection with the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18 –20; 37:7-9; 1 Samuel 4:4). However, cherubim and seraphim are not angels, and the Bible describes them as formidable creatures that guard His sacred space.

What About the Angel of Death?

The Bible doesn’t mention an angel of death. However, there are angels/messengers (malakh) in the Old Testament that take lives, but God directs their actions. The story about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 is a good example.

The Bible records the angels saying they will destroy the region because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord. The act of destroying the places is then done by God Himself (Gen 19:1-25). The angel of the Lord is also sometimes called to kill (2 Kings 19:32-35; 2 Samuel 24:15-17).

So, while God uses angels to bring judgment to sinners on earth, for example, the destroyer mentioned during the Passover, nowhere in the Bible does it mention a particular angel who is in charge of death or called the angel of death.


The Hebrew word for angels is malakh. When translated into English, malakh means “messenger” or “sent one” and when the name of God is added, the word formed points to an angel of God. While angels were created for various purposes and can take human forms, they all serve God.

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About: Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.
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Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.

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